Andrew and Ailidh – Rankin Church, Strathaven and The Lochside House Hotel

Andrew and Ailidh – Rankin Church, Strathaven and The Lochside House Hotel

Once upon a time, in the fairy-tale land of Strathaven just along from the Castle, there lived a beautiful princess named Ailidh. Hers was an idyllic life full of music and laughter shared with little sister Seonaid and mum and dad Catherine and Ian. She played piano and as she sang along I am almost certain the birds and animals would gather around her and tweet and twerp and join in. I imagine there was lots of sparkle and joy in the Ballantyne house. And lots of Disney DVDs and books! Yes this was my first Disney themed wedding and what a wonderful day we all had. Of course normally in any Disney themed story we would be introduced to the nastier elements of our main character’s life –  cue the wicked stepmother, Maleficent, Cruella De Vil or Captain Hook. Truth is, they don’t exist in Strathaven. Word on the street is that they only exist in big cities! In Strathaven, everything is perfect 😉

Andrew and Ailidh are both lawyers and they met on the first day of University.  Andrew told how Ailidh stood out on that first day and how he was convinced she was the girl for him – it subsequently took him 14 months to pluck up the courage to ask her out! But ask her out he did and they have been together ever since. They share a passion for life, for Disney, and each other. Mr and Mrs Upton will forever be known as the “golden couple” – Ailidh’s dad Ian reminded us all of the significance of both having the initials AU! Check out your periodic table from standard grade Chemstry if this doesn’t make sense! Of course I think these photographs underline why they are a golden couple. I first met Ailidh when she was the bridesmaid to sister Seonaid as I photographed her wedding to Alasdair. Roles were fully reversed this time around with little sister playing the role of bridesmaid and Alasdair matching Andrew’s original first class usher performance. There is a great lesson in this experience – if something works well why change it? I’m persuading myself that’s why I was invited back! That’s definitely why we were back with the Rev Shaw Paterson in his wonderful Rankin Church and then why we were back in the sensational Lochside House Hotel – set in beautiful countryside outside New Cumnock – an absolutely stunning wedding venue.  To be honest I have now had several photographic sessions with Ailidh and her family. It has always been the most rewarding experience and this time around was absolutely perfect. It was also a delight to meet Andrew’s clan and get to see first hand how both families have helped shape our bride and groom into such a wonderful young couple.

The Lochside House Hotel is set in the most beautiful grounds. It has won numerous awards as Scotland’s leading wedding venue and it is a photographer’s delight. Even if the weather doesn’t play ball there are so many nooks and crannies hidden everywhere where we can capture the most amazing scenes.

An eloquence of lawyers ( a new collective noun I learned from dad Ian) and guests had travelled from far and wide to join in the celebrations and I am confident they will return home with wonderful memories from a very special wedding. They got to hear some of the finest after dinner wedding speeches, especially from best man Tipu. He spoke of a friendship with Andrew stretching back to primary school and he spoke with great confidence, comedy and sincerity. Theirs will be a lifelong friendship, severely tested in darker times gone by, but is as strong as best friends are ever likely to be. I have already seen a snippet from the wonderful wedding film produced by Sean O’Donnell of Timeless Productions in Ireland. It took my breath away Sean – great job.

As I left them all in the capable hands of Derek and Laughlin of Derringer, the music and dancing was in full flow. Odds on that Laughlin’s higher falsetto would work well on “A Whole New World” and “Some Day, My Prince Will Come” and he may have left Derek to master  “When You Wish Upon a Star”. They really are such a fantastic wedding band!

