Inspired by dark winter colours and an outdoor wonderland, Sara and Charles brought touches of Narnia to their day. From the ceremony in the stables to the gin-cocktail-and-macaroni-pie-fuelled, sparkly dancefloor, it was an amazing day from start to finish. So. Much. To. Love…
Love at first sight?
We both work in the property sector for different firms. We met 6 years ago early on in our careers when Charles came in to collect a set of keys for a property from my firm. When we went to hand the keys over, we had that cheesy “stare each other in the eyes” moment and lingered a bit too long. There was definitely chemistry at first sight. We met again two weeks later at a Christmas party between our two firms and the rest is history.
Charles proposed to me at the beginning of Summer 2015. We had literally just come back from a holiday in Italy and everyone had been wagering that Charles would propose there and he hadn’t, so I was definitely not expecting it. I was still a bit tired from the flight and grumpy (as well as looking fairly horrendous), so Charles didn’t initially get the best reception when he brought me breakfast in bed. After I’d finished my eggs and tea, Charles said he had a treat for afters and returned with our tea tray and bent down next to the bed. On the tray he had spelled out “Will you marry me?” in little letters and in the middle of the tray was a red velvet cupcake from Cuckoos Bakery (my favourite) with the most stunning ring I’d ever seen on top of the cake. Of course, I said yes!
The engagement ring is Victorian in style and Charles had it designed for me specially with Daniel Henderson in Edinburgh, which makes it all the more special. I haven’t seen anything like it before or since. I really treasure it.
We were inspired by…
Our overarching theme was Winter, but we wanted a traditional and luxurious winter feel rather than a Christmas themed wedding. So we went for dark winter colours and rich fabrics – lots of deep pinks, navy, damask material and tons of greenery. We also went to town on the flower arrangements and lighting details to hammer home the theme.
Before the wedding, I did a lot for my bridesmaids that was very personal. They were my two best friends and my sister. My favourite present I gave them was a bespoke framed “memories” picture each, where I noted down all my favourite moments we had shared. I created this with our fabulous stationer, E.Y.i.LOVE, who had all the pictures printed on marble paper with copper foil. They looked so fab and they were so personal.
We are both very family orientated, so we chosen to rent private accommodation where all of our bridal party could stay together for the four main days. That was so much fun and a lot more relaxed than staying in a hotel – we used Destiny Scotland for our flats and they were great. If you have time, a bonding dinner the night before is a great idea. We arranged a private dining room in a lovely restaurant in the centre of town for our whole bridal party and it was too much fun! It also made everyone relax and get to know each other before the big event.
The ceremony theme was more outdoor winter wonderland and so we wanted a cooler style of decor for that. We focused therefore on dark colours and greenery. We had the order of ceremony booklets printed in navy with silver foil and we lined the stone floored aisle with black floor lanterns and green foliage to match the dark chairs we chose. Also lining the aisle were six black Narnia style street lamps covered in flowers to enhance the feeling of an outdoor winter. We had our whole signing table legs covered in flowers and greenery – that was epic and so we made it the centrepiece. We used candles in a lot of areas to add warmth. At the cocktail hour in the state apartments, we offered our guests Christmas gin cocktails as well as bubbly and the gin cocktails were so popular we had to have an extra batch made on the day! In the ballroom for dinner, we changed to a warmer winter theme and replaced a lot of silver foil with gold and warmer winter colours. We used dark navy damask tablecloths with raspberry napkins and had gold chairs with raspberry cushions.
Our menus, table names and place cards were all a lovely warm theme of navy and gold foil created by E.Y.i.LOVE. The focal point was our table centrepieces – we had bare trees instead of flowers. The trees were sprayed a stunning champagne gold paint by Planet Flowers and covered in orchids and greenery, with candles in the base. We also hung baubles with tea lights from the branches. The centrepieces were the most fabulous piece about the dining room for me. Above the fireplace we had a huge flower arrangement and a long runner of greenery, whites and deep pinks again at the top table. We finished it off with lovely spot lighting and uplighting (thank you Hopetoun) and a curtain of fairy lights on the main window. We made sure the fires in each room were burning and that there were candles and flowers in each room. When we changed around the ballroom for dancing, we again brought in more lighting with the light up letters. We also created our table plan on a 5ft free standing mirror and we wrote the guest names onto that with glass pen.
