The Scottish island wedding of David Carty and Alison Smith
16 OCTOBER 2013HELLO! Online readers David Carty and Alison Smith met on the first day of their teaching jobs in Glasgow, and worked together for a year before the groom left for another school.
"We kept in touch via Facebook but our paths never crossed," said Alison. "When he came back to teach at the school again, it had been nearly two years. We felt like it was a second chance for us and we grasped it with both hands."
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David proposed on his fiancé's birthday, during a moonlit walk after a romantic dinner, but his plan almost fell through when Alison was put off by the cold outside.
"It was December and I suggested otherwise," said the bride. "David persisted and as we strolled outside, he proposed with an antique diamond ring. I was totally shocked and hadn't expected it. My parents knew for over two weeks and managed somehow to keep it a secret."
Alison looked stunning in her lace, V-neck wedding gown, designed by Allure.
"I wanted a dress that would look elegant and timeless in keeping with the venue," said the bride. "I fell in love with it as soon as I saw it, and it matched my Jimmy Choo's perfectly."
In keeping with her "timeless" look, Alison kept her make up simple and natural. "I wanted to look back on our photos and not know exactly what year it was," she said.
The bride wore her antique engagement ring and matched her gown with stunning drop diamond earrings and a diamond clip bracelet. Her bridesmaids surprised her with a Mulberry charm bracelet the night before the wedding, which Alison wore on the day.
The wedding celebrations started the day before the ceremony, with the bridal party and family arriving earlier for a catered dinner.
"Some of the celebrations went on too long, considering David never made it to bed until seven in the morning," said Alison.
On the day of the wedding, the sun came out and the sky was clear blue. David and Alison decided on Achnagairn House, just outside of Inverness, to hold their ceremony and reception. It was the only venue they had looked at and was perfect to accommodate their guests for the whole weekend.
Friends and family were greeted at the entrance to the lavish mansion with a Scots Guard Piper playing, and tucked into soup and sandwiches before the service.
The bride and groom exchanged vows in the beautiful Grand Ballroom, and were married by their close friend, Reverend Dr Angus Morrison.
"The music for the whole day was played by two of our ex-pupils who sang, played the bagpipes, piano and the harp and kept the guests entertained," said the bride. "This made it more personal and special to us."
After the nuptials, David and Alison hosted a lavish reception. The early 19th century mansion had such a dramatic interior that the couple decided on a neutral colour scheme.
David and Alison wanted to bring as much warmth into the room as possible, so dotted candles around the grand ballroom, which matched with the cream, white, champagne and ivory colours of the flowers and tables.
A total of 140 guests stayed at Achnagairn House for the weekend, after travelling from all over the UK and as far as Australia. Family and friends were treated to a wedding breakfast after the ceremony, followed by a delicious hog roast.
"We were given a surprise wedding gift of The Pipes and Drums of the 1st Battalion Scots Guards who came in and played during the speeches," said the bride. "It was a really special moment as they don't usually play at weddings — as they're a military band — but my brother being a Captain of the Scots Guards made it possible."
The merry music set the tone for the evening and had guests dancing until the small hours of the morning, with Alison showing off her traditional dancing skills.
"I have been a Highland dancer since the age of three and completed a full Highland fling alongside a serving solider who had come back from Afghanistan — in my wedding dress to the music of the pipes and drums," said the bride.
The wedding party then braved the cold and stepped outside to enjoy the magical fireworks display in the beautiful grounds.