Kaki and Jeff’s intimate elopement wedding at Kilmartin Castle in Scotland was steeped in history, romance and beautifully soft winter light. Kilmartin Glen is an area of Scotland that’s particularly rich in history, surrounded by standing stones, hill forts, and burial cairns. If stones could speak, what stories could they tell. Kilmartin Castle, which is situated in a commanding position in the centre of the glen, dates back to the 16th century. The moment that you step inside, you can sense that many a jovial gathering, uproarious party and romantic wedding has taken place here over the years. A castle of bijou proportions, with just five bedrooms, it makes the perfect setting for an elopement or intimate wedding — especially for lovers of history, archaeology and tv shows like Outlander! There could be no better way of immersing yourself in that world, if only for a day.
Kaki and Jeff hail from New Orleans. They wanted to sneak away to the Scottish Highlands for a romantic wedding-for-two in Scotland, before having a kick-ass celebration back home with all of their friends. We love it when couples split their wedding celebrations this way: it’s none of the stress and double the fun! And what a great day it was, there were tears, much laughter, amazing interiors, multiple castles, a glorious sunset and much fine whisky.
Read on to hear the full story of Kaki and Jeff’s Scottish castle elopement wedding.
The current owners of Kilmartin Castle, Stef & Simo, purchased the castle back in 2015. They spent the next four years living in a caravan in the grounds, whilst lovingly and painstakingly restoring it room by room. It was a lengthy process, but you can tell that every inch of the renovations has been a labour of love. The castle is now warm and cosy (with toasty heated floors) and decorated with an eclectic and bohemian array of furnishings gathered from markets and antique shops all over Europe. The castle can either be hired-out in its entirety (it sleeps 10) or visited as a B&B. It really is an amazingly unique place to stay. It’s also a really fun backdrop for an elopement or intimate Scottish wedding.
Kaki and Jeff met back in 2020, when they were both living in separate cities. So it was a long-distance romance from the start. Each date became a chance to travel and experience somewhere new together, and before long they knew that their relationship was going to go the distance. Kaki is someone who hates surprises, so she’d made it clear from the start that Jeff was *never* to ambush her with a surprise proposal! If they were ever going to get engaged, it would have to be her that did the asking! They had always joked that the way she should do it was at a Pistons game (Pistons is Jeff’s favourite basketball team). It became such a longstanding in-joke, that when Kaki felt ready to propose, that’s exactly what she did! She arranged for Jeff and his mate to have a front-row seat at a match, and then took him completely unawares by casually strolling-up, getting down on one knee and presenting him with a Rolex watch, whist a giant messaged flashed-up on the scoreboard reading: “Jeff, will you marry me? Kaki”
The cameramen filming the match was in on the whole thing, and captured the moment on camera! Now *that* what we call a surprise proposal!
Kaki and Jeff decided that one of the few elements of a traditional wedding day that they wanted to preserve in their elopement was to spend the night before in separate rooms, get ready separately, and then have a ‘first look’ moment at their ceremony location. So they did! We spent a quiet morning with the two of them, capturing them as they got ready: writing out their personal vows and reflecting on the next step that they were about to take. We really encourage couples to give themselves plenty of time in the morning, you will be surprised how fast the time goes, and it’s really nice not to have to rush things. This way you arrive at your wedding ceremony feeling relaxed and calm (ok, and maybe just a little bit nervous and excited!)
It’s no secret that we love shooting in characterful old buildings. The dark backdrops and soft, controlled light make for our absolute favourite conditions for elopement photography! It’s always really worth keeping this in mind when you choose your elopement accommodation. Scotland has so many characterful places to choose from: everything from cute, cosy cottages to magnificent old castles. What sort of backdrop do you want as the setting for the morning of your elopement wedding day? What sort of room do you want to wake-up in? The accommodation you choose will make a big difference to your photos!
Just as we were driving to Kaki and Jeff’s ceremony location, a huge rainbow appeared. We took this as nature’s blessing on their wedding day. Coming form New Orleans, Kaki and Jeff don’t see so many rainbows. In Scotland we get them all the time, due to the changeable weather. It’s always worth factoring in a bit of extra time when travelling to your ceremony location, because you never know when serendipitous moments will happen. It’s great to be able to jump out and make the most of them.
With Jeff ready and waiting, Kaki made her big entrance to the sound of traditional Scottish bagpipes. It was a really moving moment and Jeff’s face said it all! One of the things that we enjoy about shooting elopements as a duo is being able to capture the couples’ reactions simultaneously, allowing us to capture all the emotion of any given moment.
After the ceremony was over, we returned to Kilmartin Castle for a light lunch, then headed back out into Kilmartin Glen to enjoy the late afternoon light. Kaki and Jeff’s elopement was in November, when days in Scotland are quite short. But it’s also when you often get the most amazing low winter light, which is great for photography! Having done a recce the previous week, we’d scoped-out some nice spots to shoot and it was really fun to show Jeff and Kaki some hidden corners of this historic glen.
As the daylight faded, we returned to Kilmartin Castle to cosy-up in front of the roaring fire, put on some cool tunes, pour a hearty glass of whisky and toast Kaki and Jeff’s day. One of the really fun things about the castle is that when it’s not hired-out in its entirety, it’s run on a B&B basis. So if you’re having a ‘just for two’ elopement wedding, but you still fancy some company in the evening, relax in their great hall and swap stories with other guests. Kilmartin tends to attract a bohemian bunch, so you can be sure that the other guests will have some great tales to tell!
Kilmartin Castle offers delicious sharing platters for hungry couples who want to stay-in and chill by the fire. Alternatively, the village pub, The Kilmartin Hotel also does very good grub. During the summer months, the Castle has several beautiful outdoor communal dining spaces and a top notch BBQ where Simo and Stef cook-up a storm! It’s a great place to while-away a long summer night. Just remember to bring some midge repellent!
As darkness fell, we left Kaki and Jeff celebrating with the other castle guests. It was a brilliant end to a really special elopement wedding day: one that was so relaxed and just right for them. Five months later, we received the happy news that they are expecting a baby! We can’t wait to follow-along with this new chapter in their lives…
If you are planning an intimate castle wedding in Scotland or your very own secret Scottish elopement, do feel free to get in touch! We would love to hear about your plans!