And one last thing for Andrew and Ailidh – thank you again for the opportunity. It really was a fairy-tale wedding. Here are a few photographs of a spectacular and joyful day and I just know that you will live happily ever after……..
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Karon and Peter – The Loch Lomond Arms Hotel, Luss

Karon and Peter – The Loch Lomond Arms Hotel, Luss

I was back again on the bonnie, bonnie banks of Loch Lomond on a beautiful spring day for the spectacular wedding of an old friend and neighbour Peter to Karon. This time I returned to the Loch Lomond Arms, a wonderfully tasteful boutique hotel set atop the main street in the village of Luss. It was sensational! A beautiful ceremony in the hotel marquee was followed by a day of celebration and laughter in the gardens of the hotel.  After the ceremony we walked down to Luss Pier to catch a few photos with Ben Lomond as the backdrop – you won’t find many better or more photogenic locations in Scotland. The village attracts tourists from all over the globe and on a day like Karon and Peter’s wedding day, when the sun shone brightly, the tourists were out in force to wish the happy couple lots of good wishes. Karon and Peter were beaming as they walked through the town and everyone stopped to offer their congratulations.

The guest list also looked like a global gathering with family and friends travelling from far flung places like South Africa and Dubai for the celebrations. And boy did they celebrate! When the first dance from the magnificent Nightfly kicked in we got a taste of the out and out party that was to follow – a brilliant rendition of Pharrell’s “Happy” brought the whole bridal party bouncing on to the dance floor and it never stopped!

Karon was a picture of happiness all day and she loved every minute of it. She looked fabulous and glamorous in her dress from the wonderful team at Ederra Bridal Studio in Blantyre.

The Loch Lomond Arms was the subject of a recent multi million pound refurbishment and it looks good in its new clothes. I was here just after it opened and you get the sense that it’s now firmly established as one of Scotland’s finest wedding venues. Val and her team could not have been more helpful – they really look after every fine detail and many thanks for finding me some ladders!.

My very best wishes go to Peter and Karon and the three kids, Amy, Lewis, and Laura. You all looked beautiful and handsome and I hope you enjoyed the day as much as everyone else. I hope you will all continue to be blessed with good luck and an ability to pick a winner!  It was an emotional day for everyone involved and it was to your great credit that you included your past with your future – it was lovely to see some very special old faces, especially those who travelled the longest distance. Of course there were some things better left in the past – I am still recovering from Neil’s Athens story! Thank you for giving me the opportunity to play a small part at your wedding. Well done to everyone involved for making it such a memorable day but special thanks go to Amy, Laura, Lewis, Neil, Murray and Neil for your help, patience and understanding. Extra special thanks to Peter and Karon – you were fantastic! Here are a few reminders of your perfect day by yon bonnie banks and by yon bonnie braes…………


Karon and Peter

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Lisa and Ross – The Lochside House Hotel

Lisa and Ross – The Lochside House Hotel

I first met Lisa when she was a bridesmaid to Claire at her wedding to Paul at the Crutherland House Hotel last year. It was a very special wedding and I took it as a great endorsement when Lisa subsequently asked me to photograph her wedding to Ross. They are part of a delightful crowd of friends who have wonderful family values and I didn’t need to be asked twice before accepting.  I just knew Lisa and Ross’s wedding would be special! They were married at the stunningly beautiful Lochside House Hotel in New Cumnock in Ayrshire and Lisa returned the compliment with Claire joining the gorgeous Nicola and Amy as bridesmaids. This wasn’t my first visit to the Lochside but it was the first when the sun shone brightly. Don’t get me wrong – there was a wee nip in the air at times but what a hotel this is for a wedding when the sun decides to play ball.   The hotel is set in the most beautiful grounds and at this time of year there are all sorts of wildlife active in and around the lochs and reeds and gardens – it is a photographer’s delight. After dinner I spent ten minutes in the company of an excited local wildlife photographer as he scanned the banks of the lochs for the day’s new arrivals. It was like being part of an episode of Springwatch! Within minutes a family of newly hatched and very rare chicks appeared in the late golden spring sunshine and I felt blessed to have been part of a very beautiful day. Of course what had gone before was also very special. Lisa was a stunningly beautiful, natural and very relaxed bride. She loved every minute of her day and her joy came through in everything we did. Ross is a very lucky man but he too had a day to remember. They were both as chilled as they come – resplendent in their finery and the day could not have worked out any better. Everything was timed to perfection, the sun, the music, the laughter and the hospitality.  Indeed the timing was so slick that I almost missed the start of the dancing as we caught some last minute pics in front of the lounge fireplace.

