Blairs Church and Marcliffe at Pitfodels, Aberdeen Wedding:
How did you meet?
We sort of met by accident when we were both out with friends. We got chatting and took each other’s contact details, and kept in touch over text message for a few weeks before Steve asked me for a date. That first “date” turned out to involve Steve jump-starting my car for me after it had been abandoned in my work car park under a pile of snow for three weeks! He took me to the garage to get a new car battery, and whilst I was waiting we wandered around the shops just chatting about nothing. I remember us holding hands – I think we both felt we’d already known each other a lot longer than we actually had.
Who did your hair and what time did you get started in the morning?
Tracy Allan was the hairdresser for me and my four bridesmaids. Tracy was one of the hairdressers for the AECC wedding exhibition, and I really liked what I’d seen then. I was also lucky with Tracy’s availability: initially I’d been disappointed that she was booked up on 14th June, but she then got a cancellation which meant I could go with her after all. Tracy arrived around 8.30am to make sure there was enough time to do all our hair – which there was, just!
Who was your makeup artist?
One of my bridesmaids recommended someone she knew from university called Lara Gordon. Lara was so brilliant – she is such a lovely girl, and she put us all at ease. I had a trial and she was careful to remember everything I’d liked and not liked from then. She was just fab!
Who was your wedding dress designer and how did you know that the dress was ‘the one’? Where did you get it?
My dress was by Stella York, and I got it from Perfect Bridal. It was so different to any of the others that I’d tried on before – for a start is was “gold”! (I would say it was more of a champagne colour, but “gold” is how it is actually described!)
When I was shopping for dresses I tried on lots that were nice, and that I liked. But there were none that I was really certain about. There was one dress that I kept going back to that I described as the “Beyonce” dress, because it pulled me right in at the waist – it was very flattering, but I couldn’t quite picture it in Blairs; it felt like a perfect dress for a jazz club or glamorous Hollywood bar, but not quite right for an ornate church like Blairs. When I tried on my Stella York dress, I felt like I was in another time – I felt sort of Spanish in it, and everyone told me that was the one. I knew they were right, but I still had doubts right up until the day of the wedding!
Who designed your shoes?
My shoes were by Rachel Simpson. I saw them in a few bridal magazines and I couldn’t get them out of my head. They looked so vintage – they made me think of the way my dress made me feel. I went for them in mint green with a champagne trim, which I thought would look really nice against the colour of my wedding dress.
Did you have any special accessories?
My mum went into a jewellery buying frenzy in the months leading up to the wedding, so I had lots of options! I knew she really wanted to give me at least some of the jewellery I wore on the day, but because the dress was such an unusual colour, I really wasn’t sure what jewellery to go for. Yellow gold was too gold, silver didn’t look right against the colour of the dress… I didn’t actually decide until the day of the wedding exactly what jewellery to wear. I ended up going for a string of pale gold coloured pearls that my mum had bought for me – all my bridesmaids were in agreement that these suited the dress perfectly.
My mum also bought me my veil, which was a pale gold colour with diamantes and teardrop pearls on a scalloped edge. Perfect Bridal bought it in for me to try with my dress, and even though it was eye-wateringly expensive, both my mum and I thought we’d never find anything else that would go with my dress so perfectly.
Who did your flowers and why did you choose what you did?
Kirsty at Flower Vogue on Schoolhill did my flowers. I knew I wanted soft, romantic, blousy flowers, but I also wanted colour. I was thinking peonies, roses, sweet peas, sort green foliage. Kirsty was amazing – she interpreted the descriptions I’d given her perfectly! One thing I remember was sitting in the car on the way to the church and just smelling all the wonderful smells wafting up from my bouquet – it was perfect.
Who supplied the groom and groomsmen’s outfits?
Georgian Dress Hire – who we can’t recommend highly enough! There is a really comfortable, easy atmosphere in there – they took the time to measure all the men exactly, and gave lots of tips for what to do on the day.
Who designed the bridesmaids’ dresses and why did you chose that colour?
