A Snowy Winter Wedding in the Cairngorms, Scotland, with a Bride in Karen Willis Holmes

Ideas

As I sit down to write this piece, lots of us around the UK have been visited by the first significant snowfalls of the winter season, and as somebody who hasn’t, I’ve been delighting in seeing other people’s pictures – as I have also today in seeing this spectacular snowy day wedding in the glorious and wild Cairngorms National Park.

On the 22 February 2020, interior stylist Alyce married Henry, an artist at Mar Lodge Estate, which is Britain’s largest nature reserve in the heart of the Cairngorms, looked after by the National Trust for Scotland. They held their day in the Estate’s grand Victorian hunting lodge, and took their styling inspiration from the beauty of winter and their majestic surroundings.

Caro Weiss Photo + Follow

We have our stupendous Little Book member Caro Weiss to thank for these enchanting and atmospheric images of Alyce and Henry’s day, captured in all its sumptuous yet wild glory.

Caro’s style is vibrant, colourful, creative and honest, and I always love to write about weddings that she has photographed.

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I’m also very pleased to say that Alyce and Henry discovered Caro through our Little Book directory pages.

“Caro was incredible. She captured the day perfectly, from laughs and tears to the blizzard outside, and all the details in between.”

“Braemar holds a special place in our hearts; Henry’s family have been visiting the village for the Christmas holidays since he was a child, so we couldn’t think of a more special place to get married than surrounded by the incredible Cairngorms, and hopefully some snow – two of Henrys favourite things.”

“We decided that Mar Lodge Estate was the perfect venue for the weekend, with an old Victorian hunting lodge, the venue was perfect for a winter wedding, and referenced Henry’s Scottish roots, and his father’s side of family living in the Aberdeenshire area.”

Sonia from the AMM Hair and Make-up Team created a radiant look for Alyce to go perfectly with the slinky, shimmering beauty of her long-sleeved Karen Willis Holmes dress – the ‘Celine’, which she sourced second-hand.

“The flowers by Wild Ones Floral were a mix of deep reds, pinks and berries – all appropriate for the time of year.”

“We mixed soft and romantic blooms with foraged branches and foliage to create a wintery structure.”

The bouquets included cream garden roses accented with dark red and berry-hued ranunculus, love-lies-bleeding and pink anemones, together with stems of winter berries.

In the couple’s ceremony room, there were pew ends of pine branches to fill the room with scent.

“The bridesmaids wore a mix of dresses from florals to velvets and satins, from various brands: Ghost, Reiss, Anthropologie, ASOS and Hope & Ivy.”

The bridesmaids all wore their own choice of gold shoes, and they were each gifted a gold bangle from Alyce with their initials, from Hurley Burley.

“Our flowergirls wore Mini Boden, although it wasn’t long before they changed back into their trainers!”

“I tried on quite a few dresses but always kept comparing them to the ‘Celine’ gown. I just loved the long sleeves and casual shape with intricate beadwork, and the swirls and detailing around the wrists and bodice reminded me of a winter’s frost, which seemed appropriate for our winter wedding.”

As her dress was so full of lovely embellishment, Alyce decided to keep the rest of her accessories simple, with a gold necklace borrowed from her bridesmaid (and now sister-in-law) and a pair of pearl drop earrings by Hermione Harbutt, who you’ll also find in our lovingly curated Little Book.

Alyce’s wedding day perfume was Daisy by Marc Jacobs. Henry bought a bottle for her one birthday years ago, and she’s worn the fragrance ever since.

Together with her father, Alyce walked down the aisle to Girl From the North Country by Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan, where Henry waited, wearing a smart suit by Walker Slater, together with a Munro Hunting Tartan tie – his clan tartan – which the groomsmen also wore.

“We met 13 years ago in Berlin on a college art trip. Henry’s father was my sculpture tutor, and Henry had tagged along on the trip during his gap year.”

“Ten years later while we were on holiday in Ireland, we climbed to the top of Mount Errigal and Henry proposed, followed by a packed lunch of cheese sandwiches! Henry is an avid hill walker so this all felt very fitting.”

“It was a further two years until the big day, while we juggled wedding planning with house moves and renovations.”

