The coronavirus pandemic forced Karen and Grant to postpone, then downsize, their small but chic wedding at Norton House Hotel

Karen Graham & Grant Spence

10th October 2020

Venue | Norton House Hotel, near Edinburgh
Photography | Iris Art Photography

“Grant and I were together for 13 years prior to his proposal – which, believe it or not, happened at our kitchen table!

We originally set the date as 25th April 2020, six months after we got engaged. However, lockdown forced us to postpone until October. Because restrictions were still in place, we had to reduce our guest list, wear masks and observe social distancing.

After visiting several venues, our clear favourite was Norton House Hotel. Its luxurious, relaxed feel and beautiful garden really sold it to us. It turned out to be a great choice in the current circumstances thanks to its superb staff.

Changes in legislation meant that we didn’t have the go-ahead for our wedding until just two days before – at which point conference and banqueting manager Gavin Bews and his team pulled out all the stops and made sure our day was as near perfect as it could be.

We had initially invited around 30 guests, but cut this to just 13. We had always wanted a small wedding with close family and friends anyway. We decided to marry later in the afternoon and have a long, leisurely meal afterwards. It was relaxed and informal – the only real change was that it was even more intimate than planned.

I realised a week before the wedding that I had not confirmed our new date with florist Snapdragon Edinburgh. I was resigned to getting married holding supermarket flowers. Fortunately, Snapdragon had kept the date pencilled in their diary and were able to provide all our flowers just as we had planned – and they were beautiful!

We opted for a humanist ceremony conducted by Marilyn Jackson from the Humanist Society Scotland. We lit candles for absent friends and family and chose vows which reflect our expectations and hopes for our marriage. Our celebrant also read our story, which heavily featured our children and families. We left the service to the sound of At Last by Etta James which, after 13 years together and a postponement, raised a few laughs.

We were keen to ditch traditional speeches, although Grant said a brief few words before dinner. His son also gave a witty, but very poignant, speech later in the evening too.

We are both camera shy, but Justina at Iris Art Photography made us feel comfortable – so much so, we actually found ourselves enjoying our photo shoot. Justina’s informal, documentary approach appealed to us, as did her use of the venue’s environment.”

Top tip: “My advice to other couples planning would be: trust your instincts. Be clear in your mind as to how you want your day to look and feel, and don’t be swayed by anyone telling you what you ‘ought’ to do. If the coronavirus situation doesn’t improve and you find yourself having to scale back, don’t be disappointed – small can indeed be beautiful.”

Venue Norton House Hotel, near Edinburgh
Photography Iris Art Photography
Celebrant Marylin Jackson, Humanist Society Scotland
Bride’s dress Lauren Ralph Lauren
Groomswear Walker Slater
Flowers Snapdragon Edinburgh
Cake Cuckoo’s Bakery
Stationery Peace, Love and Marshmallows
Favours tablet and fudge made by niece, Megan
Hair and makeup Karen’s stepdaughter, Gemma

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