For favours, we had little wedding boxes of macarons from Mademoiselle Macaron on Grindlay Street in Edinburgh. Her macarons are just divine and there were none left. She created them to match the wedding colours and the flavours were gingerbread and salted caramel. Yum. We had a naked (but gold foil polished) wedding cake made by Liggys Cakes in keeping with our theme and we presented that on the signing table with all the foliage on the legs. Liggy’s also covered the cake with dark berries to keep in with our dark winter colour scheme. Again, nothing left!!
The light up 5ft letters were a fab detail – everyone felt like they turned the room into a disco and coupled with the fairy lights on the back window, the whole dancing set up was so fabulous. Light up letters seemed like a waste of money when I was considering them in advance of the wedding, but they are so not – if you are swaying about ordering them, definitely do it!
We went casual on the evening buffet and had chips in cones, macaroni pies and bacon and square sausage rolls – again, nothing left!
Charles lost his twin brother the year that we met, and so we did little things during the day to nod to his brother. Charles and his ushers wore his brother’s tartan for example and we chose a reading for the ceremony that Charles had read at his brother’s funeral also. These might seem little things, but they were of the upmost importance to us. It was also lovely to have Charles’ best friend Kenneth at the best man – Charles and his brother had spoken as joint best men at Kenneth’s own wedding years earlier and so it was lovely to have him returning the favour.
We hear you’re a little bit of a fan of the blog…
I followed WFIL on instagram and on Facebook before my wedding. For a bride like me doing all the details of a Scottish wedding herself, blogs like WFIL are invaluable. The inspiration and ideas they provide definitely help guide you through the process and you can actually use the people they feature and buy the items they showcase.
We have so many stunning locations in Scotland – our towns and cities are full of heritage and our landscapes are some of the best in the world. You really can have every possible type of wedding in every possible type of weather here. WFIL captures all of that diversity and culture and makes sure your inspiration each week is never the same.
The suppliers section in WFIL is also great, because the recommendations there are genuinely quality. We knew it was going to be the biggest and best day of our lives, so we naturally wanted to hire the very best people to help us with it. WFIL helped get some very talented suppliers on our radar. A lot of our favourite details from the wedding day were suggestions from others or created by suppliers I’d seen online. Putting the research in and following blogs like WFIL pays dividends. Every bride needs WFIL in her life!
Tell us about your venue…
As soon as you pass through the gates of the Hopetoun House estate, you know you’re entering a truly magical place, closed off from the rest of the world. The whole set up there helps build the excitement for your big day. The fabulous long driveway through the lush grounds really makes you feel like you’re on the way to something special. I remember every minute of the drive there with my dad and all the anticipation. When you make it there you’re not disappointed – it is the most beautiful, regal, classic house I have ever seen. It makes you draw breath when you see it for the first time and we almost knew before we’d been inside it that we wanted it. But the inside doesn’t disappoint.
We chose to have our whole wedding day there, because the house provides so many different spaces. That suited our wedding style well in the end, because we changed theme between ceremony and dinner. We used the stables for the ceremony with an outdoor winter theme, the state apartments for a little bit of history and style during the drinks reception, and a darker luxe winter theme for the dinner and dancing.
We had over 160 guests and Hopetoun House is well geared for large numbers. The ballroom in particular is epic and provides a fabulous space for everyone to enjoy. The staff at Hopetoun were so organised and so on point on the management side that everything on the day went super smoothly.
The flowers look ah-mazing!
