Autumnal Highland wedding with eco-credentials and a dip in the loch for the happy couple!

Sofia Maruzza & George Bryant

5th October 2021

Venue | Loch Garten and The Dell of Abernethy, Cairngorms National Park
Photography | Catriona Parmenter Photography

A bride and groom hold hands whilst a celebrant leads their wedding ceremony. They are all standing on the banks of a loch.

“George and I have been together since October 2007. There wasn’t a big proposal with a fancy, expensive ring. It happened organically, over time, where we discussed what we wanted to see in our future and what our long-term goals were.

We discussed if we wanted to marry, and how we wanted to do it. It developed from there and was a really fun, creative experience. Getting married in a forest was the first idea, and it quickly became the top priority so we planned everything around that. Sustainability, using local suppliers and being kind to the environment were also really important.

One of the first things we did was to have our wedding bands made from gold we already had. That was over a year before we even booked a wedding date.

As we were coming from England, we weren’t sure about how the legalities work in Scotland. We did a bit of digging to work out what we could and couldn’t do. The fact that you can marry anywhere in Scotland made it all the more attractive.

We didn’t set a budget specifically, but the priority was to be as eco-friendly and as sustainable as possible, as well as low cost!

George had seen The Dell of Abernethy on the BBC series Autumnwatch and immediately fell in love with the place. The elopement package the venue offered also covered photography by Catriona Parmenter and flowers from Wild Gorse, so it took away any planning stress. The Dell’s owners Polly and Ross are just the best people; they felt like part of the family and really put us at ease. I will be forever grateful to them for making our day so incredible.

We booked our wedding as a genuine elopement, with photographer Catriona and Polly lined up to act as witnesses. About two weeks out, we realised that where we were staying could fit in most of our family members and that it would be nice to have them there to celebrate with. Polly was an absolute lifesaver, making tweaks and arrangements to make sure everyone was accounted for and that it would work.

It was immediate family only, so my dad and sister, and George’s parents, siblings, partners and children. Including us it was 11 adults and two babies.

The day started with us all having breakfast together. Then we got ready and made our way to the loch for 12.30pm in the Dell’s beautiful car Bluebelle (a 1964 Humber Sceptre) where we met our registrar Keith.

Our ceremony took place on the shores of the picturesque Loch Garten, an RSPB nature reserve. As soon as we got out of the car, we were blown away by the beauty and the complete silence of the place.

We wandered down to an idyllic spot on the shore and got the vows underway. At that point, two swans landed on the Loch. Catriona and Ross know the area well and said they had never seen them there before, so that was lovely. It was also fun signing the papers in the middle of a forest.

After the vows, and some sips of champagne, we took a dip in the Loch. It was an absolutely glorious way to celebrate and really take in the moment. Then we returned to the Dell for amazing food laid on by the team there. In the evening, we wandered down to the tipi for cocktails and a roaring fire.

Our photographer Catriona’s knowledge of the area was incredibly valuable. She knew exactly where the best spots were and really helped us get the most out of the day. She was also super-chilled and really put as at ease; she has a real skill in just capturing natural shots and made us feel so comfortable in front of the camera.

We don’t believe in fast fashion or wear-once outfits. I didn’t want my dress to be traditionally bridal; it had to be comfortable and something I would wear again. Thankfully I found one from Jan ‘n’ June fairly quickly that was made from recycled materials and had pockets. George’s suit was one he already had.

We basically ditched all traditions. There was no first dance, no big cake-cutting ceremony, and no awkward speeches. I am so pleased we resisted any pressure and did exactly what we wanted to do.”

Ceremony venue Loch Garten Nature Reserve
Reception venue The Dell of Abernethy
Photography Catriona Parmenter Photography
Registrar Keith from Nairn Registration Office
Bride’s dress Jan ‘n’ June
Cake KJ’S Bothy Bakery
Flowers Wild Gorse Flowers

A bride wears an autumnal flower crown and holds an autumnal bouquetA bride and groom stand side by sideportraits of a bride and groom preparing to get marrieda bride getting out of her wedding car, accompanied by two mena bride and groom pose by a wedding carA bride and groom face away from the camera, holding hands. They are in a wooded area and the bride holds a bouquet above her head.A celebrant leads a wedding ceremony in a wooded area. The bride and groom and a small number of guests are picturedA bride signs the marriage documentsA groom signs the marriage documents whilst the bride and two witnesses look onthe bride and groom sit on a log by the banks of a loch; the bride and groom embrace and pose for the camerathe bride and groom cheers with a glass of fizzthe bride and groom stand under a shower of confetti thrown by their gueststhe bride and groom kiss in front of their gueststhe bride and groom pose in thermal jackets, their feet in the loch; the bride and groom embrace and pose for the cameraThe bride and groom wearing swimming costumes, making their way into the loch. The bride is still wearing a flower crown and holding her bouquetThe bride and groom splashing around in the lochthe bride and groom leave the loch together and the bride holds her bouquet above her headthe bride and groom after swimming in the loch, wearing thermal jackets and holding glasses of fizzthe bride and groom posing around a door; the bride and groom seated on a bed, laughingtwo men prepare the table arrangements for the wedding mealtwo iced cakes sitting on vintage chinaclose up of a cake; a close up of two bouquets of flowersa close up of confettithe wedding guests and bride and groom sit at the wedding meal table and cheersthe bride and groom pose next to a blue vintage campervan

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