Real Scottish Weddings - Dundas Castle
Close your eyes and imagine the perfect early spring day. The first buds of leaves & blossom are peaking through and there's a little warmth in the sun's rays. A long, winding driveway leads up to a gorgeous castle with grand entranceway. Birds are singing and faintly you can hear the sound of girls laughing and dancing to music.
Now open your eyes: it's Rachel & David's Wedding at Dundas Castle
Rachel & David's full day wedding photography began in the morning, just hours before the ceremony in the Auld Keep.
Upstairs in the very appropriately chosen Spring Suite, the morning prep was already well underway. I met Rachel with a broad grin on her face as she was sitting getting her hair done. She was radiant and relaxed in her bridal robes - her bridesmaids & somethings-blue in matching styles.
The sun was beaming in through the windows as the girls went between the interlocking rooms, the atmosphere charged with excitement & anticipation.
Rachel was very relieved to see me arrive with my professional cameras - having fallen for my April Fool's Joke a few days prior on Instagram where I'd said I had sold all my gear in favour of a cheapy Kodak film camera from the late 90s! Apparently when she saw the post on my Stories, she'd had a small panic and hadn't had the courage to double check if I was joking! Sorry Rachel - but it was totally worth it!
The dress was a closely guarded secret - with a reveal planned with Rachel's bridesmaids for later. As I begun with details shots, I arranged for everyone but Maid of Honour Katie to leave the room so we could get shots of the dress in all its glory. A beautiful Maggie Sottero number from Emma Roy of Edinburgh, it sparkled in the spring sunshine.
I loved the secrecy behind the dress. It's so lovely to keep a little something back from your guests or bridesmaids so they get to experience wee surprises on your wedding.
With the dress safely back in his cover and hidden away until later, it was time for more details shots of the rings, shoes and the lovely personal touch of engraved chopsticks tied together in a tartan bow. It was lovely to see traditional Scottish wedding ideas woven with elements of Chinese culture, as a nod to Rachel's dad.
Both Rachel & David's mums were with Rachel for morning hair & makeup - which was lovely. It felt like one big party, almost an extension of the hen party (though minus the elephants unfortunately). Prosecco was already flowing, music was playing and the girls were having so much fun.
Downstairs in the billiards room, David and his groomsmen were already suited and booted or at least the kilted equivalent. Kilted & Quilted? I don't think that'll catch on.
The boys gathered around the snooker table and tried to pot a few balls for the camera - fortunately between myself and Danielle Watt as videographer we somehow managed to edit these shots to make them look like they knew what they were doing. Just kidding, guys! I'm confident you potted at least one, just a shame no one else saw? (Sorry / not sorry)
With the ceremony fast approaching, I was keen to get the boys outside for some relaxed shots together. As we herded the boys outside, Rachel's dad had disappeared - so anxious he was to get his speech just perfect that he was hiding in his room practicing. It was honestly one of the best reasons to be late for photos I've heard and such a sweet thing to be worrying about on the day. Thankfully we were able to coax him out of his room to a great shot with all the boys as David was hoisted into the air by his groomsmen.
Before Rachel stepped into her dress, she had a little surprise planned for her Bride Tribe.
Having such a talent for words, Rachel had written each of bridesmaids, something-blues, mum and mum-in-law to be a personalised poem about their history together and how much they meant to her.
I loved how deeply personal these gifts were, and how much love was contained within these wonderful words. There were hugs and happy tears and no doubt floods of fun memories brought back by these touching poems.
If there's one shot I recommend before you get into your wedding dress, it's a prosecco shot with your girls! Another bottle was ordered up to the room and I gathered Rachel and her bridesmaids on the bed as she popped the cork, poured her besties a glass each and raised them all in a toast to the beautiful bride.
The Wedding Dress Reveal
The moment had finally arrived and it was now time for Rachel to get into her dress. Gorgeous light was streaming in through the window as the bridesmaids disappeared to get ready themselves and wait patiently for their own First Look. Mum tenderly did up the dress buttons before the veil was fitted. Maid of Honour Katie dried off the beautiful bouquet of lilies - which had attached to it a small photo of Rachel's grandmother.
Rachel was absolutely glowing with happiness - she was beaming from cheek to cheek. The golden light streamed in and illuminated her dazzling dress.
Solo bridal portraits were a joy to take, and some of these images are my favourites from their whole wedding photography gallery.
Rachel's Dad had been waiting eagerly outside the Spring Suite for sometime - anxious now not only to get his speech right but also to see his beautiful daughter as a bride.
About an hour before she even got into her dress I had tell her dad that she wouldn't be ready for quite some time yet. So when he finally opened that door, emotions were running high and his eyes filled with love as he saw his little girl in her dress for the very first time.
It was now the bridesmaids turn for their First Look with the bride. Positioned on the grand staircase within Dundas Castle, each holding their single lily that matched Rachel's full bouquet, they waited with their eyes closed for my countdown. Their reactions when they opened their eyes says it all - the years of friendship and time together as bridesmaids & something-blues talking the dress, the hair, the makeup and they were finally living out this dream moment. All that excitement & positive energy was just radiating from their expressions.
The Wedding Ceremony in the Auld Keep
The bell began to ring out for Rachel, signalling that it was time: time for her to marry the love of her life, to begin their new journey as a married couple. Holding Dad's hand, Rachel stepped out of the castle and towards the Auld Keep, where it would all begin.
Up the many flights of stairs, David was waiting for his first glimpse of Rachel in the ceremony space. As the music began and the bridesmaids walked out one by one, the anticipation mounted until finally he saw that first glint of white - followed by the bright, loving smile that he knew all too well.
