Shona & Stephen’s Incredible DIY Destination Wedding in Estonia

“It’s one of the most beautiful places we have ever been to and it is a really special place for both of us and the family.”

The couple:  Stephen George Hamilton & Shona Lesley Macpherson
Length of engagement: 11 months | Wedding Date: 22nd July 2017
Venue: The Macpherson Log Cabin, Hiiumaa Island, Estonia
Photographers: Gerry Sulp

We met… At work! We both worked for Red Bull in London. We didn’t want anyone at work to know in the early days so had a secret relationship for 6 months before I told my manager so it was all very exciting!

Our proposal… We currently live in Abu Dhabi but were home in the UK celebrating my cousins wedding in London. After the wedding Stephen suggested a day out which we used to love doing when we lived in there. We took a picnic and spent the morning walking through London reminiscing about living there. We eventually got on the underground and headed to Hyde Park.

We found a beautiful, reasonably isolated area of the park (which Steve was adamant about finding), and began our picnic. I am completely clueless as to what was about to happen at this stage. As my 30th was a week away he asked if I would like my first birthday present to which I said yes of course. He pulled out a huge scrap book which he made. It contained photos and memorabilia from our whole relationship! It was incredibly thoughtful and beautifully put together. On one of the pages he has drawn a bottle of champagne and then asked me if I would like any while pulling a bottle of champagne out of his bag.

Whenever we have celebrations or birthdays Steve will always keep the champagne cork, slice a hole in the top and place a coin into it which we keep as little memory. His idea for the proposal was to do the same but with the ring. This was the plan, however he popped the cork and then couldn’t find it! So he went into panic mode about how to propose without it. He had us both searching the park high and low and with no success, while looking for it he got in front of me, down on one knee and proposed!

It was completely perfect! After calling our family and friends to tell them the good news he then informed me that the surprise wasn’t over yet, although at this point I wasn’t sure how anything could top what had just happened.

We then jumped back on the underground and got off at London bridge. Just as we were walking past the Shard, he commented on having never been up it and I said I hadn’t either. He then lead me inside and up to the reception desk and asked to check himself and his fiancée into the hotel which was all pre-booked. The hotel was incredible! We then went to an amazing restaurant in London Bridge. When we arrived and said our names we were greeted with ‘happy birthday and congratulations’ along with a glass of champagne! It was a truly amazing day!

The following day we were flying up to Edinburgh to see my family. We arrived at the airport and Steve decided he wanted some food before our flights. As we arrived in one of the restaurants my nephew came running up to me and shouted surprise we are off to Etonia (his was of saying Estonia). My whole family were there ready to fly out for a surprise engagement holiday! Now that we live in Abu Dhabi we don’t get to see them nearly as much as we would like to so it was the best surprise ever!

As soon as we landed I was in for another surprise as Steve’s parents greeted me at the gate! Steve had planned the whole thing without me knowing anything which is incredible! We then enjoyed a week of celebrations at my parents cabin in the woods in Hiiumma an island off the coast of Estonia. I would not have asked for a more perfect proposal – the amount of time, effort and thought that went into every detail was incredible!

Our wedding theme/colours… As the wedding was in the middle of the forest we want to keep the decorations very simple as the forest was our theme. We had lots of wood features along the way including the bar and DJ booth which Stephen, my dad and my brother-in-law all built the week leading up to the wedding. They also made the seating area for the ceremony and my dad made the ring carriers for the wedding. We had lots of wild flowers and baby’s breath. We wanted to keep it very boho and authentic.

My dress… Was from The Bridal Showroom in Dubai – after several Skype sessions home with my parents and sister and after my parents came to visit we all decided on the dress I wore. It was a dress called Nima from the Theia collection and it was a cap sleeve V-neck pearl beaded scallop bodice with Spanish tulle skirt. I have never really wanted the classic bridal look and knew I would always go with something a little bit different and I think I achieved this with this dress.

Our ceremony and or/celebrant… Our ceremony was in the forest next to my parents cabin on the island. We actually got married inside a structure which my dad built on his previous visit called the ‘the Nordic Tall House’. It’s a beautiful tipi looking structure which we covered in white flowers.

As we did the legal part back at home the previous week in my parents back garden, our ceremony was very relaxed and all very personal. My sister lead the service and we said our own vows. We had also asked a local Estonian friend if he would lead the wedding vows as it felt right to have a local Estonian marry us while in Estonia. We had 3 close friends do readings and my niece and nephew and Stephen’s nephew were flower girl and page boy’s as well as ring bearers.

