Caitlin and Lewis not only walked each other down the aisle – they brought their cats and dogs along to their laid-back West Lothian wedding

Caitlin MacLeod and Lewis Arbuckle

9th May 2022

Venue | The Barn at Harburn, West Lothian
Photography | Kalisterscope Photography 

“Lewis and I have been together since 2012 when we were 15 years old. We met in high school and moved to Edinburgh together in 2015 to study. We got engaged in 2018 during a trip to Bologna. The proposal was low-key in a small café.

We had originally booked our wedding for 8th August 2020. Our plans were very much affected by the pandemic and even though we moved our wedding date three times, miraculously every single supplier was able to accommodate us!

The Barn at Harburn was the first venue we visited, and we knew at once it was the right place for us. It was a gorgeous sunny day in spring with the gardens in full bloom and the spaces looked glorious. We booked it later that week. Because it was a bare-bones DIY barn, it meant we could go for it with laid-back décor, lots of rustic props and colourful flowers.

Our main mission was to ensure our wedding vibe was relaxed and informal. Lewis and I are not traditionalists in the slightest, so we got rid of a lot of the expected formalities. My dad didn’t walk me down the aisle; Lewis and I walked down together. We didn’t have a sit-down meal; instead, we started the day later and served canapes and a delicious street-food themed buffet by Food Creations.

We didn’t have any speeches either. We just decided not to put that stress on us or anyone else. In my opinion, speeches often feel exactly what they are – rehearsed, forced and a little awkward. If people wanted to share their feelings about us on the day, they found the time to do this later in the evening. I found this a lot more touching and personal than giving people mics to give big grand statements.

We also took each other’s names and made them into a double-barrelled surname (which I think more women should consider as an alternative to giving up their family names). We’re now the Arbuckle-MacLeods!

The only inherited ‘tradition’ was that I wore boots with my wedding dress like my mum did – hers were black with a dark blue dress and mine were white Doc Martens.

The night before our wedding is one of my fondest memories. The bridal party (my three bridesmaids and Lewis’ two groomsmen) were all staying with Lewis and I in the beautiful cottage right next to the Barn. Some family members came over with a Chinese takeaway from town and we all ate together while our cats wandered around the cottage checking it out and occasionally coming over to request cuddles.

Our cats feature in some of our favourite wedding images too. Lewis and I took a breather from the reception to check on our cats. They were hanging out in cottage and our amazing photographer Suzanne at Kalisterscope Photography was there to capture it. The joy radiating from us is so palpable, and I love that we will always have this record of our first pets together on such a special day.

I love that we had our family dogs Wilco and Angus there with us too – especially since Wilco has now passed on. We’ll always have a record of him there to see us get married. They were so well-behaved, and the catering staff adored them!

If I’m being honest, I found our ceremony the most uncomfortable part of the whole day. We were both very nervous about a room full of people watching us and I’m not great with anything that’s too formal or ceremonial.

However, our registrar Linda Cunningham did a wonderful job of summarising our story and making it a light-hearted and fun tribute to us, and we were told afterwards that it was a beautiful ceremony. There’s often an assumption that civil ceremonies are less personal or warm than humanist or religious celebrations, but Linda made sure to ask us lots of questions beforehand to personalise our ceremony and ensure it was a special experience.

My dad is a professional musician and record producer/music engineer. He played us in to the ceremony on his guitar with an instrumental version of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ by Dire Straits. He played us out with ‘Waterloo Sunset’ by the Kinks, and during the signing he played a piece he’d written specially for us.

I really loved making our dessert table and was so proud of how it turned out. I had spent a lot of time curating how I wanted it to look with the help of Pinterest. I felt like asking guests to bake was a great way to involve them in our day and it ended up being a huge hit!

I ordered a whole bunch of succulents and some hessian bags as wedding favours. Guests could take their own plant home and while they looked great laid out at the start of the day, we were left with quite a lot at the end. I’m not sure I’d bother with wedding favours were we to do it all again!"

Top tip: “Give yourself a good amount of time between the engagement and the wedding, to ensure you have mental space and time built in to make decisions without feeling like these are being made under pressure. Take your time and enjoy the process, and it will be really fun!”

Venue The Barn at Harburn, West Lothian
Photography Kalisterscope Photography
Registrar Linda Cunningham, West Lothian Council
Bride’s dresses French Connection and Reiss (evening dress)
Bride’s cape WED2b
Bridesmaid dresses ASOS
Hair Siobhan Grehan
Makeup Dad’s partner, Louise
Bride’s nails Buff Co.
Groomswear Mr James Tailors and Outfitters
Catering Food Creations
Flowers Rose and Ammi
Cake Cuckoo’s Bakery
Venue decor Little Dressing Co
Wedding rings Jewellery by Liam Ross
Reception band Skyrie Ceilidh Band 

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