Sasha and Steph knew they wanted to step away from wedding traditions and have a stripped back day that was all about them and their love story

Sasha Ballon & Steph Dekker 

14th February 2024 

Venue | Craigvinean Forest and Atholl Palace Hotel, Pitlochry
Photography | Patricia Garrigos Photography

“Our love story started with a swipe on Tinder in November 2021. We both had photos of ourselves at work doing tree surgery, it’s highly unusual for women to work in that trade. We bonded over our love of trees and the outdoors and connected effortlessly.

We realised that we couldn’t imagine life without each other and got engaged in October 2023. As soon as the engagement ring arrived through the letter box Steph proposed right in the hallway of the flat. We wouldn’t have had it any other way. 

We were planning on having a year-long engagement and getting in married in Canada (where Sasha is from), we even put a deposit on a venue! We quickly realised planning logistically and the cost was going to be too much, so we decided to change all the plans and elope in Scotland.
We chose Craigvinean Forest in Pitlochry. We knew we wanted to get married in nature, and we found a ceremony spot tucked away in the forest.  It’s one of Steph’s favourite places in Scotland. 

Being a queer couple, it was never going to be about wedding traditions, it was just about us making a lifelong commitment to each other. 

We had six guests. We originally were going to have around 35-40, but changed that and had an intimate elopement and know we made the right decision! 

Having an elopement ceremony meant the day was just about us and making our commitment to each other. It kept the cost down a lot as well.

Our ceremony was the most important part of the day, and we wanted a humanist ceremony to reflect our story and our love. We both were very emotional on reading our vows to each other. Once one of us broke and was in tears that was it for the other!

Tegan, our celebrant, thought of everything. We wrote our own vows which was really important to both of us and we had a candle lighting part of the ceremony, which was really special.

Because our ceremony wasn’t far off a dog walking trail, a wee whippet dog decided to pop in for a visit. We both love animals, and it was an unexpected but cute moment that we won’t forget!

We started with getting our outfits and chose the rest to complement that. The forest provided most of the “atmosphere” for our wedding, so not a lot else was needed.

We had a hard time at first trying to figure out what to wear! Sasha knew she wanted to wear white, but a big wedding dress or a suit didn’t feel right. She came across wedding jumpsuits online which seemed like the perfect option between the two. While Steph wore a suit from Next
We both wore Doc Martens boots as it was chilly in February and they matched our personalities. 

Our choice of photographers was one of the most important decisions and we couldn’t be happier with how our photographs turned out. We wanted artistic, timeless, romantic, bright, true to life photos. Patricia was so helpful and we were able to get photos that will last a lifetime.

We had photos of the ‘getting ready’ process at the Atholl Palace Hotel. The weather turned out perfect, we had very atmospheric mist but could see the mountains in the view and it wasn’t raining! 

We wanted very minimal decor, but having an archway in the forest we thought would look wonderful in the photos. To keep our low budget, we looked at Facebook groups and came across someone who was just starting out their wedding-decorating company.

Even though we planned a very intimate, small wedding, there was still a lot to think about and plan! From sending our marriage registration appointment three months before, to figuring out where to stay overnight and eat afterwards.
Sasha made a spreadsheet at the very start. Having deadlines you set for yourself, and deciding on the “big things” from the start (like venue and guest count) helped everything else fall into place."

Top tip: "At the end of the day, what was most important to us was our ceremony and commitment and having beautiful photos as a keepsake. 

"I wish I’d known how expensive certain things are that I didn’t expect to be! If you’re looking to have a wedding on a budget, decide what your most important top three things are." 

Venue Craigvinean Forest and Atholl Palace Hotel
Photographer Patricia Garrigós Photography
Celebrant Tegan Elder, Thistle Ceremonies
Steph's suit Next
Venue decor Natalie Anderson 
Wedding rings Etsy
Engagement ring Angara Jewelry 
Hair and makeup DIY 

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