Ashley Cawthon first met Stuart Petrie eight years ago when they were both working at the same fashion company. “We officially broke the ice at a work party in Palm Springs,” she recalls. “The tequila definitely helped.”
Ashley (who now is the merchandising director at Fred Segal) and Stuart (a member of Oliver Peoples’s marketing team), dated for six years after that. During a trip to San Miguel de Allende, the couple was visiting a winery with friends when Stuart asked Ashley if they could have a picture taken in the vineyards. “I took his hand and one of my girlfriends followed to play photographer,” she says. “Before I knew it, we had snapped a couple of pictures and he was all of a sudden on one knee asking to marry me! I instantly froze from shock and started crying and finally yelled, ‘yes!’ It was a magical day of wine, friends, and a lot of love.”
Since Stuart is from Aberdeen, Scotland, the couple decided to tie the knot there. “We knew that we wanted to have an intimate destination wedding that would feel like a unique experience for everyone,” she says. After researching several venues, they came across the Eilean Donan castle in the Isle of Skye and immediately knew it was the place. “It had an incredible history and a beautiful landscape. It felt like the castle you see in fairytales,” Ashley adds. “We actually found out later that it’s the same castle from the film Made of Honor with Patrick Demsey.”
As for the reception, they chose the Duisdale House, a bed and breakfast located about 20 minutes from the castle. “The look of the B&B really made you feel like you were in the highlands of Scotland.” They set their wedding date for May 20th and enlisted Cheryl Dowie from Premier Wedding Planners to help with the preparations.
Unlike most brides, Ashley didn’t go on a dress search. “I wanted to stay away from conventional frilly bridal wear, so I set out to create my own dress and was fortunate to have met an incredible designer in New York—Beth Ann Caples of Irwin Garden,” Ashley explains. They worked together on creating the bride’s dream dress. “We only had a single fitting before the big day, and it fit like a glove,” she adds. To complement the dress’s simplicity, Ashley added a few vintage treasures to her look, including a never worn pair of YSL pumps in champagne silk and chandelier earrings she found on 1stdibs. A long cape made by a friend ended up being a last minute addition. “It truly complemented the aesthetic of the castle. I definitely had a Game of Thrones moment!”
As for Stuart and his groomsmen, they wore traditional kilts in his family’s tartan, which is standard practice for Scottish weddings. They chose a McGregor Hunting Tartan because of the way it contrasted with the landscape of the Scottish countryside. For the reception, the groom wore a suit by Balenciaga.
The day of the ceremony brought pouring rain. “The weather in this part of Scotland is really unpredictable so we knew it was a 50/50 chance,” Ashley says. A traditional bag piper greeted guests while they made their way across the bridge to the gates of the castle. Then it was time for the bride and her bridesmaids to make the long walk across the bridge to the entrance of the castle. “Luckily I had rented umbrellas, and it made for some great moments with the camera as we powered across cheering each other on,” she says. When she reached the top of the narrow, steep staircase, Ashley was afraid she might fall, but thankfully she had her stepfather by her side. “I guess that’s why someone walks you down the aisle, it’s really to hold you up!” she laughs. A violinist played traditional scores while the procession took place.
Once she reached the altar overlooking the lake, a close friend married the couple. The ceremony was short but overwhelming, mostly because Ashley had just lost her younger sister, Laura, a few weeks before her wedding day. “We paid tribute to Laura through her favorite flower, the lily,” says Ashley. “This flower remained with me throughout the day, including when we were getting ready and when we said our vows. We felt both her presence and knew her spirit was there with us.”
A two-part reception followed. First, a champagne ceremony in the banquet room of the castle with all of the guests. “We served a special champagne that my stepfather picked out—he knows his wine,” Ashley notes. “This part of the reception gave guests some time to explore the castle and sip some bubbly.” The second part of the reception took place at Duisdale House, where a four-course meal awaited. Sentimental and funny toasts followed, and when it was time to open up the dance floor, a Ceilidh band did a traditional Scottish dance called “Strip the Willow.” “By that point we could feel the open bar, so we were all over the place. People started to tango instead!” she adds. As for what song the newlyweds chose for their first dance? Donnie and Joe Emerson’s “Baby.” “The song still makes my heart melt when I hear it!”
The Scots have a reputation for knowing how to party, and they lived up to it as the celebration lasted until 6:00 a.m. “It was a pretty wild night! There was a beach across the highway that people ended up going to after the reception. There, they drank bottles of champagne all night until the sun came up,” Ashley says. “It was a 24-hour wedding!”