Hannah George & Kevin Johnston
31st July 2021
“Kevin proposed while we were on a weekend away to Boath House, near Nairn. We were walking on Culbin Sands beach, when he presented me with a beautiful shell that he’d secretly collected and kept from our travels on Gili Meno, an island off Bali. He’d personally lined it with velvet and added a hinge to make it into a ring box. Inside, I found my Granny’s yellow gold solitaire diamond ring which I was delighted with; it’ll always be so special.
We got engaged on 29th May and decided to get married on 31st July, meaning we had just nine weeks to plan our wedding. Sadly, Kevin lost one of his grans before our engagement, and my Granny had been very unwell. As we wanted to make sure our grandparents could be there to watch us marry, we thought why wait?!
We started looking straight away for a venue in Deeside. It needed to be close to my 96-year-old Granny’s care home, require minimal suppliers (due to the timescale), and work with our outdoorsy, relaxed wedding day plans. Raemoir House was ideally situated and we’d always loved visiting for family celebrations in the past. It’s a beautiful, old building with stunning grounds and quirky and charming, yet traditional interiors.
My dad surprised us by making giant white ‘K’ and ‘&’ signs to go on the lawn next to the venue’s ‘H’ that marked the helipad. I first spotted the ‘K & H’ out of the window when I was getting ready! Mum organised a surprise piper for guests arriving, which gave our English family and friends a true taste of a Scottish wedding.
All we had to do in terms of styling the venue was add some flowers. We enlisted Jill of fantastic local florist, Hay’s Flowers. I’d spotted a pink orchid and gypsophila bouquet (my fave colour and bloom) on Instagram years ago which had always stuck in my mind. I hunted it down again and Jill was able to recreate something similar. We used peonies and hydrangeas in arrangements too; our flower arch, in particular, was amazing.
We wanted to have a religious ceremony to honour our grandparents. My dad’s friend Howard Drysdale conducted the ceremony, making it personal and fun. Natalie from Coynach Music Services played our music and we enjoyed singing some hymns. My uncle did a reading (the same one my parents had at their wedding); my cousin read a prayer for my late Grampy; Kev’s auntie wrote a prayer for his late Gran and his best man wrote a blessing for us that he read at the end of the ceremony. Our family dog, Freddie, even attended!
We are outdoorsy people, so really wanted to have the ceremony outside. Thankfully the weather played ball and the sun shone as I walked down the aisle, and we all enjoyed canapés and fizz on the lawn after the ceremony.
We both used to live in Perth, Australia, so had close friends there who sadly couldn’t make our wedding. We live-streamed the ceremony for them and other family and friends that were unable to attend.
Things got emotional during the speeches. An absent close friend from Australia wrote us a poem that some friends read out; one of my brothers and a bridesmaid surprised us with video messages from our friends abroad; and the children I’d previously au paired for recorded poems they’d written.
Even my Dad, who is always the joker, broke down in tears during his very moving speech. After he’d finished speaking, he handed me a pink box. Upon opening, I discovered Barbie and Ken dolls lying on some sand he’d had shipped over from one of my favourite beaches, Cottesloe in Perth, Australia. I’d always dreamed of getting married with the sand between my toes, so it was very sweet that he brought the beach to me.
When it was nightfall, we headed to the woodland fire pit for sparkler fun. Kev knows I love fireworks, but they weren’t permitted at Raemoir due to wildlife. Instead he ordered pyrotechnic ‘K HEART H’ letters, which was such a lovely surprise.
I had something boho and simple in mind when it came to the dress, but I tried on a lot of gowns in every style – just in case! I got my Herve Paris gown off-the-peg at Magnolia Lane Bridal in Peterculter. Thankfully, it didn’t need major adjustments, and Martine Blair Dressmaker was brilliant at sorting what little it did. I am still in love with it, especially the lace detail and the fluted sleeves.
My mum and I run an ethical jewellery company called SilverStory. I wore our gold baroque pearl hoop earrings and matching necklace from our new bridal collection, while my bridesmaids wore our rose quartz gemstone pieces. Lots of the guests ended up wearing jewellery that they’d bought in the past, so it truly was a SilverStory wedding.”
Top tip: “If you’re planning a short engagement like us, get on with the planning straight away. That way, you hopefully won’t be too stressed last minute. I’d also recommend opting for a venue which covers most bases, so you don’t have lots of suppliers to co-ordinate.”
Minister Howard Drysdale
Bride’s dress Herve Paris at Magnolia Lane Bridal
Bridal alterations Martine Blair Dressmaker
Bride’s jewellery SilverStory, supplemented with family heirloom pieces
Bridesmaids’ dresses Biba London at House of Fraser
Flower girls’ dresses Next
Groomswear Deeside Kilts
Ceremony and reception music Coynach Music Services
Flowers Hay’s Flowers
Stationery Eyecandy Graphics (bride’s dad’s company)
Pyrotechnic letters Fireworx Scotland
Piper Ciar Milne Piper
Nails Number One Beauty