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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Carol and George – The Carnbooth House Hotel

Carol and George – The Carnbooth House Hotel

It seems the sun always shines on the Carnbooth House Hotel ! The last time I was here it was a glorious day and it was no different for Carol and George. Every wedding should be like this! The bluebells were out in force in the Carnbooth gardens and Carol’s colour choice was just the perfect match for the surroundings. Everything was beautifully co-ordinated for one of the most intimate weddings I have had the pleasure to attend. Carol and George were married in the drawing room in front of a very small family group. I got to chat with all of them over the course of the afternoon and what a lovely time they had.

Carol and George have known each other for many years. They worked together and were employed in the same team but romance blossomed a couple of years ago when Carol moved to another team in another office and George realised he couldn’t be without her. Zoë Lyons conducted a very personal and moving ceremony which included a few lovely stories about the happy couple. They each expressed the many things they love about each other and I found out that George is even prepared to use the Debenhams EK car park just because it suits Carol’s shopping habits – true love indeed!

Carol and George had an absolutely brilliant wedding day. The sun shone, and the springtime colours and blossoms made it all the more spectacular and it was such a pleasure to be asked to play a part in their special day. Grateful thanks go to John and the team at the Carnbooth for their kindness and hospitality. A special mention to all of the guests but in particular to Tom, Fiona and Iain, thanks for your help and your patience. To Carol and George I wish you all the luck in the world and every good wish for a long and happy marriage. Here are a few reminders of a truly perfect day……

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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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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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Jenny and Phil – The Carnbooth House Hotel

The long holiday Easter weekend used to be peppered with a couple of games of golf or a trip to the seaside and dinner at our favourite seaside eatery – The Ship Inn in Irvine. It’s traditionally a time for rest and relaxation. Not this year! A hectic but fun-filled weekend started with the glorious wedding of Jenny and Phil at the Carnbooth House Hotel in Carmunock. The Carnbooth is a warm, welcoming and sumptuous boutique hotel south of Glasgow. It has a fascinating past with a rather extraordinary claim to fame. Legend has it that Rudolph Hess famously landed his plane in a nearby field during the war and was held here for a couple of days afterwards. The same legend suggests Winston Churchill was then seen puffing on a trademark cigar in the driveway on his way to question Hess. Of course there are other local legends which claim Hess landed a few miles away in the nearby town of Eaglesham but it was nonetheless fascinating to think that the great rooms of the Carnbooth may have played host to such a momentous historical event! The grand old house has continued to serve it’s country well since the war and it became a special school for the deaf and blind before it was sold by the local Council and redeveloped into the magnificent hotel it is today. Did I mention the welcome? John and his team provide the most fantastic wedding service and I was bowled over by the hospitality. I am heading back there in a few weeks and I can’t wait! This was also my first wedding under the control of an official toastmaster and what a brilliant experience it was. Hats off to the wonderful Maurice King – toastmaster to the stars. Maurice takes control for the whole day and I have never seen anyone organise the big group photograph so efficiently! Future brides take note – I want Maurice at your wedding!

All of this only confirms that Jenny and Phil had an absolutely brilliant wedding day. The sun shone, the temperature nudged towards summer levels, and the bride and groom had the most magical day to remember.  Jenny and Phil met as 16 year olds at the church youth fellowship meeting and have been together for a long time. Officially it was day 3083 of their relationship but Jenny’s mum Jacquie apparently announced way back on day 2 or 3 that the young couple were destined to marry – Phil therefore refers to this as an arranged marriage! I also discovered there have been 2008 episodes of Neighbours broadcast since Jenny and Phil got together and that Jenny is reputed to be taller than 1.2m. All of these remarkable facts came courtesy of the best men, Chris and Nick, who presented a most unusual but very entertaining quiz on the life of the happy couple. “First prize is a holiday to Hawaii” they said! Aye right and I think the winning table should be asking for a steward’s enquiry into why they are not currently winging their way to the Pacific! Usher Danny was then presented with a bouquet of flowers for his help in arranging the stag – check out Danny’s brilliant reaction below!

