It was all white on the night as wedding stylist Gemma married Darren in snowy Aberdeenshire with dachshunds Pepper and Freckle by their sides

Gemma McKinley and Darren Jackson – now Mr and Mrs Jackson

20th January 2024

Venue | Logie Country House, Aberdeenshire
Photography | Dani Rose Photography

"Darren and I met in summer 2018 at a concert in Glasgow. Our first date was casual drinks and a bite to eat – and the rest is history!

We had been together just under five years when he asked me to marry him in May 2023. We were with our two dogs, Pepper and Freckle, on a break to the Highlands when he popped the question. He attached bandanas around their necks that read, “Will you marry me, mummy?” How could I refuse?

We were only engaged for eight months. We booked our venue, Logie Country House in Aberdeenshire, within three weeks of getting engaged. Despite it being quite a distance from where we live in Lanarkshire, it was exactly what we wanted: a pet-friendly, exclusive-use venue where we could spread the celebrations out over a few days.

When we learned they only had a handful of dates left for 2024, we jumped straight in and set the date. We invited 58 of the closest people in our lives to be there with us for the whole weekend.

We had a humanist ceremony led by Gordon Bond of Independent Humanist Ceremonies. To include both of our brothers in the ceremony, we had Darren’s brother Matty perform the traditional best man role, while my brother, Craig, acted as one of our witnesses and signed our register.

As soon as I booked a January date, I hoped for a winter wonderland – and I was over the moon when we got it! The venue looked beautiful dusted in snow. Indoors, I had white blossom trees, twinkly fairylights and pale dusty-blue with silvery tones as the colour palette.

I run wedding decor and styling company Pretty Little Details, so the decor was my own. I’d initially intended to use local suppliers, but when our friends who also run a wedding-decor business (Newcastle-based Blossom Tree Hire Co.) said they were making the trip up for the wedding, they offered to load all my trees and props into their van and drive them up. They even helped me with setup the day before.

I had the best of both worlds really: my vision exactly as I wanted it, but without the stress of doing it completely myself.

In the beginning, I only planned to have my oldest friend Stacey as my MoH. However, I decided I couldn’t be without my other two best friends, so invited them to be bridesmaids too.

The girls were all there when I needed them – even if it was just to vent to. My bridesmaid Danielle is also my neighbour, so she had no escaping me! They were all at a loss as to what they could do most of the time as I’m an obsessive planner, and had everything ticked off and done before they had a chance to help me.

Dress shopping couldn’t have gone any better. I was very apprehensive about making appointments at shops if I couldn’t try on dresses in my size, but Gwenne Wedding Services in Broxburn had all of their available sample sizes on their website, so I could see exactly what dresses I’d be able to try on. I was delighted that I was able to pick out 10 styles.

I walked out of the dressing room in a beautiful A-line ivory dress by Romantica and my mum, aunt and bridesmaid Danielle all burst into tears. Job done! It showed off my waist, covered all the parts of my bottom half I’m self-conscious about, and had lovely ¾-length sleeves that were perfect for winter. Its heavy train instantly made me feel like a princess.

Bridal-dressing service Oh My Gown came at 9am the morning of the wedding to steam the dresses. Chloe was a godsend and made sure the morning was stress-free and kept us running on time.

Everyone had joked about how totally calm I had been through the whole wedding-planning process. There was a moment on the wedding morning when my makeup artist, Carly, asked me to close my eyes. At that point, the anxiety suddenly hit me that it was my own wedding I’d been planning, and not someone else’s! I had to have 10 minutes alone to take some deep breaths...

We didn’t want too many posed photos. Neither of us is particularly comfortable in front of a camera so we wanted someone more casual and fun with a talent for capturing great candid shots.

From the first email enquiry, I knew Dani Rose Photography was exactly who we needed. On the day, it was like having another best friend in the room. I didn’t think I’d love photos of myself as much as I do. I thought I’d feel self-conscious or be critical of myself, but I think they’re all beautiful.

Identify your priorities and top suppliers for each. If you’re working to a budget, make a list of the costs for your ‘must have’ services, so you can identify the areas you need to compromise on. At times it felt like for every task I ticked off, another six were added, but if you do everything in stages, and don’t try to take on every task at once, you will get there.

When all the planning is over and the big day rolls around, embrace the moments. Play in the snow, dance in the rain... you won’t get another chance to make those memories."

Top tip: “Find yourself suppliers you connect with. Sometimes you might just not ‘click’ with someone and that’s ok. It’s the biggest day of your life and these are the people you’re choosing to make your memories. Their input will be invaluable. Do your research and find the people that feel right for you.”

Venue Logie Country House
Photography Dani Rose Photography
Filmmaker Robertson Creative (see Instagram reel highlight)
Celebrant Gordon Bond, Independent Humanist Ceremonies
Bride’s dress Gwenne Wedding Services
Bridal dresser Oh My Gown - Bridal Dresser
Bride’s jewellery and accessories Paradox, Lace and Favour, and Westend Wedding Boutique
Hair and makeup Hair by L and Carly Gray MUA, both from Oh So Glam Bellshill
Engagement ring Emmy London
Bridesmaid dresses Lipsy at Next 
Mother of the bride outfit Joyce Young Design Studios
Groomswear June’s Bridal Wear and Kilt Hire Wishaw
Venue decor Pretty Little Details, the bride’s own company
Light-up letters Rainbow Dropz Aberdeen
Catering Hudsons Catering
Cake Hey Sugar Cake Studio 
Flowers Dolce Vita Flowers Ltd.
Bouquet preservation Bouquet Frame Co.
Acrylic signage CC Designs
Favours McLean’s Gin
Ceremony music Thistle Piping
Drinks reception music Nick Innes Music
Reception music DJ Sean Hanlon
Dog bow ties Etsy
Dog chaperone Becca’s Wedding Dog Services

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