November 5th, 2018 | Alexis Forsyth
Renowned as the UK’s top matchmaking university – St Andrews more than lives up to this accolade on the blog today, with bride and groom, Laura and Tom so taken by this special location – the place where they first met – that they chose tie the knot here in July.
Opting for a natural, simple look for their big day, the Laxey Manx tartan – a nod to Laura’s heritage – was a prominent feature in their décor and styling, featuring on everything from their wedding favours and bunting to the centrepieces and the groomsmen’s attire.
Of course, no Scottish wedding would be complete without a ceilidh – and the couple squeezed in a few nostalgic throwbacks too, sourcing their wedding cake from their favourite bakery as well as ice cream from a local parlour. Other special touches that break with convention, which we just have to mention, include bubbles for confetti and the bride saying a few words alongside her new hubby. Read on for all the wonderful details!
With images by Anna Joy Photography.
laura says: We got engaged on Saturday 15th October 2016, in the Lake District. It was our seven-year anniversary and Tom had treated us to a stay in a country house hotel with beautiful views of Lake Windermere. After a rainy day spent exploring and finishing up with a local brewery tour, we got back to the hotel to relax before dinner, which is when Tom popped the question!
We got married on Saturday 28th July 2018. We didn’t want to rush into wedding planning, so it was nice to give ourselves plenty of time after the engagement and preferred the idea of a summer wedding.
We got married in St Andrews, the town where we met whilst studying at the University of St Andrews. Our ceremony was in the beautiful St Salvator’s Chapel and the reception was held in the University’s Lower and Upper College Hall across from the chapel. St Andrews is a special place for both of us, so it was the obvious choice, despite requiring some travel – we live in London, I’m from the Isle of Man and Tom is from Manchester!
Our wedding had a simple and natural style, staying true to ourselves – we wanted to avoid anything too over the top! We used local suppliers and used ours and our families’ skills to make things ourselves wherever possible!
We didn’t have a specific theme, however we featured the Laxey Manx tartan throughout the wedding to reflect my Isle of Man heritage. We used tartan ribbon on our save the dates and wedding invitations, the men had tartan ties, the reception tables had tartan centre pieces (made by Tom’s mum) and we had tartan bunting decorating the reception venue (made by my mum).
The Manx tartan colours are light blue for the sea, green for the hills and valleys, purple for the heather, gold for the gorse, and white for the cottages, so we used these to guide our colour scheme. We picked out the blue, white and green for the flowers and chose green for the bridesmaid dresses and the men’s pocket squares.
I chose a simple wedding dress with a sweetheart neckline and a flowing skirt with layers of tulle as the base but added a crocheted style lace top for the day with three quarter length sleeves, finished with a simple tulle cathedral length veil. For the evening I removed my veil and changed into a jewelled top to add some sparkle! The full outfit was by Catherine Deane, which I purchased from the London boutique in Wapping Wharf. My mum spotted a Catherine Deane dress in a wedding magazine which we both liked so that was how I first came across her collection. Sandra at the boutique was wonderful and helped me choose from their beautiful range. I liked dresses at several other places in London that were a very different style, but I felt most comfortable and true to myself in Catherine Deane.
To accessorise, I wore simple silver sling-back flat shoes from Jones the Bootmaker – I very rarely wear heels and didn’t think our wedding day was the time to start!
My something old (and blue) was a garter made from a scrap of blue material that was left over from the dresses my mum made for her bridesmaids when she got married, my something new was my outfit, and my something borrowed was the pearl drop earrings I borrowed from mum.
December 12th, 2016 | Rachel Parry
“Be organised” – these are the words of wisdom from today’s bride who planned her beautiful big day with military precision. The high level of organisation meant that when the wedding day arrived, both Hetty and her beau Fred could just relax and enjoy the proceedings.
Making the day both pretty and personal, the crafty duo incorporated special touches through handmade décor and chose a venue that will always remain close to their hearts.
With images by AnnaJoy Photography
hetty says: Fred had initially planned to propose during a surprise long-weekend in Paris that he’d organised for our sixth anniversary. Unfortunately, he was called for jury service for an eight-week trial around four weeks before our anniversary so the trip was cancelled. We still had a special anniversary weekend at home in London and Fred popped the question in the Italian Garden of Kensington Gardens, after a long walk through Hyde Park. It was a beautiful, sunny winter’s day in London and was absolutely perfect. Better than Paris! After I’d said yes, he took me for afternoon tea at the Renaissance Hotel at St Pancras Station, marrying my love of afternoon tea with his love of trains!
Our wedding day was 30th April 2016. We were married in St Salvator’s Chapel at the University of St Andrews in Scotland. We actually met for the first time in the chapel, singing in the University Chapel Choir. We met on the first Sunday of fresher’s week in our first year, and sang together throughout all four years of university. We graduated in 2012 but the chapel is still symbolically a huge part of our relationship. We know the organist and university chaplain very well, so it was an obvious choice for our wedding. The chapel is also stunningly beautiful, which helps!
