On 15th April, after something ridiculous like 10 years together and 6 months of engagement, we decided to tie the knot in Edinburgh on a sunny Monday afternoon, ya know, that classic wedding day.
Now, we both love a wedding, however, we knew that a big wedding wasn’t for us, so fairly early on we decided to do something small and intimate… we actually didn’t even tell that many people! Surprisingly, since we announced it, I’ve had a fair few messages about how we planned it from people interested in doing something similar. The irony is not lost on me, because planning wise, we didn’t do all that much compared to a “proper” wedding.
Now, I ain’t no wedding planner. The truth is, I’ve only been to a handful of weddings, only maybe 4 ceremonies, and nothing as ‘low-key’ as what we were going for. I don’t know, maybe this worked in our favour when it came to pulling ours together?!
Anyway, I thought I’d share some insight, advice and thoughts, as well as who we used for anyone that may be local!
A Short Engagement
I’m not sure why, but I’ve always wanted to have a short engagement, and the beauty of having a small wedding means that this is a realistic goal. When we first got engaged at the end of October 2018, we said fairly early on that we’d like to be married by that time the following year. We did originally look at small venues that specialise in intimate weddings, but to be honest, even they are booked out years in advance and worked out to be a sizeable amount considering the number of guests. I know that this is standard for anything wedding related, but I just couldn’t be bothered with it. We were of the mind, that the further away the wedding was, the more time there was for things to spiral and grow arms and legs.
The Wedding Premium
I think it’s important at this point to say – have the wedding you want! Have whatever size of wedding you want, if you opt for a big wedding, AMAZING, because I will come to it and I will love every second of it! I will lap up the free bar and I will dance to Runrig at the end of the evening.
But, let me just say – Going small does not make you a cheapskate, ok? And don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Our day wasn’t “cheap”, however, obviously it was much cheaper than your average venue wedding… I mean, I read the other day that the average cost of a wedding is at an all time high of over £30k… WOW! A small wedding can cost very little or a bit more depending on what you’re wanting and your budget, and it is the case that the second you menton the “w-word” the cost can shoot up.
We were very fortunate that my parents helped us out and that allowed us to do a few extra bits and bobs that otherwise we might not have, and it was those details that helped build the day we hoped for. Despite wanting a low key and intimate wedding, we were also keen to keep some more classic elements like flowers and a fancy dress (although originally I didn’t want or even bother to look at “weddings dresses”). We also opted to invest in photography – more on this later.
Remember though, it is absolutely ok for you not to have these things and to do what’s right for the both of you, and to hell with what anyone else thinks. If people are truly happy for you as a couple they will not be offended if you just bugger off and do it, whether it be an elopement or with your closest family and friends. Don’t worry about your next door neighbours cousin’s dog not being invited. It really is your choice and *hopefully* you’ll only wanna do it once!
I originally fancied an elopement – visions of us on a beach somewhere on the West Coast. However, Robin wasn’t keen on doing with without or parents being there and having two kids in tow also makes it trickier (in hindsight he was totally right – typical).
In Scotland you can actually get married anywhere at any time. Venues don’t need licences like they do in England. I would have loved the idea of a Humanist ceremony somewhere outdoors, but when you don’t actually want a proper venue, I was struggling to work out where we could realistically do this and how to factor in unruly children and the unpredictable Scottish weather.
Ultimately, i couldn;t be bothered to work out the logistics (a running theme in my planning), so instead we opted for an easier Registry Office option and chose City Chambers, nestled within Edinburgh’s Royal Mile – a truly beautiful backdrop.
Once we got Christmas and New Year out the way we started planning. City Chambers do wedding every days of the week and we originally opted to look at Saturdays. They have a lot of availability for a month or two ahead, however, weekend slots do tend to fill up quite quickly so best to book as far ahead as you can (one of the days we wanted only had 9am left which we thought was a tad early!). We were looking to book in February for a March wedding only to realise both our parents were on holiday for nearly the full month, so back to the drawing board. In the end we decided to broaden our search to the full week. As we were having such few guests, we didn’t have s uch of a need to factor in people taking time off work and as Robin works shifts there were very few weekends that actually suited us – neither of us wanted to wait until late summer.
We finally got our date booked on Valentine’s Day – we were getting married on 15th April at 2.30pm, YAY!
The ceremony room at Chambers can hold up to 40 guests, so even if you were wanting to have a few more people than us (we only had 9 + the kids) there is scope for that. You can also completely personalise the ceremony to suit your needs. Amid the form filling after booking we missed this and only realised a few days before the wedding when it was a little late, so we opted for the standard ceremony but wrote our own vows. It can be as traditional, modern, formal or informal as you like. You can all meet outside and go in together, or you can be a little more traditional and arrive a bit later and walk down the aisle. You can also supply your own music if needed. We weren’t particularly fussed with what form our ceremony took, with two young kids wanting to run around it was nice to keep it super relaxed but by writing our own vows we also added the personal touch.