My bridesmaids dresses were from a place called Courtesan Boutique, based down in England. I’ve always said that I’d want my girls to be in different coloured dresses. I find it really hard to pick one colour that I really like; I tend to like different colours alongside each other – hence, I went for a range of green and blue colours. My bridesmaids were also in different dresses, as I wanted them to be comfortable in something of their own choosing. I sent the girls a link to the website and said to them to choose any dress, so long as it was long and made of chiffon (as I thought it would be good for the dresses to have a few things in common). Being able to choose from a website and get the dresses made according to individual measurements was really handy, as I had one bridesmaid in Australia and one in Edinburgh.
Why did you choose Susan Renée Photography?
I have actually known Susan for a number of years through mutual friends growing up in Peterhead, and I’ve followed Susan’s wedding photography for a long time. Susan has this way of making everyone feel comfortable and at ease, and we chose Susan because her photos are always stunning – I just knew it wouldn’t feel right without Susan taking our photos!
Where was the wedding ceremony held and why did you choose it?
Steve proposed whilst I was living in Brazil, three months before I was due to come home, so there was a bit of a gap before we could really plan anything. All that time I’d been thinking how I really wanted our wedding to be held in just one venue (so that guests wouldn’t have to travel to and from different locations). So, it was with this in mind that we went search for wedding venues around the north east. One day when we’d been out looking at venues, having found nothing yet that just felt ‘right’, we were travelling back into Aberdeen from the west, and I saw the Blairs steeple in the horizon behind the trees. Although I’d been with my mum to see the gallery and museum at Blairs, Steve had never seen inside the church before. So we decided to pop our heads in, just to see… When we walked inside, Steve took a big inhale of breath and said “wow”. It was then that I knew we really couldn’t get married anywhere else. Blairs is just the most stunning, breath-taking venue. It was such a special place to get married.
Where was the wedding reception held and why did you choose it?
Once we’d decided on Blairs, we knew we didn’t want to hold the reception too far away from there, so the Marcliffe was the perfect choice! The food is always perfect, even when catering for large numbers. The service is always outstanding, and the grounds are beautiful for photographs. We are so happy with our choice – we could not fault a thing! We are really sad to hear that it will be closing its doors, but we feel privileged to have been able to hold our reception there before it does!
Did you have a videographer? If so, who were they?
We spent much of our wedding planning thinking we could do without a videographer – neither of us particularly likes to watch ourselves in film, and we saw this as a bit of an indulgent/unnecessary expense. However, we then went to the wedding exhibition at the AECC and we saw some amazing wedding videos! We also thought it would be a great way to see things we’d maybe missed on the day. So we asked Mark Stewart if he happened to have any availability for 14th June, and oddly enough that was the only Saturday he had free over the whole summer! We took this as a sign and made the booking!
Who designed your cake? Did you give them any ideas re the design?
I found a picture of the cake I wanted in a magazine. It was a Fortnum and Mason cake – I thought it looked very “Marie Antoinette” – I loved it! In the end, my cake was actually one of my most frustrating and difficult things to organise. If I were to plan the wedding again, I would definitely do a lot of things differently so far as the cake was concerned!
Who were your band and what was it you liked about them?
I think my band is called The Protones (although I’m not sure, as the band goes by different names depending on whether they are playing as the full big band, just a ceilidh band or as a jazz set – and I had all three!) I first heard them playing at my friend’s wedding down in Glasgow, and I loved the quirky little bits that they played in between songs! They were so lovely and accommodating, even learning a few songs that I said I would want to have at my wedding. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them to any bride!
Who provided the wedding transport?
Aristocars – two 1939 cream Buicks for me and the girls, and a black Jaguar for mum and granny. Loved them!
What was the best bit about your wedding meal? Did you use a caterer?
Everything about the meal was just perfect! We didn’t want to go too safe with our wedding meal – for example, we both love scallops and back pudding, but we also know that s0me people really can’t stand either of these things. So, we decided to give people a choice. However, a choice on the day can really increase the overall cost of your meal, so we asked the Marcliffe if we could ask guests to choose in advance (using their RSVP card). Although (I hope) that this resulted in more happy customers on the day, this really did involve quite a lot of time, organisation and chasing people up on our part– a lot of stress that in hindsight may have been more trouble than it was worth!
