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Love in the time of coronavirus

We’re thrilled to be bringing you some micro wedding joy today! Gwen and Mairi’s journey to the big (little) day was bumpy, but they have the best memories and have taken the time to pass on lots of beautiful words of advice and support for everyone riding the 2020 CoronaCoaster to the aisle. From coping with a much reduced guest list to learning new DIY makeup looks at the last minute, their resilience is sure to inspire every bit as much as their eco-friendly, locally sourced celebration. So much to love here!

How did you two meet?

We met through a mutual friend in 2016. Gwen had known Rachel since they were five, and Rachel met Mairi in their first year of university aged 18; but, she managed to keep us apart for 10 years and didn’t introduce us until her 28th birthday party.

Manchester offered a mid-way meet-up point between Gwen’s home in Wiltshire and Mairi’s in Edinburgh, and after spending some time just ‘seeing what would happen’ and meeting as and when we could, we decided to make it official and make plans for Gwen to relocate to Aberdeen where Mairi was moving for a postgraduate course.

What inspired your wedding plans?

We knew we wanted to get married in Fife – Mairi’s family has lived there since her mum was very young, and Gwen’s aunt and uncle used to live just along the coast, too. We love the East Neuk for all its independent businesses and the amazing coastal scenery, and when we started looking for venues, The Cow Shed really stood out as an amazing space for all the guests we thought we were going to have – as well as having a bit of a sentimental connection as Gwen’s grandparents were dairy farmers.

We knew that we wanted to have the decor as natural and eco-friendly as possible, with as much foliage and wild flowers as we could, dried petal confetti (Gwen’s Nana spent a few weeks drying rose petals from her garden whilst undergoing treatment for terminal cancer – commenting ‘they were your Grandad’s roses, so we’ll both be there with you even if we’re not there’), and no single-use plastics.

It was also important to us to build relationships with local suppliers for as many aspects of our wedding as possible, and we were so lucky with every person involved with the wedding – particularly when things were complicated by the coronavirus pandemic and restrictions in place at the time of our wedding.

We read and LOVED WFIL throughout our wedding planning process. We’d seen The Cow Shed and Gloam featured in the magazine, and that made us so excited to work with them.

And how did you choose your venue?

The Cow Shed was absolutely perfect for us – when we first saw it, we could just picture our family and friends having an incredible party there.

Of course, with everything that happened in the time before booking and our wedding date, we had to reduce our guest list from 75 to 15, but The Cow Shed was still the most incredible venue we could’ve hoped to have. We’d been so worried that the space would feel too big, that we’d lose guests and everyone would split off to different areas, but that absolutely wasn’t the case.

We had our ceremony in the roundal, with cake and drinks in the workshop for people to pick up and head outside to the garden with, and then we had our meal in the barn and outside on the patio – to fit with government restrictions.
Jo and Lauren from the venue were incredible – we were in constant communication (we must’ve been so annoying!) and they were really flexible and understanding when we were discussing the various different aspects of plans A-Z. Jo kept us sane through all the different iterations of the planning phases, and was on the same page as us about having a COVID-safe wedding within the guidelines.

Our Humanist celebrant, Kendal was the perfect choice for us – when we saw her profile on the HSS website, and noticed that she was a Harry Potter fan, a dog lover, and a teacher (in a past life, Gwen was a teacher too), we knew she was the person we needed to conduct our ceremony. Her sense of humour and ability to keep a calm head in a crisis (which there have been many of, planning this wedding during a pandemic) were invaluable – and she had us giggling all the way back up the aisle.

We love the way you styled the day!

Gloam put together the perfect package to make our wedding look incredible. Jessica provided such valuable insight into wedding planning and The Cow Shed as a venue, and Jean saved the day when we thought all hope of the wedding we’d pictured was lost. Her lockdown calls kept us from despair and her Instagram messages were a little ray of sunshine through the planning process. And the prop collection she put together for us was perfect.

Tell us more about the flowers…

We really wanted to make sure that our flowers were as locally sourced as possible, so we reached out to Sarah from Keeping the Plot Flowers, based at the Bowhouse outside of St Monans, for the Fife-grown flowers we had for our bouquets and button-holes (or lapel-bouquets as Mairi prefers – she hates buttons and all references to them!).

We had to source eucalyptus from elsewhere because it wasn’t in-season in Scotland, so The Flower House in Anstruther came to the rescue for that. Our bouquets and lapel-bouquets(!) were put together by Flowers by Janet in St Monans, she did an amazing job.

We also spotted a gorgeous micro cake!

Our cake maker, Loren Brand was an absolute life-saver who offered to make us a small cake after Gwen had suggested she might be able to bake it. Thankfully Loren stepped in and saved us all with a beautiful ombre green lemon and elderflower cake.

Your photos are beautiful!

Eve was amazing with us – we found her online and loved the fact that her photos were artistic without seeming overly edited, and we were so excited that she used more of a documentary style.

We really wanted people to be able to look at our photos and get a real feel for how the day had been – the emotions, the stories, and the laughs as well.

That became even more important as coronavirus restrictions hit – needing to make sure the photos we can share with absent friends and family properly showed our day and the amazing time we had.

Eve felt more like a friend when she arrived on the day – and was almost as excited as us that everything was going ahead!

Anyone else you’d like to give a special shout out to?

I really think all our suppliers deserve a shout-out! Working through a pandemic is not easy, but these guys were all our superheroes.

Julien Poix from XO catering, made our absolute ideal menu, including veggie and vegan choices, and stayed flexible throughout all the changes we had to make.

Linzi from Copper Dream made our hair look fantastic – which was a small miracle, particularly as we weren’t allowed a makeup artist! Doing either hair or makeup on our own was vaguely manageable, but doing both would have been unthinkable!