The couple made their vows, and loved ones clapped and sang to Will Ye Go Lassie Go? (Wild Mountain Thyme), and Alyce and Henry placed rings onto each other’s hands – rings which have the most amazing, magical story attached to them.

“I was busy one Sunday digging up a particularly large bramble bush and its extensive roots at our first house in Gloucester, when to my surprise I discovered that the root had grown straight through a man’s gold wedding ring.”

“Even more surprisingly, the ring fit Henry perfectly, and from then on he knew his fate was sealed! A year or so later Sue, Henry’s Mum, was weeding in her garden at Henry’s childhood home in Malmesbury when she also discovered a ring – a ladies’ gold wedding band, and after a little clean these are the rings that were used in the ceremony.”

In light of that extraordinary wedding ring story, there seemed to be only one fitting ceremony reading – it was an extract from The Owl and the Pussycat, read aloud by Henry’s father – ‘O let us be married! Too long we have tarried: But what shall we do for a ring? They sailed away, for a year and a day, to the land where the Bong-Tree grows; And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood, with a ring at the end of his nose.’

Explore lots of more wedding readings here on Love My Dress

“Our favourite part of the day was the moment we stepped out of the ceremony to our favourite song and greeted all our loved ones who gathered in one place.”

“I would have had the ceremony a little earlier in the day, as it all seemed to be over so quickly.”

Alyce and Henry hoped for snow on their wedding day, and they got their wish! They held their reception in the venue’s Stag Ballroom, which meant that everyone had to venture outside in the midst of a blizzard, across a courtyard and then into the most spectacular, soaring space decorated with a striking canopy of winter branches.

“One guest joked it was like walking into Narnia when they entered the Stag Ballroom. There was a series of light spruce trees placed just inside the entrance.”

“Once inside they were meet with the spectacle of over 200 stag antlers, whilst for large floral installation we wanted to bring the winter forest inside, and a team of groomsmen and bridesmaids all set of into the estate in search of dead mossy branches to create large branch centre pieces weighted down with stones from the river.”

Alyce and Henry were drawn to the wild decadence of Mar Lodge Estate, and added deep forest green velvet table cloths, and handmade napkins in Morris & Co.’s ‘Rosehip’ design – a favourite of Alyce’s. These beautiful napkins were also hand cut and frayed, and each tied with a green velvet ribbon.

“For favours my grandad grew each guest a Sempervivum from seed, which we planted in individual terracotta pots. Henry then created copper planters which had the wedding date stamped into them.”

“The cake was made by one of my bridesmaids – a beautiful red velvet sponge with soft icing outer.”

The sharing feast made for a relaxed and merry atmosphere, where speeches and toasts were enjoyed in great company, followed by sparklers outside in the snow, and then the evening party back inside the lodge, where Alyce and Henry danced with their family and friends to their ceilidh band [sadly no details provided about this].

Adding more drama and texture around the space were boughs of evergreens and pine cones, vases of seasonal flowers, and lots of balloons, too.

Reagan Hallett Catering came up with a delicious sharing feast, which began with starters of smoked salmon and horseradish mousse, sweet potato and feta dip, served with olives, artisan breads, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. This was followed by a main of slow roasted shoulder of lamb or mushroom and walnut stroganoff.

Words of Wedded Wisdom

“Don’t become overwhelmed and stressed about the small details of the day, it’s highly likely something will go wrong or get forgotten, but once the day has begun and you are surrounded by your nearest and dearest it really won’t matter.”

Find & book suppliers we love & recommend, in our Little Book Wedding Directory

“I feel its also really important for your bridesmaids (if you have them) – those you hold dearest in life – to feel amazing on the day, so opting for a more casual mix and match look works well for larger groups as it is almost impossible to find one style and colour of dress that everyone feels good in.”

Alyce and Henry, as your first wedding anniversary approaches, congratulations to you both, and thank you so much for sharing your spectacular day with us. The snowfall made an already beautiful place extra special. Many thanks to Caro Weiss for these sumptuous, elegant images, too.

With love,

Laura

Credits & Thanks
Laura Callan

Laura Callan
View all Laura’s articles

Laura is a freelance writer and content creator who loves telling stories. She has keen eye for photography and art, and lives with her husband, cats, and huge amounts of books.

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