Elegant and impeccably styled intimate Scottish castle wedding of two interior designers

Claire Hillis & Ryan Donoghue

10th October 2020

Venue | Borthwick Castle, Midlothian
Photography | Sean Bell Photography

red haired bride wearing Sanyukta Shrestha wedding dress looking into the eyes of a groom wearing MacGregor and MacDuff at Borthwick Castle

“Ryan and I met at college where we both studied interior design and continued our studies together at Edinburgh College of Art. He popped the question four years ago when we were on holiday in Barcelona for his 30th birthday.

We are both introverts by nature and like to keep things low key, so we always knew we wanted a small, intimate wedding. Low key, yes, but still well considered and hugely special.

As we both work as professional interior designers, getting the venue and setting right was crucial. We spent many hours online researching intimate wedding venues around Edinburgh before we discovered Borthwick Castle, 12 miles outside the city. We visited and immediately fell in love with its magical setting. Even better, some of our closest friends and family could stay over with us.

The date we booked for our wedding felt special: 10.10.2020. It also happened to be my 31st birthday. We secured the date over two years ahead of the wedding and quickly booked most of our other suppliers thereafter.

Then, Covid-19 struck. Getting married amid a worldwide pandemic was not something we could have ever imagined. However, our gut feeling was to progress as much as possible without rearranging.

We originally planned for 40 guests to attend, but due to restrictions, we were limited to under 20 guests. It was disheartening having to notify guests who could no longer attend.

Our vision was a simple and elegant Scottish wedding with rich autumnal colours. Our keen eye for detail from our design background meant we planned as many of the details as we could from the early stages, from invitation design to bespoke shoes made for the big day. We even allocated the bedchambers at the castle based on our guests’ individual needs.

I was thrilled that both my dress and shoes fitted like a glove. Each element was carefully designed: my beautiful 100% silk dress was by ethical and sustainable bridal designer Sanyukta Shrestha, while my bespoke shoes were a combination of two different styles by Emmy London.

As soon as we laid eyes on photographer Sean Bell’s work, we knew he was the man for us. His photographs are artistic and cinematic in style which suited the castle backdrop wonderfully. We immediately felt at ease with his nature, so knew we were in good hands.

The ongoing pandemic meant that everything felt uncertain and heightened in the run-up to the wedding. We weren’t even 100% sure it could go ahead until a few days before. Our guests made it their utmost priority to remain as safe as possible leading up to the wedding which meant the world to us.

We travelled up from London three days prior to the wedding and stayed at Eden Locke in Edinburgh. Having a couple of days in the city meant that I could have hair and makeup trials at hairdresser Charlie Miller and beauty salon Lauren Gollan Makeup Academy (Covid restrictions meant that hair stylists and makeup artists couldn’t offer their services on location). I also visited both salons on the morning of the wedding, then travelled out to the castle.

Registrar Shelagh Lockhart from Midlothian Council married us in the castle’s garrison, our intimate civil ceremony made even more special thanks to the astounding backdrop.

Despite the restrictions, we really did have the most special day that will be treasured in our hearts forever. Sharing dinner with our closest loved ones, some of whom we hadn’t seen for a year, was emotional and magical.”

Top tip: “Be prepared for a rollercoaster of emotions. Accept and adapt to the changes that will undoubtedly occur and make decisions on as much as you can.”

Registrar Shelagh Lockhart
Bride’s dress Sanyukta Shrestha
Shoes Emmy London
Bride’s hair Charlie Miller
Bride’s makeup Lauren Gollan Makeup Academy
Groomswear MacGregor and MacDuff
Stationery designed by the couple
Cake Liggy’s Cake Company
Flowers Narcissus Flowers
Wedding rings Element Bespoke Jewellery
Piper David McRobert
Entertainment Ginny and the Tonic

red haired bride wearing Sanyukta Shrestha wedding dress doing own makeup on wedding morning at Borthwick CastleEmmy London bridal shoe box tied with gold ribbon bowgroom wearing MacGregor and MacDuff kilt jacket and waistcoat fixing cuffsgroom and best man wearing grey MacGregor and MacDuff kilt outfits on grass outside Borthwick Castle and bride walking up stone stairs outside Borthwick Castletorso crop image of bride's Sanyukta Shrestha wedding dress and autumnal wedding bouquet by Narcissus Wedding Flowersblack and white image of bride walking past a stone wall at Borthwick Castle wearing Emmy Shoe and wedding dress by Sanyukta Shresthabride and groom exchanging rings and walking up aisle at Borthwick Castleblack and white image of bride and groom walking holding hands with tree and fields in backdrop at Borthwick Castlered haired bride smiling and looking over shoulder into camera holding veil up closeportrait image of groom hugging bride from behind and holding hands in grounds of Borthwick Castleportrait image of bride wearing Sanyukta Shrestha wedding dress looking downward amid greenery at Borthwick Castledetail crop of back of skirt of bride wearing Sanyukta Shrestha wedding dressdetail crop of back of bride's Sanyukta Shrestha wedding dress while being hugged by groom's hand and bride carrying skirt looking at groom while holding hands in woodland at Borthwick Castlegroom twirling bride dancing in woodland at Borthwick castlebride and groom standing looking into each other's eyes with Borthwick Castle in background and sitting on a sofa in the castleexterior of Borthwick Castle lit up at night and aerial shot of the hall at Borthwick Castle set for a wedding dinner with guestsred and ivory buttercream wedding cake by Liggy's Cake Company and autumnal thistle buttonholes on cream plate by Narcissus Wedding Flowersbride and groom sitting on striped sofa with ornate wall sconses above at Borthwick Castle