Donna Nelson and Liam Arbuthnott
19th November 2022
“Liam and I were together for two and a half years before he proposed. While visiting friends in Aberdeen in March 2022, he secretly booked a night at Meldrum House where he popped the question with a bottle of my favourite Champagne.
The first decision we made was the venue. We originally looked at eloping to Slovenia and returning for a larger party, but decided we wanted our nearest and dearest to be there and celebrate with us. Once we viewed Marshall Meadows Manor House, just over the border in Berwick Upon Tweed, we realised that this venue would be the perfect setting our big day. We were blown away by the interiors (it had recently been refurbished giving it a contemporary feel, yet retained its traditional charm) plus many of the suites had hot tubs!
As we are big foodies, the example menus on offer were superb and this was a huge reason we selected here. To balance the silver service wedding breakfast, we had a pizza truck and tower of cheese in the evening. Guests pre-selected their menu, choosing from either arancini, crab cake or parsnip soup to start. Mains were chicken supreme, rack of lamb or sea bass, and a choice of either sticky toffee pudding, pear and apricot crumble or rhubarb creme brûlée. Instead of a traditional cake, we went to our favourite donut shop, Kilted Donut, and selected half a dozen that would make our wedding tower.
We had 70 guests during the day, with a further 40 in the evening (prior to this we also had a small legal ceremony at the Edinburgh City Chambers). On the day itself, we chose a humanist ceremony as we wanted it to be personal to us and celebrant Sarah Hammal captured our sense of humour perfectly. As we had done the legal side of things beforehand, our ceremony was really fun and focused on our story. We loved having our Pup of Honour, Saskia, involved: it was great that the venue let us have her as part of the wedding.
Working in the wedding industry as a make-up artist at Alchemé Beauty, I am surrounded by inspiration. We wanted to incorporate a bohemian feel, with a lot of natural elements and personal touches in keeping with the warm autumnal tones of year. My favourite wedding detail ended up being the beautiful flowers provided by A Curious Arrangement. I had my flower crown dried as a nice keepsake. Due to the short period of time between getting engaged and getting married, I found it difficult to get a dress I liked delivered in time. Luckily, Bijoux Bridal could accommodate the tight turn around and fast tracked the delivery.
Our favours were really personal to us: we both had wedding day fragrances from Le Labo and we gave half our guests mini sets from the brand. The other half received something Liam is very passionate about – chocolate! We got these from our local chocolatier Edwin & Irwyn.
For our drinks reception and meal we had live music by Ginny and The Tonic, and speeches were by my best friend Debbie and Liam’s best men Jonny and Derek. They were beautiful, fun and thoughtful. We sadly lost my papa a few months before the wedding, so during our speeches it was important for us to raise a dram for him. The venue was kind enough to let us share a bottle of whisky that he had been saving for a special occasion with our guests. The evening was soundtracked by Scott McWatt Music for our live music: they kept the informal, lively feel going throughout the evening.
It was important for us to have photographers that knew how to capture candid pictures as neither of us are particularly comfortable with posing for photos, so we chose Chocolate Chip Photography. We loved the atmospheric look of their pictures. On the day Chris and Shazia were fantastic, they were down to earth, relaxed and above all, fun. The helped put us both at ease and caught some truly fantastic off the cuff shots.
Since planning my own wedding (with a new heightened empathy for couples!), I’ve implemented small changes in my business to ensure every bride feels as special as I did on such a memorable day. Take in every moment of your wedding, it goes by so quickly. We wanted a relaxed, fun atmosphere and I think we hit the nail on the head.
Top tip: “Choose suppliers whose work you love and whose style compliments yours. Trust your suppliers, they are experts at what they do. Also, you don’t need to splurge to have the most amazing day.”
Wedding Dress Stella York gown from Bijoux Bridal
Shoes and accessories Just-ene Shoes
Bridesmaids dresses “I gave them free reign but asked if they could choose autumnal tones. Two picked Baltic Born gowns and the other chose an ASOS number.”
Groomswear Gordon Nicolson Kiltmakers
Celebrant Sarah Hammel
Cake Kilted Donut
Menu/Catering in house at Marshall Meadow
Flowers A Curious Arrangement
Stationery Artisan Wedding House and menus printed by bride’s friend Laura at Ivory Tower Wedding and Events
Favours Le Labo and Chocolatiers Edward & Erwyn
Venue décor Artisan Wedding House and pampas arch from Low Fell Hire Company
Ceremony music Provided by the venue
Drinks reception music Ginny and The Tonic
Reception music Scott McWatt Music and band
Filmmaker couple’s friend Stephan McDonald
Hair and makeup Aimi Clarke Hair and Heather Niblo Makeup Artist. “We provided the guests with a hair and makeup team as well, thanks to my colleagues Jay Mcloughlan, Victoria Giannelli and Emma Fraser,” says Donna.
First dance Tennessee Whiskey by Chris Stapleton