Eilidh Syme and Alex Barnwell
15th October 2022
A virtual tour during lockdown impressed Eilidh Syme and Alex Barnwell enough to put Wedderburn Castle and Barns at the top of their venue shortlist. Once they had the chance to visit the stunning Borders property in person, they immediately booked it for their wedding on 15th October last year, as Amy Shearer discovers
Finding the middle ground in any relationship is crucial. From the insignificant (agreeing what to have for dinner) to the major (where to go on a holiday that allows you to relax by the pool but also see the sights), compromise is what keeps the wheels turning. Eilidh and Alex quite literally met in the middle when deciding on a venue for their wedding: marrying in the Scottish Borders seemed the perfect happy medium, as the bride’s family hail from Scotland and the groom’s are from England.
“We got engaged on 17th October 2020, which was the first day of the second spell of lockdown. That meant the initial stages of our wedding planning had to be done virtually and we couldn’t actually visit any venues in person,” recalls Eilidh. “We stalked Instagram and were sent videos from various places, and then at the first opportunity went to see Wedderburn Castle and Barns. We didn’t have to visit anywhere else after that!”
She and Alex had originally intended to marry outdoors in Wedderburn’s beautiful courtyard and then dance the night away in the atmospheric converted barns – but then someone made them an offer they couldn’t refuse…
“I remember turning into the grounds and down the drive thinking ‘wow’ – and then I saw the castle,” recalls the bride. “It’s grand yet modest, and elegant yet historic. We went straight to the barns – that’s the wedding venue we were there to see, after all. However, Cat Macdonald-Home also showed us round the castle – which is even more enchanting once you see it up close – and when she offered to let us host our drinks reception there, we almost bit her hand off!”
The couple invited 90 people to join them (with a further 20 guests for the evening), hailing from New York, Dubai and across the UK, so the venue’s proximity to the station at Berwick-upon-Tweed, on the main line between Edinburgh and London, was another factor in its favour.
Sustainability was key for the couple, with many elements becoming a real DIY effort. “We made all our own floral arrangements using dried flowers, and I also designed all our stationery,” says the bride. “Alex’s dad made us the arch we got married in front of and the signs for around the venue. And most of the decorations were borrowed, sourced from nature or second-hand.”
“The staff were brilliant and very relaxed throughout the planning and on the day,” commends Eilidh. “They’d thought of things we hadn’t, and asked all the right questions at the right time, and we felt that nothing was too much for them. They booked all the on-site cottages for us, which was one less admin task for us to do. They also liaised with our suppliers, so once we’d chosen them and our package (the Clydesdale), they did the rest.”
The main standout was the joy of seeing all their special people in the same room (“It still gives us butterflies!”), but another highlight of the day was a certain snack…
“We didn’t want anyone to feel hungry, so we bought hundreds of packets of crisps, put them in a huge basket and invited everyone to help themselves. It was a hit – you’ve no idea how many people still mention it to us!”