Planet Flowers MADE our day for us. We decided to invest heavily in flowers as part of our wedding theme and they were integral to all of our spaces in Hopetoun. Planet executed our plans perfectly. We loved that they came up with two different themes for the ceremony and the evening reception, within our wider winter theme. We also loved the attention to detail they paid to executing our wishes. I find they work best when you give them a lot of creative licence within your chosen theme – that’s what we did and a lot of the credit for creating our winter wonderland effectively is down to them. They are the Rolls Royce of florists.
The key thing to understand about Planet before you book them is that they do an awful lot more than just preparing your flowers – think of them as total event stylists. They create entire scenes and atmospheres with their work. For us the flowers were critical, but to create a proper winter scene you need props – Planet devised and produced our epic Narnia style indoor lampposts, the candles, floor lanterns, and some of the fairy lighting, as well as lighting within the flowers themselves. They also created winter trees for our table centrepieces. Whatever you have in your head, Planet can make for you. They’ve got such vision. We had so many meetings with them on the finer details and their continued enthusiasm and commitment always impressed us. They have complete passion for what they do and that shows in your day. Gemma and Suzanne in particular should take a bow – such vision!
Your dress is sending our hearts aflutter! Tell us more…
I love classic and vintage style dresses and that’s the style I went for with my own wedding dress. It was entirely lace and very classic, with tiny sparkling embroidery. When I was looking for inspiration on Pinterest I always tended to like dresses with high neck lines and I picked that for my own on the day. I loved Grace Kelly’s dress and it probably still is one of my favourite wedding inspirations. I found Pinterest very useful for dress ideas and spent a lot of time on it.
I didn’t want to entertain anything strapless initially and wanted a huge full skirt, but Maria at Pronovias was very experienced and opened up my mind a bit. I realised during this process of trying on that full skirts didn’t look the best on me and, in actual fact, A line was better. Always open yourself up for advice when you are dress shopping because the staff in a good boutique will always know what suits you.
In the end, I went for a two piece outfit, which was never the plan. In the pictures my dress looks like one dress, but it’s actually a strapless lace A-line dress with a long sleeved, high necked wrap top (very ballet style). The top also had a keyhole back, which I didn’t like when I was searching but actually looked lovely on. I loved the colour of the dress most – it was a rich champagne colour under all the cream lace. Again, I’d never have gone for that normally, but Maria chose it to match my skin tone and it worked really well.
Finally, I had a lovely long train that spread out beautifully at the top of the aisle. All these little details came together to become my dream dress. It is undoubtedly the single most gorgeous thing I own. I would also say as a piece of advice that you shouldn’t feel pressure to be madly in love with your dress at first fitting. I felt in love with it when I chose it, but it also needed a bit of work and alteration to get it how I wanted it to look, so the first fitting for me was far less dreamy than practical. It was the second fitting where my dreams were realised. Gergana, my fitter at Pronovias, was so experienced and she really made the dress into MY dress.
My dress was all lace, so a veil would have been too much and veils (as we discovered after buying two!) don’t really suit me. I also have a short bob hairstyle and so I wanted to find a headpiece that really made a statement with that style. One of my bridesmaids recommended Corrine Smith, in Kilmarnock, and I went along to the showroom. Eve there is so fabulous and so full of good style advice. In the end, I had a bespoke headpiece commissioned made of diamante leaves and little pearls. Corrine put so much attention to detail into it and made the leaves in the design moveable so I could angle them upwards into more of a Grecian style crown. It came up beautifully in the photographs as a result and really made the dress pop.
In the end, we also also ended up buying art deco style diamante and pearl headpins from Corrine for the bridesmaids, as well as the most gorgeous statement bracelets. if you need something special and unusual on the jewellery and headpiece front, you really must go and see the ladies at Corrine Smith.
And what about the groom?
The ushers and best men wore charcoal argyle jackets with waistcoats and with tartan trousers (Modern Douglas) and Charles wore a green argyle tweed jacket and waistcoat with tartan trousers (again Modern Douglas). Planet Flowers created the most stylish green and thistle buttonholes to give a pop of purple.
