Olivia and Jon booked their wedding at one of St Andrews most iconic venues before they’d even got engaged! Their magical big day featured an incredible eight-course meal and well wishes from Fife locals as they wandered around to get photos

Olivia Swales and Jon Roper, now Mr and Mrs Roper 

26th August 2023

Venue | Old Course Hotel, St Andrews
Photography | Duke Photography

"Jon and I’s journey began in St Andrews as students on our first day of university in 2014, when he asked for my number outside Tesco on Market Street. We’d coincidentally picked all the same modules and ended up running into each other nearly every day in class. Our first date was in Pizza Express.

Because we had the best four years in St Andrews at the beginning of our relationship, getting married there was the natural choice for us. We’d had so many happy times as students in the town that we didn’t consider anywhere else.

We actually set our date at the venue, Old Course Hotel, before we even got engaged! I was moving to New York in March 2022 for six months and we knew we wanted to get married the following year. I knew it would be difficult to look at venues while Stateside, so we made a spontaneous trip to St Andrews and booked the five-star golf and spa hotel.

It was difficult to keep such a big secret from friends and family before we got engaged, but it was so worth it. Upon coming home from America in 2022, Jon semi-surprised me by proposing on our balcony surrounded by my favourite things: good wine, lovely steaks and plentiful canapés.

Our biggest ‘issue’ was planning a long-distance wedding. At the time, I was in New York and Jon was in Surrey. We had to be very organised and communicative, especially with the time difference. We were helped enormously by Jess, our wedding coordinator at the Old Course. She did an amazing job of keeping us on track and stress free.

We couldn’t have done it all without the help of my mother, Janice. She is the most organised person I’ve ever met, and I trusted her completely to help us along the way as our chief consultant.

We went to St Andrews the April before the wedding for our menu tasting. We had a fantastic day, and it was great to sit in the venue to try to visualise how it was all coming together.

We went a bit over-the-top with our meal, as we had eight courses with paired wines. We both love our food and the hotel chef did the most incredible job. We tried to include lots of Scottish specialities, like haggis, Aberdeen Angus beef, Scottish cheeses and whisky. We also worked with the chef to create a pre-dessert in homage to our favourite chocolate bar, Snickers.

We had the option to design ‘his and hers’ cocktails for the evening reception. Jon chose passionfruit mojitos and I opted for spicy margaritas.

We tried to use as many local suppliers as possible. We had a beautiful cake from St Andrews-based Sandra’s Cakes, for instance. We had tiers of lemon and blueberry, carrot, and chocolate with salted caramel sponges, all of which were scrumptious.

We had 59 guests. The Old Course Hotel’s Conservatory – which has the most beautiful light, sunny atmosphere and glorious views of the golf courses and town – could seat a maximum number that we needed to work around. All our guests were invited all day, as everyone had to travel quite a distance to be there. We loved having a more intimate wedding and feel it allowed us to speak to each guest on the day.

My main aim with our wedding aesthetic was to be able to look back in 10 years’ time and not cringe at any of my style choices. I wanted something modern, clean, luxurious and timeless with a neutral backdrop so that the beautiful views from the windows could be appreciated. The colour palette was white, sage green and blue.

The night before the wedding, we had an incredible dinner in the boardroom at the hotel with our close family. After dinner, Jon and I went to ‘bury a sausage’ in some bushes (not a euphemism!), as we heard it was a good omen for sunshine on the big day! It certainly worked, as we had the most amazing weather.

The ceremony feels like a dream. I didn’t think it would be such a special moment, but it was the best bit of the whole weekend for me. I felt so connected to Jon and all the guests. I think my favourite moment was hearing Jon’s vows – I just about managed not to cry! We both wrote our own vows, but we kept them a secret from one another as well so that we could really embrace the moment during our ceremony.

The speeches were brilliant and hilarious. We did speeches between the first few courses: my father first, then Jon, Jon’s brother (Chris), and finally my bridesmaids (Ellie and Milly). We started each speech by playing intro music for the speakers. My favourite was Jon’s, as he had ‘Rock DJ’ by Robbie Williams and all our guests were singing parts of it back to him.

Our reception was so much fun! We walked into the ballroom to ‘Levels’ by Avicii and all our guests had glowsticks to wave.

I changed into a short white dress from Self Portrait, which was much easier to dance in.

Our first dance was a semi-choreographed routine to a slow piano version of ‘I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)’ by Sleeping at Last that then merged into an up-tempo live version of the same song by our band, The Motherships. We have the best memories of twirling around with everyone clapping and swaying.

There were too many highlights to count. If I had to pick two, they would be hearing Jon’s three things that he loved most about me and his speech. For Jon, it was having time for just the two of us during our portrait photographs with Duke Photography, especially on the beach in the sunshine, where we could take a moment to reflect on the occasion. Likewise, when we took some photographs while wandering around the town, lots of people clapped and congratulated us, so we really felt the love!

Top tip: “Try not to be disappointed if you don’t get your first-choice vendor, as there are so many amazing ones out there. I would also suggest not focusing too much on wedding trends; stay true to what is personal to you. Also, don’t skimp on things like music that add to the atmosphere.”

Venue Old Course Hotel
Photography Duke Photography
Celebrant Alan Ness, Humanist Society Scotland
Bride’s main dress Stella York from Wedding Frox Surrey
Bride’s evening dress Self Portrait
Bride’s shoes Badgley Mischka
Bride’s jewellery Gifted by the groom, Jon
Bridesmaid dresses Six Stories
Mother-of-the-bride outfit Theory
Hair Linzi Smart Bridal Hair
Makeup Natalie Ryan Makeup
Groomswear Suit from Brooks Brothers; tie from Ferragamo; Dunhill cufflinks
Cake Sandra’s Cakes
Flowers and floral decor Stucio & Waow Florist
Stationery Atelier Rosemood
Piper Max Stewart, Balmoral Piper
Reception band The Motherships
Photobooth Blushbooth

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