Do you have a favourite picture from the day, if so, what is it and why?
I have so many! I really like the pictures where people are throwing confetti, because it reminds me of the day before the wedding. That day, my really good friends who had travelled over for the wedding from Houston, Australia and Abu Dhabi came to my final dress fitting with me (YES, that was the day before the wedding!) We then spent the rest of the day running around Aberdeen doing last minute wedding errands – it was very stressful, but also a lot of fun! One of the things we could not find anywhere was biodegradable confetti -at least not in enough volumes to fill the 50 Martha Stewart paper cones I’d made! (Attack of the bridal blog!) In the end we bought a wagon load of acid free tissue paper and a heart-shaped hole punch. Only, the hole punch wouldn’t cut through the tissue paper! With an hour to go until the wedding rehearsal and me still not showered or packed, my friend Jennifer from Houston told me to relax – that she’d sort out the confetti for me and take it to the church in the morning. What a relief – and what an awesome job she did! If it wasn’t for her, we’d not have that confetti picture. And that is why I think the confetti pictures may be my favourites.
I also really love the photos of just Steve and me under the canopy of trees. That was the time when it felt like it was just me and him, looking at each other, in love, and so thankful for this wonderful day that we’d spent so long organising, finally having arrived!
What was your inspiration?
I had lots of inspiration – one of my bridesmaids remarked, when looking through the wedding scrapbook that I’d made, that I had basically planned around 7 different weddings!
I love old time glamour and vintage, but I didn’t want anything too “Gatsby”, since I thought this might date in the photographs. I also love bunting and afternoon tea, but I didn’t want anything too “shabby chic”. In the end I just took all the things I really liked best and put them all together – one of which was the colourful origami crane curtain that we hung up in the Courtyard. I love colour, and because Steve and I are hoping to go on a postponed honeymoon to Japan, I really wanted to make these birds! It is apparently an old Japanese tradition – that the bride who can make 1000 paper cranes before her wedding will have a long and happy marriage. The time it takes to make these cranes is supposed to be symbolic of the time and effort a marriage takes. This really appealed to me. I could not have made that paper crane curtain without the help of one of my bridesmaids and her husband, who (together with his pen knife!) worked tirelessly to make the origami curtain with me in the days leading up to the wedding!
What was the best bit about your day?
I actually loved the line-up. One of my overriding feelings about the day is guilt – guilt that I didn’t get to spend as much time with everybody as I wanted to. But the line-up gave us a chance to say hello to and thank everyone for coming. It made us both very thankful for the wonderful family and friends that we have.
Did anything funny or unusual happen during your preparations or wedding day?
There is a massively funny story about something that happened not long after the meal, involving me and two of my bridesmaids. They turned out to be complete heroes that night, but that is as much as I’ll say!
Any advice for couples still to tie-the-knot??
Spend money on the things that matter – food, music, and a photographer to capture all the happy moments. Plan the wedding for you, and not for what you think other people would like – not to sound harsh, but ultimately only you and your husband will remember all the little details. Also, if having an evening reception with a buffet, don’t worry too much about how that looks. I spent a lot of time thinking about a cheeseboard for the evening, planning different cakes to be on display… but the photographer will generally be gone by then so won’t be able to take a picture of it, and you’ll probably be too busy chatting to your guests to take advantage of it. A plate of stovies and beetroot, and everybody’s happy!
Where did you go on honeymoon?
We went on a ‘mini-moon’ to Rome for three days, where it was thunder and lightning storms every day! But we’re currently trying to plan a ‘proper-moon’ to Japan and then Thailand.
ADDITIONAL SUPPLIERS OR ENTERTAINERS
A-Line – fairylights
John Brown Cater Hire – chiavari chairs
A massive thank you to Frances for writing this blog….brings back lots of happy memories for me. Thank you for choosing me to be part of your special day. Susan Renée xx