A rustic and intimate Christmas wedding in Renfrewshire with the bride wearing her gran’s old Doc Martens

Siobhan Reilly & David Whiteman

17th December 2020

Venue | Bowfield Hotel & Country Club, Renfrewshire
Photography | Francis J. Smith Photography

a bride and groom laughing outside The Hazel Arms pub

“David and I met when I was working in a local bar. He chatted me up every time he was in and initially I wasn’t interested, but I grew to really like him over time. One night he slipped me his number on a beer mat – and the rest is history! We were together about four years before he popped the question.

Our original plan was to get married in Johnstone Town Hall in August 2020. We then postponed until April 2021, but we started to worry that we still wouldn’t be able to have the numbers we wanted by then, so we decided to bring the wedding forward.

Eventually, we rescheduled to 17th December 2020. It was lucky we picked this date before the whole of Scotland went into lockdown on Boxing Day.

As soon as we made up our minds that we were bringing our wedding forward and going ahead with 20 guests, we decided to enquire at the Bowfield Hotel & Country Club in Howwood because we knew it had more of an intimate space. We loved the look of the place, with its beautiful surroundings, old internal stone walls and throne chairs.

David and I like red wine and Beck’s beer, so we decorated the space with bottles with lace, flowers and lights and set them all on logs for a rustic look. We named our tables after places and things that tell the story of our years together: The Hazel Arms (where we met); Sunday Club (breakfast and a few drinks which we used to do with friends); Beck’s (our favourite tipple) and Guitar Hero (which is what we used to do together when we first met).

I had always liked the thought of a small wedding ceremony, but David wanted all of his family there, so originally we had 70 coming to the ceremony (and 150 at night). Covid was a blessing in disguise for me because I ended up getting the small, intimate wedding ceremony I wanted!

We aren’t religious, so we wanted the ceremony to be personal and relaxed. We chose Rachel Middleton of Magical Life Celebrations as our celebrant. She genuinely seems interested in your love story and spends so much time with you prior to the wedding. It’s the best money we spent.

Everyone still talks about how personal the ceremony was to us, and even though it was emotional, it was also fun. Rachel was so accommodating with all the Covid date changes. She helped lower my stress levels!

We performed a handfasting and the material I used was from my late gran’s wedding dress. My mum wrote a hilarious poem which my maid of honour read. Along with that reading, my favourite part of the day was hearing the five things my husband loves about me – this was a nice surprise on the day.

On the day, Bowfield’s staff were lovely and very attentive. Just before the ceremony, my seven-month-old hadn’t had his nap and started screaming, so I was pretty stressed. They took him for a walk in his pram and got him to sleep.

My dress was from a home-run boutique called Gillian’s Bridal. She has a huge selection of dresses at a great price and knows her stuff. I came out of there with everything I thought I hated in a wedding dress: I wanted sleeves – I had none; I wanted A-line – I chose mermaid. Not only was it a bargain, it didn’t need any alterations either! I felt a million dollars in it on the day.

I also ended up wearing a pair of my gran’s Dr Martens for the wedding. I visited my aunt a month before the wedding and noticed she had what looked like a brand-new pair of boots in one corner of the room. She told me they were my late gran’s – she’d had them for 30 years before they were passed on to my aunt. My gran had kept them in great condition so they looked box-fresh! I had planned to wear my own Docs, but in the end my gran’s pair worked as my something old, something new and something borrowed. Best of all, they made it feel like she was there with me.

Restrictions meant that we had to choose between having a photographer and videographer join us, as both would’ve counted as a guests. Ultimately, I wanted to display photos on my wall, so we booked Francis J. Smith. He listened to what we wanted and delivered the relaxed, unposed images we were after.”

Top tip: “I’d recommend pinning down exactly what is included in your venue package before booking, especially if you have shifting Covid guidelines to contend with. Our changing guest-list, caused by coronavirus uncertainty, meant that not everything that was in our original package was included when the wedding came around.”

Celebrant Rachel Middleton, Magical Life Celebrations
Bride’s dress Gillian’s Bridal
Bride’s shoes bride’s gran’s old Doc Martens
Bridesmaids’ dresses Ever-Pretty UK
Flowers an artificial bouquet from Stemz & Gemz
Wedding and engagement rings Le Vian at Ernest Jones

two bridesmaids taking a selfie in front of a christmas treea bride wearing a dressing gown and veil looking at a picturehands holding a 'Wife to Be' wedding cardthe Bowfield Hotel set for a wedding ceremonywedding decor at the Bowfield Hotel and a copy of vowsa bride sitting on a chaise longe at the bowfield hotel wearing black Dr Martens bootsa bride with 5 bridesmaids wearing blue floral embroidered dressesfive men wearing kilts walking outside the Bowfield Hotela bride walking down the aisle at the Bowfield Hotela wedding ceremony of a bride and groom at the Bowfield Hotela bride and groom driking Becks during a wedding ceremony at the Bowfield Hotela bride and groom performing a handfasting during a wedding ceremony at the Bowfield Hotela bride and groom inside and outside the Bowfield Hotela confetti shower of a bride and groom at the Bowfield hotela bride showing off her garter and doc marten boots and laughing while 5 bridesmaids look on and laugha bride, groom and wedding guests posing outside the bowfield hotela bride and groom during a wedding ceremony and outside the Hazel Armsback of a groom and bride wearing a black personalised leather jacketa bride and groom laughing outside the Hazel Armsa bride and groom holding hands walking along a streeta black and white image of a bride and groom standing on a streeta bride holding baby wearing a kilt and groom standing next to a table with a wedding cake