A Homemade Humanist Cow Shed Wedding

rustic scotland humanist wedding http://www.kitchenerphotography.co.uk/


Céline and Zeno held their humanist wedding ceremony outdoors, followed by a reception at Inchyra Byre, Scotland in April of this year. It was super important to them that their ceremony was personal and they wrote their own meaningful vows.

Céline and Zeno also wanted their day to feel handmade, arranging the gorgeous flowers themselves and decorating the rustic cow shed… i adore their fabric table plan, it looks amazing.

Celine looked so very beautiful with flowers in her hair and white cardi, while Zeno opted for a kilt. Such a happy loved up pair.

Thanks so much to the brilliant Kitchener Photography for sharing their photographs with us today.


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The Proposal… We were having our usual morning breakfast with fresh grounded coffee and tartines. It was sunny summer day and as we were having breakfast, Zeno asked what I thought about us getting married… At the beginning I thought he was kidding, but realised he wasn’t. I asked if he was serious, and he said yes… and I said “ok then” let’s rock! It was simple and very special, making our favourite part of the daily (coffee) life very special.

The Vision for the Day… A day that represents us. We used to throw very good parties before we met each other and after too… We had a reputation to keep and we wanted to keep it too. We wanted a relaxed, home-made, humanist wedding in the countryside. We wanted a place allowing us to party all night long, bring our own drinks who my French family brought with them, decorate it yourself and have our own caterer. We managed to do all that and more with the help of our wonderful families and friends.

The Planning Process… Calling our parents, brothers and sisters and closest friends, Celebrating the same evening with champagne with our closest friends, Finding an affordable dress, Finding a venue & everything related to it, Finding a Caterer & discussing about the menu, Getting Zeno’s kilt made to his family tartan, Getting a kilt for Thor our son (step-son for me), Deciding on invitees, Gathering all postal addresses, Designing the invitations, Designing a website with a lot of information(for people coming from far: http://celineandzeno.calmblue.co.uk/, Sending the invitations, Gathering ideas for decorations, Organising cakes’ bakers (friends), Visiting the venue many times for details on size, shape etc…, Making and remaking the table plan (the most frustrating part of the process), Getting/arranging for the greatest Ceilidh Band with  Sandy Brechin to play at our wedding, Meeting with friends to make music playlist for the after party from 1am onward, Organising  workshops and dinners with friends to make home-made decorations & writing name tags, Writing our wedding ceremony nad wedding vows, Organising table names, Coordinating our “cheese table” from both our family English Vs French, ordering beer firkins some of our favourite breweries (St Andrews Brewery and Eden Brewery), deciding cocktails recipe and ordering ingredients, ordering breakfast juices, coffee, jams and ingredients to make crepes the morning after the wedding for people staying/camping/coming back, ordering flowers in bulk for jam jars and floating candles to reuse features available in the venue, organising for a hairdresser (which was a last minute arrangement – 1 week before) and more etc…

Budget… £10 000 (without the meal drinks and cheese which were provided by our parents)

The Venue… Inchyra Byre (which we renamed “The Fabulous Cow Shed”).  A place that both of use loved when we first walked in. A dilapidated cow shed in the  gateway to the Scottish highlands, but with continental flexibility: beautiful location, fabulous food and drinks as well as the ability to party all night long.

Finding a venue we liked was the hardest. After looking at many venues around Edinburgh and not finding any that represented us, we eventually heard a friend of ours talking about a party he had at Inchyra Byre in Perthshire. We contacted his friends out of nowhere asking them if we could come to meet them and maybe do a party in their Byre. I think they thought we were a little mad at first. They told us to come and have a look at it as it was a fairly old dilapidated building. We went, met them (they are wonderful) and saw this magical place. Yes it was a dilapidated, empty byre (cow shed) with beaten earth and stone floor and flying birds, but Zeno and I looked at each others and we just knew. This was the place! We spoke with Caroline & James who agreed to let us have our wedding there. This also gave them the idea to refurbish the byre after our wedding to make it an official wedding venue which they are currently doing and which is GREAT for future brides (no toilet hiring or every else required)! We agreed with them to allow our most adventurous friends to camp if they so wished. They let us have flexibility in everything we wanted, with reasons and common sense of course. It was our dreamed place.

After finding this empty shell though, a lot had to be done such as hiring toilets, finding a caterer, hiring tables, chairs etc…

The Dress + Accessories… I found my dress at Emma Roy on sale and what a beautiful dress! A simple, but sophisticated, flowing dress, not too much but not too little. Just enough to make you feel special and beautiful.

I wore my favourite, comfortable and sexy swing dancing red shoes and my grand-mothers jewellery.

I had freshly wired flowers in my hair (which my two bridesmaids made).

Finding the Dress… Finding the dress was actually not that hard as I found it in the second shop visited and at a very affordable price.

Groom’s Attire… The groom’s attire was another story… He went for his fittings in January to get his family  tartan kilt and argyle jacket (which was my Christmas present to him as he always wanted one but could never justify the cost). Despite the fairly long-time notice, we got everything the Tuesday before our wedding.  He wore his favourite sporran, his sgian duhb, dirk and gillies. His also wore his “Best Woman” (his best man was a woman – his best friend) present in the morning of the wedding which was beautiful kilt pin..

