Melissa Wood & Michael Forrest
3rd July 2021
Venue | Netherdale House, Aberdeenshire
Photography | Lee Fletcher Photography
“I was almost literally on cloud nine when we got engaged. We were on holiday in Arizona, enjoying an early morning hot-air balloon tour. At 5,600ft in the air, Michael popped the question!
We knew as soon as we pulled up in front of Netherdale House that we’d found our venue. By the time we’d actually looked around the house and the grounds, we were completely smitten. It ticked all of our boxes: a gorgeous Georgian house nestled on the banks of the River Deveron, with accommodation for our loved ones. We couldn’t believe our luck that this little gem was right on our doorstep.
For the big day, we wanted to create an atmosphere that everyone would feel comfortable in. Netherdale House lends itself well to this, as on one side you have a grand country estate, and a fun converted barn on the other. Plus, getting married here meant that we could have our ceremony and reception in the same place all day.
Covid forced us to make a couple of difficult decisions. My sister, also one of my bridesmaids, stays in Canada, so neither her nor her family were able to travel over. We also couldn’t take out wedding insurance, so any suppliers we booked we just had to trust. And, the night before the wedding, our top table had to be split in two to accommodate for the rules.
Both of us are quite crafty, so we took on most of the details ourselves. I assumed charge of the invitations, place names, menus, napkins, decorations, confetti, table and venue decor and signage. Michael cut all the place-name holders by hand from logs. We wanted to try and save money where we could, and we enjoyed doing these things together.
Our cake was pretty spectacular. My boss – Phillip Skinazi, the executive pastry chef at The Gleneagles Hotel – made it for us. I will be forever grateful for the time and effort he put into making it so special. I gave him a sketch along with a moodboard of the kind of cake/vision I was looking for and he brought it to life.
We only managed to get to one wedding fair, which is where we met our photographer, Lee Fletcher. There were a few others who were all quite pushy, but Lee was different. His effortless charm and kind nature won us over. We wanted someone we felt comfortable around, and who would encourage us to be ourselves. Lee was the right mix of professional, fun, kind and considerate, and he captured our day perfectly.
While planning our wedding, I wrote checklists upon checklists. This helped to break everything down to make it easier to digest, but it also gave us a sense of achievement every time we were able to score something off.
We made spreadsheets for all the supplier costs and payment details, as well as the guests’ information (RSVPs, dietary requirements, gifts, etc). It’s best to be as organised as you can when wedding planning – I firmly believe it is the key to a successful celebration!
We loved working with our caterer, Fusion Hog Roast. Our initial plan was to have sharing platters for each table, but this wasn’t allowed owing to Covid restrictions. However, Fusion and the venue collaborated to provide something we were all happy with.
Neither of us are religious, but my best friend’s mum, Rev. Shuna Dicks, is the minister of Cults Parish Church. I’ve known her since I was 12, and I wouldn’t have had anyone else marry us. She made a pretty daunting task easy to understand: our ceremony was relatable and effortlessly romantic. It helped calm the nerves knowing there was a friendly face there to guide us.
The butterflies began as soon as I started to walk down the stairs ahead of the ceremony. I managed to hold it together until I got outside – but the second Michael and I locked eyes, we both cried.
I couldn’t even look at anyone else as I was walking down the aisle; it was so overwhelming and I just wanted to get to the end. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house. It was intimate and emotional and – after a year of the unknown – everyone was just so happy to witness love happening again.
The thing that surprised us the most about getting married was how little everything changed. We’re still just Michael and Melissa. It’s true what everyone says, though: the day whizzes by fast, so take in every moment and enjoy 10 minutes out to reflect together.”
Top tip: “Make sure you’re up to speed with your local authority’s marriage licence procedure – you don’t want to get caught short of time. You can’t get married without it and it’s not really mentioned on any of the checklists you get online or in any planning books! Oh, and get a videographer – it’s my one big regret.”
Bride’s dress Essense of Australia at Angharad Bridal
Dress alterations Laura Masson Dressmaker
Bridesmaids’ dresses Chi Chi London
Mother-of-the-bride dress Bombshell London
Groomswear Soy Kilts and Haddo Highland Wear
Wedding rings Ian Gallagher
Catering Fusion Hog Roast
Wedding band The Franchise
Venue decor illumin8 and Rustic Look Aberdeen
Makeup Julia Stronach
Hair Meraki Salon