There was a big surprise in store for guests at a family farm in the Borders when wedding stylist and florist Emma Mallen married Ross Gordon there on 25th August last year.

Emma Mallen and Ross Gordon

25th August 2023

Venue | Hawkslee Farm, the bride’s family’s farm
Photography | Mad House Weddings

Emma and Ross got engaged in Florence and briefly contemplated getting married in Italy as they love the country so much. But they quickly decided that it was more important that their elderly family members could easily attend the wedding. “Within 24 hours of getting engaged, we’d made the decision to hold everything on my family farm, near Melrose, and I’d even phoned to book my favourite photographer and mate, Samantha at Mad House Weddings,” recalls Emma, a wedding stylist, coordinator, prop hire specialist and florist who works under the name Duchess Seerra.

It was full steam ahead until some unexpected family news hit their plans. “My grandfather was diagnosed with cancer, so we decided to bring our ceremony forward by five weeks – but do it in secret,” says Emma.

So, on 13th July, she and Ross exchanged vows beside a honeysuckle bush in the farm’s walled garden, with the bride’s celebrant friend Oskar Gilchrist Grodnicki officiating. “We kept it under wraps that we’d already gotten married, right up until the day of our ‘wedding’. The only people who knew were the six guests who’d been in attendance. Even our siblings and my bridesmaids didn’t know until we dropped the bombshell on the morning of 25th August!”

Emma’s forte is using her awesome array of props, floral skills and artistic eye to bring personality and flair to ceremony and reception spaces. It was only to be expected that excited guests started wondering what visual extravaganza she might have in store for her own big day. “I really began to feel the pressure of everyone saying to me that they couldn’t wait to see how our wedding was going to look,” she recalls.

“I had a clear vision in my head which, believe it or not, involved keeping the aesthetic relatively simple; I really wanted to let the beauty of the backdrop sing and to bring the lush greenery of the landscape to the fore. We had an outdoor ceremony, so I contrasted the greenery of the farm setting with oxblood and red tones. I couldn’t not have some disco balls too – they are just so me!”

Emma tapped into her own treasure trove of furniture and props to style up the areas of the farm used for the wedding, and created a flower bomb for behind the top table, but elected to outsource the rest of the bold and colourful floral work to Phoenix Rose Florals.

She also eased the pressure on herself by employing the services of an on-the-day coordinator to keep everything ticking along smoothly. “My friend Louise Donald usually works for Gloam. She was a total star running the day and dealing with any issues that cropped up, such as moving the drinks reception inside when the rain started,” says Emma. “It was joyous looking around seeing faces that I know and love from working in the industry helping make my own wedding amazing.”

Oh, and did we mention that it wasn’t just a wedding day that Emma was planning? “It was a three-day event,” she laughs. “We threw a ‘Kiss Goodbye to the Miss’ party for 50 people in a steading building on the Thursday evening; the main wedding ceremony and marquee reception for 150 was on the Friday; then we had ‘FarmFest’ the day after the wedding for 100 guests. Our amazing stationer and graphic designer Love, Beth made us logos for each of the events that we used on our invites.

“There were so many moving parts to deal with and unforeseen stresses like flattening the field before the marquee was installed. It was full on, especially as I was juggling my own plans with my clients’ weddings. My only slight regret was not taking more time off around the wedding – I only took three days!

“I feel I’ve gained so much valuable insight from planning my own wedding. Now I’ve been on the same journey as my couples, I can fully empathise with them, and it has enriched the advice I can offer.”

Emma’s insider tip: “Get wine – a ton of it! – to soften any ‘tough’ conversations you and your partner may need to have about money, bills and table planning,” urges Emma. “If you’re having a marquee wedding like ours, don’t skimp on toilets either. We got double the number we needed and even had proper freshwater flushing loos so that it was a nicer experience for our guests.”

Decor, styling and top table flower bomb Duchess Seerra
On-the-day coordination Louise Donald, Gloam
Venue Hawkslee Farm, the bride’s family’s farm
Photography Mad House Weddings
Filmmaker We Are One Wedding Films (see below)
Marquee Olympus Marquees
Toilets Classic Chambers
Celebrant for legal ceremony Oskar Gilchrist-Grodnicki
Non-legal celebrant for wedding Steve Lyons, the groom’s best friend
Bride’s dress Suzanne Neville from Rachel Scott Couture
Bridesmaid outfits Phase Eight jumpsuits with Zara blazers
Mother-of-the-bride outfiFrox of Falkirk
Makeup Nikki Marshall Makeup
Hair Jocelyn Dickson
Groomswear Senszio
Engagement ring and groom’s wedding ring Laings
Bride’s wedding ring Hamilton and Inches
Catering Jo’s Kitchen (wedding day); Fred’s Backyard Barbecue (day after); The Penny Bun (night before and evening reception)
Wine Majestic Wine
Bar service Syrup Bar London
Stationery Love, Beth
Flowers Phoenix Rose Florals
Favours Red and black love heart sunglasses from Amazon
Chair hire All Wrapped Up Scotland
Ceremony music The Wedding String Quartet
Wedding band Hot-Date
DJ Dan Morgan of DanZ Agenda
Video booth M.arté Studios

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