Bride Karen dreamt that one day she’d get married at Lews Castle on the Isle of Lewis – and when it eventually came true, her and hubby Chris did it in style!

Karen Macdonald & Chris Markey

9th July 2021

Venue | Lews Castle, Isle of Lewis
Photography and videography | Del and Jayjay Wedding Photography

“Chris and I met on a night out and exchanged numbers. We messaged a few times, but it fizzled out because I was heading off to America to work for the summer. While I was away, I sent him a text and we were in touch constantly until I got back. We went for ice cream on our first date…and the rest is history!

Fast forward seven years to a holiday in Dubai. I was a little suspicious when he disappeared one morning to ‘sort something for our afternoon activity’. When he came back with a beautiful pair of earrings, I was over the moon – but on the inside I was thinking, ‘I’ll just need to keep waiting for the ring, then’.

We went out for afternoon tea and when we arrived back at the hotel, the staff had decorated our room with rose petals which read ‘Will you marry me?’ on the bed. There were lots of tears of joy.

Back home, our priority was to find a venue that could hold around 90 guests, with the option for the majority to stay for the whole weekend.
I’d always loved Lews Castle when I was growing up on the Isle of Lewis, even though it was derelict at that point. I was ecstatic when I heard that funding was received for renovations as I had always joked to my mum that I’d get married there.

We checked out another venue before agreeing on Lews – although I knew deep down that it was my preference.

We booked our wedding for 21st August 2020. Despite being optimistic that everything would be ‘back to normal’ by that date, we thankfully made the decision in May 2020 to postpone.

We were so fortunate that our venue was extremely accommodating and helped us move everything to a date that suited the year after. The only supplier we ended up needing to change was our initial photographer, who couldn’t make our new date.

We booked another photographer, but they cancelled on us three weeks before the new date. It was stressful, but I’m a big believer in everything happens for a reason. We asked friends who had been married recently for recommendations and it must’ve been fate that the incredible duo Del and Jayjay were available so last minute!

My dress was called ‘Mercedes’ by Enzoani. I had it saved on my phone even before I visited Opus Couture. Khara and the other bridal stylists at the West Kilbride boutique are honestly the best and there’s a good reason it was the only shop we ended up going to. It was a truly fun and relaxed shopping experience. I tried on five dresses in total during my 90 minutes there, but couldn’t shake off my love for Mercedes.

I wanted my bridesmaids to pick dresses they felt comfortable in, so once they’d chosen those – sparkling Sorella Vita gowns, also from Opus Couture – we settled on a burgundy/deep red scheme and went from there.

Because of the beautiful restoration work at Lews Castle, we didn’t need to put much effort into decorating, which is a good thing because I’m not very creative at all. We knew we wanted colourful flowers and to dress the banister, but that was about it. The ballroom where we got married is spectacular without any additions, so we felt it was best to keep styling to a minimum.

We stayed at Lews Castle from Thursday to Sunday along with about 50 of our guests. The accommodation is incredible at the venue. There was no travelling involved, so we set the ceremony time for 2pm, meaning the wedding morning was very relaxed and fun.

My mum gave me her engagement ring in the most beautiful jewellery box with a poem she’d written on the morning of the wedding and I’ve worn the ring every day since. We also sadly lost one of our friends when we were younger, so I had a photo charm of her wrapped round my bouquet which was really special.

My bridesmaids also made a ‘letters to the bride’ box where they had asked everyone close to me to write me a letter and its something I’ll cherish forever. Thankfully I hadn’t had my make up done by then!

One perk of having to reschedule because of Covid was that we ended up having two menu-tasting days – we weren’t complaining about that at all! The venue was flexible about creating a menu that was bespoke to us and it meant we could showcase some exceptional local produce such as scallops and Stornoway black pudding.

Our ceremony was conducted by registrar Helen Maher from the Isle of Harris. Helen married my brother and sister-in-law in 2018 and we loved how personal the ceremony was. She was great.

In a day full of highlights, seeing Chris at the altar sticks in my mind. However, if I’m completely honest, the 10/15 minutes we were able to spend at the beach after the ceremony for photos, just the two of us, was even more special as we were able to relax in each other’s company.

My granny has dementia, so we didn’t want to cause her unnecessary stress or make her feel overwhelmed by taking her to the wedding. Instead, we got back into our dress and kilt the morning after and went to visit her for photos. It was really special.

Top tip: “Try and have everything paid and finalised a good few weeks before the wedding. Anything you really need to do last minute, ask friends and family very nicely to support you (e.g. picking up table plans, boxes of cookies for guests, putting together hangover kits for guests etc.). Don’t leave yourself anything ‘big’ to do the week of the wedding – you want to enjoy it.

Registrar Helen Maher
Bride’s dress Enzoani at Opus Couture
Shoes Jimmy Choo
Bridal jewellery Islewear
Bridesmaids dresses Sorella Vita at Opus Couture
Flower girl dress Monsoon
Hair Darrah Mackenzie Hair Design
Makeup Julia Clark at Maggie Made Me Do It
Bridal nails Ania Kesiak Nails at Beauty Beehive Glasgow
Groomswear and page-boy attire Houston Kiltmakers
Mothers’ outfits Lady G
Cake Karina’s Cakes
Flowers Bespoke Blooms by Maybury
Stationery Wedding Artwork by Daria
Favours Donation to Alzheimer Scotland and gave guests pin badges as favours
Reception music Iain ‘Spanish’ Mackay Ceilidh Band
Ceremony music Claire Macleod Piano
Photobooth Just-A-Pose Selfie Mirror

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