Our reception was at Lower and Upper College Halls, opposite the chapel in the main university quad. The wedding breakfast was in Lower College Hall, and then then ceilidh and dancing upstairs in Upper College Hall. We had actually both sat exams in those rooms over the course of our university career so it took a bit of imagination to see it as our wedding venue, but the lure of having the reception and wedding all within the beautiful setting of the quad was too much to resist.
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October 29th, 2014 | Julia Braime
Stunning scenery, rainbow blooms, tartan trews and spinning a reel… Clair and Nick show how an elegant wedding needn’t be a stuffy affair. Combining traditional charm with modern and personal touches, the couple’s colourful celebration is a bonnie day indeed.
Images by AnnaJoy Photography.
Clair says: Nick and I met while studying at St Andrews in 2008. Our first little holiday together as a couple was to a lovely little guesthouse outside of Ballachulish in the Scottish Highlands. We had a lovely few days together as a fairly new couple. One of the things we both enjoy most is documenting our little adventures – we found an amazing, almost deserted road in Glen Nevis and realised it could be a lot of fun to take a series of stills of the both of us in the road, sort of like the flip books you get where when you look at the images quickly they tell a little story. As our new year celebrations finished in the early hours of 1st Jan 2013 Nick told me he was taking me back to that same guesthouse as a surprise gift! We went back to the same spot on the deserted road to make a new “flip book” of photos of us 4 years later and then Nick got down on one knee. It was beautifully romantic and entirely unique! Those pictures now have even more meaning!
We were married on 12th July 2014. We picked that date because both of us had extremely tight schedules at the time. I was in between graduating for a second time and starting work and had four weeks that I could totally devote to the last minute frantic preparations.
We got married at St Salvator’s Chapel, St Andrews. It’s the chapel associated with the University we both studied at and it just felt right to go back there. I wanted a very traditional service but in a place that was familiar, so the Chapel was perfect! Our reception was across the lawn at Upper and Lower College Hall, a beautiful building from the early 17th century. The grassy lawn in between the Chapel and the Hall was the perfect spot for drinks after the service and for the littlies to tear around. We were on a very tight budget funding the wedding ourselves – the Chapel and College offered the opportunity to put our own stamp on our wedding whilst fitting within a well-rehearsed framework for a very agreeable price.
We decided that our wedding would have a ‘hint’ of vintage but that in order to really work with the venue it also had to be elegant. We decided that additions such as vintage china and pastel handkerchiefs would work with the room whilst I had to forgo the likes of bunting, as it just wouldn’t have worked. We also wanted lots of homemade elements – we are crafty people but also wanted the really personal feel that this adds. It also saves lots of pennies if you can make things yourselves!
We wanted it to be bright. And beyond that I didn’t want to complicate matters by having a colour scheme. As many of the fine details were done by ourselves, it was much easier to have a loose colour scheme for resourcing what we wanted at the price we wanted it for. I wanted my bridesmaids to have dresses they had picked and could wear again and shoes they liked rather than enforcing my choices on them – they all agreed that they would wear navy and between them all picked the same dress! But their shoes were all different. They all had a bright pink shawl and a posy of brightly coloured flowers – many of the same flowers that were elsewhere in the venue. Very loosely we tried to stick to oranges, yellows, pinks and purples but all sorts of other colours crept in too!
The dress I thought I wanted and the one I picked were worlds apart. I have very much a pear shape, and realised that the dresses I thought I liked only accentuated my wide hips and left me feeling frumpy. I ditched my original ideas and in Pretty Woman in Edinburgh riffled through dresses they had hanging. I knew I wanted lace somewhere, and I had realised that something that fit snuggly at the waist but then skimmed out over my hips was going to be most flattering. With new thinking, the first dress I tried on was strapless – something I knew I just didn’t want on its own, but had been told I could add a lace jacket to. It had a sweetheart neckline, fit tightly at the waist and then had layers of tuille and a lot of taffeta to give a very full skirt and chapel length train. The instant I put the jacket on over the top I knew the look was exactly what I wanted. Both were made by Justin Alexander. The girls I was with at the time said it was the first time I had smiled as looked at in the mirror. That was it. I decided there and then that the dress and jacket were the ones I wanted.
Nick wore a pair of McNaughton Muted Tartan Trews I had bought him as a Christmas gift. His father was Scottish and this was his family tartan (McKendrick). His bow tie was in the same tartan to match. The Prince Charlie jacket his Mum had bought him a Christmas later, so that he had a complete outfit. His lovely shoes were Loake – his favourite brand of shoes, and compensation for all the pennies spent on my dress. The dress shirt came from TM Lewin and his copper cufflinks I had bought on Etsy as an engagement gift – they had the co-ordinates on them of the exact spot in Glen Nevis at which he had proposed.
