The planning diaries (part 2): two brides-to-be share their wedding progress so far

Our resident diarists and brides-to-be, hotel wedding planner May and bridal blogger Hazel, update us on their latest wedding plans and share their tips and suppliers

May Hunter, wedding planner at Dunkeld House Hotel

Wedding planner May Hunter and executive head chef Stuart Michael got engaged in October and have set the date for 27th May 2022

smiling male and female couple holding hands walking across a field by Eilidh Sutherland Photography
May and Stuart’s engagement shoot at the start of the summer, captured by Eilidh Sutherland Photography

We’ve had a busy few months. Our house renovations are now complete and we have been back working full time since the hotel reopened at the end of April – it’s so nice to be almost back to normal.

Wedding planning has taken a little bit of a back seat, though we did manage to squeeze a few things in. On 27th May (a year to the big day!), I went dress shopping in Edinburgh with Mum, Granny and two of my bridesmaids, Kim and Lou.

We went to Kavelle Couture, and the whole experience from start to finish was first class. I only tried on a total of five dresses, and the one chosen was the fourth of these. It was actually Granny who picked it, which means the world. I loved it the instant I tried it on, but it’s so different from everything I thought I wanted. So I tried one more dress, but it just confirmed that number four was the one.

May and Stuart standing with a tractor and a group of ladies posing against a floral wall
Left: May and Stuart’s engagement shoot down on the family farm – it’s the bride to be’s dad in the tractor (Photo: Eilidh Sutherland Photography); Right: May out with the girls in Edinburgh on a quest for the dress

I always know what I want and I am very impulsive, but on this occasion I resisted buying the dress there and then. I went home and thought about it and chatted with all my bridesmaids. I made an appointment to go back on the Monday, this time with my bridesmaid Alana, and said yes to the dress! I’d highly recommend Kavelle. As well as having lots of different sizes of dresses and a wide array of styles, the staff are so attentive and really care about what they’re doing – they just know what suits you and what doesn’t. Having someone tell you everything looks amazing isn’t helpful because, let’s face it, not everything does look amazing on you!

Shopping for a wedding dress is a surreal experience. Even if you are not the emotional type (I’m not at all), be prepared for tears. Take your nearest and dearest with you, as they’ll be honest. Go with your gut – when you know, you know. And if you need time to think, take it.

Stuart and I have done our engagement shoot with our photographer, Eilidh Sutherland. We picked a sunny evening at the end of May so the lighting was amazing. And so was the setting: my family’s farm – Dad even got roped in!

exterior of Kavelle Couture in Edinburgh
May purchased her wedding dress at Kavelle Couture in Edinburgh

I’m not a picture person (I never remember to take snaps on a night out), but I would 100% recommend doing an engagement shoot: it’s nice to get to know your photographer (although we already know Eilidh and Lloyd really well), and to work out what you’re comfortable with and not. We really enjoyed doing it, and the pictures are incredible! The pair of us laughed the whole time, so there are no serious pictures – which pretty much sums us up. The photos also helped us see there are some things we don’t want to do on the day.

At Dunkeld House Hotel, where Stuart and I both work, we’ve created a new ceremony space to replace our Garden Room, which is now a restaurant. This has been the main focus over the last few weeks at work and I love what we’ve been able to create. This is where we’ll tie the knot, which has made it so much more real! We don’t want to marry outside as it can bring too many last-minute changes. We just like to make a plan and stick with it, which is another top tip for keeping wedding-planning simple.

What’s next for our plans? Stuart has finally officially asked his best man, usher and page boy, so we need to organise the boys’ outfits and the dresses for the bridesmaids. I have also been having a think about stationery and invites.

Hazel Pool, bridal blogger

After getting engaged in October 2020, Hazel Pool, performance manager, is set to marry project manager Neil Moore on 28th April 2023

Hazel and Neil and a cake by Oh So Sweet Cupcakes
Left: Hazel and Neil are full steam ahead with their wedding plans; Right: This fabulous confection is by Oh So Sweet Cupcakes, who’ll be baking the couple’s wedding cake

A lot has happened since my first diary entry back in February. While the industry more or less ground to a halt during yet another lockdown, I had a chance to reassess some of my planning preparations.

I think most brides, me included, plan to go to wedding fairs and open days as soon as they get engaged and have a venue booked. Unfortunately for us, no sooner had we picked our venue than the country was sent back into shutdown, dashing any hopes we might have had of immersing ourselves in all things wedding-related at a fair. So, what to do with my pent-up planning energy? Well, I took to Instagram and Pinterest, of course.

Although our wedding isn’t until 2023, I wanted to get started on my supplier search – I’m very conscious of the number of couples who have had to postpone their special day and I don’t want to risk missing out on a supplier we really want. For me, picking the right photographer and videographer was the top priority. Having no experience of wedding planning, I didn’t have a clue where to start. So, I pulled out all the bridal magazines I’d bought to date and noted down the names of the photographers whose images I liked the look of. Then I took to Instagram to ask the bridal community for their recommendations, whilst also Googling local suppliers. Before I knew it, I had a list as long as my arm!

bride kissing groom with greenery at side and in foreground
Mark Quinn Photography took this lovely photo – he has been booked to shoot Hazel and Neil’s day too

To help us whittle it down, we first agreed whose photography/film style we loved, then requested pricing and availability from that list. Once we had this information, we were able to cross off those who were beyond our budget or unavailable on our date, leaving us with a handful of possibilities. From these, we chose the two whose style we preferred: Mark Quinn Photography and Candlelight Pictures for our videography. We really can’t wait for them to capture our day!

One unexpected wedmin task we managed to tick off in the last few months is our cake supplier. I hadn’t given the cake much thought so early on in our planning, but I came across the Instagram page of a girl from my home town, Cumbernauld, who has recently turned her hand to baking. Eilish, who owns Oh So Sweet Cupcakes, is a self-taught baker. We were so impressed with how beautiful her cupcakes and occasion cakes were that I decided to see if she would consider baking our wedding cake. Turns out she already had her first few weddings in the diary, and was happy to book us in.

Ceremony room at Lochside House Hotel and Lodges
Their venue, Lochside House Hotel, Lodges and Spa, is one of Ayrshire’s finest

When lockdown was finally lifted, we were able to book an overnight stay at our venue, Lochside House Hotel – which just happened to coincide with the opening weekend of the new wedding suite! We only saw digital plans of the suite when we booked it as our venue, which felt a bit of a risk. I can honestly say we had absolutely nothing to worry about – it lived up to all our expectations, and more. It was great to finally see it finished so we could begin to visualise our special day. Now it’s full steam ahead with the rest of the planning!

I still haven’t formally asked my bridal party yet. However, my sister, who’ll be my maid of honour, is flying home from Spain in July to visit – we’ve not seen her in almost two years. I’ve decided to throw a ‘Proposal Party’ and get my six bridesmaids together for an extra-special afternoon. Can’t wait!