Outdoor Edinburgh botanic garden wedding of two school sweethearts

Catherine Varnell & Aitken Ross

20th September 2019

Venue | Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
Photography | Alastair Burn-Murdoch Photography

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“We got engaged at one of our favourite locations: the Coral Beach on Skye. We might also have considered somewhere on the island to host the wedding, but it ultimately wasn’t that easy for our friends and family to get there.

We found our ‘escape from the city’ setting at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. When you’re surrounded by the impressive old redwood trees in the John Muir Grove, it’s hard to believe that you’re in the heart of the capital; there was no better spot for our humanist ceremony. Many guests were amazed at us managing an outdoor ceremony in Scotland in September – but we can’t take the credit for that!

Celebrant Fiona Flanagan made us feel comfortable from the moment we met her. She managed to take our ramblings about the story of our relationship and weave them into a wonderful ceremony. We’ve been together since sixth form in school, so there was a lot of ground to cover!

My mum gave me away. It was a special moment that I’ll treasure forever. Her speech at the reception brought me to tears, along with many of our guests.

The ritual of passing the quaich was important to us. It signified not just the two of us joining in marriage, but our families coming together as well. We got it engraved and now have it as a lovely keepsake.

I knew I wanted to wear a dress with lace sleeves. I was thrilled when I found exactly what I had in mind at Kudos Bridal Boutique in Edinburgh. While there, we also discovered dreamy woodland-inspired bridesmaid dresses that were just made for the botanical garden backdrop.

A live band was a must-have for us. Little Red Wedding Band came highly recommended by a musical friend. She was spot on: they were brilliant and kept everyone boogying all night long. 

After 15 years together, we were taken aback at just how special it felt to call each other husband and wife…and how humbling it was to take a moment away from the room to realise that everyone was in attendance for us!”

Top tip: “We found planning overwhelming initially, but thankfully my mum had words of wisdom to share: it was just as useful to know what we didn’t like or want. That approach really helped us narrow things down.”

Celebrant Fiona Flanagan, Independent Humanist Ceremonies
Bride’s and bridesmaids’ dresses Kudos Bridal Boutiques
Cake Liggy’s Cake Company
Flowers Roseparks
Venue decor Make Believe Events
Stationery Gemma Kimberley Art
Reception music Little Red Wedding Band
Hair and makeup MacGregor Hairdressing and Beauty
Transport Lothian Classic Wedding Cars

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