Elina Zalkalne & Kevin Smith
9th April 2022
“Kevin and I got engaged on 1st August 2020 at the top of Schiehallion in Pitlochry, after an incredible hike, on the most beautiful summery day.
My wedding dress was an online impulse buy from ASOS a few days after our engagement. I wanted a dreamy, floral gown that wasn’t a ‘standard’ white dress. I later found bridesmaids’ dresses on their site that complemented its style. I finished my look with elegant pearl jewellery from LHG Designs that matched my headpiece.
Our wedding venue must-haves? We wanted somewhere we could host everything under one roof in Aberdeen city centre that was close to other hotels. We had many international guests among the 60 joining us for our big day, so we wanted to avoid them shuttling around the city. We knew we were going to be in safe hands as soon as we visited Palm Court Hotel. We’d heard how experienced they were with weddings.
Even though we got engaged in between the two lockdowns, Covid didn’t cast too much of a shadow over our wedding plans. We hoped to set a date far enough in the future to miss any lockdowns or restrictions. We got really lucky, as the final restrictions were lifted just a few days before our wedding.
We wanted a laid-back, rustic, elegant wedding and focused on florals, wooden features and fairylights to create that vibe. We DIY-ed much of our decor and finishing touches ourselves, including hand-punched paper-heart confetti, hand-painted signs, an upcycled picnic-hamper card box, the ceremony arch decorations and more.
Materials were slowly bought, created, painted and painstakingly crafted – but with infinite joy throughout the process! Having said that, we would not have been able to pull any of it off without the generous help from our family and friends, and the Palm Court Hotel on the day for pulling everything together seamlessly.
Our centrepieces were beautiful handmade wooden constructions that were made by the father of another bride, who passed them onto us for a bargain price. Facebook Marketplace was our friend for this and the other decorations we didn’t DIY.
We even made our own wedding rings. I inherited a gold coin from the 1800s from my family that we melted down and used to forge our bands at jewellery maker Megan Falconer’s workshop in Aberdeen.
One of our favourite details was the little statuette of our dog Toby for our cake. My Mum (an artist) made it for us. He couldn’t be with us to share the big day, but it was lovely having a little version of him munching away at the cake, just as he might have been in reality. We also treasure heartfelt letters we wrote to each other and exchanged on the day, as well as little wooden hearts that our guests wrote messages on.
Our photographer Samantha Clyne was our star supplier. We wanted someone to capture the natural moments – lots of candid shots without much posing or fussing. Samantha had previously worked with Kevin, so we were familiar with her inimitable, incredible style already. Samantha has a knack of taking unobtrusive, intimate shots and she delivered a gallery full of happy, heartfelt and meaningful images.
Our celebrant was Eddie Kennedy from Humanist Society Scotland. We feel humanism ties in well with our values of appreciating life and living it compassionately, respecting the planet and one another. Our guests all commented on the ceremony afterwards and how personal and inspirational it was.
The advice we would we give to other brides/grooms-to-be? Remember to catch your breath during the planning process and don’t stress out about the details. Nobody but yourselves will know what the ‘imagined version’ of the wedding looks like in your heads. After all, the guests are just happy to be there to share your day.”
Top tip: “Google Spreadsheets made a big difference, especially as our budget was under £10,000. That way, we always knew what was getting done (or needed to be done) and who was assigned to which task. We worked as a team, dividing everything up and had frequent check-ins to make sure we were staying on track.”
Celebrant Eddie Kennedy, Humanist Society ScotlandMonsoonHair Lesley Heron at Hair by Lesley Makeup Rachel Lawrence at 34 BeautyGroomswear Mains Highlandwear
Wedding rings Made at a workshop with Megan Falconer Cake Dream Cakes AberdeenFlowers Hobbycraft; The Range Stationery Aarlotte Designs on Etsy Favours Wildflower seeds from Wedding in a Teacup Venue decor All DIY Ceremony music Touch of Class DJ ServicesWedding film Serene Films