Claire and Martine from Bridal Boutique – whose expertise and dressmaking wizardry meant that we had dresses we were both comfortable in for the whole day. Unfortunately, Claire has now closed the business.

You both look incredible! Tell us more about your outfits…

We knew that we wanted to go shopping for our dresses together – in part because neither of us were confident in choosing something so important on our own, and in part because we were terrified that we might somehow end up walking down the aisle in the same dress!

We started dress shopping relatively early on, and went to two shops together but nothing really worked for us. Gwen’s mum lives down in Wiltshire but we really wanted to involve her in the wedding planning because her opinion means a lot to us, so when she came up for Gwen’s graduation in November we took the opportunity for her to come wedding dress shopping with us.

Claire at The Bridal Boutique was amazing at getting us to try on things we hadn’t considered before, and her choice for Mairi was absolutely perfect – it even had pockets! It was a sleek satin dress with a plunging neckline, and suited her incredibly well. Her choice for Gwen was a strapless dress with lace detailing, which was initially terrifying as strapless was Gwen’s worst nightmare! However, when Claire explained that she had the a dressmaker who is a magician with these things and could make straps/sleeves to fit and suit the dress, the choice was clear.

We were so incredibly lucky with the restrictions lifting when they did – meaning that we could have the alterations we needed to the dresses before our wedding day – with only a week to get all the alterations done, Martine really did work her magic to alter both dresses down to fit us, and add straps to Gwen’s dress which looked as though they were part of the original design. When Gwen’s mum came to steam the dresses the day before the wedding, she gave us the final seal of approval and the best possible compliment of our choices, saying that the dresses were ‘us’ in dress form.

Were there any challenges along the way?

Nothing springs to mind… OH WAIT, A GLOBAL PANDEMIC!

We had the coronavirus pandemic to deal with which was really less than ideal. It meant that we had to cut our numbers, and we really spent the whole time between March to August wondering whether or not the wedding day would be able to go ahead. It honestly wasn’t until the day before the wedding, when everyone who was travelling for it had arrived, that we started to properly allow ourselves to believe that our wedding day was going ahead.

Of course, we were so sad not to share the day with some of our closest friends and family members – and their presence was really missed. But the day we had was so very special – and having a more intimate and personal ceremony with smaller numbers meant that there was far less pressure on us. It meant that we could make eye contact with everyone attending, Gwen’s brother at one point mouthing ‘breathe’ to remind her when he caught Gwen’s eye as she was getting emotional during a reading.

We felt so unlucky so many times throughout the planning process – but once the 8th August came around, we felt like the luckiest couple in the world – to be able to get married, to become Mrs & Mrs, with our immediate families, our maid of honours, and our mutual friend. We can’t wait to celebrate with an amazing party next year with our extended family and more friends, including convincing, and teaching, the whole of the English side of the family to ceilidh!

Did you manage to stick to your budget?

Our budgeting got a little more complicated when we had to switch to a micro-wedding in 2020 and a celebration in 2021.

We have been so fortunate with all our suppliers in that they have been really flexible with us – extending incredible amounts of generosity to us to make sure our day went ahead as close to our plans as possible this year. We are incredibly indebted to them, and have tried to support them in as many small ways as we can do – as well as postponing our larger bookings, and upgrading them where possible, for next year – including trying to pay increased deposits and advance payments to try to make sure we’re not contributing to the difficulties they’re facing this year.

Any advice?

Corona brides and grooms – we feel you! We empathise so much with the stress and uncertainty you’re experiencing just now, and we know that this is not how you wanted your wedding planning to be. If you’re feeling saddened by the prospect of a tiny ceremony or micro- wedding, please don’t despair! We didn’t, and wouldn’t have planned it this way, but we had the most incredible day, and we hope that you have the courage to wait it out and have your wedding. It might not be what you planned, but it might end up being just perfect for you.

Honeymoon or minimoon?

Our honeymoon plans were put on hold this year – and we might struggle to book anywhere for a little while now. However, we did manage to get away for a week just after the wedding – to a cottage in Oxfordshire with a wood-fired hot tub, which was amazing!

What’s the one moment you’ll always remember?

One of the earliest bits of the ceremony that we decided on was a reading by Amanda Palmer’s husband, which was read by Mairi’s maid of honour. When we read it for the first time, it was quite an emotional moment, but hearing it just before we were about to exchange vows, the reading took on a whole new level of meaning.

Even Mairi, with her heart of ice, nearly shed a tear at the line “And because in the darkness you will reach out a hand, not knowing for certain if someone else is even there. And your hands will meet, and then neither of you will ever need to be alone again.”

Oh my heart! So many emotions reading all about Gwen and Mairi’s beautiful day. Gwen is now a treasured member of the WFILcircle, supporting and cheerleading other couples on their journey to the aisle. I’m sure you’ll join us in wishing Gwen and Mairi all the very best for their future. Christina x

Gwen & Mairi were married before the current wedding rules relating to face masks etc. came into effect. See the latest guidance on the Scottish Government website and in our Scotland Covid-19 Wedding FAQs article here.


VenueThe Cow Shed, Crail
CelebrantKendal Delaney, Humanist Society Scotland
PhotographerPhotographs by Eve
Flowers – Locally grown by Keeping The Plot, The Flower House in Anstruther, and Flowers by Janet in St Monans
Hair stylist – Linzi from Copper Dream
Make-up artist – Because of coronavirus restrictions we did our own makeup – eek!
Wedding outfits – Dresses from Bridal Boutique, Peterculter (now closed), alterations by Martine Blair Dressmaker, shoes from ASOS
Styling & Prop HireGloam
Stationery – Made using a template from Etsy
CakeLoren Brand Cakes
CatererXO Catering