The romanticism of the Scottish Highlands combines with an urban setting for a storybook London wedding
The men wore top hats, tails, and trews made of tartan. The women wore fascinators; the girls, sashes of tartan; the bride, a tiara passed down for generations. She entered the church to a traditional British hymn and carried a timeless cascading shower bouquet.
Isabelle Coaten, now the Countess of Haddo, married George, Earl of Haddo, in a ceremony rich with meaning, tradition, and beauty. The flowers created a sense of intimacy at the church and polished grandeur at the reception, paying tribute to George’s Scottish heritage and Isabelle’s sense of style.
Isabelle and George met at Oxford Brookes University, but it wasn’t until after graduation that they began dating. A few years later, among the wild deer in London’s Richmond Park, George got down on one knee and proposed. They were married at Holy Trinity Brompton Church in Knightsbridge where both Isabelle and George worshipped, and they chose the nearby Mandarin Oriental Hotel for the reception.
“I always wanted my wedding to be classic,” says Isabelle, who describes her style as a makeup artist as “classic with a very feminine touch.” Meanwhile George, whose father is the Marquess of Aberdeen and Temair, has deep family traditions that Isabelle was keen to incorporate. “I wanted the flowers in the church to [. . .] reflect George’s Scottish heritage. Considering that so much is chosen by the bride on these occasions, I thought it was important to incorporate his background,” Isabelle explains.
From the beginning, Isabelle asked friend and renowned florist Robbie Honey to design the flowers. At their visit to the New Covent Garden Flower Market, Honey, who likes to “paint a picture of what [he] envisages the flowers will look like” for brides, showed Isabelle how her ideas could be made a reality. “Seeing the flowers in real life was wonderful. I could really see it come together,” says Isabelle.
In addition to the warm shades in the color palette, Honey included pale lemon, white, and green to complement George’s family tartan. The tartan—seen on the groomsmen’s trews (traditional Scottish trousers) and the flower girls’ sashes—and the ivy both represent the Gordon clan, of which George’s father is most senior.
Honey managed to create an intimate feel in the grand-scale church by using flowers “in a traditional way while reflecting the architecture.” Guests entered the church beneath a luscious arch of lilies, hydrangeas, garden roses, phlox, and stock in hues of soft yellow, gold, and creams with apple accents. Ivy, emerald-green moss, and white heather, all of which are found in the Scottish landscape—and the latter believed to be lucky—trailed below and down the steps. A double-sided arch in similar hues, with the addition of fairy lights, brought an element of natural romanticism found in the Scottish Highlands to the London church. On the chancel, lush arrange- ments in yellows, whites, and greens overflowed out of an urn and tumbled from the platform.
While George and his ushers wore ivory roses in their lapels and his father a sprig of heather, Isabelle chose a gardenia for her father, knowing that it’s his favorite. “For this reason,” she says, “I also asked Robbie to fill my bouquet with gardenias.” The cascading shower bouquet included stephanotis, gardenias, scented garden roses, lilies-of-the-valley, and pale-green foliage. Honey explains that it was important to him that the bouquet “capture the beauty of the flowers and still look [. . .] natural. Each flower in Isabelle’s bouquet was individually wired, which is an old-fashioned technique that I love.”
Even the music of the wedding was decidedly British. Organized by the Royal Academy of Music, it included bagpipes at both the ceremony and reception. Isabelle entered the church to Hubert Parry’s “I Was Glad,” which has been played at coronations— including that of Queen Elizabeth II—and royal weddings.
Honey gave the reception at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel a soft and feminine ambience to reflect Isabelle’s taste. There was an exuberant arrangement of milk- white and cream delphinium, garden roses, lilies, phlox, stock, and hydrangeas arranged in an urn. In the ballroom, guests enjoyed dinner and lively toasts at tables named for places near where George grew up in Scotland. A gardenia was placed at each seat beside pale pink and cream table centerpieces of hydrangeas, garden roses, lisianthus, freesia, astilbes, and snowberries with accents of crystal.
Honey describes the overall floral design as “classic elegance.” Those words not only characterize the flowers—from the church brimming with gorgeous blooms and foliage, to the feminine florals at the reception—but also the couple themselves, who brought together two families in a beautiful, joyful day full of time-honored tradition.