Combining the wild, rural charm of the Scottish Highlands with a Costa Rican twist – today’s real wedding is chock full of personality, special touches and picture-perfect backdrops for a day to remember.
Nat and Oli decided to host their ceremony on a hill, with this secluded spot boasting 360-degree views of the nearby loch, castle and spectacular Ben Wyvis. We’ve never seen anything quite like and we think you’ll agree, this dramatic setting was more than worth the climb. Or in the case of our newlyweds – worth the hairy quad bike ride!
Keen to keep things local and as environmentally friendly as possible, the couple made use of nearby suppliers and traditions galore, with family, friends and neighbours all contributing to their big day. Prepare to be whisked away by tartan, thistles, ceilidh dancing and…Costa Rican coffee. Here’s Nat with all the details!
With images by Fox and Bear Photography
Nat says: We got engaged in the sea, at a remote beach in Myanmar in March 2018. Oli grabbed my hand as I was floating and popped the question!
We got married on 20th April 2019, Easter Saturday! A great time for Costa Ricans to take a holiday and come to Scotland, plus the daffodils are out.
We had the ceremony up a hill in Knockfarrel where there used to be a Pictish hillfort many years ago. We then had the party in Oli’s parent’s garden, in the home where he grew up. The hill is beautiful, has 360 views of the loch, a castle and Ben Wyvis, a snow topped Munro. The hill is a special place for Oli’s family as we always go for walks up there.
Our theme was best described as rustic, local and seasonal. We wanted everything to be as local and as environmentally friendly as possible. We were ok with imperfection and we did everything ourselves with help from our family and friends. We did want to feature Scottish traditions as we had friends coming from different countries and my family were coming over from Costa Rica.
We went for a yellow and blue colour palette because it was spring and primroses, daffodils, tulips and grape hyacinths were all blooming.
I chose a vintage Italian lace dress which I bought from a lovely young Thai designer in a small shop called Treasures in Bangkok. She buys old textiles and transforms them into beautiful dresses. I chose and bought it in less than 20 minutes without expecting it at all and in the best possible way, laughing with my friends! I liked how it fitted and the lace was truly beautiful! It was a bargain and a gem.
My silk dress slip was by Jane Bourvis, while my Chinese silk shawl was a present from my mother-in-law, found in a vintage shop in Edinburgh. The tartan jacket I wore belonged to Oli’s grandfather.
Our rings and my earrings (designed by Pippa Small) were made by my old colleagues at Turquoise Mountain Myanmar. And we both wore casual Timberland boots!
Oli’s kilt featured the Russell tartan – and there was no choice with this. I loved it anyway! His kilt jacket was made by Rhoda Fraser Kiltmakers in Dingwall. The groomsmen wore a mixture of kilts and suits.
My bridesmaids wore their own dresses.
My mum did my makeup, and my hair was done by Dingwall Hair and Graces, and this was accessorised with a headpiece by Madre Perla.
Our transport was a quad bike driven by our friend Fred who runs South Clunes Farm with Oli’s dad – it was one of the most exciting parts of the wedding as we were going up the hill with the front two wheels off the ground! Nervously uncontrollably laughing at the surreal scene and excitement of it all.
For guests getting to and from the wedding, a minibus firm provided several shuttles and other guests used taxis.
The lovely Dewi from Fox and Bear captured our wedding day. We loved his work, it really captured the atmosphere as well as us as a couple. The photos are stunning and they very naturally convey all the emotions – from preparation through to the ceremony and the party. And so much hugging and smiling!
My mother-in-law made me an absolutely beautiful bouquet of fresh spring flowers and larch branches.
She planted more than 1,000 daffodil bulbs all over the garden during the autumn. We asked Highland Liliums, a local garden shop, to lend us some tubs of spring flowers and trees. On the walk up to the hill and on top of the hill we put up several arches of ivy and flowers which Oli’s brothers’ girlfriends painstakingly put together and decorated.
We put individual plants in aged clay pots on the tables so that guests could take them as a gift, or we could plant them back in the garden. And best of all, my granny handmade all of our napkins out of fabric scraps which made fun pattern combinations, so even though she couldn’t be there she was well represented and hugely appreciated. We also placed Costa Rican bird of paradise flowers and the Scottish thistle into vases on the drinks tables.
As for our marquee and lights, these were provided by North of Scotland Marquees who were really friendly, flexible and efficient.
For our favours, I handmade 125 clay espresso cups!
We had a cheese tower, because we absolutely love cheese. This was another great homemade creation of my mother-in-law!
Wine buyer and author Davy Zyw recommended some great wines and champagne which Oli’s mum and dad went to taste and choose. They ended up with a great selection of Krasno Pinot Bianco (Slovenia) and Malbec Valle de Uco (Mendoza) and Graham Beck Brut.
Before walking up the hill, guests were offered a shot of Sloe Gin and the bar had Sipsmith gin and tonics (including classic, elderflower and ginger).
We had two casks of beer, one Red Kite Ale and one Blonde from Black Isle Brewery Beer, plus a selection of whiskey and tequila which kept people dancing.
The food was tasty selection of wholesome Highland food with a twist of spice. Delicious highlights included the haggis bon bons and burmese aubergine salad on oatcakes canapes, main courses of Scottish venison braised with chilli and chocolate and chickpea, aubergine and mushroom tagine, and then a rhubarb and ginger brulee for pudding. All of it was made by The Taste of Murray.
Our coffee was Costa Rican and brought by friends and family from Costa Rica.
Our music was very special and all came from talented friends. For the walk up the hill, my entrance, and the end of the ceremony, Ewan Wotherspoon was the piper. He was accompanied by Iain, Oli’s dad, when we both exited the ceremony.
Hannah Murphy, an old friend of Oli’s, sang wonderfully during the ceremony. During the reception she teamed up with another friend of Oli’s, Tom Cullen – a great keyboard player – and together they played a medley of songs chosen by me and Oli.
Straight after dinner we got everyone dancing to a full ceilidh. The first dance was the Dashing White Sergeant in the groups of three they were sat in at their tables. The band were Highland music legends Veronique Nelson, Melanie and Andy Thorburn. All of the sound was done by Nick at Watercolour Music.
Aneira Roose McClew and Alex Temple then played an epic DJ set mixing some classics with some great Latin tunes and reggaeton.
We handmade place mats with mulberry paper from Myanmar, and created table numbers with names of the places where we both had lived.
We had a bonfire too and late at night people gathered around the fire to sing and play guitar.
We had so much help from friends, family and neighbours which included borrowing items like the bar and the bunting to literally make the arches!
It’s too hard to choose a best bit! Me and my dad walking along the hill to the ceremony led by Ewan on the pipes; the moment in the ceremony where our two families stood at the front of the congregation on top of the hill and everyone read out the traditional blessing together; the great speeches from Oli’s brothers, my sister, Val and my mother-in-law; being thrown around the dancefloor during the reeling, standing by the fire with Oli, relaxing in the garden the next day and reliving it all over Bloody Marys, soup, cheese and more cake!
We went to a remote cottage on the west coast of Scotland near Knoydart. A peaceful, beautiful escape and amazingly it was sunny.
My top tip for other Brides Up North would be enjoy the planning, do it together and make it personal and fun. There is no ‘one’ way of ‘having’ to do it. Make the most of your talented family and friends. Don’t worry too much on the day, go with the flow and enjoy celebrating with all of your favourite people.