A grand castle venue doesn’t always have to mean a huge guest list. Just ask Emma and Michael whose decadent but intimate wedding felt right at home at Killochan Castle in Ayrshire

Emma Milligan and Michael Kirk

24th June 2023

Venue | Killochan Castle, Ayrshire
Photography | Connor Barrett Photography

“Michael and I were together for six years before he popped the question. He proposed on 10th July 2021 while we were out for a nice meal at Seamill House Hotel. From there, it was just under two years to our wedding.

We knew from the outset that we only wanted to invite close family and a few friends to allow us to spend quality time with everyone. We chose Killochan Castle to host both our ceremony and reception as it was perfect for a small, intimate wedding. My mum and I are employed by the castle as full-time housekeepers and even though it’s work, I love spending time there. It feels like a home away from home. Many of the guests that stay at the castle say they feel that way too.

We had just 30 guests, but invited 20 more in the evening to celebrate with us. Our dogs were there too, as they are a special part of our family. Apart from those few invited guests, we kept the wedding a secret. Trying to keep it quiet was challenging to say the least!

Although Killochan Castle is a statement venue, we tailored it to feel more casual. We only included formalities if they really meant something to us, rather than just do everything that was expected. For example, we didn’t have a top table; just two large tables so everyone could sit together.

Once my dress was chosen from Diane Honeyman in Ayr, the next thing was bringing colour in the flowers. My mum and I sourced a huge number of homegrown flowers from Bunty’s Flower Farm near Ayr and made them into bouquets for the bridesmaids and I, as well as vases and table decorations.

We wanted a wildflower look which was colourful and less structured than formal arrangements. The dining room at Killochan is a real feature point of the castle, so we kept the flowers there quite muted and simple with mixed flowers in glass vases. The night before the wedding, my daughter Zara, the two mums, two bridesmaids, my auntie and I stayed at the castle and helped my mum arrange the flowers.

The morning was relaxing and everything went to plan. Hair and makeup started early, and we had some breakfast in between. The dogs stayed overnight with me, so I took them for a walk to allow some time for myself. My room at the castle overlooked the entrance, so I enjoyed watching our guests arriving and Michael greeting them all – especially as nobody knew I could see them! I’ll never forget seeing our little girl Zara looking so beautiful in her Monsoon dress.

We opted to have a civil ceremony led by local registrar Wilma Jardine. She is our best man’s mum and a special friend of ours, so we selected our date around her availability. She shared ways we might want to personalise proceedings, so we chose to include the quaich ceremony, an ancient Scottish tradition that seals the bond between two people and marks the blending of two families. We were gifted a quaich engraved with our names and wedding date that we now treasure.

We really hoped to host our drinks reception outside if the weather allowed. Luckily, it was a beautiful, sunny day, so everyone mulled around and chatted outdoors. Afterwards, our guests commented on how nice it was being able to enjoy conversation with us throughout the day.

Later in the evening, we had a DJ playing inside the castle. However, the weather was so good that lot of the guests gathered outside and enjoyed the fire pit. We had our first dance to ‘Take My Hand’ by Skerryvore.

As soon as we spoke to photographer Connor Barrett, we knew he was the guy for us. Connor felt like a friend we had known for years which put us at ease instantly. He was happy to take candid photos and not too many formal pictures. We now have lovely photos which are a great reminder of the fun day that we had.”

Top tip: “Try not to get stressed or let other people’s opinions change the way you want your wedding to be. Most importantly, enjoy every minute as the day goes past in a flash.”

Venue Killochan Castle
Photography Connor Barrett Photography
Registrar Wilma Jardine, South Ayrshire Council
Bride’s dress Ronald Joyce from Diane Honeyman
Bridesmaid dresses Lipsy from Next 
Flower girl dress Monsoon
Mother-of-the-bride outfit Veni Infantino 
Makeup Saira Javed Shah at ClinAesthetics Beauty
Hair Brushhair by Anisah
Nails Nails by Dee Donald, Deeva Nail Boutique 
Groomswear Kilts 4 U
Cake Cupcake tower by NatBakesCake
Catering Ros Cartner Catering
Flowers and venue decor Sourced from Bunty’s Flower Farm, arranged by bride and mother of the bride
Rings Christine Sadler 

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