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An Intimate Autumnal Celebration In The Pentland Hills

edinburgh pentland hills outdoor humanist micro wedding ceremony

Kirsten and Mark turned Plan A into Plan A and a half, with an outdoor micro wedding ceremony in The Pentland Hills and a reception at the Secret Herb Garden, near Edinburgh.

From the all hands on deck approach to gran going up the hill in a golf buggy, their story is making us smile lots!

Where did your love story begin?

We met in a bar in Edinburgh over 10 years ago and dated for a few months before I went off to university in Glasgow. We had a brief (4 year) hiatus before rekindling the romance.

What inspired your wedding plans?

After choosing an October date for the wedding, an autumnal theme was an obvious choice. I also knew I’d want to do lots of DIY elements myself as I really enjoy being crafty.

Mark proposed in June 2019 on top of one of the Cairnwell Munros, so being in the hills and outdoors for the wedding ceremony felt a fitting way to continue the theme.

We had originally planned to get married in Perthshire in a village hall with around 100 friends and family members but, as with many couples in 2020, we were unable to go ahead as planned. The most important thing for us was to get married and we decided to have a micro, local wedding with only our immediate family instead.

We were obviously disappointed initially and sad to abandon our plan A. However, we managed to find an alternative that was really special and personal that we coined “Plan A and a half”. In hindsight, we feel really lucky the way things turned out for us and our special day, and really enjoyed having such an intimate day. We had a more relaxed day and it was brilliant getting to spend quality time with our families which is something we’ve all missed out on recently.

We were married in the Pentland Hills near Swanston at a stone dyke seat built in memory of Mark’s dad. The ceremony spot seemed like a perfect location to say our vows due to its personal significance and the beautiful view. However, it did require a little gardening on the morning of the big day!

The Secret Herb Garden was a venue we had considered originally but it was too small. However, with our new plan and its proximity to the ceremony spot, it stood out as a great option. Fhior recently took over the catering there and having dined there earlier in the year, we knew we would get a top-quality feed.

As an architect, I knew I wanted to do a lot of crafty stuff myself including doing bespoke stationery. I did a sketch and edited it digitally for the invitations. We also had a wedding website for all the additional information which allowed the physical invitations to be small and simple. It also made it easier for us to communicate our changing plans with our guests.

vintage wedding car volkswagen beetle edinburgh pentland hills edinburgh outdoor micro wedding ceremony pentland hills edinburgh outdoor micro wedding ceremony bride walking to marriage humanist ceremony

We love your outfits. Tell us more…

I knew I didn’t want anything too traditional and was interested in separates from the start. At the first bridal boutique I went to, I tried on the bodice and skirt from Catriona Garforth. She happened to be in the boutique that day and suggested I come along to her studio to see her full range. I tried another few things but kept coming back to the bodice and skirt.

Catriona never made me feel rushed or pressured and even made little tweaks to the outfit to suit me. She was amazing, her dresses are incredible and I loved the process. Getting my outfit from a small, local business meant I got bespoke, made to measure and exceptional service. I really hope I get to wear it again for a party with friends and family later this year!

My shrug was a last-minute addition I found on eBay to keep me warm after deciding on an outdoor ceremony. Mark surprised me with a gold necklace on the morning of the wedding. I had spotted it months before in the window of Palenque but decided it was out of budget! Luckily Mark had taken note and treated me on the day. I also wore two gold rings, each belonging to my maternal and paternal grans.

Mark got my bespoke engagement ring from Katie Lees and we went back there for the wedding bands. She provides a really friendly and personal service as well as having the most beautiful designs.

Mark wanted to stick with the traditional Scottish attire. He wore the kilt he got for his 21st and had a new kilt jacket and waistcoat made for the big day. The Kapital Kilts team provided fantastic, personal service. They know their stuff, have plenty of ideas and offer fantastic value for money.

Your photos are beautiful!

Mark and Carley actually went to school together, so the personal connection made her an obvious choice as well as loving the light, airy and natural style of her photographs.

She was amazing at accommodating our change of plan as well as being super helpful on the day, helping us get things from A to B and providing the beautiful rugs. She was almost invisible while photographing the ceremony and speeches, and made us feel relaxed in front of the camera.