Guests had travelled from numerous continents to join in the celebrations and I am confident they will return home with wonderful memories from a very special wedding. They also got to hear about Ross the poet, his love of a line of M&S thermal boxer shorts, and his tendency to bring his chestnuts into his bath – but the wedding DVD from Viking Video Productions will reveal slightly more from best man Greg than I could possibly publish here!

I must also mention the flowers – they were exceptional but they were provided by a very dear old friend of ours – Bobby McKean and his team at Flowers by Isabel in Blantyre. We bumped into each other as Bobby delivered the flowers and it was an unexpected bonus to see him again. Older, wiser, and very happy with his life, Bobby is a great advert for positivity and for beautiful wedding flowers!

The Lochside House is a fantastic venue for weddings. It is quickly becoming a favourite of mine and is thoroughly deserving of the national accolades and awards won in recent years. They have the most wonderful grand old bridal dressing room which is fantastic for the bridal preparations. It’s so different from the more modern, but equally stunning bridal suite and guest rooms. I said before that I was blown away by all of the hotel’s facilities but the more I visit the better it becomes.  But then all of the hotels I visit are made all the more special when you are in the company of such lovely people. Lisa and Ross come from a good place and all family and friends laughed and joked their way through a wonderful wedding day. It was very special for everyone concerned and I would like to thank each and every guest for their help and their patience. Special thanks to Greg, Andrew and Dean for their help throughout the day. To Nicola, Amy, Claire, and Katie – you were all beautiful and performed your roles to perfection. Thanks for being so kind to me. To Joe, Grace, Alison and Alan – you have so much to be proud of. To Laura and her team at the Lochside House – I can’t wait to come back sometime soon! To Lisa and Ross, thank you once again for the opportunity. Mari and I loved it! Have a great life together as Mr & Mrs and here are a few reminders of your wonderful wedding day……..
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Lynn and David – The Cruin Loch Lomond

Lynn and David – The Cruin Loch Lomond

It was a welcome return to Loch Lomond for the spectacular wedding of Lynn and David at The Cruin. Nestling amongst a forest of gorgeous pines and old oak trees, The Cruin sits just a few hundred yards past the Cameron House and the Duck Bay Marina on one of the finest wedding stretches anywhere. Well known as a restaurant with an outlook to die for,  The Cruin is transformed at this time of year into an exclusive wedding venue and you will look long and hard to find a friendlier or more beautiful place to get married. The gardens lead down to a private floating jetty and a photographer’s delight. When the sun shines like it did for Lynn and David you get the added bonus of celebrating your marriage on the patio overlooking one of Scotland’s greatest landscapes. It was stunning! By the time darkness fell the Cruin became a fairytale venue with all of the trees bedecked in fairy lights and the glamour had moved indoors for the party – just as the heavens opened. Ach well we were in Scotland after all!

Lynn and David met in a well known but slightly less glamorous Hamilton nightclub and was I glad to see how their tastes had developed and matured over the years! From the Jimmy Choo shoes to the beautiful old Beaufort from Gold Choice Cars, everything was just perfect. It was a fantastic day amidst the splendour of Scotland’s national park. Did I mention the views?  Wow, what a wedding! It was as romantic as they come but then David has a wonderful soft romantic side, as his new father in law explained later. Lynn has been a huge Harry Potter fan for years and for the ultimate marriage proposal David embedded the engagement ring deep into a copy of the Half Blood Prince book – alongside the Unbreakable Vow! What a charmer!

Good luck Lynn and David and may your life continue to be blessed with the kind of happiness we all shared at your wedding. It was an emotional day for everyone involved and I hope you will remember it as the best day of your lives. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to play a small part at your wedding. Well done to everyone involved for making it such a memorable day but special thanks go to Dougie and Wilma, Glynis, David, Anne, Craig, Graham, Stephen and little Craig for your help, patience and understanding. Extra special thanks to the glamorous and beautiful Gemma, Natalie, Georgie and Poppy – you were fantastic! David and Lynn I hope you have a fabulous honeymoon and here are a few reminders of a perfect day on the bonnie, bonnie banks of Loch Lomond….

