“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.
The wedding theme was places that are important to us, and so maps were an obvious choice, and the theme developed from there.
The colour scheme started off as being “map colours”, so greens and blues but it quickly changed, especially when the bridesmaids couldn’t find a dress they liked in those colours! We also tried to incorporate gold because Lower College Hall is very strongly decorated in a gold-y yellow. It ended up being a very vague pastel colour scheme. We had pinks from bridesmaids’ dresses, and the bouquets and my shoes, but then the gold, blue and green came through into the stationery and the flowers. The groomsmen ended up having elements of rainbow, so I think we can safely say there was no strict colour scheme in the end.
My wedding dress was a beautiful, ivory lace design with a slight fish tail. The neckline was really interesting and delicate. It wasn’t what I thought I would go for at all. I thought I wanted a big princess dress, but when it came down to actually trying them on I found them really unflattering. I never thought a fish tail would suit me, but the lace was just so beautiful. Underneath the lace layer, there was a really fine layer of sequins. You could only see them when they caught the light. I’m not a big fan of “bling” but that was the perfect amount for me. I also had a beautiful cathedral length veil with a lace trim. My dress and veil came from Grand Jour Bridal in Gloucestershire, near Fred’s family home. His mum took me there after I had a terrible experience in a bridal shop in London.
For my “something old”, I had two pins attached to my bouquet. One belonged to my grandad and one to Fred’s grandad. For my “something blue”, my mum sewed pieces of Manx Tartan (I’m from the Isle of Man) into the inside of my dress, embroidered with the two grandads’ names. It meant so much to have them both walking down the aisle with me. Fred actually told his grandfather he was going to propose just before he passed away. Knowing that he knew Fred’s intention and that he was happy was very important for both of us.
My “something borrowed” was a simple bracelet belonging to my mum, and my shoes were the “something new”. I fell in love with the shoes at first sight. I wore gorgeous bright pink Prada shoes, which were a wedding present from Fred. I loved that you couldn’t see them with my long dress, but I knew they were there. It was like a special little secret (until I lifted my dress to show them off to my girlfriends!).
My hair and makeup (and the bridesmaids’ and mums’) was done by Sophie Butler in St Andrews. They were amazing – my hair was a work of art. Because my new surname is Fisher and the symbol of the Isle of Man is the herringbone, I asked for an intricate design of herringbone plaits. It looked amazing. My makeup was really natural, just how I wanted it to be. They were really patient and really nice – it was a pleasure to spend the morning of my wedding with them!
I had a second dress for the evening (ceilidhing in a long dress is not a good idea!), which came from diydress.com. I was so nervous about ordering online and I had left it relatively last minute. When it arrived, I thought it was awful – it had so much extra fabric inside I thought I looked like an Ugly Sister. After a brief moment of panic, I decided that it couldn’t be worse than it already was so I got out the scissors and sewing machine and cut out the excess fabric and put it back together again. After the emergency repair work, it hung really nicely and fitted really well.
For the evening, both Fred and I had Converse to dance in (I wasn’t going to let anything damage my beautiful shoes!) Fred had black and I had pink. They had our names and wedding date on the back.
For his wedding attire, Fred wore a morning suit, rented from Debenhams. The pink tie and matching pocket square came from Swagger and Swoon. We ordered swatches and then matched the colour to the bridesmaid dresses. His shoes came from Joseph Cheaney and Sons. His socks were from Happy Socks and were stripy with all the colours of the rainbow. Fred’s cufflinks were a wedding present from me, and had the coordinates of the chapel engraved on them.
The best man, groomsmen and our dads all matched Fred. The only differences were the socks and cufflinks. There were six groomsmen and the best man and they each wore a pair of socks for a colour of the rainbow. Fred gave them all a pair of cufflinks representing an aspect of their friendship.
The bridesmaids wore blush pink dresses bought from ASOS. We really struggled to find something they all liked, and this was pretty much the only one! They all looked so beautiful and it was brilliant to have them by my side.
Our photographer was Anna from AnnaJoy Photography. She was absolutely amazing and I would wholeheartedly recommend her. You only need to look at the pictures to understand why! She was so patient with me throughout the planning process and she embraced my Excel spreadsheet organisation completely. She got on with absolutely everybody and put everyone at ease in front of the camera. There are so many little personal touches with everything she does – you can tell she really thinks about her clients.
Anna also recommended that we have some time away from everyone else to have some downtime and enjoy each other’s company. She took us down to the beach for twenty minutes. It was lovely to have some time away from everyone and the pictures are stunning! I didn’t want to spend too much time on the photos though – it was more important for us to have a party with our friends and family! Anna struck the balance just right.
For my wedding flowers, I had a bouquet of beautiful tulips, roses and eucalyptus. I loved the spring colours and the texture of the bouquet, giving a really soft feel. They were provided by Hazel at the Ladybird Florist, on Bell Street in St Andrews. I lived opposite there when I was a student and always used to pop in and buy flowers when I needed cheering up. I’d really recommend them – they were flexible to the budget and really listened to what we wanted.
In terms of the venue décor, each table had both a number and a name. The name was of a place important to us, e.g. table 1 was St Andrews, table 2 was London, table 3 was Box in Gloucestershire (where Fred is from), table 4 was the Isle of Man (where I am from), etc.
Each table was then decorated with a mirrored plate with a vase on. The vases were glass and bought incredibly cheaply online (£1.50 each). I coated the inside with gold glitter. The vases were then filled with fresh eucalyptus and paper flowers, which Fred and I made from old maps purchased from charity shops local to us. Each vase also had two Polaroids, of us holding a sign with the place name on. Fred is a really talented artist, and had drawn something to symbolise each place, and then I wrote the place name. We had a photo shoot with Fred’s sister and the pictures are hilarious.
