Inspired by each other; who they are and where they come from, Rachel and Keith’s wedding brought together all things that they love. Thistle and Rose was the recurring theme, with lots of purple. Through it all they followed some good advice: make your wedding day your own.
How did you two meet and become engaged?
We met on 5 March 2001 when Rachel started a new job as a civil servant and had to report, at 09:30, to her new boss, one Keith Jenkinson. The rest is history.
Fifteen years later (!) and we’d vaguely mentioned marriage. Rachel was convinced he was going to propose on her 50th birthday holiday to Red Horse Mountain Ranch in Idaho or at the top of the Spaceneedle in Seattle, but no.
So, when we were on our regular holiday to beautiful Kalkan on Turkey’s Turquoise Coast, and under a starlit sky on the bridge over the pool in our apartment’s garden, softly scented with honeysuckle and jasmine, he went down on one knee and produced the most stunning solitaire diamond ring, it was both perfect and magical.
We went for a meal at one of our favourite restaurants, and the owner Ibrahim arranged a fire circle and fireworks and it was magic.
We were inspired by…
Each other. Who we are and where we come from. Thistle and Rose was the recurring theme, with lots of purple.
The service was very special, conducted by the Rev Tom Gordon, a retired Church of Scotland minister. We met him through our work where we have an annual Remembrance Day service which he conducts. He is a wonderful man and totally ‘got us’. My dad – a retired Methodist minister – was able to offer a prayer of blessing and commendation, which made the service extra special.
Food was so important as we do love our fine dining. So a hearty but refined Scottish winter warming menu. Wines too – our favourite grape is Viognier and we had a cracking one for the meal. The most important thing for us was that everyone felt relaxed, at ease and to have fun. You don’t like wine – have a beer, a vodka, whatever you want.
As some guests were older we created ‘Clifford’s Corner’ for Rachel’s 88 year old dad, with armchairs and knee blankets. Here they could sit in comfort and even have a wee nap, enabling others to carry on partying.
How did you find your venue…
I knew Mansfield Traquair from my days organising VIP events and have always loved it. A spectacular exclusive use venue for weddings, Edinburgh’s ‘Sistine Chapel’ is simply extraordinary.
Our guests’ jaws dropped when they entered this stunning space – they all loved it!
As soon as we’d decided on Scotland, I knew it was Mansfield Traquair I wanted to be married in. It’s like nowhere else and being in Heritage Portfolio’s hands means you receive exceptional service.
We love your flowers. Tell us more…
I knew Gemma from my days organising large and VIP events – and I knew only she and Planet would do the flowers for our wedding. She got the feel we wanted to create straight away – it’s like she went into my mind and then created exactly what I had in my mind’s eye.
I wanted natural, loose and foliage-rich flowers using thistles and roses and purples (the palette of the wedding); and candles too – to create a twinkly feel of sitting in a luxurious garden as night falls. hence the black tablecloths.
My mum is a very good flower arranger – and she loved the flowers! We added a personal touch through using ribbon of Keith’s kilt tartan (Modern Mitchell) to bind the bouquets and buttonholes.
The bouquets were stunning, and the girls also had thistle and rose clips in their hair which Planet made. When I entered Mansfield Traquair I was lost for words at how beautiful Gemma and the Planet Bees, and Heritage Portfolio, had made it. Utterly magical.
How did you find wedding dress shopping?
I was dreading the hunt for the dress. As an older (54), first time, and not exactly slim bride it was not an experience I was looking forward to.
Lots of looking at other brides’ dresses (especially on We Fell in Love!), obsessive watching of Say Yes to the Dress, and I pretty much knew what I didn’t want – strapless, meringue, see through (the horror!), hoops, poufy – rather than what I did want.
I went to Emma Roy as a friend’s daughter got her dress there and she looked fabulous and raved about the level of service. I just took my 86 year old mum with me. Amy, my consultant, was a delight. She asked me what I wanted, then asked me how I wanted to feel and my budget. Then we started pulling dresses.