Lynn and David

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Amanda and Alan – Sherbrooke Castle Hotel

Amanda and Alan – Sherbrooke Castle Hotel

When I was last at the majestic Sherbrooke Castle Hotel on Glasgow’s south side, I commented on the autumn colours, the clocks going back, and how the Sherbrooke was the perfect place for a warm and comforting autumnal celebration. I returned this week, funnily enough just one week after the clocks went forward, with the sun splitting the sky and the temperatures soaring, and guess what – it turns out the Sherbrooke is the perfect place for a warm (very warm!), and comfortable, spring celebration! It was one of the most pleasant Easter Sundays I can remember and Alan and Amanda were married in a beautiful and relaxing ceremony at the hotel. Rumour has it that a couple of less relaxing moments were caused by a pair of missing socks for the best man and a slight hitch with the dress immediately before the service, but you would never have known! Alan and Amanda are the most laid back couple I’ve met. The beaming smiles all day long were 100% genuine – they were a perfect bride and groom and they looked absolutely stunning. They have been together for 8 years and have a beautiful little daughter called Mia – they make a perfect family. They met on a blind date and have been blissfully happy ever since.
They were helped by a bunch of good-looking attendants – one of which was the aforementioned best man, Brian. He is my nephew and his good looks and charm come very much from his Wilson genes! His talent for comedy may sometimes come from a distant planet but you will always laugh in Brian’s company – always!! Alan cringed as Brian reminded us of the last time Alan and Brian were so smartly dressed and then described the guy who had forsaken his “plus one” invitation for the hope of grabbing an old auntie on the dance floor! He had the room roaring with laughter!

The girls were calmer but even prettier! Take a bow Lauren, Danni, Samantha and little Lilly and Mia. All five of them combined to form a very beautiful and easy going wedding party and it was a pleasure to be part of the day.

Once again the Sherbrooke Castle staff had everything timed to perfection – they always seem to host the most relaxed weddings ever. We even had time to watch a set of Andy Murray’s Miami final in the restaurant as we tucked into the most fantastic meal ever. Thanks to William and his team for looking after everyone but special thanks must go to Alan and Amanda for allowing me to be a part of your wedding day. It was a lovely day all round and I wish you both all the happiness in the world as you start on your new journey together. It was great to meet both families and all of your friends but special thanks must go to Lauren, Suzanne, Dani, Lilly Mia, Brian, Ian, Stuart, Zac, Ian, Isobel, Jane and John. You were all brilliant and I’d like to thank you all for your help and patience. Here are a few reminders of a really fantastic day……

Amanda and Alan


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Nicola and Ed- The Lochside House Hotel

Nicola and Ed were married at the stunningly beautiful Lochside House Hotel in New Cumnock in Ayrshire on a very cold and blustery day. So cold we needed the fire in the reception room at full pelt to warm up after the group picture – one of the few occasions when we could venture outside. It was a shame it was so cold and windy because the hotel is set in the most beautiful grounds – it’s a photographer’s delight. Despite the cold we all kept cosy inside and we had a great day with a very lovely couple and their family and friends. I met Ed and Nicola a year or so ago when they viewed my sample albums before booking.  I immediately liked their style and I’ve been looking forward to their wedding day ever since. Even more so when I had the good fortune to photograph them a few months ago in the grandeur of the Glasgow University Grade A listed Gilbert Scott building. They were a delight to photograph then and I knew this day would be special.

