Booked just a month in advance, Nat and James ran away to Scotland (James’ home country) to be wed at the legendary Gretna Green Blacksmiths shop. And a VIP guest, their baby girl, made it a party of three.
How did you two meet?
We met in Phuket at a mixed martial arts training camp on Songkran (Thai New Year) in 2016. James was meant to leave that same night but (for reasons we won’t go into!) couldn’t make his flight; fast forward a few weeks and we were travelling the world together!
What inspired your wedding plans?
We had started planning a more traditional wedding with friends and family, but when that was cancelled I think we both realised we felt a lot of relief mixed in with the disappointment. We had always talked about running off just the two of us, and this seemed like the universe was telling us to go for it – although by this point our 11 month old little girl made it a party of three!
James is Scottish and we are both pretty low-key people, so a quick jaunt to Gretna Green followed by an escape to the Highlands was just perfect for us. Pretty much everything was off the shelf, home-made or pulled together as we booked it just a month in advance, so we had no planning stress and few expenses, though we knew we wanted an amazing photographer so we could share the day with friends and family who wouldn’t be there.
Tell us about your venue…
Really there wasn’t much decision-making involved once we had decided on Gretna. We actually booked the smallest (and cheapest!) room but they bumped us up to the original Blacksmith Shop as there was nobody else there! It has a fabulous story and so much history, and being in Scotland was so special for my husband.
We didn’t really have a reception as it was just us and our daughter – we went back to our hotel for a meal and a glass of Champagne! Isla was exhausted after a long day, and the hotel was kind enough to give us a private room to dine in so I could breastfeed her – something I could never have imagined I would be doing in my wedding dress, but such a special moment that I’ll never forget!
We love your outfits! Tell us more…
I spotted the dress I ended up wearing on Pinterest when I first started looking for inspiration – I ended up looking at dozens more dresses that were far more expensive, always with this one in mind, and I just kept coming back to the picture of it. I ended up getting a targeted advert telling me it was reduced to half-price at £185, and thought well why not try it on, and as soon as I did I knew it was the one. I am not really a dress person but I felt absolutely magical, and super comfortable too.
I’d also like to shout out my earrings – they’re from a small boutique designer called Parrot London and my mum got them for me – they are just stunning and were my favourite part of the whole outfit, and I still wear them now whenever I find an excuse!
My shoes were a second-hand ebay purchase! I knew I wanted flats as James is only an inch taller than me, but couldn’t find anything fancy enough. My mum spotted these Kate Spade x Keds glitter trainers/pumps, and they were so me but they were sold out everywhere. I kept my eye out though, and the first pair that popped up for sale were just half a size too big for me, so I got them, put a liner in and they were perfect and so comfy! I could never have imagined wearing trainers to my wedding but then again, not much of the day went how I would have predicted!
Our daughter Isla wore a beautiful pair of dungarees by Jenny Wren Craft – another wonderful small business. She wore shoes that I had worn on my first birthday, and a crocheted flower crown made by one of her grandmas! We also decorated her pram with a felt pom-pom garland from Tilly & Primrose.
Our rings were purchased in Blackpool on the way up for a grand total of £65 for both… we planned to get new “proper” ones when the jewellers open up again – still haven’t got round to it!
James isn’t really a suit kind of guy, but he knew the style he wanted, and this was pretty much the first one we spotted in the shop.
We had some lovely Moss Bros face masks in cream and grey to finish the outfits off!!
Your photos are incredible!
Zöe was fabulous! We were recommended her and as soon as I looked at her portfolio I knew she would be able to capture our day how I wanted.
When we spoke on the phone I was even happier – she has a young daughter too so understood that we would be wrestling with a toddler and not always able to do what she needed, and she was so chilled about it all. She was so helpful and supportive, distracting Isla and keeping her smiling, even when we were working within social distancing rules!
Our photos are just incredible – she really captured the quirkiness and romance of Gretna, and then took it to another level at the beach after the ceremony. I had planned the ceremony for 3pm to try and catch the golden hour light after, and she took advantage in ways I could never have imagined. Her use of light and shadow is just so stunning, and we love looking through our photos and reliving those little moments we didn’t even realise she had captured.
Tell us about your flowers…
I made my little bouquet out of some flowers, glue, and twine on the morning of our wedding! I loved it so much, it worked so perfectly with my outfit, I only wish I could have kept it forever! I picked up some tiny paper flowers in Hobbycraft too which we ended up putting in my hair!
Were there any challenges along the way?
Well aside from our first whole wedding being cancelled and not being able to have our family around – this one went pretty smoothly! Considering it was in Scotland in October, we were absolutely blessed with good weather – absolutely freezing but perfectly clear!
We did realise when speaking to the venue the day before that the registrar was booked for the wrong time – but they fixed it super quick for us!
To be honest, any small challenges we faced were nothing compared to the happiness we feel at being able to get married at all in 2020. Every week and even day in the lead up we wondered if restrictions or rules would change, so we never wanted to get too excited, until we really knew – literally when we got in the car the day before! We are so lucky!
Did you manage to stick to your budget?
We didn’t really have a budget – not because we are rich or frivolous, quite the opposite, it was so tiny we only spent money on what we needed. Our photographer was the most expensive thing by far, but absolutely worth every penny!
The day is about you, and nobody else. You don’t ever want to look back and say “we wish we had…” and if that means running off just the two of you, go for it! You won’t regret it, everyone will understand, and there is plenty of time to celebrate later.
Honeymoon or minimoon?
A little minimoon at the beautiful Portnellan in the Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park, and then a few days in James’ home city of Edinburgh to see some friends and show Isla the sights!
What’s the one moment you’ll always remember?
Honestly, I didn’t think there would be a “first look” moment because we were always together, but James took Isla for a walk while I got into my dress and Zoe arrived to take a few pictures of me getting ready – and when he came back up to the room and saw me in my dress, hair, and make-up, it all felt so real and wonderful – we could hardly believe it was finally happening.
How breathtaking are these photos?! And we are loving Nat and James’ low key wedding planning style! x
Venue – Gretna Green – Old Blacksmiths Shop / Smiths @ Gretna Green
Photographer – Zöe Alexandra
Florist – Marks & Spencer / Hobbycraft
Beauty – Spoilt @ Smiths
Nat’s outfit – Phase Eight Yazmina Wedding Dress / Parrot London &
James’ outfit – Ted Baker suit from Moss Bros.
Isla’s outfit – Jenny Wren Craft