We then signed our ‘papers’ which was a marriage declaration we had both written together and signed on the day. This was done on two huge throne like chairs which a family friend who lived on the island had hand made as a wedding gift!

Our fitness regime before the wedding… Given that Stephen is a personal trainer and we own a Sports Consultancy business (Discover Sports) out in Abu Dhabi you would think I had a really strict fitness regime before the wedding! Unfortunately this was not the case. I did work out and was eating a lot healthier for the lead up to the wedding but I didn’t do anything drastic. I was also lucky to be involved in an amazing event called the Women’s Heritage walk which sees 45 women trek through the desert from Al Ain to Abu Dhabi  in honor of the local ladies who used to make this journey twice a year not so long ago. Trekking through the desert for 5 days definitely helped the wedding fitness get under way! Working in the health and fitness industry, this is something that comes naturally to Steve.

Our menu… was delicious! Stephen contacted a local catering company who supplied all the food across the weekend as well as the marquee! We wanted it to be very relaxed and move away from the sit down 3 course meal so we had a tapas/buffet style menu which had a huge variety. We also had our wedding cake made of cheese as it’s one of our favorite things to eat! Everyone was hugely complimentary about the menu and the style which we chose. The roast at the festival was also delicious!

His suit… was tailor made by Scallywags and Rogues and it looked INCREDIBLE! The finish to his suit was perfect and it fitted so well. I had originally wanted him to wear a kilt or have an element of tartan in his suit due to him marrying a scot! However kilt was vetoed very quickly being a proud English man! He did however like the idea of a tartan look and feel to his suit so went with a plaid 3 piece suit with a bright pink linings.

We chose our photographer because… I did some research and again I wanted something a bit different. I am not a huge fan of the traditional ‘posed’ photos and wanted the photos to really reflect the beautiful forest setting. I came across a local photographer called Gery Sulp and knew instantly that he was the type of photographer that I wanted and luckily he was free and more than happy to travel to the island for our big day. We also asked him to photograph the day after the wedding too as we had a forest festival the following day with all the guests.

Gerry was unbelievable, he was discreet, knew the photos he wanted to get and stayed until the last person stopped dancing. At most weddings, the photographer sneaks off after the speeches but Gerry stayed till the very end and with this captured some of the best photos of the day! We received our wedding photos last week and we could not be happier with how they have turned out! He did a really fantastic job!

My favourite part of the wedding day… There are too many just to pick one! I would have to say the best part was having all our loved ones in one place having the best day! As we now live abroad it is very rare we get to share these moments so when they do happen as we get everyone together they are really special! I also loved seeing Steve watch me come down the aisle and our first dance was great fun as we invited everyone to join us and it turned into a big bouncing/jumping/crazy happy dance!

We chose our venue because… It’s one of the most beautiful places we have ever been to and it is a really special place for both of us and the family. After our proposal and the fact that we went straight to the island, we decided there would never be a more fitting place to get married. We also wanted something completely different and unique and were able to achieve it with this venue. It’s incredibly peaceful, surrounded by trees. We wanted to make sure our guests had an experience that they would never forget and I am pretty confident we achieved this. We were also very lucky that people wanted to make the most of their trip and stayed for a few days before and after. The day after the wedding everyone returned and we had a mini island festival and a hog roast which was the perfect end to an incredible weekend!

My piece of advice for other couples… Take in every moment and every detail as it is over so quickly and you don’t want to miss a thing. Spend time with all your friends and family on the day but don’t forget to make time for each other and enjoy the special day together! And most importantly spread the celebrations out – too much time and effort goes into it all for it to only last one day! You only get this chance once so make sure you make the most of it.


Dress: The Bridal Showroom, Duabi – Theia collection | Suit: Scallywags and Rogues, Abu Dhabi | Photographer: Gerry Sulp | Hair & Makeup: My Best Friends | Catering: Carmen Catering, Estonia | Flowers: Mere Randma, Hiiumaa  | Stationery – All handmade

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Pamela Mahon

Pamela Mahon Editor Pam enjoys writing about all things décor (she loves buying it too!) and has a not so secret addiction to stationery. Her favourite section on the site is the galleries and she can often be found lurking in the fashion and beauty forums as well.

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