The Readings + Music… We had a humanist ceremony which allowed us to compose a ceremony in which we spoke openly and honestly, using our own words & music in our way and style so that what it made it uniquely ours.  We were really luck as only a few countries in the world recognise Humanist weddings and Scotland is one of them! Humanism is a philosophy of life and ethics based on a rational life view and a belief that humanity has the responsibility and potential to make the world a better place. We wrote the ceremony together and our vows separately.  Although this was quite a lengthy process, it was worth every little bit and made everything so special.

We wrote our vows by picking a structure that we could both use as a jumping off point, we decided on a word-count maximum, and a common ending sentence for both vows to bring some unity while the contents were very personal. Our vows stayed private and unknown to each other until the actual wedding, except for our French translator friends who knew every reading. This was really special and emotional… We had only one reading by the second best man:  A Lang Promise from Jackie Kay.

For the music, we managed to arrange for the greatest Ceilidh Band with Sandy Brechin to play at our wedding. We then spent days and evenings with friends to organise our favourite dancing music on CDs so that our different DJ friends such as DJ Douglas Miller and DJ Purvis could DJ along at the after party. We also had a very special band for the aperitif, the Gillywolfe, and Lorraine McCauley and the Borderlands playing during the registry signing. This made the whole event absolutely superb, with great artists!

Beautiful Bridesmaids… I couldn’t have hoped for better bridesmaids (two in total). They could wear whatever they wanted and be themselves (they were so pretty) with a flower corsage made of a white beautiful flower, rosemary and lavender.  Without them, nothing would have been possible.

The Flowers… We ordered the flowers in bulk with a “earthy” theme. Most flowers were seasonal flowers such as sweet pees flower mixed with random foliage, thyme, rosemary and lavender. It was beautiful, earthy and colourful.  Doing it yourself has really a rewarding feel.  My sister in law bought a “earthy” bouquet from my favourite Edinburgh florist “Rogue” and my bridesmaid put a nice ribbon around the stems. It looks beautiful.

The Cake… No traditional wedding cake for us! We had instead a cake table with a wide diversity of cakes made from many different friends. Every cakes were masterpieces and delicious! They had their individual “original” names on a slate for people to place their cakes on the right cake support. Cake supports were all different in style and heights which made the cake table look absolutely stunning!

Your Photographer… Kitchener Photography. Dylan and Joanna were AMAZING! We had the best photographer any bride could ever wish for. First, they were affordable; secondly they were superbly friendly and helpful in outlining what we may want to think about. On the day, they were everywhere but so discreet you wouldn’t notice them taking shots of everyone and everything happening. They were smiling, nice, patient and fitting perfectly with everyone. When received our wedding photos, we were just so glad that we found Kitchener photography to shoot our wedding! The photos were amazing and we had so many compliment on them from friends and family outlining these were some of the best wedding photography they have seen… We are so grateful…

The Details + Decor… Tables were decorated very simply with old books and jam jars with tartan ribbons around it and fresh earthy flowers within it.  Some jars had hand-made wooden plant markers with the table name stamped on it. Menus were printed on recycled brown ribbed paper and slipped in the napkins. Each napkin had a name hand written on a tag.

A “Bar” blackboard was made (balckboard painted etc…) and then drinks available were hand written by the best man with the beers available. The cake table was full of cakes with slates with cakes names written on them. The cheese table had rosemary and lavender spread over with cheese on slates and wooden boards.

A hand-made table plan with each name printed on linen and then attached on a sack canvas.

The Honeymoon… PERU! Wonderful!

Memorable Moments… Getting married … with the very special ceremony and vows. My dad’s “electric cocktail” for aperitifs (which got many people quite tipsy). All our close friends being there, gathering our friends from many far-away places, from various places the length and breadth of England and Scotland, to European Countries and even some who have travelled quite some distance, all the way from the United States and Japan. It was such a privilege. The French tradition of singing us a song, with arranged lyrics. The Gillywolfe playing as a surprise to the groom at the aperifits.

Advice for Other Couples… Having personal touch make everything more special. We would also recommend brides and groom to invite their respective friends and family separately the evening before at the pub or else to catch up with people you haven’t seen for a long time so that on the day, you can party and enjoy everyone’s company. Do as much as you can.

Credit Where Credit is Due…

Kitchener Photography: http://www.kitchenerphotography.co.uk/

Inchyra Byre: http://www.inchyrabyre.co.uk/

Season Catering: http://www.seasoncatering.co.uk/

Sandy Brechin: http://www.brechin-all-records.com/sandybrechin.htm

Rogue Flowers: http://www.rogueflowers.co.uk/

Lorraine McCauley & The Borderlands: http://lorrainemccauley.wordpress.com/

Gillywolfe: https://www.facebook.com/Gillywolfe?ref=stream


Such a wonderful day. Thanks so much to Céline and Zeno for sharing their beautiful wedding with us today XOXO Lou

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