This couple were the first to tie the knot in the swanky Edinburgh establishment and the day was full of good food, laughter and saying ‘I do’ in a former church

Erin Henderson and James Sutherland

1st April 2023

Venue | Virgin Hotels Edinburgh
Photography | Natalie Holt Photography

Trust. It’s a little word just five letters long. But its meaning has enormous magnitude. It’s something you need when you send your pal to the bar for a ‘surprise’ drink. It’s essential when making a life-changing decision. You can’t do without it when you ask your hairdresser for a big change. And, in Erin and James’s case, it’s absolutely vital when you have a wedding venue to book.

“We had narrowed down our shortlist to three or four options,” recalls the bride. “James and I wanted to get married within a year, so availability was crucial; we ended up not viewing the others because they didn’t have any dates that suited us. So, after visiting Virgin Hotels Edinburgh and seeing its potential, we just went for it. It was still a building site at this point, which tells you how laid-back we were about it all!”

The couple were the newly opened hotel’s very first wedding – something that really appealed to Erin and James. “A big part of our decision was that no one we knew had married there – or even knew anything about the venue, full stop. It wasn’t finished and hadn’t been advertised at that stage, so we were lucky.”

Its central position in the capital ticked other boxes too. “We didn’t want to have to organise transport here and there,” says the bride. “It made sense to keep everything within one venue or nearby if we could.”

Around 80 guests – from London, Belfast, Paris, Cornwall, Aberdeen and from “the depths of the New Town” – joined the couple’s “super-relaxed and fun” celebrations. They had opted for Virgin’s all-inclusive package – room hire, tables, chairs, a red carpet, menus, placecards, seating plan, bubbles for the drinks reception and toasts, a half bottle of wine per person, a three-course meal and tea and coffee.

The hotel also supplied a Master of Ceremonies, the bridal suite on the night of the wedding, a cake stand and knife, PA system with microphone for the speeches, menu tasting and special accommodation rate for other guests.

In addition to the all-inclusive package, support from hotel wedding coordinator Jo was vital in bringing their day to life: “Jo was wonderful,” smiles Erin. “In fact, the whole team never said no. James and I are very laid-back so we didn’t ask for much, but anything we did request, they didn’t hesitate to help with.”

The couple loved everything about their day, but say the best moment was exchanging vows and rings at their ceremony in the hotel’s magnificent events space that’s set in a former church, Greyfriars Hall, led by humanist Karen Dickson. “I’ll never forget hearing the string trio start playing as I walked into the kirk!”

Once everyone had enjoyed a delicious meal (langoustine tartare, coq au vin and a dark chocolate cremeux), it was time to dance: covers duo Bleeker facilitated Scottish country dancing before performing their own set for the rest of the evening.

“We let off confetti cannons during the second dance with everyone on the dancefloor which was fun,” laughs Erin. “And we picked two people per table to be ‘wellbeing managers’ with a kitty for the bar to make sure everyone had a drink, and appointed an ‘unofficial’ photographer – with a disposable camera to catch more fun photos.

“It was all a bit of a blur, but it was a brilliant day!”

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