We were so pleased with our photos from Carley. She is lovely and was so chilled with everything in the run-up and on the day itself.

edinburgh outdoor micro wedding ceremony in pentland hills bride groom first kiss

We hear you had some great helpers…

I wanted natural and slightly wild looking flowers to suit the autumnal style of the wedding. Using a mixture from family gardens and a big bucket of locally grown flowers from East Lothian flower farm, me and my mum spent the day before the wedding watching YouTube tutorials and arranging flowers. It took a lot longer than anticipated and was a challenge but it was great spending time together with the family, being creative and letting the Prosecco flow too! Mark’s mum also spent months drying flower petals to make our confetti.

I’m lucky enough to have a sister who is a beauty therapist and super talented nail artist. She did a fab job of our hair, make-up and nails for the day.

We managed to rope in a family friend to drive me and my dad to the ceremony, and then Mark and I to the reception in his black vintage Beetle. Swanston Golf Course also kindly provided a golf buggy which came in very handy for getting things safely up the hill, including my gran!

Were there any challenges along the way?

Although we weren’t able to have much music due to restrictions at the time, we did manage to add some music to the occasion by having a cousin pipe me and my dad up the hill to the seat and then pipe the family back down. Big kudos to Jamie for managing to hold the tune while hiking up the stony path!

edinburgh outdoor micro wedding ceremony in pentland hills bride groom portrait

Did you manage to stick to your budget?

We are hoping to have a party in 2021 in our original venue with many of our original suppliers, so having the small wedding this year added some cost. We were also really lucky that our original suppliers were understanding, allowing us to set up “Plan A and a half” without too much hassle.

From the start, we were realistic about budget and how much we felt comfortable spending on one day. We did bits of DIY to keep costs down and focused our spending on things that were important to us.

Any advice?

I followed the WFIL Instagram page in the lead up to the wedding. There were many weeks of nail-biting moments watching Nicola Sturgeon’s updates regarding restrictions and how they would affect our wedding plans. I also found the WFIL Insta so helpful in summarising the changes specific to Scotland and also helping us feel we weren’t alone in this. Well done on keeping so on top of all the madness and bringing positive vibes to the wedding community in Scotland.

I think this goes to show that all the stress and worries you have leading up to the wedding evaporate as soon as you have your big day, even if it isn’t the day you had initially imagined.

We had always imagined a big celebration and worried that a mini wedding would feel less significant. Having done it now we are delighted with how our day went. A lot of the things that seemed like a loss from a big day don’t feel as important anymore and we were able to ditch some of the expected traditions.

If the rules, as they are, aren’t allowing for the big day you had planned but you still want to get married, go for it! Small can be perfect too!

secret herb garden edinburgh micro wedding reception dinner setup

Honeymoon or minimoon?

Luckily, travel within Scotland was allowed at the time and we managed a week to ourselves in the north of Scotland to enjoy our first week of marriage.

We spent some time in a cabin in the spectacular Torridon region, doing some hill-walking and eating seafood before heading across to a secluded lodge near Nairn to relax in a wood-fired hot tub with champagne.

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

The ceremony was a real highlight of the day. We loved the process of writing our wedding ceremony with Jane. A humanist ceremony gives you the opportunity to make it really personal and also to think about what marriage means to you as a couple.

Jane did such a fantastic job of leading us through the process and delivering it on the day. Although a few family, friends and other unsuspecting walkers had gathered around the seat, we really felt like we were in a little bubble.

We had a handfasting which meant all our guests were able to get involved by adding a ribbon over our hands. Jane was also great and our family commented that it seemed like she’d known us for years. We also made it through the full ceremony with no rain, which was really lucky, and a rainbow even peeked out behind us.

secret herb garden edinburgh micro wedding bride groom confetti secret herb garden edinburgh micro wedding bride groom confetti secret herb garden edinburgh micro wedding bride groom portrait sunset

Can’t even begin to tell you how much we love getting to share these happy micro wedding stories! Small AND beautiful. x


VenueThe Secret Herb Garden
PhotographerCarley Buick
CelebrantJane Bechtel
Florist – DIY / East Lothian Flower Farm
Hair & Makeup The Beauty Hive (Bride’s Sister)
Kirsten’s outfitCatriona Garforth
Mark’s outfitKapital Kilts
Jewellery Katie Lees