Weddings abroad: Hayley McDonald and Michael Ross

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Considering it began with a proposal on top of a mountain on the beautiful Italian island of Capri, the wedding of Hayley McDonald and Michael Ross was always going be something spectacular. The newly engaged couple started planning straight away, and soon realised they wanted a similar sunny setting for their big day.

After trawling the internet and spending “endless hours in travel agents’ looking at hotel weddings”, a friend’s recommendation led them to Exclusive Yacht Weddings, a Cypriot company with a fleet of traditional and luxury vessels. Planning a wedding abroad without local expertise can be stressful, so Hayley was delighted to discover the company had a Scottish-based planner who would act as their point of contact. “Elaine was so helpful and supportive every step of the way,” she says.

Preferring an all-inclusive package over the stripped-back options available, the couple were still keen to include lots of personal touches that would reflect their red colour scheme and Scottish traditions theme. Naming their tables after famous malt whiskies was easy, but wedding planner Elaine really came up trumps when she managed to find a bagpiper to play the bride down the aisle. “I walked down to Highland Cathedral and there wasn’t a dry eye on the yacht!” laughs Hayley, who reveals that she wore a garter made with her new clan’s tartan.

One aspect of planning a destination wedding that took Hayley and Michael by surprise was the guest list: they weren’t anticipating many guests to accept when invitations to the July 2015 wedding were sent out eight months before. RSVPs flooded in, with most coming from Scotland, but some guests coming from as far afield as Atlanta and Beijing. “On the day, we were blessed to have 30 people we love and care for around us,” beams Hayley.

The couple selected a package that covered the ceremony and reception on the yacht, and also took care of photography, flowers, cake, entertainment and transport. “The package was more of a guideline for what was included, as we were able to customise everything depending on our requirements,” says Hayley.

“We loved every second of our big day and will treasure the memories forever,”  says Hayley. “We brought a little bit of Scotland to a beautiful setting and we had the sun shining down on us.”

Every bride admits that the day flies by, so Hayley would advise other couples to step back and enjoy a moment alone. Oh, and lay on an unlimited free bar – that certainly went down a treat with this happy couple’s guests!