At that moment when he finally saw her in her beautiful wedding dress you could almost hear his breath being stolen from him. Months of careful planning and joint decision making had accumulated into this perfect moment.
Rachel & David kept their ceremony simple - with a couple of readings and some hymns and all conducted by their family minister on what would be his final wedding before retirement. Though we were joined by an unexpected guest towards the end - see if you can spot who it was in the photos below.
The Drinks Reception in Dundas Castle
As the ceremony came to a close, Rachel and David made their way to the very top of the Keep as their guests exited to the main hall for the start of the drinks reception.
There were views for days from the top - from the Forth Bridges to the Pentlands and all the rolling countryside of rivers, trees and fields in between. A little high cloud cover had rolled in creating a nice haze that allowed for softer lighting - perfect for their first set of newly married couples photos. They were glowing with happiness - finally reunited and at long last married. The rooftop views at Dundas Castle are truly some of the most beautiful at any Edinburgh wedding venue and make for some of the most iconic Scottish wedding photos.
We left Rachel & David to enjoy a few minutes alone for their very own private reception together. When you are surrounded by all your friends & family at a wedding it can be hard to spend any time alone with your partner - so it's great that Dundas Castle plan for every couple to enjoy a glass of champagne together before they are announced into their drinks reception & cake cutting.
Unfortunately for Master of Ceremonies Kumul - who would be announcing them in - they were enjoying their private reception just a little too much! Poor Kumul made no less than three attempts to announce them in - with the happy couple making no shows on the first two. At least he got some practice in for the third & final go!
Their drinks reception was buzzing with chatter & laughter as old friends greeted each other and new friendships formed. We rifled through the family & wedding party group shots with the iconic doorway of Dundas Castle providing a marvellous backdrop. Just before the guests were piped down for the wedding breakfast in the pavilion, we gathered everyone outside for a whole wedding guest group shot.
As everyone made their way to the pavillion, we finally had the grounds to ourselves for more couples photos. With everyone inside, Rachel & David were treated to a little more privacy that allowed for more intimate & romantic scenes to be captured. Throughout the day the lighting was constantly changing, and this time it was more golden - almost the beginning of sunset despite it only being late afternoon.
The Speeches, Golden Hour & Evening Reception
The happy couple were piped to their seats, guests stomping their feet on the floor to the rhythm. Once the piper was paid his dues in whisky, the speeches began. Rachel's Dad brought the emotion with a touching speech about his daughter that also welcomed David to the family. Best Man Lewis delivered the laughs while the bridesmaids took inspiration (and a shot of prosecco first) from Rachel herself by reciting their speech in the form of a poem.
We also took a group shot with each table - which was a lovely way to capture every person at their wedding in addition to the group shot before the meal.
Golden hour is different at every time of year - with each season offering something unique and special. As the sun began to set on their early spring wedding, we seized the moment with Rachel & David and stole a few minutes outside amongst the greenery & colour of Dundas estate. These photos were so much fun to create - with the daffodils giving a burst of colours to the images and the sky melting into a soft pink haze. As part of some great semi-candid poses, Rachel & David rehearsed their first dance moves for some brilliant candid moments and gave us a taste of what was to come later that evening.
Sparklers are an absolute must at any wedding ceremony in my opinion, but even better if I'm still there to photograph it! With sunset so early on in the evening, we were afforded a gorgeous blue hour twilight that was perfect for taking the wedding party out for some sparklers before the first dance. The bright light from the sparklers lit up everything with a warm, fiery glow that played a wild contrast to the crisp air & cool blue skies above. We played around with some sparkler arches before I got everyone to rush behind me to allow the soft amber hues to radiate towards Rachel & David as they kissed.
As a surprise for their guests, Rachel & David had a choreographed first dance planned with some amazing moves that truly stunned their guests.
It was a brilliant way to make their First Dance not only unique but super memorable as well with dips, dives, lifts and twirls. On top of all that Rachel managed to do the whole routine in heels!
Afterwards they slickly moved into a Mother-Son and Father-Daughter dance before all the guests were invited to join them on the dancefloor. The rest of the night would be a fully fledged Scottish Ceilidh - with their friends from South of the Border fully embracing the chaos & craziness of it all.
A Romantic End to a Fairy-tale Scottish Wedding
With a wedding like this and a couple like Rachel & David, there's really only one way to end your day's photography. From the moment we first met over Zoom to our catch up coffee in December, I could tell what a beautiful, loving & devoted couple they were. Their love for each other had brought everyone here together in this 15th century castle. A brother flying in from the USA, friends from England, relatives in China eager to see the professional shots when they were ready. All the loving moments that had played out that early spring day was but a fragment of the love these two felt for each other.
So while their guests partied inside, I took Rachel & David out for one last set of very special photographs that would encapsulate the romance & love between them. These are some of my favourite images from their wedding. It's just two people whose love for each other lights up their world.
Feeling inspired by Rachel & David's Dundas Castle Wedding?
If their wedding photography has inspired you to plan your very own Edinburgh wedding, then get planning with their supplier list below:
Venue: Dundas Castle
Catering / Events: Heritage Portfolio
Wedding Dress: Maggie Sottero Designs from Emma Roy of Edinburgh
Hair Stylist: Eireann Roberts Hair
Make Up: Charlotte Gray Makeup Artist
Videographer: Danielle Watt Film + Photo
Cake: Cakes by Samina
Flowers: Becky's Flowers