If you’ve read my last post, you’ll know that finding a venue was the deciding factor between us having a family wedding or running off and marrying alone. So, while the search for a venue is arguably the hardest part of any wedding planning process, our search felt particularly prominent. As much as I loved the idea of eloping, in my heart I had fallen in love with the idea of our ‘big day’, with bridesmaids and family and speeches and dancing, so I was hoping against hope that we would find a venue that felt perfect to us.
Spoiler alert: it was not an easy task.
We didn’t really know what we wanted when it came to a venue, so things were never going to be clear-cut. We started out in early January, spending hours Googling Scottish wedding venues and making long lists of anything that looked like a possibility – and then spending even longer ruling them all in or out. We knew that we wanted something that felt bespoke, something that wasn’t especially formal or traditional, and I really didn’t like the idea of a castle or a stately home, as it just didn’t feel like ‘us’.
We decided early on that a barn wedding was probably our best bet, to give us the opportunity to personalise the venue and avoid the package options as much as possible. Turns out we’re not alone in our thinking; the first few I called were fruitless, and “Sorry, we’re booked through to 2021” became a phrase that I was getting all too familiar with. We found one we wanted to view, two weeks after getting engaged, and it was possibly the worst start to wedding planning we could have had – it was in the middle of nowhere (we don’t have a car) and the trains were cancelled, so we hopped in a very expensive taxi to get out there, and when we did eventually pull up outside, we discovered that the wedding planner had forgotten all about our appointment and already left for the day. Suffice to say, that experience put us off of rural venues entirely. Frustrating, but a great way to strike through a good 60% of the list!
Left with city-centre venues and bruised by our barn experience, we found ourselves tempted by the ease and the glamour of a city hotel wedding. It would be slick, simple to organise, not far from home – and really, really expensive. Our preferred hotels didn’t want to take on a weekend wedding as small as ours, so we quickly had to rule those out too.
By this point, I was getting quite stressed. The main worry I had with the wedding initially was that it would cost us tens of thousands of pounds that we just don’t have, and it was looking likely that, to get a day that even resembled what I was hoping for, we’d have to dig deeper than we really wanted to.
Then I picked myself up and started researching offbeat, non-traditional wedding venues in Edinburgh and Glasgow, trying to find that elusive place, and not blow the budget in the process. In London, there’s a plethora of these kinds of places; Asylum Chapel, MC Motors, and dozens of light-filled, whitewashed film studios; exactly the kinds of places we were daydreaming about finding. But even though the venues looked amazing, I never once seriously considered going ‘home’ for the big day. For us, it was always going to be Scotland.
And so, for a couple of weeks, we worked our way around all the different ‘non-wedding’ wedding venues in Edinburgh and Glasgow, finding a few that were exciting, but nothing that fit the bill exactly.
We found ourselves really, very close to booking one in particular – a new venue that was unfinished when we viewed it (a building site, to be more accurate) but that offered us the flexibility we were hoping for. It was cool, and so we pencilled in a date with them – but there was something about it that wasn’t entirely sitting right with us. In hindsight, I think it was a blend of the location (urban venues are never going to be in your dream location by the way, it’s kind of part of the deal that they’ll be beside the motorway or down a side street, but once you’re inside, it really doesn’t matter – I hope!), and that when we viewed it, it was different to what we’d been expecting from previous posts online. Good, but not entirely what we’d been hoping for.
We kind of resigned ourselves to that venue – told ourselves we were being too fussy and it ticked most of the boxes, so we should just knuckle down and book it, as soon as they would allow us to when they officially opened their 2019 diary at the end of April.
But then in late March, a month before we’d have to seal the deal with our reserved venue, we went along to the Wedding Collective fair in Leith, where one of the suppliers mentioned that she was going along to a new venue in Glasgow the next day, to discuss being their caterer. The Engine Works was a venue that I’d actually spotted on Instagram and enquired about briefly back in February and then forgotten about somehow. It was another unfinished one but one that felt like it might have potential.
From the first phone call, Michael (the owner) was incredibly friendly, helpful and easy to talk to, which, I have to be honest, I hadn’t had much of from other planners and organisers I’d been dealing with. And when we met later that week, he was so helpful, showing us the whole building and taking us through every step of the plans and his vision for the space – because, again, it was a total building site. But something about it sparkled for us.
It was the kind of space we’d been lusting after, pinning endless pictures on our Pinterest board and never finding a space that looked anything like it. The beams, the bricks, the windows, the finishing, the décor, the fact that it has its own garden – we figured that if we loved it even when it was a building site, imagine how much we’d love the finished article. The deal was sealed when the owner told us to check out his Pinterest board to get a better idea of the finished look they were going for – and most of the pins were the same ones we had on our ‘dream wedding’ board. Finally, we’d found the venue that we’d been hoping to find, and all thoughts of eloping were put out of our heads.
So, we went for it, and on 28th September 2019, we’ll be getting married there, in a mezzanine room that doesn’t yet exist, celebrating our future in a space that (hopefully) will be everything we hoped it would be. I am definitely not the type of person that you’d think would book an unfinished venue, but something about it made me want to take the leap of faith.