Fraser McQueen & Jessica Dalby
2nd September 2021
“Jess and I met while studying at Napier University. We got engaged at Castle Stalker in the Highlands on New Year’s Eve 2019 after seven years together – which was ‘bloody ages’ to wait according to Jess!
We originally had our heart set on a barn-style venue. However, after visiting Balbirnie House, we were impressed with the service and the ability to put our own stamp on the place. We appreciated that it offered impressive indoor and outdoor spaces (we ideally wanted to get married outside) for both ceremony and reception.
The date was set for September 2020. Of course, we then had to postpone for a year and rearrange all our big-ticket items – i.e. secure dates with the venue, humanist, band etc. all over again! We left it quite last-minute to book some of our suppliers. We still managed to find people who were outstanding at what they do, so it wasn’t a problem.
Our aim was to create a simple but elegant wedding aesthetic. One that would allow the venue, flowers and decor to do all the talking. We wanted to achieve an intimate and relaxed ambience, where guests would get the chance to interact throughout the day.
It was our priority to make our wedding as sustainable as possible. Jess picked petals from our garden and dried them to create the confetti and her dress was from worn-once/sample bridal shop, Bliss Studio in Edinburgh. It can also sell on the dress again after the wedding.
Kudos to our florist Ros from Stunning Flowers for her creativity. She kept her work sustainable all the way. She didn’t use a single bit of oasis floral foam and instead employed structural alternatives like moss. She also included as many foraged and locally grown flowers as possible.
I own and run event equipment rental company 360 Event Hire, so know how much furniture and decor can enhance a venue. Even then, items were used judiciously: we reused/moved items such as Chiavari chairs, candles, signage, our wedding arch and other props around, so they had at least two roles to play.
We added a lot of lighting as it’s a really effective way of creating atmosphere. We opted for festoon lighting on poles and tree/plant uplighting outdoors, and additional uplighting and background lighting for the band/dancing inside – all colour co-ordinated with our theme. We also placed patio heaters outside for extra effect and warmth when the sun set.
From the beginning, we knew that we would like a humanist ceremony. We came across Neil Anderson on Humanist Society Scotland’s website – and what a find he was. The ceremony was 100% handcrafted by Neil and tailored to our story. His humour and delivery were outstanding and captured us to a tee.
We got a giggle during the ceremony. When our parents were asked to give their approval for our marriage, Jess’s Grandma stood up and exclaimed ‘We do!’.
Our photographer was the talented F. D. Young Photography. Fraser may have a relaxed take on wedding photography, but he is reassuring, highly organised and excellent at capturing candid shots without having to make us ‘pose’ too much. We are delighted with the results: the photos have a natural feel to them and nothing is overly processed or touched up. In short, they are the perfect record of our day.”
Top tip: “Money can be a stress factor, but so can DIY. There are loads of ways to save costs or add your own twist with DIY, but when it comes down to it, it’s worth spending on elements that add to the atmosphere and take the stress away from you when setting up/breaking down your wedding.”
Celebrant Neil Anderson, Humanist Society Scotland ASOSWedding and engagement rings G. W. ThomsonHair and makeup The bride’s mum and sister Groomswear Gordon Nicolson Kiltmakers Cake Philippa Rose Cake Design Flowers Stunning Flowers Venue decor 360 Event Hire Reception entertainment JuniperBride’s dress Bliss Studio Bridesmaids’ dresses