Matt and Kerra got married in May at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Edinburgh. They utilised different parts of the gardens and complex for the various parts of their big day. They had the ceremony outside beneath a cluster of redwood trees then a drinks reception in Caledonian Hall, followed by a barbeque and ceilidh in the John Hope Gateway building.
Photography today is by super twosome Lillian and Leonard.
I never had any concept of “the one” dress. I went to one bridal shop with my friend Naomi and decided that standing in unflattering underwear being put into dresses that in everyday life I would never consider was not a particularly good way to spend an afternoon. So… As with many things in life I resorted to the internet with a fairly strict set of criteria.
1. Not a gazillion pounds
2. Must look good on 5ft bride who has no intention of wearing crippling heels
3. Must be suitable to be trailed through dirt at outdoor wedding
I found a great dress on the David’s Bridal website in their White by Vera collection. And having found a dress that finally met all my demands it turned out that they don’t post the White collection to the UK. So fortunately I was rescued by a former housemate who lives in the US who agreed to have the dress posted to her and then sent it on to me.
Advice for people buying off the internet: get a size larger than you think you need. Had I bought the size based on my measurements and recommended by the company I would have had to have shrunk considerably to fit into it! The larger sized dress fit perfectly (apart from being designed for someone at least a foot taller than me) and I took it to a local dressmaker in Glasgow to get straps added and the extra foot of fabric removed.
Internet To The Rescue
Recurring theme of the wedding – having no time to go shopping and buying things off the internet. I got my 1920s piano shawl from ebay – having realised that the chances of good weather at a scottish wedding outside in May were pretty much zero I decided I needed something to prevent me getting hypothermia mid-ceremony (I had no intention of turning into my own “something blue”…!). I’d wanted one for years but never been able to justify the price of one, and the wedding seemed like a perfect excuse. My earrings came from folksy, and were bought to match my Granny’s pearls which were lent to me for the day by my aunt.
Despite my height I never wear heels (I’ve never had the patience to practice walking in them) but as somebody pointed out unless I was stood on a Yellow Pages we might struggle to get photos of Matt and I together with both our heads and feet in the photo… So my favourite clothing site modcloth.com provided a pair of small heels in a teal colour. They also provided my completely flat comfort shoes for the evening (complete with gold sparkly hearts on the toes – v tacky!).
Withstanding The Elements
Again the outdoor wedding (and the ever-present threat of gale-force winds) meant that any kind of loose flowing hairstyle was never going to be a great idea. Having found a few pictures online that I liked I then had to find a hairdressers that was open on a Sunday and could do what I wanted with the strict instructions that it had to be easily removable at the end of the evening (I had no intention of missing my beauty sleep to have to spend hours unpicking hairspray and pins). Karen at Vincent Bell was great and managed to produce the exact style from the photo I had, all of which could be unpicked in less than 10 minutes.
My sister Alexa did my makeup with a whole selection of things I got from Benefit (turns out if you’re allergic to everything Benefit is probably the makeup for you). She also did my nails (or at least as much as you can do the nails of one who cuts them extremely short and then bites them).
Plants And Flowers
I have allergies. I don’t generally do well with flowers (so what posessed us to get married in a Botanical Garden?!). However the one type of houseplant that we have managed to not kill over the several years of living together are succulents (update: some of them died while we were on honeymoon. That’ll teach us to leave them behind). So the only real criteria for the bouquets and buttonholes were that they should include succulents. Other than that we gave Lisa from Sparrow and Rose free reign and she picked a selection of plants and flowers to match the colours in my shawl. She made a selection of similar (but slightly different) buttonholes for the boys, a bouquet for me, one for my bridesmaid Naomi, and corsages for the 4 usherettes. And on the day I took a double dose of antihistamines.
Matt’s mother chose and arranged the beautiful flowers for the tables at dinner – these were displayed in a range of jam jars we had collected over the previous few months (does a dolmio jar count as a jam jar? We don’t eat a lot of jam, but we do like pasta…). As our friends joined in with collecting the jars we ended up with enough to start a small recycling plant, but rather than waste them we put them all to good use as tealight holders!
