Cara and Freddie’s summer wedding on a family farm in the Cairngorms featured wildflowers, a scrummy Greek buffet, DIY details galore and a right good ceilidh

Cara Johnson and Freddie Calvert

3rd June 2023

Venue | Family farm in the Cairngorms National Park
Photography | Catriona Parmenter Photography

“Freddie and I grew up as friends and got together about nine years ago. He proposed on my birthday while we were on holiday in Florence. We were drinking wine and watching the sunset on the terrace of our Airbnb. After I said yes, we went on a hunt for the best negronis in the city to celebrate!

We currently live in London, but we had always said if we were to get married, we would want to do it in the Highlands where we are both from, so that decision was made before the planning had even begun. May and June are often nice in the Highlands, so we settled on 3rd June as our date. When the day rolled around, we lucked out with the most stunning weather.

We originally wanted to have a small ceremony on the shores of Loch Garten. However, Freddie is one of five children, and I am one of four, so a small wedding was wishful thinking! We ended up hosting 120 of our family and closest friends on the farm where Freddie’s mum lives. We had 15 months to plan and a budget of around £15,000.

We always thought we would have an outdoor/marquee wedding, but knowing the location so well really helped to visualise what we wanted. We got Highland Stretch Tents in to pitch a tent and adopted a wildflower theme for our decoration.

We did everything ourselves – Freddie even built the top table and made wooden discs for placing on the tables. Bunting, lights and tablecloths were all gifted from family and friends, and we borrowed tables, chairs and the stage from the local hall.

My wedding dress featured wildflower embroidery too. It was made to measure by designer Liliana Dabic at La Novia in Edinburgh and had a removable overskirt and sleeves that I took off for the dancing later. My whole experience at the boutique was amazing.

Our wonderful best friend Amy Conboy from Conboy Creative did all our signage for us as a wedding present. Freddie provided bits of timber and Amy designed and hand painted each sign. She also designed and made our beautiful floral save the dates.

We worked with local company Speyside Kitchen to create a Greek menu. We didn’t want people sitting for a three-course meal and felt it would be more sociable to serve a buffet of our favourite dishes like souvlaki, salads and feta and spinach parcels. Casual was the aim of the day, so we didn’t bother with a table plan either – everyone could sit wherever they wanted.

Freddie’s big brother runs his own business, GingerBeard Preserves. He kindly supplied all our favours for guests to take away or try with the food, including our favourite hot sauces, and beer, bacon and chilli jam preserve.

Our celebrant Lesley Simpson from Humanist Society Scotland did and amazing job of sharing our story. She has asked us each to send her three reasons that we loved each other. Hearing these for the first time in front of everyone that we loved was emotional and a definite highlight.

The speeches were unforgettable! My dad had been practising for months beforehand and it really showed! He got loads of laughter along with some tears too. Freddie’s best man Ross was very kind – he didn’t go too hard on him!

We sadly lost Freddie’s brother last year, and Freddie did amazingly well to speak so delicately about him in his speech. He is always missed by us all, but especially so on our wedding day.

Catriona Parmenter Photography was the first supplier we booked for the wedding. Her incredible lochside wedding shots had caught my eye on Instagram. Freddie hates having his photo taken, but Catriona made the whole experience enjoyable and natural. I loved being able to disappear from the madness of the wedding to go to Loch Garten and other parts of the farm. Those moments resulted in some of my favourite images of the day.

Freddie and I are big music fans, so it took us a long time to pick the ceremony and reception music. Our first dance was to ‘Red Eyes’ by War on Drugs. It’s our favourite song that we’ve danced together to for years.
A ceilidh was non-negotiable – you can’t beat a ‘Strip the Willow’! – so we booked the fantastic Cairngorm Ceilidh Band who called the dances for us too.

If guests needed a breather, they could go outside to The Wee Bothybox bar which was playing Noughties classics as well as serving up the drinks. We mainly just wanted a big party with all our favourite people and that’s exactly what we got!

Top tip: “Make sure you find time together that doesn’t revolve around wedding planning,” suggests Cara. “If you do need to get something done, take your planner to the pub every now and then. It made us relax when we would talk things over with a pint in hand.”

Venue On groom’s mum’s farm
Stretch tent and venue decor Highland Stretch Tents
Photography Catriona Parmenter Photography
Celebrant Lesley Simpson, Humanist Society Scotland
Bride’s dress La Novia
Bride’s accessories Dune London; Lily and Roo Jewellery
Bridesmaid dresses Warehouse
Hair and makeup Kristine B Hair & Makeup
Groomswear Highland Kiltmakers
Wedding rings Beaverbrooks
Catering Speyside Kitchen
Cake Made by sister-in-law
Flowers Wild Gorse Studio
Stationery Conboy Creative
Favours GingerBeard’s Preserves
Additional venue decor DIY with items from Hobbycraft, IKEA, the local hall and family and friends
Ceilidh band Cairngorm Ceilidh Band
Luxury loos Heilan Loos
Bar service The Wee Bothybox
Bridal party accommodation Seasgair Lodges

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