Valerie and Aaron met online in 2013, and after a couple of dates, both were completely smitten. Aaron was preparing to hit the road for three months, but that didn’t get in the way. “I love his laugh, his energy, he feels like home to me,” Valerie wrote in her journal at the time. “I just adore this boy, being in his arms, so comfortable and easy.”
When Aaron returned from his road trip, the two became a couple — and have been together ever since! In that time, they’ve welcomed a daughter, who Valerie describes as “such a gift.”
“I believe she has brought our love into a deeper feeling of home and unconditional love,” she added.
When they had the time to start planning a wedding, they got to work. The two knew they wanted a destination wedding, and initially decided on a vineyard in Okanagan, a region in Canada’s British Columbia. “We even met with a coordinator in Kelowna and went to the site of the venue again,” Valerie said. “This time, Aaron just wasn’t feeling it. It felt too typical, not us.”
After a couple of frustrating weeks, the couple was struck with an idea: a wedding in Scotland, where they both had roots. “…Once we had settled on the country, I started searching social media with #ScottishWeddings, #WeddingsInScotland, etc., and saw an article about Lisa from Tartan Weddings, a wedding planner who specializes in destination weddings in Scotland. ” Valerie explained. “I also had come across photos of the Eilean Donan Castle. I had no idea what part of Scotland it was in or how hard it would be to get there, but I knew once I saw it… there wouldn’t be anything else that would compare.”
Valerie and Aaron eventually got in touch with Lisa, and they discovered the castle wedding would actually be more affordable than the one they had planned at the vineyard in Canada. They were sold.
See how the wedding turned out below, where Valerie also provides advice for brides, describes her favorite moment for her big day, and more.
PLUS: Don’t miss their special wedding video!
What was the most difficult part of the planning process?
I would say it was hiring vendors that I would never meet until the wedding day. Lisa (from Tartan Weddings) was from New York, and all of the vendors were from various parts of Scotland. Lisa helped greatly with the contacts but not having a trial for hair or makeup, or meeting with the Celebrant was a bit of a leap of faith… that luckily worked out brilliantly!
I literally could not have coped well if Lisa wasn’t physically there. Even though I originally opted to have Lisa guide me through the process via emails and phone calls, I’m SO grateful she was there to coordinate EVERYTHING on the day of. I would have been a mess doing it on my own — even with a small number of people — as I tend to put peoples feelings and needs before my own. I probably would have hopped out of the makeup chair to make sure everything was running smoothly. So if you know that you’re a control freak or a worrier, you NEED a coordinator on site!
What advice would you give to brides planning their wedding now?
I would say, get a good Pinterest board going. You want a really strong concept and great visuals that support that concept which you will want to share with your vendors. Once you have a strong concept, you’re less likely to be lead astray by other beautiful wedding ideas and venues. For example, I think pastel breezy tropical weddings are gorgeous… but I wouldn’t want to waste my time going down the tropical rabbit hole if I know strongly that I am having a castle wedding in a cooler climate. Once you have a strong concept it will evolve as you focus your searches only on the inspirations that speak strongly to your vibe… and let the others go. Then you can hone in on sourcing locations and the people that will help you with your vision.
What was your favorite moment from your wedding?
Ironically, that starts with my worst memory. The day before the wedding we were supposed to drive from Edinburgh to the Eilean Donan Castle (about a 4 hour drive) and do a tour, meet with the staff and Lisa to discuss the next days events (we hadn’t even met Lisa yet!) and relax a bit before the big day. However, we got terribly lost and turned around and ended up arriving at our hotel, the Eilean Donan Apartments, in the dark. We missed the tour, missed the meeting, and didn’t even get to meet Lisa for the first time in the flesh.
Fast forward to the next day, the day of the wedding… and my favorite moment. A vintage car picked myself, and my Mom and Dad up and drove us to the iconic castle. We stepped out of the car and began our walk across the bridge to the location. I will never forget the feeling of walking on that cobblestone and looking up at the castle that I had been dreaming about being in, for the last year. As I walked across the bridge I took in every stone, I smelled the wet air, I felt my parents beside me. I cried. I was so emotional. I couldn’t believe this was actually happening. I was in awe of everything, the entrance feature, the stairs, the staging area upstairs.
In hindsight I think it worked best that we didn’t get to see the castle the day before. It was much more raw and real and authentic this way. I got to just be in the moment and allow the day to unfold knowing that all of the planning was behind us and that I was in good hands with Lisa.
I have another favorite though… and that was the moment that we were announced husband and wife. I waited so long to hear that I was Mrs. Lauritsenl!
Wedding Planner: Tartan Weddings – Lisa Bauer // Venue: Eilean Donan // Castle Photographer: Lynne Kennedy // Videography: Olive and Thistle // Wedding Celebrant: Halde Pottinger // Florist: Loch Duich Plants // Piper: Lea MacLeod // Vintage Car: Highland Vintage Car Hire // Hair stylist: Pin-Up Hair // Make-up Artist: Cat Robertson // Dress Designer: Rue de Seine // Dress Boutique: The Bridal Boutique in Calgary // Rings: Lost Art Jewelry in Waterton National Park, Alberta // Ring Box: Glass House Studios in Halifax Nova Scotia