Maids In Black
In order to include all the people who were important to me in our wedding but without having a 20 minute procession down the aisle I decided to have one bridesmaid and 4 usherettes! The usherettes (my sisters Lauren and Alexa, my cousin Hannah and my friend Lucy) were a great help at the venue with getting people to the ceremony (it turns out it’s quite easy for guests to get lost in a large garden with several entrances) and into their seats. My bridesmaid was my oldest friend Naomi who I have known all my life. They were all asked to wear a black dress of their own choosing as they are all very different shapes and sizes, and there was no chance of finding anything that would be agreed upon.
Both Matt and his best man Robbie own their own (very colourful) kilts and had every intention of wearing them, so we wanted something to complement those for the three ushers – two of Matt’s brothers (both English) and Adam (northern Irish). Fortunately Matt has a friend who runs St Kilda’s Kilt Hire in Glasgow, so we got in touch with them to see what options there were. What we eventually plumped for, was a very dark grey tartan and matching jacket, all accessorised in dark grey or black.
A Rare Tartan
Matts kilt, jacket, waistcoat and sporran was made by his friend at St Kilda last year. Because Kilts can last for many years this was done not just with the wedding in mind, but hopefully many more happy celebrations in the future. My mum is Scottish, while Dad (who is English) was in the RAF, so the kilt was made of Leith Tartan (Mum’s maiden name) in a military pleat (this means the patterning changes from front to back, rather than being the same the whole way round.) The jacket is a day jacket in blue tweed, rather than the black dress jackets with silver buttons. The sporran is made of racoon fur. The leith tartan was quite rare, so had to be weaved especially for the kilt.
**Matt talking now**
I went to a number of fittings at St Kilda over the duration of having it made, and they were very particular about getting it right, but also about leaving enough room for any future expanding waistline!
I’m so pleased with the result. The full kilt regalia isn’t particularly cheap, but the kilt should last for the rest of my life. My best man Robbie wears a kilt which is 150 or so years old and has been handed down from generation to generation in his family.
Internet Strikes Again
We found the lovely Cara and Nye from Lillian and Leonard online (what a surprise, the internet strikes again). We knew in advance we didn’t want a huge number of posed photographs as neither of us are particularly good at having our photos taken (I turn an attractive shade of purple, Matt pulls faces) and their laid-back style and beautiful photos were exactly what we were looking for. At the time they were living just up the road from us in Glasgow (but have now relocated to London). On the day we hardly knew they were there, hence the large number of non-purple non-face-pulling photos we fortunately ended up with!
A Whole Lot Of Cake
It turns out choosing cake is much more complicated than you might think. I like cake and Matt doesn’t, so in theory that just meant choosing a cake I liked and thinking of an alternative for him. So Matt had a selection of cheeses brought over by my parents from Arran, and I thought I could have my favourite chocolate cake (with butter icing thrown in for good measure). But then it turns out this upsets the traditionalists who feel there must be a fruit cake. And your dairy-intolerant and gluten-intolerant friends won’t enjoy a flour-filled buttercream-iced cake (or a whole lot of cheese and oatcakes for that matter). So the solution to this problem is to have a whole lot of different cakes. We did think about cupcakes in different types to start, but then I saw a picture online of a cake table done by Three Sisters Bake for a wedding and was sold on the idea. We had: a chocolate buttercream cake, a gluten and dairy free satsuma cake, a lemon drizzle cake, a victoria sponge, a blueberry cake and a traditional fruit cake, all baked by the wonderful Nichola at Three Sisters Bake. And a whole lot of Arran cheese!
A Little Tradition
The majority of weddings we’ve been to in Scotland have a ceilidh band, and as they’re always a lot of fun we didn’t plan to change this. My friend Kirsty plays with a collective called Callanish, and while she was too busy helping us celebrate to play after dinner we had some other members of the group play and they were great! The good thing about a ceilidh is that it appeals to all ages, from our parents (including my parents who learnt to dance together at school) to our friends our age and younger. Callanish also have a large range of contemporary songs and are willing to learn a couple of new numbers if there is something you particularly want played. So in between ceilidh dances we had some swing numbers and a selection of pop songs.
Ceilidh To The Rescue
We don’t do dancing in public. The idea of a first dance with everyone watching makes me want to crawl under the nearest table and hide. So again the ceilidh band came to the rescue, and we started with an Orcadian strip the willow. This dance starts with one couple (us) and ends with the whole dance floor twirling around and generally having a great time while no-one’s attention is focused on the non-dancing bride and groom!
