Brides Fiona and Sophie asked their beloved guests to pitch up and pitch in at their colourful DIY marquee wedding on a windswept East Lothian beach. Their efforts and contributions made it the most joyous of days – "a big love bomb" as the brides say!

Fiona Bruce and Sophie Benson, now the Bruces

22nd April 2023 

Venue | Harvest Moon Holidays, East Lothian
Photography | Lauren Stirling Photography   

"Sophie and I both proposed to each other separately. I popped the question first on a campervan trip to the Hebrides in August 2021 over homemade strawberry gin and scallops from the Oyster Shed in Skye, then Sophie followed suit in December 2021.

She filled a flask with mulled wine and we went up Blackford Hill in Edinburgh. It was very windy but beautiful – just like our wedding day, as chance would have it! 

From the outset, we knew we wanted to throw a big party and preferably get married outside. We also wanted to make a full weekend of it if we could. Harvest Moon Holidays, on the coast in between Dunbar and North Berwick, offers self-catered accommodation by the beach in treehouses, cabins and a pretty cottage.

It meant that 90 of our 105 guests could stay on site with us. We could pitch a marquee, do BYOB and have a chilled affair, so we booked the place out over the weekend of 21st-23rd April. 

We rented our marquee from Queensberry Event Hire. They also provided the lighting and furniture. Aside from that, it was a case of our amazing friends and family pitching in to help.

We think that’s what made our day feel like a gorgeous big love bomb!

My dad built the arbour we got married under; our friend Millie did our flowers; another friend Kay baked our cakes (lemon drizzle, carrot and coffee and walnut); our mate Fergus did the canapés, and my mum and her friends planted flowers that we could use.  

Our main problem was the weather. The Friday was lovely and sunny – ideal for our barbecue and pre-wedding games – but the wind was crazy on the day of the actual wedding, so we had to ditch getting married outside. It was a case of all hands on deck get the marquee set up for ceremony and to eat in afterwards, but our gorgeous friends made it happen.  

The generator used to heat the marquee ran out of fuel during the day. My dad was behind the scenes at many points of the event, holding everything together, so he managed to sneak away and pay a local farmer for more fuel. All my family in Edinburgh helped us loads with logistics (we live in Bristol). 

We barely had any sleep the night before the wedding. We hadn’t had time to light the fire in our cabin, so it was quite chilly, and Sophie was worried the building wind would blow the marquee away! 

We organised a swim in the sea the morning of the wedding. Surprisingly about 40 of our friends joined in, so we all ran down the beach in ridiculous winds and jumped into the sea! It was an unforgettable, if somewhat bracing, highlight of the day. 

We were both pretty nervous before the wedding. My friend Emily was doing my makeup and was very good at stopping me tear up, while Sophie recalls her bridesmaids being so supportive and keeping her topped up with pre-wedding bubbles.

Our friends Matt and Rob then piped Sophie and I down the aisle, each on the arms of our dads (one of the few traditions we stuck to); I chose ‘Wild Mountain Thyme’ and Sophie ‘The Skye Boat Song’. 

Our celebrant, Katie Brown from Agnostic Scotland, spoke brilliantly during our amazing ceremony and made us feel at ease during our vows. Sophie has become obsessed with whisky since joining a Scottish family, so we served Laphroaig in our quaich. Our favourite moment was coming back up the aisle together. 

After the ceremony, the incredible canapés made by our mate Fergus were quickly demolished by the guests. In fact, we were so busy hugging everyone that we didn’t even get to try them! We didn’t want a traditional three-course meal, so booked the services of the Edinburgh-based Paella Chef. It was fantastic and went well alongside our homemade focaccia and salad.  

Our planned first dance was Taylor Swift’s ‘Lover’, but we ended up having an impromptu dance after cutting our cake. Sophie put on some Shania Twain and within a minute, every guest was on their feet dancing.

We danced through quite a few Shania songs before the speeches. The speeches were outstanding. I kicked things off, but I can’t remember a word of what I said due to nerves. My mum and bridesmaids also spoke, as did Sophie’s dad and sister. We laughed a lot and cried a little bit too! 

Photographer Lauren Stirling was on hand to capture it all. We booked a second shooter (Sinead) via Lauren too, as we didn’t want to miss any of the candid moments. They both put us at ease and it felt like they were our friends from the moment we met them.

Lauren nailed capturing all the joy of the day perfectly, while at the same time rallying us all out into the cold to get pictures with our nearest and dearest. We particularly treasure the incredible windswept photos of the two of us on the beach.

Top tip: “Getting married will probably cost more than you’re expecting, but there are so many easy ways to cut costs,” says Fiona. “Think about what’s most important to you as a couple and budget accordingly. Our main aim was getting all our loved ones together for joy, dancing and a good time, so that’s what we paid most attention to achieving.” 

Venue Harvest Moon Holidays
Marquee, lighting and furniture hire Queensberry Event Hire
Photography Lauren Stirling Photography 
Celebrant Katie Brown, Agnostic Scotland 
Sophie’s dress Catherine Deane 
Fiona’s dress E&W Couture 
Wedding rings The Occasional Goldsmith (Bristol), Svendsen Jewellery (Cornwall)
Bridesmaid/groomsmaid attire “We gave them a colour scheme and they picked their own”
Hair and makeup Brides did their own 
Cake Made by friend Kay   
Catering Paella Chef Edinburgh, with canapés made by chef friend Fergus Whatley 
Flowers Florist friend Millie May 
Table decor Fiona’s cousin Becca 
Ceremony music Pipers Matt and Robb
Reception band The Jordan Murray Band

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