The bridesmaids’ dresses were made by LightInTheBox – a company based in China which make beautiful quality gowns to order. I sent them the girls’ exact measurements and the dresses arrived and needed only the smallest of tweaks. The groomsmen wore a mix of their own Highland wear or suits. We were flexible with what the boys wanted to wear – it fit with the relaxed colour scheme. Each of them had a set of pirate Lego cufflinks – Nick’s stag had been on a boat in the Norfolk Broads that the boys had customised into a pirate ship.
We hired a beautiful Rolls Royce Silver Shadow from Prestige Cars of Fife – a company owned by Tom McKean. The car worked with our loosely vintage theme and was a definite luxury. Tom was the perfect driver, putting our nerves at ease and then drove us around St Andrews for some of our photos after the service.
Our photographer was Anna Hamill of AnnaJoy Photography. She was perfect. We knew at our engagement shoot we had found a real treasure. She was wonderfully discrete but also somehow captured every single moment beautifully. She didn’t mind being punted into taxi’s across town to be a part of everything and in the midst of relative madness, she was calm. There are lots of little touches Anna brings that others don’t – beautiful little business cards with pictures of you on, USB sticks sent with edible goodies, emails that are more friendly than blunt business, and the rights to do with your photos as you wish. And Nick and I would recommend her in a heartbeat for all of this.
My bridesmaids and I carried bouquets of flowers constructed by my beautiful and incredibly talented Mama. We ordered them wholesale from Triangle Nursery who delivered them to where the bridal party had gathered for a few days prior to the wedding. Mum then assembled them into beautiful creations and somehow knew what flowers would work where. She was magical.
Our flowers for the venue came from the same wholesalers. In keeping with as much being made by the people we love most, we got a bunch of my girlfriends, my sister, Nicks Mum and Great Aunt together and led by my Mama they each made one of the decorations. Each one had the same flowers and greenery in, but was assembled however they wanted. And they all looked fantastic. We had peonies, dozens and dozens of roses, freesias, gerbera, chrysanthemums, gypsophila, thistles and more!
We had a wedding tree as an alternative to a guest book – it’s now framed and hanging on our wall as a memory of all of those that joined us. We also asked every guest to bring their favourite recipe so we could create a ‘wedding cookbook’.
Perhaps the most personal thing for us was that our family and closest friends joined us for five days in total – a few days before preparing, and a couple of days after the wedding. Having our favourite people around us for a little bit more time was so important to us both.
We used Gordon’s Cater Hire for our vintage crockery and chairs – I wanted lime-washed chairs as I am not a fan of chair covers or sashes. They were excellent and provided an excellent service.
As favours, we gave ladies vintage handkerchiefs for “happy tears” and men brightly coloured silk pocket squares. Everyone also had a personalised name tag made from salt dough – something else people could take home and hang somewhere if they wanted.
We chose traditional Scottish options for our food. We sent guests a selection of three options for main course and dessert and asked them to get back to us – we wanted our guests to eat food they wanted to eat! St Andrews University created delicious dishes and many of our guests complimented the quality of the food. We sourced our favourite wines from the supermarket – we just waited until they were on offer and bulk bought. We had to pay corkage but felt for the same cost as the cheapest wines on the wine list we had wines we loved and that we thought other people would enjoy.
My favourite cake of all time is the fruit cake that my Mum makes for Christmas and this was the only cake I ever considered for our wedding. She also made a madeira cake for those people that don’t like fruit cake. She decorated them beautifully with hearts and pearls and lace and ribbon. Oh they were gorgeous. And to please Nick, who, if he could only eat one food for the rest of his life it would be cheese, we had a stack-of-cheeses cake. We served the cheeses and cakes as our evening buffet and they went down a treat!
One of our cheeses came from Cote Hill, a farm in Lincolnshire where Nick’s family is from – it was delicious!
We are largely a Scottish family and many of our friends are Scottish. We had been to a friend’s wedding and were amazed at how a ceilidh got everyone up and dancing – so we emailed a dozen bands and eventually settled on one we liked the look of – Ceilidh Sound. We also had a close friend who did a fantastic job of MC during the speeches – he had everyone in stitches.
The whole day was perfect. The moments we had as just the two of us were just as precious as those we shared with our friends and family. Our mothers gave us kisses right before we said our vows, our ‘last kisses’, and dancing with my Dad was one of those moments every little girl wants. The whole day was completely wonderful and we are off to Barbados in just 8 days! We are so excited!
My top tip for other Brides Up North would be to plan plan plan. It’s never too early. We had all of our big things booked well in advance, including our band, Anna, the venues, the accommodation, my dress, our rings. It meant closer to the time we had plenty of time to focus on the fine details. Also, an Excel spreadsheet is a girl’s best friend.
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