Jenny and Phil are like two peas in a pod – they are made for each other. They both come from great families and it was such a pleasure to be asked to play a part in their special day. I had already photographed Jenny’s big brother Andrew’s wedding and I will look forward to the calls from Jamie or Romy sometime soon! Grateful thanks go to John, Maurice and the team at the Carnbooth for their kindness and hospitality. A huge vote of thanks to Jacquie and Alan for making me feel so welcome. To Liz and Tom, Diane, Romy, Charis, Chris, Nick, Daniel, Martin and wee Emma, a special thanks for doing everything so well and for looking so handsome and pretty. To Jenny and Phil I wish you health and happiness for ever. It really was such a pleasure and here are a few reminders of a truly perfect day……
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Claire and Paul – Crutherland House Hotel

Claire and Paul followed in the footsteps of generations of her family and married in the beautiful St Cuthbert’s church in Blantyre. Mum and dad, Marie and Kevin, had married there some thirty years previously, Grandparents many years before, and Kevin spoke warmly of how much that little chapel meant to their family. There was an historical spiritual connection with St Cuthbert’s which filled Kevin and his family with pride, and there certainly appeared to be some divine intervention from above when Father Bogan invited Claire and Paul to recite their marriage vows. Just as they started to read aloud, a wonderful golden sunlit beam shone upon them. It was breath-taking, a very magical moment. Fortunately for me I was positioned just at the right spot at the right moment and clicked away to capture this little miracle happening before me! Spiritual indeed!

Of course it was evident this marriage had been blessed from the moment I arrived at the bride’s house earlier that morning. It was such a warm and welcoming place, a sea of tranquillity, and a beautifully happy home for Claire and her bridesmaids to prepare. They were all glowing, stunningly beautiful girls, and what a pleasure it was to take their picture. Take a bow, Claire, Laura, Rebecca, and Lisa!

The guys scrubbed up well too. It’s rare now in Scotland to have a wedding with the principal men in trousers! Most wear kilts but there was something very special about this wedding with all the principals in traditional morning wear – tails and troosers! I wore the same at my wedding many years previously and it showed great taste! Take a bow, Paul, Shaun, Chris and Paul!

The guests travelled from Blantyre to the majestic Crutherland House Hotel on the outskirts of East Kilbride. Claire and Paul travelled in real style in a brand spanking new Rolls Royce Phantom. What a car! The reception was simply outstanding – the sun shone and everyone spent a couple of hours on the lawns before settling down for the speeches and dinner. A long and memorable day closed to the sounds of The Strides, and although I was long gone, I hear the late night dancing photos will be well worth a look!

Claire and Paul are made for each other. When we met at Chatelherault last year I could tell I was in for a special treat. They both come from great families and it was such a pleasure to be asked to play a part in their special day. Grateful thanks go to Monica and Peter for their generosity, kindness and the opportunity. A huge vote of thanks to Kevin and Marie for making me feel so welcome. To Liz and Joe, Shaun, Chris, Paul, Father Bogan, Laura, Rebecca, Lisa and wee Sophie, a special thanks for doing everything so well and for looking so good. To Claire and Paul I wish you health and happiness for ever. You were a pleasure to photograph. Here are a few reminders of a truly perfect day……

Claire and Paul


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Emir and Jill – Strathaven Hotel

Emir and Jill live on the other side of the world in Auckland in New Zealand. They met several years back after both left Scotland to work in the land of the kiwis. Jill originally hails from Strathaven and Emir from Dundee so when they were deciding where to get married, it made sense to get back to Scotland to party with family and friends. Jill told me she has missed the cold of our winters and longed for a crisp winter wedding. That’s exactly what she got – it was freezing!

It was back again to my favourite home venue, the Strathaven Hotel, and fortunately the temperature outside didn’t match the warmth of the welcome inside from Sheila and Malcolm.  I really do love getting back to the Strathaven Hotel and, no matter what the weather’s like outside, every wedding here never fails to impress. Emir and Jill had a wonderful wedding and they are blessed with exceptional family and friends and it was great to see so many of them so relaxed and so happy to be in their company once again.  They are also blessed with the most beautiful daughter, Eloise, she was dressed like a princess and she played her part in the proceedings perfectly.

Although happily settled in New Zealand, there are parts of Scottish life they both miss dearly. In addition to Jill’s fondness for the crisp winter days, Emir is a dyed in the wool Dundee United fan – the so called “arabs”. Hopefully he managed to catch the ne’erday derby in Dundee and his team’s impressive 6-2 victory – a belated wedding gift no doubt!

My thanks and best wishes go to each and every guest and member of staff at the hotel for their patience and co-operation. Special thanks go to Fiona, Lana, Amany, Megan, Eloise, Senga, Michael, Stevie, Garry, Rhys, Owen and Nathan, with an extra special mention for David, Linda, Lorraine and Amgad – you all contributed so much to make sure the wedding was perfect and to arrange it all over Skype from half-way around the world says so much for you all. Thanks again to Emir and Jill for the opportunity to play my small part and may your marriage and your family continue to be blessed with everything that is good in life. Here are a few reminders of your perfect day……

Emir and Jill
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