Bride Amy wore black when she married Michael in May 2021. She even revamped their whole wedding’s colour scheme to accommodate her unexpected dress purchase…

Amy Wilson & Michael van’t Zand

28th May 2021

Venues | Belladrum Temple & Estate and Kingsmills Hotel, Inverness
Photography | Michael Carver Photography

“I’d just graduated from university when we got engaged. We decided to celebrate by going on holiday to Fuerteventura, though Michael was acting very strange on the way out. The first night we were listening to music from our balcony and he proposed. It was intimate and perfect.

Initially, we wanted to get married in the temple on the Belladrum Estate. However, after viewing, we decided it was too small for what we envisioned, so we booked a nearby hotel instead. Then, Covid hit. Despite restrictions on numbers, we wanted to push ahead with our original date. We returned to Belladrum, and decided it was ideal for the numbers allowed and were told it was free on our chosen day.

Belladrum holds a special place in our hearts. Both of us grew up close to the estate and we try to get to the festival every year. We’d often spend summer evenings there and found the temple when exploring the grounds many years ago. Even back then, we thought it would be a wonderful wedding setting.

We decided on Kingsmills Hotel in Inverness for the reception. They were very accommodating, especially as it was such a last-minute change. The staff were super helpful, and the service was excellent.

Our first wedding-planning decision was our photographer. Michael Carver’s outstanding work speaks for itself. We had seen his photographs on social media and fallen in love with them. Michael is a popular guy so we met quickly to secure the booking! He captured our day remarkably, there were times we didn’t even realise he was there. His photography is truly an art.

Initially, I started off dress shopping by looking at traditional white gowns. Then I saw the Zander black gown by Sottero and Midgley dress on Pinterest and loved it, thinking I’d never actually see it in person. I found another dress I really liked at Wedding Belles in Alness, and visited thinking that was the one I wanted.

However, I was surprised to see that they had Zander in store, so I felt like I just had to try it on. It fitted perfectly and needed no alterations. I knew it was meant to be – promptly confirmed by my mum and sister crying when they saw me in it!

The look of the day changed once I’d found my dress. As soon as it was settled, the colour scheme of the wedding was tweaked without Michael becoming aware of the gown’s colour. We looked at magazines, Pinterest and Instagram for ideas, but also spent a lot of time studying other people’s weddings for ideas we liked.

We wanted the ceremony to be a fun and relaxed celebration of friendship. Our humanist celebrant, Halde Pottinger, was the ideal mix of showman and comedian. He put everyone at ease from the start and managed to get all our guests laughing. After 12 years together we were surprised by how anxious we were, but our nerves immediately dissipated as Halde spoke about our lives together.

The entrance song for the ceremony was set in stone long before we were engaged. Our brother-in-law, Ross, stood within the chapel and played an acoustic version of Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here, my favourite song. The temple acted as an amphitheatre, echoing the guitar beautifully – it could be heard for some distance.

Walking up the aisle with my dad will forever be one of my favourite memories of us. He was very emotional that his youngest daughter was changing her last name, so we wanted to pay a nod of respect by using his family tartan, Muted Ancient Wilson, for my half of the handfasting. As Michael’s father is Dutch, he didn’t have a family check he could use, so he opted for the Hebridean Heather plaid to match his kilt. The knot is our most special keepsake from the day.

Our cake was crafted by the wonderful Caitlyn Urquhart. I’ve known Caitlyn for years and we now work together in the same hospital, though she bakes stunning cakes as a side business. She took our ideas and made the ideal cake, a sponge with raspberry jam and vanilla buttercream, decorated with flowers supplied by my florist. It tasted amazing.

After a year of not seeing friends and family, spending time with everyone in the same place, even just for the day, was so special. Our guests also said that they loved being able to get together on the day to celebrate with us. However, we were so busy trying to socialise and mingle that we didn’t get the chance to round everyone up for a picture. That’s the only thing we’d change: getting more photos with loved ones.

Looking back, the moment we saw each other for the first time really stands out for both of us. For me, it was catching eyes with Michael at the top of the aisle and seeing him smile from ear to ear. For Michael, the standout moment was turning around and watching me walk up the aisle in my black dress. It was totally unexpected for him. However, on reflection, he concedes that it did make a lot of sense – black has always been my colour of choice!”

Top tip: “The day goes by so quickly that it’s important to steal away for some time just the two of you. The celebration is yours to share as a couple, so I’d recommend trying to take just 20 minutes to chill out and get away from the craziness of the whole day.”

Venues Belladrum Temple & Estate and Kingsmills Hotel, Inverness
Photography Michael Carver Photography
Celebrant Halde Pottinger, Humanist Society Scotland
Bride’s dress Sottero and Midgely at Wedding Belles
Bride’s hair accessory Alexandra Bespoke
Bride’s shoes Irregular Choice
Bridesmaids’ dresses Dorothy Perkins
Groomswear Ben Wyvis Kilts
Cake Caitlyn Urquhart
Flowers Angela Hunter Flowers
Transport North Coast Classics
Venue decor Kirsteen’s Kollection
Hair and makeup Rococo Studios

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