This intimate elopement wedding at Loch an Eilein in the Cairngorms National Park (one of our favourite parts of Scotland!) felt like a real-life fairytale. The Cairngorms has to be one of THE most magical locations for a winter elopement wedding in Scotland; there’s something about the combination of thick forests and quiet lochs with a mountain backdrop—often dusted by snow in winter—that makes for a really atmospheric setting for an elopement wedding day. Louise and Nathan travelled from the Isle of Man to exchange their vows on a late-January day in this truly spectacular place. We had found them a super-cute cottage in a peaceful woodland setting—the perfect place for them to quietly begin the story of their elopement wedding day. Read on to see how their beautiful elopement unfolded.
Louise and Nathan chose to get ready separately, then have a ‘first look’ moment once they were in their wedding finery and looking amazing. It can be fun to bring that ‘walk down the aisle’ moment from a traditional wedding day to your elopement, but with none of the ‘will I trip over in front of 100+ people performance anxiety!’ We love the way that there are so many ‘natural aisles’ in nature too. The shot below was Louise’s walk through the forest as she went to find Nathan, who was patiently waiting for her. There are so many intriguing forest paths in the Cairngorms. Each one of them is an invitation to an adventure!
We always recce elopement wedding ceremony locations for our couples in advance. For Louise and Nathan, we had picked-out this beautiful spot, right by Loch an Eilein, flanked by two majestic Scots pine trees and with a beautiful mountain backdrop. Again, nature was providing its own architecture for their wedding day! Of course, we needed to photograph most of it while we stood knee deep in the cold waters of the loch, but we will absolutely do that to get the best images!
Louise and Nathan chose to have a traditional Scottish handfasting ceremony, conducted by a humanist celebrant, as they felt that this was most in-keeping with their beliefs. These ceremonies are legally recognised throughout the UK (and abroad, too). If you would like a non-religious wedding ceremony in an atmospheric setting, with just the two of you (and us as your two witnesses), that can totally happen!
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We find that elopement wedding ceremonies are so unique, special and emotionally honest. It’s so much easier to express your deepest feelings for your loved one if there aren’t a lot of other people looking-on! For us as photographers, it feels like such an honour to be a part of these incredibly intimate moments in a couple’s life story… and to be there to document them, too! After Louise and Nathan’s woodland wedding ceremony, we headed off to explore some more of Loch an Eilein and the surrounding Cairngorms area. It’s always so fun to go on a little adventure and just spend relaxed time together on your elopement wedding day! It also makes for lovely, spontaneous couples photos too, especially for couples who hate posing! We find that spending all day with our couples totally removes any sense of stress or time pressure on their part; they can enjoy each other’s company, enjoy the scenery, go exploring together and they have time to really be present and breath-in the moment.
As elopement wedding photographers, we think hard about where we want to take our couples for sunset and ‘blue hour’ afterwards. This is often the time when you will get the most atmospheric views, and the most atmospheric photos! For Louise and Nathan, we had recced a cool look-out point in the corries of Cairngorm mountain with a mountain backdrop that we knew would be quiet at this time of year and also lend itself to some cool photos. We really love taking our couples to out-of-the-way places that they might not have discovered otherwise. For us, it’s just as much about our couples having a fun experience on their elopement wedding day—although we obviously want to take great photos, too!
As the light faded over Cairngorm mountain, we headed back to Louise & Nathan’s cosy cottage, tired, happy and full of love and laughter from their beautiful day. Evenings set-in early here in Scotland during the winter months (around 3.30–4.30pm in mid-winter) so we always recommend lining-up some fun evening activities if you’re planning a winter elopement wedding in Scotland. Louise and Nathan had engaged a private chef to cook for them in their cottage. While the chefs were getting busy in the kitchen, Louise and Nathan enjoyed some champagne by the fire as they opened some heartfelt cards and gifts from their family and friends.
“Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for capturing our day so perfectly. We felt really emotional looking back through these and are in awe of how beautiful they are. We had such a wonderful day and you both played a really big part in that so again, thank you so much! We couldn’t have wished for anything more for our special day.
We’ve decided to throw a small(ish!) party to celebrate with our friends and display some of our gallery. It’s been the hardest decision EVER trying to pick which ones as we don’t have room for them all! But that shows how much we love every single photograph as each tells the story of our perfect day. Everyone we’ve shown is in awe of how amazing they are and we share this each time we look back through! We would love to encourage more people to follow their hearts and elope like we did!” – Louse & Nathan x
With delicious dinner smells wafting from the kitchen, whisky and slippers warming by the fire and the rest of the champagne still on ice, we left Louise and Nathan to enjoy their elopement wedding night. As we headed out into the night, we could smell the rich scent of the pines in the crisp, cool night air. The wind wrestled the trees, the last night birds found their evening perch and darkness fell on Loch an Eilein. The perfect, peaceful end to a beautiful Scottish winter elopement in the Cairngorms.
If you are planning an elopement in the Cairngorms (or any other part of Scotland!) we would love to hear from you!