Emman Raja & Sabeeh Siddiqi
29th August 2022
“Sabeeh and I got engaged in October 2021. I was visiting him in Washington D.C. for a few weeks after not seeing each other for over a year due to Covid travel restrictions. On the very last day of our holiday, we went on a nighttime walk around an incredibly quiet city centre, and eventually reached the Lincoln Memorial. He dropped down on one knee and before he even asked the question, I was already shouting ‘yes’!
Our first decision was the venue. Although I already had general ideas about details like the cake and dress, I felt like I really couldn’t think about anything else until we had settled on a venue (since this would also inform our guest list). My mum was incredibly helpful here and as soon as I was back in Scotland, we were visiting venues in and around Edinburgh.
I grew up in Livingston and I really wanted to blend my Scottish roots with our Pakistani heritage. Sabeeh’s family is all from the USA and Canada, so they were very excited to visit Scotland and experience a (semi) traditional Scottish wedding. We decided to have a Mendhi (a pre-wedding celebration which is an extremely colourful and lively event with lots of dancing) and a reception day (where we had our religious ceremony). We had 140 guests in total.
We chose the Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh – The Caledonian for our Mendhi and definitely lucked out with dates. We managed to secure Saturday 27th August – just two days before our reception. The hotel had never hosted a Mendhi before, but the team was very accommodating and we collaborated with the chefs to create a Pakistani-style buffet menu.
We chose Barnbougle Castle for our wedding reception day. Driving through the Rosebery Estate and suddenly seeing the castle on the edge of the Firth of Forth was breathtaking. There was something so timeless and elegant about the venue; the Lord and Lady of the estate wanted to preserve the castle’s history, and had kept a lot of the original architecture and furniture in place. We were impressed with the wedding team and knew we were in trusted hands.
To gather inspiration, I looked at previous weddings that had taken place at Barnbougle. (Tip: look at your venue’s tagged pictures on Instagram, as this will show you a selection of other weddings at the same location.)
We were in a unique situation as we were blending Scottish and Pakistani weddings. This was really exciting because it gave us artistic freedom to bring together themes and ideas from both traditions without feeling like we were compromising on anything. For example, we had bagpipers and dhol drummers from Unison Entertainment to welcome our guests to the venue, and we booked a Lincoln Capri, Sabeeh’s favourite car and a nod to his American roots.
We were very lucky that Barnbougle Castle works with such well-established and talented vendors, such as Blue Sky Photography. They had worked on the estate before and knew all the best spots for photos. We were impressed by Niels and Alie’s portfolio (especially their beach shots) and upon meeting them we knew they would make a special addition to our day.
My favourite detail from the day was our table names. Each one was named after a city that meant something to us. For example, we had a ‘Philadelphia’ table, with a note on the menus saying ‘Where we met’, and a ‘New York’ table with a note saying ‘Where our future starts’. They were such cute details.
The most surprising thing about our wedding? I thought the ceremony would be quite serious, but we actually had laughs all the way through! It was such a lovely experience.”
Top tip: “Personally, I found I got decision fatigue: so much choice can be overwhelming! I was constantly questioning if there was more I could be doing to make the wedding perfect. I found bouncing ideas around with Sabeeh, my mum and my best friends helped me whittle down choices. Lists of pros and cons are also a must.”
Reception venue Barnbougle Castle
Mendhi venue Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh – The Caledonian
Photography Blue Sky Photography
Bride’s dress and mother-of-the-bride outfit Tena Durrani
Bridesmaid dresses Anthropologie
Catering Wilde Thyme
Cake Ruby and Pearl Cake Art
Flowers and venue decor Birch and Bloom
Favours Tablet and chocolate hearts from The Olive Tree Deli
Stationery 2flux Stationery Studio
Entertainment Unison Entertainment
Photobooth Blur Productions
Transport Edinburgh Classic Wedding Cars