A Hume provided all the outfits and they are a traditional gentlemens’ outfitter in Kelso, where Charles grew up. The boys all wore black Oxford shoes and the ushers had green ties, whilst Charles went for blue. All the boys wore braces and we have some fabulous braces photos! Charles went for tartan trousers over a kilt because he feels more comfortable in them and liked the whole outfit style with trousers better. It was all very traditional and all very Scottish.
How did you choose your photographer?
We picked Niels and Alie at Blue Sky Photography because their images were timeless and stylish, but also full of detail. They have an eye for stunning staging and their photos often have beautiful backdrops. We wanted memorable shots and they do those very well. But what their photographs do best, in our view, is convey the emotion of the day. When we look back at our images, we can feel the atmosphere and how happy our guests are. The images produced by Blue Sky always feel like warm memories.
Also part of the Niels and Alie skill is how well they knew our venue. They were so knowledgeable at finding secret places for that perfect shot and even managed to set up a special Christmas tree shoot in the evening for us, whilst our guests were partying. They know their surroundings and how to use the light and space to best advantage. Their foresight is really brilliant.
Apart from their skill on the photography front, what sets Niels and Alie apart is how much they care about their couples. You feel their pride when you walk into their studio and see all the images of their past couples and families on the wall. They are rooting for you and they are committed to making you look and feel fabulous on your day. I don’t know whether all photographers would put down the camera to help pin and sew a bridesmaid’s dress (Alie) or run across the grounds at Hopetoun House frantically trying to find the bouquet that the bride misplaced (Niels), but I’d wager that these two are special. We couldn’t have imagined working with anyone else and recommend them to everyone.
What about your wedding film?
Ally’s film style is very laid back, cool and very stylish. He keeps himself in the background all day, quietly capturing all the most beautiful moments. Expect your film to be a fabulous montage of all of the very best bits – there’s not one shot in his trailer that we didn’t love. Like our photographers, he captured so many fabulous details we didn’t see. We picked him because every trailer of his we watched felt different and seemed to us to capture the character of the bride and groom perfectly. His music choices go with the mood of the day and his editing is superb.
Slow shuffle or big number?
Our first dance was Coldplay – Paradise. We are huge Coldplay fans, but find that song particularly affecting (in a good way). We didn’t take dance lessons – we’re all about the free style! I would say that the first dance is one of the most surreal experiences of the wedding day and it’s very public. It’s 160 guests with all eyes (and smartphones!) on you. But it’s also one of the most intimate moments for the bride and groom at the same time and we loved it. We just looked at each other and enjoyed the moment, because it was all over too quickly.
The photographs of the first dance looking back are fabulous because we had rented giant 5ft “Mr and Mrs” light up letters. What a good decision that was. They really made the backdrop of the dancefloor pop and provide an instant transformation from your dining room to a disco!
Replay are uber cool. They are very current and you can expect a total mixture of tunes in their own very distinct style. They read the audience very well. We had some Coldplay, Pharrell and Daft Punk tunes to name but a few. They were very popular and a total hit with the guests. The dance floor was never empty with them. They are popular though – I booked them 18 months in advance and only just managed to secure them, so plan ahead!
We must give a shout out to Helen MacLeod for our ceremony music and cocktail entertainment – she is the most beautiful Scottish Harpist and is so talented. Even if you are not naturally keen on harp music, you will love Helen’s music. She is based in Edinburgh but will play all over Scotland. She was so helpful when we were trying to put together the soundtrack for our day and met us locally to go over all of our options. Her rendition of “1000 Years” was stunning and I’ll always remember that sound playing me down the aisle. After the wedding we had so much positive feedback about her and a few requests for contact details. We cannot recommend her enough.
Tell us something surprising about your day…
You see all those beautiful lanterns and greenery decorating the aisle in the pictures? I actually toppled a few of the lanterns over with my dress and got some greenery stuck in the inside of the train during the big walk. The photos only show the perfect image – things don’t always go to plan. You’ve gotta roll with it!
