For Black Isle bride Lysanne, it had to be the Loch Ness Country House Hotel for her rip-roaring, Highland big day. Not ones to follow the norm, she and groom Craig were determined
to stay true to themselves, and found kindred spirits in the venue’s co-ordinator Lianne Power and head chef Adam Dwyer.
“We’d only decided to get married 12 weeks before!” laughs Lysanne. “I don’t think we could – or would – have done this with any other venue we visited. It was Lianne’s enthusiasm and Adam’s positivity that had us utterly convinced that this was the place we should tie the knot.”
Lianne quickly became a fairy godmother to the couple. “From the minute we started planning our special day, she was really there for us,” says the bride. “Craig and I were working full time throughout, and deeply appreciated that she answered all our questions immediately, keeping us on the right track and reminding us exactly what we had to do at each stage. Nothing was too much trouble for her.”
As Lysanne and Craig began to piece together their day with Lianne, their priorities became clearer. “We wanted a wedding that was about us and our friends and family, a day for the people we love to come together and catch up,” explains the bride. Their early January date meant it would feel festive: “Visually, it needed to be seasonal, but we didn’t want it to scream Christmas. We chose a simple palette of white, black and silver to allow the flowers (by CP Flower Design) to be the punchy jolt of colour.
Luckily, Loch Ness Country House Hotel is so versatile, it was easy to put our stamp on the function suite.” Important as the theme was to Lysanne and Craig, the food was the heart and soul of their day. When the couple told the kitchen about their unusual concept (and mentioned guests with allergies), chef Adam was not only unfazed but fired up.
“The venue was wonderfully accommodating when it came to discussing the dishes and drinks,” says Lysanne. “As we got married just after the excesses of Hogmanay, I was keen to avoid a traditional four-course meal, and suggested we try street food instead, which we’re both passionate about. Although we had dietary requirements to consider, it didn’t limit our choices in any
way – Adam was totally on board and delivered a superb Spanish- influenced buffet, which the guests thoroughly enjoyed.”
If you’re hungry, don’t read any further: the spread sounds mouth-watering. “We had a help-yourself policy,” Lysanne remembers. “On the tables, we had a selection of breads and oils and vinegars for dipping (the olive loaf was a big hit) and mains included scallop-and-chorizo skewers, paella, prawn pinchos, steak salad, whole dressed salmon and crispy calamari with aioli.”
And as if that wasn’t enough, you would probably have wanted to leave room for dessert:. “The hotel is famed for its incredible high tea, so for pudding we had stands laden with mini cakes and pastries, which everyone could get stuck into.” Stomachs filled, the 88 guests soon found out that the accommodation was also second to none. “The team made our budget work hard and tailored everything to what we wanted to spend, which was impressive given we didn’t opt for the set menu and were able to hire the venue exclusively, meaning it was only our guests staying at the hotel,” explains Lysanne.
“My bridesmaids and I spent the night before in one of the cottages in the grounds, while my parents slept in the house. It was so relaxing and made the next morning less stressful. The rooms are comfortable, spacious and nicely decorated.”
Despite the substantial grounds, delicious dinner and sumptuous spaces, it was the staff that have left the most lasting impression on Lysanne and Craig and made their celebration what it was. “I would encourage anyone to consider the venue for their wedding,” says the bride. “Lianne is exceptional and there is nothing she couldn’t make happen. She really helped us create our fairytale.”