The Lochside House is a fantastic venue for weddings. They have the most wonderful dressing room, the Aaron suite, where Nicola and her bridesmaids, Jacqueline and Lisa got ready. It’s like a grand old dressing room and so different from the more modern, but equally stunning bridal suite and guest rooms. I was blown away by all of the hotel’s facilities. I was also blown away by how stunning Nicola looked. Her hair, makeup, flowers, and her dress (wow what a dress!) were quite breath-taking and Ed is a very lucky man. But then so is Nicola! Ed is a most delightful and courteous guy and he couldn’t have been more helpful. He scrubbed up pretty well too! They were joined by their “baby” Harvey, their pet dog who was the ring bearer for the happy couple – a first for me!  The whole day was brilliant and I would like to thank everyone involved for their help and their patience. Special thanks to Anthony, Campbell and John Paul for their help throughout the day. To Jacqueline, Lisa, John, June, John, Sheila and Patrick – you all performed your roles to perfection and thank you for your patience and kindness. To Laura and her team at the Lochside House – I can’t wait to come back in a few weeks time but please keep the fire burning just in case! To Ed, Nicola and Harvey, thank you for the opportunity to play my small part in your big day. Have a great life together as Mr & Mrs and here are a few reminders of your special day……..
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James and Laura – Uddingston Old Parish Church and The Radstone Hotel

The west coast of Scotland has been battered with four days of the fiercest winter storms and James and Laura had their little moment of calm respite amidst the wild weather. It was a brilliant day. I can imagine the prospect of a beautiful crisp clear winter’s day, wonderful friends and family, fluffy snow on the ground, a hip flask to warm the cockles, and the warmth from the love of two soulmates, is how we’d all describe the perfect and very romantic winter wedding. James and Laura got nearly all of the features they planned for – they forgot about the gale force winds, driving snow, and a wind chill factor of minus 12! It may have been freezing outside but it was beautiful inside and when oh when will we Scots ever allow the weather to upset a guid wedding?

At one point I was soaked and shivering in the blizzard as I raced from the front door of the magnificent old parish church in Uddingston to the waiting cars at the end of the church gardens – but it was worth it just to see Laura and her dad John in the back of the bridal car, nervous but excited for what was to follow. They would later dance together to the best wedding song ever, “I Loved Her First”, a song any Dad will struggle to cope with on first listen but a beautiful song for a sloppy old photographer to get misty eyed to.

James and Laura are very much in love. The photographs on the walls of her mum and dad’s house show years of togetherness and confirmed they were marrying each other’s best friend. In doing so they managed to provide a right royal celebration for their friends and family! Everything was perfect – flowers, dresses, cars, church, hotel, food, booze, music and dancing – everything they touched had turned to gold. The flowers were breath-taking and I don’t think I’ve seen so many beautiful flowers at a single wedding. The stunning dresses were meticulously prepared by Stephanie from Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo in East Kilbride – a personal dressing service included! The Rev Fiona McKibbin is my kind of minister – a warm and welcoming person who conducted a service containing exactly the right combination of traditions, romance, and laughter – only the very best ministers pull this off so convincingly. The party moved to the Radstone Hotel outside Larkhall (formerly the Shawlands Park Hotel) but a place where recent significant investment has created one of the finest wedding venues in Scotland – it was glorious, beautifully presented and very well managed by wedding co-ordinator Stephen. I’ll look forward to a return sometime soon.

When I first met Laura and James they talked excitedly about Laura’s brother and sister in law in New Zealand and how the wedding had been planned to coincide with their return home to Uddingston over Christmas. Of course all great plans are tested and although it was great to hear recently that Ian and his wife are expecting a baby in February, it was unfortunate that this meant they were unable to make the trip back for the wedding. There was a wee magical moment when they called Laura via Skype just before she left for the church – the modern wonders of the world made sure they were both with her and James in spirit.

The whole day was beautifully put together and I would like to thank everyone involved for their help and their patience. James and Laura’s supporting cast were magnificent – take a bow Jennifer, Pauline, Lisa, Murron, Evie, Charles, James, Lee, and both sets of parents Maureen, John, Nancy and Charlie. Special thanks to Laura and James – you both did a grand job and it was such a pleasure to be part of your special day. I know you will have a great life together as Mr & Mrs Dillon and here are a few reminders of your perfect day……..


James and Laura

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