Kiela and Derrick’s intimate Scottish castle wedding was like something straight out of a fairytale. We are lucky enough to capture amazing weddings and elopements throughout Scotland and beyond throughout the seasons and in all kinds of crazy weather. But this beautifully misty September day was something really special. Rarely have we experienced such amazing light or such a naturally atmospheric setting for a small and intimate wedding here in Scotland.
Kiela and Derrick had been together for ten years and, loving their relaxed life together in the USA, they were never in a rush to get married. However, there was something about Scotland that always tugged at their hearts. So, when they felt the time was right to take the next step, an elopement in Scotland just felt right for them. Initially, they were planning a just-for-two elopement wedding as part of the adventure of a lifetime in Scotland, until they stumbled across the incredible Dunskey Estate on Scotland’s wild and beautiful west coast. It felt like the perfect place to bring a small gang of friends and family to Scotland for a weekend-long wedding celebration, and what a house party it was!!
Read on for the full story of their breath-taking intimate Scottish castle wedding day.
Kiela and Derrick really liked the idea of doing things the traditional way and getting ready separately before having a big reveal first look moment. We always find this is super-fun, and it definitely builds-up the sense of excitement and anticipation on the day. Typically, if there is a bride and groom are getting ready separately, we will split up: Katy will hang with the bride and her bridesmaids and Jim will capture the groom and his groomsmen. We find that shooting as a husband-and-wife team works really well as we can be in two places at once to capture all the action and special moments as they unfold.
Although Kiela and Derrick dreamed of an intimate elopement wedding in Scotland, when they found Dunskey Estate and decided to change-up their plans and go for an intimate Scottish castle wedding surrounded by friends and family instead, there was one part of their original elopement plan that they didn’t want to let go of. It was really important to them to have a peaceful, private moment together in advance of their wedding ceremony to exchange their personal vows and letters to each other. A quiet space within their day where they could really speak their hearts in an emotionally open and unself-conscious way. As photographers, moments like these are such an incredible honour to witness and to capture. For couples planning a larger-scale wedding with friends and family, we honestly couldn’t recommend this enough! Think about what you might like to say to your partner on your wedding day if there aren’t 50+ guests looking-on. This is your day — make it truly personal and special to you.
After their first look, Kiela and Derrick walked back to Dunskey Estate’s beautiful walled garden for their ceremony. If you’ve ever read the book ‘The Secret Garden’ by Frances Hodgson Burnett, this is it in real life! An iron gate, that you could so easily miss, surrounded by trees and flowers takes you into a garden that opens-up into a secret world, bursting with trees and shrubs and fruit. What a setting for an intimate wedding ceremony!
We loved capturing everyone’s reactions as Kiela made her big entrance. It’s moments like these — so fleeting at the time — that photographs can capture really well. These are the images that fill a wedding day with emotion, and are so wonderful to look back on in years to come.
After all the joy and emotion of their wedding ceremony, Kiela and Derrick wanted to enjoy a bit of quiet time alone away from their guests. So we left their friends and family sampling Dunksey’s delicious champagne and canapés while we snuck-off to explore some of the atmospheric and secluded corners of the estate. Even on the most relaxed and informal wedding day, time often slips past all-too-quickly and couples can find that they’ve hardly spent a moment alone together. So we always encourage couples to create a little space in their day to take some time-out, which allows you to pause and enjoy the moment. Space to remember how you both looked and how you both felt on your wedding day, and to savour that feeling, before returning to the party!
As the afternoon wore on, a soft rain began to fall and an incredible ‘sea haar’ or sea mist crept in. Some couples worry about what happens if it rains on their wedding day, but not these guys! They absolutely loved the incredible atmosphere that it gave to landscape of Dunskey — we were somewhere between Stardust and a Jane Austen movie!
Kiela and Derrick were so down to get great photos: muddy boots, wet hair, they didn’t care! They were so happy to be in Scotland, so loved-up with that just married feeling and we all had great fun revelling in the incredible sleepy hollow vibe of Dunskey Estate’s amazing woodland. We always think that a wedding dress that looks like it’s lived a little by the end of the night is a sign of an awesome wedding day! Top tip: wear something that you can relax and have fun in, not something that’s going to ‘wear you’ and make you feel constrained all day.
As the light faded and the mist closed-in, we headed back to Dunskey’s main house for the evening celebrations. A warm welcome awaited us. Dunskey is such a great place to gather for an intimate wedding in Scotland: it’s quirky, characterful, full of history and somehow doesn’t stand on ceremony. Although it’s of castle proportions, it feels like a home.
Kiela and Derrick rejoined their guests for hilarious toasts, some very emotional speeches and a hearty dinner cooked-up by the Dunskey Estate team. Then it was time for the dancing! A lively local band provided the tunes and played a mixture of traditional Scottish ceilidh music (for that quintessentially Scottish Highland castle wedding vibe) and cool covers that soon got everyone on the dance floor!
The night ended with sparklers and a colourful firework display. It was the perfect end to a magical day that was so much fun to capture.
Kind words from Kiela & Derrick:
“Wow – The Caryls are magic workers. Truly. Hire them, please! You will not regret it. Initially, we had talked about eloping in the highlands and I knew that I had to work with The Caryls. I was drawn to every single photo they took! When we decided that a small wedding with 31 close friends and family was better for us, I reached out to The Caryls and was beyond thrilled when they said they were available and happy to work with us! We had a few zoom meetings with Katy and Jim and right away they made us feel at ease! The day of the wedding they were patient, kind, and being around them actually brought a calming sense during such a busy day. They worked so hard and the images they delivered to us brought us both to tears. Looking through them is like reliving the best day of our lives all over again. They truly captured every detail and every emotion we felt that day, in the most amazing way possible. We’re forever thankful for them!”
If you are planning a Scottish castle elopement wedding or an intimate castle wedding in Scotland, we would love to hear from you!