The first one she put me in was one she’d pulled – it was strapless. A Maggie vintage feel fit and flare – the corset back sucked me in and gave me an amazing hour glass figure I don’t know was possible! But it was strapless! Don’t panic and wait till I’ve tweaked it, Amy assured me.
She added a stunning Mori Lee bolero with a wee bit of sparkle – I looked at myself and my tummy flipped over and tears started – unbidden and unexpected – in my eyes. I walked out and my dear mum gasped “I didn’t know you could look that good!” Hilarious.
Anyway, we tried on half a dozen more, but I could have searched for months and not found a better dress. So we got it. Happy days! The belt with Swarovski crystals was originally in taupe, but I ordered extra fabric in the colour of the bridesmaids’ dresses (‘Smashing’ – a lovely purple) and Ali the brilliant seamstress at Emma Roy made the belt in that for me.
Tell us more about your entrainment and first dance…
Whilst guests arrived and during the service, my dear friend Jennifer Port played the clarsach. Jennifer is an incredible musician and we were so grateful she and her husband came down all the way from Golspie to be at our wedding. During the service Jennifer also performed and sang a wedding hymn my father (a retired Methodist minister) wrote to the tune of the Skye Boat song. During the last chorus the whole congregation spontaneously joined in singing. A very, very special moment.
After the wedding breakfast (which was superb – thanks to Heritage Portfolio’s brilliant chefs), all guests were asked to move back to the entrance end and the curtains were drawn so it could be re-set for the evening.
Keith’s parents are no longer with us, but I wanted them there on the day, and also for our respective families to get to know about who we are and where we come from. So I came up with the idea of the Story of Us. It was projected on the wall during the evening turnaround, to ‘Every River’ by Runrig then into Elbow’s ‘One Day Like This’.
We showed who we are going back to photos of our grandparents, even Super 8 film clips of Keith’s mum and dad; our parents’ weddings, and silver (Keith’s) and Diamond (Rachel’s) wedding anniversaries, and then into our story, including a video of clip of our engagement dinner in Turkey complete with fire circle and fireworks. As Elbow sang “throw the curtains wide, one day a year like this would suit me right”, we literally threw the curtains wide, the evening set up was revealed, with the band (Callanish) waiting for us and the evening fun began!
We’ve never had a single ‘our song’, but we love Rod Stewart, and the sentiment of Forever Young (unplugged version) was perfect. The dance floor was full all night with a mixture of modern and ceilidh tunes, and the band explained and called the dances so well that all the English guests followed every step!
We also had a photobooth, which was huge fun, and chocolate fountain (as I’m (Rachel) a huge chocoholic) and a sweetie table, largely comprised of Tunnocks teacakes and caramel wafers! Hardly anything was left at the end of the night and we had provided mountains of them!
I was an avid reader of the blog, loved seeing what other couples did. The best lesson I took from the blog was: it’s your day, make it what you want!
It’s your day – so do what makes your heart sing, not dance to the beat of other people’s drums and expectations. Plan it together – it’s both of yours day, we loved planning every aspect of our day together – no stress, no disagreements.
And don’t lose sight of what it’s all really about. It’s not having the ‘perfect’ wedding day that’s important – it’s what it signifies: you as a couple committing yourselves wholeheartedly and without reservation to each other for the rest of your lives. That’s what the day is about – it’s but the start of a journey the two of you are undertaking.
What’s the one truly unforgettable thing about your wedding day?
Being surrounded by our families and friends, knowing we were immersed in their love and best wishes and smiling so much because, at last, we were husband and wife.
The slideshow with the ‘Story of Us’ is a great idea to share with guests. Anyone else planning something similar? Alie x
Venue – Mansfield Traquair
Photographer – Ashley Coombes Photography
Florist – Planet Flowers
Make-up Artist – Emma Motion Make-up
Wedding dress – Maggie Sottero Ascher with a Mori Lee bolero from Emma Roy
Shoes – Irregular Choice
Groom’s outfit – Geoffrey Tailor Kiltmaker, Edinburgh
Bridesmaids’ dresses – Dessy Collection
Caterer – Heritage Portfolio
Cake – Sandra’s Cakes
Wedding Transport – Peter Vardy MINI
Band – Callanish