It all began with that venue search for WWW readers Mike and Kirsty, who tied the knot on the 25th July 2015. Planning from overseas meant organised trips over to Aberdeen, including one day with 12 venues to look around. Well they found the most idyllic spot in Finzean Hall, set within woodland the space was a blank canvas for their informal country nuptials.
They got creative and crafted the darling décor themselves. I especially adore the ribbon chandelier, which was the perfect backdrop to their ceremony and the ceilidh dancing in the evening.
Thanks so very much to Matt Penberthy for sharing these beautiful shots with us today.
THE PROPOSAL | Mike and I were on holiday near a small town called Gjermunshavn in southern Norway. We were staying in a wooden cabin perched on a steep cliff leading straight down to Hardangerfjord, with huge mountains on the other side of the water. It was one of the most beautiful places we had ever visited, and as we sat balanced on the edge of the balcony enjoying a drink in the sun, Mike turned to me and said: “Kirsty Elizabeth Halbert, would you do me the honour of becoming my wife?” I was absolutely shocked! He produced a gorgeous antique diamond solitaire and platinum ring which he had chosen himself. It was a wonderful way to start our holiday!
THE VISION | A small and traditionally Scottish wedding: non-religious and very personal to us. We knew that we would like a ceilidh and that we wanted our guests to have a lot of fun dancing with us. We were hoping for an informal country venue near Mike’s hometown of Aberdeen. Our colour scheme was based on Mike’s tartan and was predominantly cornflower blue and jade green.
THE PLANNING PROCESS | I am quite an organised person and spent a lot of time writing out lists of things we would like, and then researching how we could make them ourselves rather than buying or renting lots of items. By the time we were planning the wedding, we had moved to Norway, so I had military-style itineraries for our visits back to Aberdeen!
BUDGET | £25,000
THE VENUE | We wanted our ceremony and reception to be in the same place and we wanted to customise it totally for us. When we researched options for a wedding of around 60 guests, the best option turned out to be a village hall. On one rather memorable trip back to Scotland, I organised visits at 12 different village halls in a 50-mile radius of Aberdeen all within one day, which meant poor Mike had to drive us 180 miles, scoring village halls out of 10 along the way!
Our last visit was to Finzean Hall, and we knew immediately that it was exactly what we had been looking for. It had a large wood-lined hall with tartan curtains and lovely grounds backing onto cornfields with rolling hills on the horizon.
THE DRESS & ACCESSORIES | My dress was a princess-style Ellis design which I wore with a simple two-tier veil; after the ceremony I swapped my veil for a beautiful handmade hairclip which my maid of honour gave me. My shoes were a vintage style from Rachel Simpson – a gift from my parents as I couldn’t have afforded them myself!
I decided to have a second dress (and some flat shoes!) for the evening as Mike and I love to ceilidh and I was worried that my “big dress” would slow me down! I chose a simple cream and gold dress from Swedish designer Maria Westerlind, which turned out to be a great decision: I don’t think Mike and I missed even one dance!
FINDING THE DRESS | I found my dress on a “window-shopping” visit to Perfect Bridal in Aberdeen with my Mum. We hadn’t even set a wedding date yet! I tried on a handful of dresses, and the minute I put it on I knew that I didn’t want to look any further – I felt like the best version of myself.
GROOM’S ATTIRE | Mike wore a kilt in Ancient MacDonald of the Isles tartan, with matching tie and charcoal grey tweed Argyll jacket. He had a thistle buttonhole and granite and silver cufflinks as a nod to his Aberdeen heritage.
THE READINGS & MUSIC | We chose Mike’s Dad to read from Dr Seuss’ Oh the Places You’ll Go during the ceremony, and we chose a Norwegian poem as part of our vows, of which Mike and I read one verse each. We kept the rest of our vows a secret from each other until the day – writing them ourselves made our ceremony very personal to us. At the end of the ceremony, our friend Nienke read a Celtic blessing for us. We added a few traditionally Scottish touches to our ceremony with a Quaich ceremony and a handfastening.
We had a string quartet who played before and after our ceremony; Kirsty walked down the aisle to Pachelbel Canon in D and we left the ceremony together to Elbow’s One Day Like This.
We had an absolutely fantastic ceilidh band for the evening called Clachan Yell. Their sheer energy and enthusiasm made our night, and their mix of traditional Scottish music with a modern twist was perfect for an informal, exuberant and joyous evening of dancing.