We placed the pictures in gold photo frames and put them on the coordinating table along with a number, which we decoupaged in a map of that place. There was an awful lot of late nights spent crafting! The tables were then finished with some confetti hearts made from maps, bought from eBay.
Upstairs, we had a “photobooth” table with silly props. We had a polaroid and everyone stuck pictures into our guestbook. The backdrop for the photobooth was the drawings Fred had done for the table polaroids. On the same table, we had a vintage suitcase for cards lined with map wrapping paper from Paperchase.
We made our table plan ourselves from a map poster, a cheap frame and some mini colourful luggage labels. We have a vintage typewriter at home and so Fred typed out all the names to give it a vintage travel feel.
The other stationery was done by Sami at To & From Wedding Stationery. She was amazing, and we had so many compliments on our choices. She designed a complete invitation suite for us, including invitations, RSVPs, thank you cards and orders of service. She tied everything in to our theme and she listened so carefully to what we asked for. She was really creative and fitted everything into a really reasonable budget.
Our favours were also our place names. Each person received a little brown box of hard boiled sweets. We stuck an individual map confetti heart to each box, and then tied a luggage label on. The luggage label had the name of the guest and also their “destination”, i.e. the name of their table. The writing was done with a typewriter to make it look vintage.
Our wedding cake was made by Fred’s grandmother, Trish. She even did a cake tasting for us and it was so hard to choose our favourite, but lemon drizzle won in the end. The cake was decorated by her neighbour and it turned out beautifully. We wanted something really simple, and added some fresh flowers to the top.
The standard of the university catering was really excellent for the wedding food. At the champagne reception, we had some nibbles including mini beef wellingtons. We also had an ice-cream tricycle from local landmark Janetta’s. We got to have an ice cream tasting and choose our favourites for the day – mint choc chip, stracciatella, strawberry, and lemon sorbet.
The wedding breakfast starter was Haggis Neeps and Tatties. We both love it, though it’s a bit of a controversial choice.The main course was an herb crusted rack of lamb with fondant potato and seasonal vegetables, and we had a trio of desserts to finish: chocolate fondant, raspberry jelly and citrus tart.
Entertainment-wise, we had a bagpiper play outside the chapel while our guests were arriving. This was a lastminute decision but one I’m so glad I made. I was desperate to have a piper from the word go, but decided against it as some people hate them. I say if you want something, just go for it!
The University Chapel Choir sang during the signing of the register in the ceremony. They sang two Scottish folk songs that we had performed regularly at university. That performance was really special to us.
At the champagne reception, the university Madrigal Group performed. We were also members of that choir during our time at St Andrews. We even joined them for one song.
After dinner, we had a ceilidh with a four-piece band. We were relatively experienced as were some of our university friends, but many of our guests had never done it before. Our band, The Jiggers, were so patient and the callers did an excellent job of explaining each dance. It was great fun and everyone gave it a good go!
After the ceilidh, we cut the cake and then had our first dance to Hall and Oates’ You Make My Dreams Come True. Then we launched into a full party (DJ also provided by The Jiggers). Our RSVP cards asked our guests to choose a song to get them on the dancefloor, and so the playlist was a hilarious mix of genres and decades, but the dancefloor was always full!
On the wedding night we stayed at the MacDonald Rusacks Hotel in St Andrews. They were so accommodating – we had about twenty rooms for all our family and of course an accompanying Excel spreadsheet and they handled it all with ease.
We’d definitely recommend our choice of venues to other couples following our wedding. St Salvator’s is an absolutely beautiful chapel and Lower and Upper College Halls is so reasonably priced and also beautiful. You will have a really brilliant day, regardless of whether or not you have a connection to the university.
Looking back, it’s hard to pinpoint one particular moment of the day as my favourite. Walking out of the chapel to Widor’s Toccatta being played on the organ was an amazing moment. It’s one of our favourite pieces and we always knew we would have it as our recessional. It’s incredibly difficult to play but the university organist, Tom Wilkinson, is brilliant and really pulled it out the bag. Hearing that piece of music always makes me cry. When we were outside the chapel, we could still hear it playing inside while all of our guests showered us in bubbles (no confetti allowed on the university grounds).
After the wedding we spent the weekend and bank holiday in St Andrews, and then went to Copenhagen for a minimoon. Fred’s uncle paid for us to stay in the amazing Hotel Nimb as our wedding present and we had a brilliant time exploring the city and relaxing after a hectic weekend!
We delayed our main honeymoon until October. We wanted to go on safari, and that was the best time of year. Our honeymoon was organised by Imagine Africa and I would definitely recommend them for the honeymoon experience. We went to Sand Rivers in the Selous, Tanzania, for a four-day safari, before going to Stone Town and then to an amazing beach hotel (Baraza Resort and Spa) in Zanzibar. It was two weeks of absolute bliss and was definitely the trip of a lifetime.
My top tip to other Brides Up North is – be organised. Planning may seem like a bore but you will realise how valuable it is when you can just let your day happen and not worry about it. Excel is your friend! I had a spreadsheet organising the day right down to the minute, and gave copies to all the suppliers and friends and family involved. I think they thought I was completely nuts, but no one was in the wrong place at the wrong time on the day!
Also, don’t try to please anyone but the two of you. It’s your day and the memories of that day will be with you both for the rest of your lives. Do what matters to you, and not to anyone else.
The chaplain said something to me just before I walked down the aisle which was I think the best piece of advice: Take a breath, relax, try to take it all in, and understand the commitment you are making. It all goes by in such a blur that it is so easy to blink and miss what the day is actually all about!