Due to Scout’s unpredictable sleep, we bucked “tradition” and we all stayed at home the night before along with one of our witnesses, my friend Eilidh, who had just flown back that evening from her sister’s hen party in Belfast (hero) and in the morning I abandoned poor Robin with the children and went with Eilidh to get my hair and make-up done in town before heading to the hotel that I had booked for that night for a glass of bubbly and some final prep… mainly pouring myself into the world’s tightest Wonderbra and donning my dress!
By 2.15 it was time to go – I could actually see Chambers from my room at the Radisson Collection so didn’t have far to go. However, a few weeks earlier, Eilidh had suggested that we could maybe hire a rickshaw to take us – I loved the idea and searched high and low to find one, which I finally did. I’m glad that I did, mainly because the pictures are hilarious and it was just a bit of fun! Although we were getting papped by a lot of tourists on the Royal mile!
After the ceremony, we got some group pictures with our guests and hopped on our rickshaw to go get some pictures taken by ourselves in the city – our poor photographer Kathryn jogging along behind us! While we did this our guests went and grabbed a few drinks in a pub and check into their hotel if needed, before heading on to the pizza restaurant to wait for us! I was worried about this bit and the logistics, but the truth is – don’t. Your guests are adults that can look after themselves, just let them crack on. We actually really enjoyed escaping for a wee while to get our pictures taken, it allowed us to chat and catch up on the mornings antics. On our way down Grassmarket we ended up getting stopped by a lot of pictures by tourists – turns out a man in a kilt is very exotic, they weren’t so fussed about me.
After pictures we headed back to our rickshaw and to the restaurant where our guests were waiting with pizza and Prosecco and we were able to all catch up. It was the most relaxed meal with the kids running round having a ball and eating spaghetti. After food our parents took the kids home and we went for drinks with our witnesses and their partners. It was a lovely end to the perfect day… and on the way back to the hotel we even picked up chips, cheese and donner – canny beat it.
Keep it simple
I booked pretty much everything the week we booked Chambers. The hardest bit was getting a date that suited us, but once that was done I was able to book the extra bits needed. Sit down and think about what you really want/need as a couple. A lot of stuff is unnecessary as just because it’s the ‘norm’, it might not be for you. We didn’t bother with things like invitations, favours or a cake and we opted to not have a Best Man or Bridesmaids. Instead, we each chose a close friend to witness our marriage and sign our documents, along with their respective partners, they were out only guests other than each of our parents and Robin’s sister. It definitely meant there was less ‘stuff’ to worry about, but equally was lovely to share it with them. No, our friends were not annoyed. They love us so they understood (or at least, I’ve not heard anything to the contrary)
I struggled with this. I was pretty sure I didn’t want a wedding dress and had pretty much set my heart on something sequinned or embellished, but the more I looked the clearer it became that the dress I wanted did not exist. I bought and sent back at least 5 dresses from ASOS including a few by Needle & Thread, but none were right for me. On the off-chance, I looked on Monsoon and saw the dress I ended up wearing on the day. When I tried it on I felt great and it even had pockets, I love that it was comfortable and the shorter length made it a bit more fun to suit our day. It did not cost a lot. Don’t let anyone make you think you have to spend a gazillion pound on a dress or that you even have to step foot in a bridal shop if you don’t want to! Although I wasn’t originally looking for “a wedding dress”, I think in years to come I’ll be glad that i opted for it in the end.
Pinterest is Bae
I started pinning little bits and bobs that I liked, including photography styles and colours. I didn’t set out to have a theme but one started to emerge, and although it’s probably not even obvious to anyone else, we had a very loose celestial theme – from stars and moons on my shoes, nails and in my hair to the ribbons hanging off my bouquet that I added myself and looked lovely on a particularly windy day in Edinburgh! You do not need a theme, ours just emerged and ended up helping a it helped me narrow down choices on certain items.
Capture the Memories
You can still have a photographer – this was something I was adamant about! This was important for us both as we are lovers of photography and really enjoy taking and having pictures of our family so for such a special occasion, it was something we wanted to look back on. I opted not to go for the full “getting ready” coverage etc as this was all just happening in a salon as it was just Eilidh and I (I would recommend this though – it took a lot of stress out of the day being able to just sit down and be pampered!). My main advice, especially if you’re having a small wedding, is so find a photographer that understands your kind of wedding and what you’re after and is willing to be flexible – we knew we wanted really relaxed street shots and the main focus to be on us and the time we spent getting these done was so fun and I’m so happy with the handful that I’ve seen so far and I cannot wait to see the rest!
You do You
But above all – do what works for you! Don’t let anyone influence your decision. Yes, of course you want your guests to enjoy the day, but that shouldn’t be at the expense of your own enjoyment. If they truly love you, they’ll be happy to go along with your plan. We found that all too often people tell you to do what makes you happy because “it’s your big day” but when it comes to it, the second it’s not what they imagined, they have an opinion – ignore it.
The size of the wedding doth not make the marriage. Don’t let people push you into anything you don’t want. It is your day, if you wanna spend it eating pizza then you eat that pizza!
Lastly, I thought I’d give a wee mention to all the people and the wee details that helped make our day special. This might be handy, especially if you’re local and looking to do something similar!