BEAUTIFUL BRIDESMAIDS | I had two bridesmaids and a maid of honour, two of which I met whilst at University and one was a friend from secondary school. They were indispensable throughout the planning process!
I gave them all a swatch of Mike’s tartan and asked them to pick any style of dress they liked, as long as the colour tied in with the tartan. They all chose very different dresses and they looked amazing.
We all stayed together in a lovely self-catering cottage for the evening before the wedding, and got ready together with my Mum on the morning of the 25th, including having our hair and makeup done by two wonderful ladies.
My maid of honour was heavily pregnant at the wedding and I can’t believe how much help she still managed to give me and how many celidh dances she managed to finish!
THE FLOWERS | We chose informal, country-kitchen style flowers that didn’t look too “done”. Our colour scheme was blue, green and cream and the flowers were everything we hoped for. Flower Vogue provided four huge baskets of flowers that we had at the entrance to the hall, as well as bouquets for Kirsty and the bridesmaids and flowers to fill our hand-decorated jam jars for the tables. They also made our Mums’ bouquets which were beautiful.
THE CAKE | Kirsty’s Mum made our cake. We had three tiers of lemon cake and the one tier of fruit and marzipan. It was hand-decorated with edible paint by Kirsty’s Dad with English roses (for Kirsty!) and Scottish thistles (for Mike!)
Not only did it look beautiful, but it tasted amazing!
YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER | We chose Matt Penberthy for our photographer after seeing the wedding photos of our friends Jannicke and Luke, who chose Matt to photograph their wedding the year before us. We cannot thank Matt enough for his wonderful style of photography, his happy personality and his ability to capture moments that we didn’t even see on the day. We “met” on Skype twice before the wedding to discuss what we were hoping for, and he met and exceeded every single expectation. From running down the road to capture the last few minutes of sunset to risking his life by hiding under a table to catch a photo of one of the more violent ceilidh dances, every happy moment is now available for us to revisit and smile over.
THE DETAILS & DÉCOR | We wanted an informal style of decoration and as far as possible, we wanted to make the decorations ourselves. We stuck with our blue and jade colour scheme throughout, from the ribbons to the confetti to the chalk boards, which were made by Mike and written out by Kirsty.
We bought lots of ribbon and lace offcuts online, and collected nearly 40 jam jars to decorate and fill with candles or flowers; we also wrapped lots of ribbons around hula hoops to make three chandelier-style hanging garlands.
We made the order-of-service cards and place names ourselves, and Kirsty designed the framed table names with watercolour paints and photos – each table was named after a place in Norway which meant something to us.
We bought an old suitcase from eBay and filled it with photos of our parents and grandparents on their wedding days, which was very special and a great talking point.
As a bit of fun, we added disposable cameras and bubbles on the tables for the guests to enjoy – we got some fantastic photos from the disposables and even Mike’s Grandma enjoyed blowing bubbles!
THE HONEYMOON | We chose Cuba as our honeymoon destination, and we flew out two days after the wedding. We spent two weeks in Varadero, which was a Caribbean paradise and we had a mix of relaxing on the beach with cocktails, snorkelling, visiting Havana and playing a bit of golf.
MEMORABLE MOMENTS | When I arrived at the ceremony in the same vintage Triumph TR7 belonging to Mike that he took me on our first date in, watching the floor fill with all our friends and family for that first ceilidh dance, the best man’s speech which had everyone crying with laughter!
ADVICE FOR OTHER COUPLES | DIY weddings require a lot of planning and many weekends spent in craft shops – however, it is more than worth it to have an incredibly personal day that no one else will ever have!
On the lead up to the day, we were a little worried about the weather, as we had hoped for an outdoor ceremony. On the day, we got sunshine and showers, so decided to have the ceremony inside – and we wouldn’t have changed a thing. All that matters is that your family and friends are by your side as you marry the love of your life.
CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE |
Venue | Finzean Hall
Photographer | Matt Penberthy
Flowers | Flower Vogue
Band | Clachan Yell
Hair | Karen Mullen
Make Up | Leanne Cathcart ([email protected])
Hair Clip | Ivory & Co.
Wedding Dress and Veil | Perfect Bridal
Evening Dress | Maria Westerlind
Shoes | Rachel Simpson
What a joy filled celebration.
Many thanks to Mike and Kirsty for sharing their gorgeous story today xo Lou