Real Scottish Weddings - Drumtochty Castle

October 17th, 2023

A Fairytale Scottish Castle Wedding

I'd met Calynn & Johan a year earlier when they flew over from their home in South Africa to Scotland to view Drumtochty Castle. We snuck in an engagement session in Roslin Glen, near Edinburgh. It was clear from the second they stepped in front of the camera that they were naturals. I was super excited to see what they’d be like on their wedding day!

Fast forward a year later, and Calynn & Johan’s wedding day at Drumtochty Castle had finally arrived. On a day that promised rain, there wasn’t a single drop all day. As I drove along the lush driveway, the turrets of Drumtochty Castle peaked through the leaves.


Morning Prep & Getting Ready Shots


Inside the bridal suite, Calynn was getting her hair & make up done alongside her bridesmaids. She raced towards me for a hug as I arrived, excited and glowing with happiness. The dress flowed down to the floor from its hanger –a stunning ivory satin fabric, matched perfectly with a tiara, and of course white trainers. Calynn eagerly showed me the ring she’d had secretly made for Johan. It was designed to match Calynn’s engagement ring, which was inspired by Lord of the Rings.


Upstairs in the best man’s room the boys had gathered, with Johan calm &collected. We cracked open the whisky for some cool shots, and then I was going to allow them a few more minutes before we headed out into the grounds for some more informal group photos. Before we did, I asked best man Frikkie for the rings – we both knew that one of them was a decoy ring, and that downstairs the real ring was waiting. But when Frikkie looked me in the eye with a slight panic, I knew something was up. Next moment, Johan is proudly telling me his secret plans – that he’d had a wedding band made for himself as a surprise to Calynn.

It took everything I had not to burst into laughter and keep a straight face, I asked Frikkie to step outside with me to talk briefly about the ceremony he'd be conducting so as not to arouse suspicion. When we were safely out of earshot, we immediately erupted into laughter.

Calynn found the whole thing hilarious, but decided to go ahead with her surprise, and for us all to let Johan think that he’d be the one with the surprise. So we carried on as normal and until the ring exchange Johan was completely clueless.

Calynn looked stunning as she stepped into her dress and became the bride. We did a quick first look with her dad and got some bridal party photos on the stairs before we parted ways. The bridal party would be heading around the back of the castle, while I stepped out the front door and into the ceremony.


Outdoor Wedding Ceremony in Scotland

Weeks ago, Calynn had decided to go with an outdoor ceremony in front of the castle itself.


Their ceremony was full of laughter, with the couple each taking the time to declare their love for one another, as well as anecdotes on how they met and their hopes for the future.  

And when it came to the ring exchange, Johan’s stunned look of confusion made the surprise all the better.


We finished the ceremony with a confetti exit and then a whole guest group shot in front of the castle before heading in for the cake cutting. Johan was far too excited to be cutting the cake with a sword, and actually licked the blade of chocolate – much to his new wife’s embarrassment.


The drinks reception was held inside, with cupcakes and canapes. We raced through the group shots, before I took Calynn & Johan out around the grounds for my favourite part of any wedding day: couples portraits.

Drumtochty Castle is beautiful, but it’s nothing compared to its grounds. The terrace walkway, the woodland path, and the small loch with its jetty, bridge and tiny island – we loved every minute of their couples portraits. And we had the perfect lighting –with dappled sunlight coming through the leaves in the woodland and illuminating them later by the water.


Wedding Breakfast & Evening Reception


The setup in the ballroom was simply stunning, with its tall arched windows stealing the show. The happy couple opted for a sweetheart table, with two empty chairs either side of them. At the end of the speeches, they invited their guests to take a seat with them throughout the meal to chat with them. It was a lovely way of having the best of both worlds – an intimate meal with just your partner, as well as having the chance to speak with your friend & family.


After the meal, we took a photo of Calynn & Johan with each of the tables. Rather than do this during the meal, we had planned beforehand to do this in one of the other reception rooms. The groomsmen and bridesmaids helped rally all the people at each table up and we rifled through them.


Choreographed First Dance


Calynn & Johan had worked with a dance teacher local to them to choreograph their first dance –another surprise for guests. They opted to have a practice in the ballroom before their official first dance, as this would be their first time dancing in their wedding attire.


Their guests were truly stunned at their routine, which ended in a dip-kiss. And with that, the evening reception began with guests taking to the dancefloor. For some reason, ABBA was a massive hit that got everyone up and dancing.


Creative Wedding Photography


We chose to end their wedding photography at Drumtochty Castle with some creative backlit shots. First, we headed straight down to the loch again to get some brilliant reflections in the water.

As we returned to the castle, I told them their next shots would be inspired by Lord of the Rings – a reference that they absolutely loved.


Above, the stars sparkled overhead: a perfect reflection of Calynn & Johan’s portrait below.


Calynn & Johan’s wedding day at Drumtochty Castle was one of my favourites from 2023. As a wedding photographer, it was a dream location with an absolutely beautiful couple. The atmosphere of the venue combined with the happiness and laughter throughout the day, made this Scottish-South African wedding truly special.