“Our suppliers started off as names in a book but, after months of planning, talking and laughing, they’re very dear friends that have shared the most special day of our lives,” says Sara Bowring, who tied the knot with fiancé David Strachan at Clu
Sussex-based scuba divers Sara and David had known one another for years before deciding to take their friendship to the next level on New Year’s Eve, 2015. And, after exactly a year of dating, when the couple were up spending Christmas with David’s family, he got down on one knee during a dog walk at Crathie Kirk, by Aberdeenshire’s beautiful Balmoral Castle.
“I love castles and, being in Scotland, I wanted to visit as many as possible,” says Sara. “Nothing is grander than Balmoral… or so I thought. I hadn’t seen Cluny Castle yet!”
Thanks to GWD, though, it didn’t take long for her to come upon it. Venue hunting had been the top priority and opting for the northeast of Scotland was a quick decision: “David’s family live here, plus it offers more choice of spectacular venues, including castles, of course!”
After his next trip to Aberdeen, David returned with a copy of GWD and, when Sara let it fall open, the Cluny Castle advert was the first she saw: “It was love at first sight and I called them straight away – but there was a very important question to be asked: would they allow dogs?”
When Sara realised her two fur babies would be more than welcome and that they could stay at Cluny the week before the big day (offering them plenty of time to set up and giving their far-flung guests the opportunity to make their wedding into a holiday), she started planning her glamorous castle nuptials, complete with a vibrant colour scheme, gorgeous DIY details and, of course, a ballgown fit for a princess.
Sara found ‘The One’ after trying on just four others: “I knew it was my dress: it had the sleeves, the sparkle, the skirts, the train, the volume and the beads. Then I spotted a beautiful pair of diamanté heels… I knew they were going to kill me, but I had to have them!”
She topped off her dazzling dress with a bespoke tiara and a glitzy bouquet full of sparkle, then headed down the aisle to meet David for their religious service in Cluny Castle Chapel.
A sunny drinks reception on the spectacular lawns followed before the newlyweds and their entourage tucked into a meal of traditional Scottish fare, which included haggis bonbons with a Lochnagar drizzle; a Cambus O’May tartlet – made using local free-range eggs; and a delicious lamb shank, slow cooked with juniper berries and set on an Arran mustard mash.
Evening arrived, and the couple cut their cake (which had an impressive personalised cake topper with scuba divers and dogs!) and performed their first dance to Jennifer Rush’s The Power of Love: a song they swayed along to on the night they got together.
From here, The Big Show (another GWD-sourced supplier!) took over, whilst the guests delved into the DIY sweetie table and had fun with the magic mirror from Fabby Fotos: “Everyone enjoyed dressing up with a prop and posing for the camera: it was a great asset to have for the evening,” says Sara.
Reflecting on the day and the lead-up, Sara suggests finding trusted suppliers are key to a stress-free planning process: “If you get good suppliers like we did, you’ll have nothing to worry about. Communicate with them well and remember they’re at the top of their game; they know what works and doesn’t; they love the quirky bits; and they’ll bend over backwards to help give you the day of your dreams.”
Venue: Cluny Castle
Food/drink suppliers: Country Flavours of Alford
Wedding dress: WED2B (Brighton)
Groom’s outfit: McCalls Highlandwear
Hair and make-up: Rebecca Carr Hair Salon
Bridesmaid dresses: Quiz
Mother-of-the-bride outfit: Marks & Spencer, Quiz
Stationery: Pure Invitation (online)
Guest transport: Whytes Coaches Limited
Cake: Love Laura Lane
Décor: Ruffle & Rose Events, VM Bespoke Ltd (England), Babyobaidi (online), The Personalised Bride (online)
Piper: Thistle Piping
Band/DJ: The Big Show
Other entertainment: Choccywoccydoodah, Fabby Fotos (magic mirror)
Rings: Le Vian