Don’t panic and over plan – I say that because I am an uber over planner! We had just under 18 months to plan our wedding and did the bigger things like venue and band right at the outset, which is fair enough. But I also probably thought about too many little things too early on. You will grow and change your mind about styles and details if you have a long lead in time, so don’t panic and keep the finer things that can be delayed to the months before the wedding. Otherwise you’ll make even more work for yourself undoing your early over planning!
I would also say it’s worth spending the time and money on sourcing good suppliers. So much stress was taken out of the planning process for us because we secured a team of suppliers who took the hassle out of everything. We didn’t need to worry about the tiny details, because they were taken care of. A good wedding venue, florist and caterer in particular will make your life super easy. We were lucky enough to have all three. We also only worked with suppliers we had an instant bond with. You have to work with suppliers for a long time and you need to be entirely comfortable with them. You want everyone who turns up to work with you on the big day rooting for you and caring about you, so if you meet a supplier you don’t connect with, move on. It’s your wedding day, be uncompromising.
Finally, please relax and enjoy the day. My sister kept saying that to me in the run up and she was so right. That sometimes means embracing little mistakes and laughing at them. When you plan a really big day, it’s unrealistic to expect everything will go without a hitch. If stuff does go wrong, it will honestly be inconsequential because you’ll be having a ball. If you stress too much, you’ll ruin the memories for yourself. I caught my wedding dress on some lanterns coming up the aisle and caused a fair bit of destruction to our beautiful floor decor, but instead of panicking and freaking out, dad and I laughed because it was so hilariously clumsy. When we laughed, our audience laughed with us and it genuinely took any walking up the aisle nerves away. I don’t care that my aisle entrance wasn’t perfect by storybook standards – in my mind, our day was perfect and I wouldn’t change that or anything else. Embrace it and own it!
What’s the one truly unforgettable thing about your wedding day?
We have three (sorry): Our ceremony. It was a humanist ceremony which we wrote with our celebrant, Karen Dickson. Karen has the most easy and beautiful speaking manner and she delivered our service in the most personal way. We remember all the emotion and all the audience reactions and inclusive feeling of being together with all our nearest and dearest. Having them hear all of our story was also a lovely moment.
As a side, Charles has said for him it was the moment I turned to face him at the top of the aisle. He says the smile was so genuine and happy. He’d also never seen me look like that before (in a good way!).
The other (close second) moment we’d both say is the first time we viewed the ballroom in full glory. The colours, the flowers and the lighting and details of our dark winter luxe theme had all come together to create the most incredible evening scene. It was really breathtaking. It came out better than we had hoped for in our heads.
LOVE this wedding so much! And that photo of Sara and her dad laughing after she got caught on the lanterns is priceless. Christina x
Venue – Hopetoun House
Caterer – Heritage Portfolio
Photographer – Blue Sky Photography
Filmmaker – Alasdair Kearney , Piece of Time Media
Florist – Planet Flowers
Hair stylist – Sakina Sher for Lyn McKenzie Make Up
Make-up artist – Lyn McKenzie
Wedding dress – Onia by Pronovias – bought from Bond Street flagship store
Shoes – Badgley Mischka ‘Giana’ Satin d’Orsay Pump – bought from Nordstrom
Accessories – Bespoke headpiece by Corrine Smith Design
Groom’s outfit – A Hume of Kelso
Bridesmaids’ dresses – True Bride from Ivory Whites, Perth. Headpins and statement bracelets by Corrine Smith Design
Engagement ring – Daniel Henderson, Edinburgh
Stationery – E.Y.i.LOVE
Cake – Liggys Cakes
Musicians – Replay, Helen Macleod Harpist
Transport – Ecosse Classic Wedding Cars (for Bride and dad), AAA Coaches (for guests there and back) and Edinburgh Executive Travel (for bridal party)
Additional suppliers – Light up Mr & Mrs letters from Go2 Event Hire, Ceilidh Caller provided by Hire a Band, Favours from Mademoiselle Macaron, Humanist celebrant, Karen Dickson