Blue And Yellow
We had gone with a blue and yellow theme (ever so garish) as Matt and I met through rowing – he rowed for Edinburgh University (famous for their baby blue lycra all in ones, so manly) and me for Glasgow University (in the much more tasteful gold and black). And as we had used brown textured cardboard for our invitations we decided to use this too.
For the ceremony we really didn’t need much in the way of decoration as the outdoor setting was so lovely. We had some paper pompoms in blue, white and yellow tied onto the end of the chairs (which must have looked a bit limp after the mid ceremony hail storm but I think waterproof pompoms might have been taking the project a step too far).
The Caledonian Hall was decorated with blue and yellow bunting which I made the summer after I left university (tip: not a project to be undertaken unless you have far too much time on your hands and ideally a sewing machine more modern than the one you inherited from your granny).
The name tags for dinner were made from brown luggage tags and tied with an assortment of blue or yellow ribbons. The table plan was made from an old suitcase and decorated with vintage postcards. The bottom of the suitcase also contained our “guest book” – a selection of vintage postcards from places we have visited together for people to write us a message on.
Everything (from the suitcase and postcards to the luggage tags, pompoms and fabric for the bunting) came from ebay. Our postman probably thinks I have a problem.
Hard Work Pays Off
I suppose like most people these days, we were working to a budget. As soon as we started planning the wedding, it became evident that we were both quite particular in what we wanted and so we always had one eye on how much we were spending while striving for the home-spun wedding we wanted. That said, I think our hard work really paid off, because we sat down after the wedding and agreed that, if we had unlimited money, we wouldn’t have done much different!
Being married in Scotland, rather than England, has its advantages too. Scotland is one of only a handful of countries where a wedding is legal regardless of where it takes place i.e. you don’t need to undertake the formal legalities in a church or a registry office, providing you complete the paperwork in time. This meant that, because we decided not to have a wedding in a church, we could focus on finding a beautiful place knowing (if we could find a celebrant willing to marry us in that location) that the possibilities were almost endless. We both loved walking in the botanic gardens when we lived in Edinburgh, so it seemed a good choice, especially with all the catering on-hand. Georgina at the Botanics was really good at helping us make choices about how we ran the day too, and they took care of a lot of the detail.
Hand Over Responsibility
We chose a humanist wedding as neither of us are religious and had strong feelings about having a ceremony that reflected this – Juliet Wilson was our celebrant who is a member of the Humanist Society in Scotland. She helped us to plan our very individual ceremony by giving us some templates to work with and then allowing us to fill in the gaps in whatever way we chose. Our very personal ceremony had a profound effect on a few of our friends and relatives, who can be seen wiping away tears in the photos! We wanted to include all our parents in our wedding, so both fathers gave a reading and both mothers were witnesses at the signing of the registry.
My friend Kirsty was asked a couple of weeks before the wedding and asked if she would play the fiddle (she is an amazingly talented doctor-cum-professional musician) and she found two friends to play with her. So we had lovely music for walking down the aisle and for immediately after the ceremony.
I think one of the hardest things for both of us was handing over responsibility to other people for various tasks on the day – to the Botanics for setting out the venue, to our friends and family for getting to the right place at the right time, to the caterers for turning up with the food we wanted, to the band for playing stuff we hadn’t heard before. In retrospect, this was worrying for no reason, because everything was great, and even our friends and family who are always late, were on time. Although I nearly overtook two of them on the way to the ceremony…..
Weddings are great, but I think we both would safely say that while it was an amazing day we are both so glad this is the kind of thing you only do once……! It was an incredible amount of organisation, but even now 3 months afterwards we enjoy looking at the beautiful photos and remembering what a great day we had with all our family and friends.
Dress – White by Vera
Boutique – David’s Bridal
Shoes – Chelsea Crew
Hair – Vincent Bell
Makeup – Benefit
Flowers – Sparrow and Rose
Photographer – Lillian and Leonard
Cake – Three Sisters Bake
Ceilidh – Callanish
Love it that in Scotland you can get married wherever you fancy… As long as you can persuade a certain someone with the power to make it official to turn up 🙂
Although, even after some considerable thought… I am at a loss to find a more perfect venue than the one chosen by Matt and Kerra… These photographs are truly stunning. Has rain ever been more romantic?