Dean & Isabela’s Humanist Wedding at the Waldorf Astoria

I’ll never forget where and when I first met Dean & Isabela.

It was at Victoria & Ruari’s wedding at Rufflets towards the end of Lockdown in 2021. I knew that both Vix & Ru worked in Hospitality, and when I saw Dean out there in the audience I immediately recognised him from Masterchef the Professionals. My wife Susie and I had backed him as a winner right from the Skills Test in the 2018 series, so it was lovely to have a quick chat with him and his beautiful Brazilian fiancé Isabela before I headed home.

Only a few months later, I was delighted when they got in touch about their own big day. By then, a lot had changed in Dean’s professional life. Alongside the already successful Haar in St. Andrews, he was about to open his fine dining restaurant in the historic Pompadour suite at the Waldorf Astoria, so just finding time to talk was a challenge, but we did, and he and Isabela set about crafting their ceremony.

It’s a long way from Auchmithie to Ipanema, but those are the beaches that mean the most to Dean and Isabela. A native son of Arbroath, Dean had travelled the world as a chef, working in no fewer than 40 countries before he and Isabela’s paths crossed in the exclusive ski resort village of Verbier in Switzerland.

Isabela had done her bit of world-travelling too. After leaving Ballet School in Brazil, she’d lived in 18 different countries, and as she says, although she can’t cook as well as Dean does, she can make more than a sandwich!

Living so far from home was a huge challenge, which is why it was so important that her mother and grandfather were very much part of her day.

Isabela and Dean had what the French call, ‘un coup de foudre’ – love hit them like a thunderbolt, and it didn’t take long before Dean proposed, just after his 30th birthday. What made that extra special was that he proposed on Auchmithie Beach, using his great grandmother’s engagement ring – but he only later discovered that was exactly where his great grandfather had proposed, on the very same stretch of Scottish sand!

Not long after they moved to Scotland, their son Felix was born, and their little family was complete when lsabela’s first child, Francisco, came to live with them.

A passionate Latina, Isabela doesn’t hold back.

She said, “When I first saw Dean, I laughed, I was nervous, I looked at him and some tears came down my face. There were a lot of emotions, not quite knowing how it happened and there we were in such a strange connection. Like we knew each other our whole life. I felt him as mine and I was his.”

Dean said, “I remember when we first met, and we went flying around a mountain on our first date – that’s when I knew I loved you. You were as adventurous and as daring as myself. In you, I have found a loving mother, a stunning woman, and someone I can rely on to share and support my big dreams in life.” 

I loved how they kept their vows a secret until the day. Foi muito emocionante!

After they’d signed their Marriage Schedule with Angela and Richard, their Maid of Honour and Best Man as witnesses, they invited the granddads to help with the Quaich ceremony, which was a lot of fun!

And then after a few well-chosen words from me, it was time for the party to get started!

Having seen on TV what Dean could produce, I didn’t need to be encouraged to stick around for the canapés…

They were every bit as delicious as they look! I grabbed a few frames of them for my Instagram story feed

Of course I was delighted to have the chance to meet up with Victoria and Ruari again.

And if you haven’t checked out their inspiring wedding story yet, you really should!

I was so touched to get these words from Isabela the other day, along with these fantastic photos by Stonehaven based snapper, Sam Brill.

Thank you so much for celebrating our wedding! It was so spontaneous, funny, emotional and beautiful. I loved every single bit of it because It was completely how Dean and I are.

My family loved it too. Even though they don’t speak or understand English, they said when you spoke the way you did, they could feel all the words you were saying. 

Thank you so much for our tree, this is a memory for life and I’m very happy for your gift to us.

No words can describe the amazing ceremony we had.

Honestly, we can’t thank you enough.

Isabela and Dean – you absolutely did thank me enough!

Susie and I had an unforgettably delicious dinner at Dean Banks at the Pompadour on our wedding anniversary last month. As The Guide Michelin used to say, “il vaut le détour” and I very much hope that when they next hand out their stars, Dean will be one of the deserving recipients. Thank you so much again for allowing me to be a part of your day – and for sharing these lovely photos!

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