clare + chris | the botanics

Clare and Chris have given me such amazing input on their wedding day which was on 1st September 2013 at The Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh. Their fabulous woodland wedding is just perfect to lead up to the Freens & Needburs woodland styled shoot next week, EEEKK exciting! Thank you so much to Phil at PSD Photography for his brilliant images of their day.

Chris and Clare are actually both from Yorkshire, but fell in love with Edinburgh a long time ago and for years planned to move there. "Chris moved 3 years before I did, so we spent years travelling the East Coast trainline between our two homes at the time, until I finally found the right job to move up permanently. And the rest as they say is history. Having our wedding in Edinburgh, the home we have made together meant a lot to us."

"When we were looking for a venue, we knew we wanted an outdoor ceremony, something a little more relaxed and earthy than a hotel. After looking back down south in Yorkshire, we realised what a great opportunity Scotland posed, to be married outdoors, and with a Humanist service, something we both found resonance with, and yet isn’t possible south of the border."

"Having lived in Edinburgh for a few years, near the Botanic Gardens, we often walked through the Gardens with family and friends who came to stay, sunbathing on the lawns the few hot days of Scottish Summer we get. And when we visited to see where you get married, under such beautiful tall redwood trees, it just felt very natural and relaxed in the way everyone simply gathers around you- authentic, and most of all, it just felt very US!"

"The Caledonian hall was perfect, a beautiful clean, unpretentious setting for the celebrations, and importantly, being so close to town, there was a raft of accommodation and activities for the majority of friends and family who were travelling to Scotland to celebrate with us."

"We had a brilliant get together in the Granary Bar down in Leith on the Saturday night, where we were able to take over the mezzanine floor. And the morning after on the Monday, a fantastic Brunch at the Scottish Café and Restaurant at the National Galleries, just what folk needed with a few sore heads. The weekend of plans meant we spent actually quite a bit of time with all our guests, which as every bride and groom knows, on the actual wedding day, its so difficult to get round and spend time with all your important guests."

Clare & Chris were planning their wedding for just under a year, "We got engaged on the 4th September 2012 on a beautiful beach on the West Coast of Scotland, not far from Applecross, looking out over to Skye and the Coolings. We never wanted a long engagement, so got cracking with the plans pretty much straight away, although I can’t imagine getting it all done in less than the time we had!"

Clare & Chris loved the planning process, "We loved meeting with our florists, Gemma at Planet Flowers, who was amazing at interpreting our suggestions and making them come true!"

"We loved the day we spent with Phil Dickson on our pre shoot. We weren’t keen on this to begin with, not sure it was necessary or a little vain, but are so chuffed we did it. We went to Gullane and walked along the cliff front to a very quiet part of the beach and just messed around. We got to know Phil really well, and had a lovely relaxed day, got used to a camera being around us and in the end got some really lovely shots of us on a happy day together."

Clare's groom was super involved in the planning process, "Chris was fantastic. We have very similar tastes to each other, very rarely disagreeing so choices were fairly easy for us, and Chris being quite arty as well, he was keen to be involved in all the craft elements."

"Chris has always said that his alternative profession would be a carpenter, after spending years with his Granddad in his garage building things with wood. Unfortunately his Grandad isn’t with us any longer, but thankfully, my father was originally a carpenter, so throughout the wedding planning stages we made use of this! "

"We wanted to make our guests favours that they could keep and remind them of our wedding, so my Dad and Chris got making over 80 wooden candle holders out of reclaimed wood. Each was hand sawn, a hole for tea lights drilled out, sanded, polished and engraved with a pyropen with our initials and the date of our wedding. It was a serious labour of love, but they went down a storm. We also wanted a living table plan in theme with the garden and found a great idea online to recreate, so my Dad and Chris got busy again making some beautiful steps from Oak wood, painting flower pots and lolly pop sticks and created a truly beautiful table plan that was full of amazing smelling lavender."

"It was a fabulous way to get our parents involved in all the preparation for the wedding, with blood (Chris was nearly knocked out at one point in a small accident in the garage with a flying piece of wood), sweat and frustrated tears at times, that went into these elements."

I've included SEVERAL photos of Clare's dress in this post, as it was just amazing! "You have a picture of the reaction you will have when you finally try on “the” dress, and my response, along with my sister Leigh and Mum’s certainly wasn’t quite what I had thought it would be- instead of the gushing tears, or words of joy, it simply made us silent, shocked by suddenly having found the right dress! The fifth shop in 2 days, so it was a very full on weekend, Mum coming from Yorkshire and my sister from London, we needed to get a lot in within the short space of time."

"After too many cocktails the night before in a new bar in Stockbridge, we weren’t probably on as good a form as the previous day. The only reason we went to the shop, Pretty Women on London Road in Edinburgh was to see one designer who I seemed to like more than most whilst browsing online, Justin Alexander. "

"Nothing had particularly clicked with any of the 40 or so dresses on the Saturday, and I didn’t think this was “the’ dress when it was taken from the rail, but when I put it on it was like there was no other dress in the world that would be right other than this one. "

"Justin Alexander is described as vintage with a modern twist, and I couldn’t agree more. A lot of the lace dresses I had seen were a little too old in style, whilst design 9700 had the elegance of the lace, yet a modern twist with the beading on the waist, giving it that younger, modern feel; exactly what I had been looking for, just not known how to describe it."

"There were three layers to the dress, satin, then fine detailed lace with a silver hint to it and finally a heavy lace layer, with a large pattern of leaves, perfect for our wedding under the trees! With the huge train it was amazing to wear and felt very special, like “the” dress should. I opted to customize it ever so slightly, Pretty Women got some more lace from the designer and made beautiful straps that I wore during the day and then took off in the evening to make a different style of dress, strapless for the evening.  The back of the dress had buttons all the way down to the very end of the train, something I had always wanted and was probably my favourite part of the dress and it had the beautiful bead detail around the waist which gave the whole style that younger feel."

"Having short hair and not wanting a traditional veil, I looked into alternatives. I found some birdcage veils on line but nothing was quite right, so I approached Rene Walrus in Old Town of Edinburgh and met to speak with her about something to match my dress. The result was more than perfect, given the crazy gale force winds on our wedding day in the end, its just as well I wasn’t wearing a long sweeping veil. Rene Walrus with a piece of the top lace from my dress, was able to match the beading design of the waist from my dress and make a beautiful beaded hair band, along with a beautiful birdcage veil that matched my hair and fringe line perfectly. I love the fact that I was able to take an idea and see it transformed into life, something I had never done before with clothing or accessories!"

"We had a humanist ceremony. We were blown away by the flexibility this gave us and how similar in our minds this approach was to how we felt about life. "

"Ken McMillan was our celebrant. When searching through the people who can marry you on the Humanist website, we felt Ken made a whole lot of sense, “humanists are guided by reason, inspired by compassion and informed by experience’, logical, sensible and true!"

Clare has so many great memories from the day "For me personally, I loved the speeches, they were funny, emotional… it's odd how you can go from laughing to crying within a split second, I suppose it showed how good they were."

Clare & Chris' amazing cheese cake was by Wensleydale Creamery.

"I also loved our band and dancing with all our guests, just a big old celebration and party with everyone. We hired The Magic Keys and they were fantastic, everyone commented on such a good performance, let’s face it, there’s nothing worse than a terrible wedding band."

"But mainly, it was the whole weekend, how well our idea came together, from seeing our family and friends from the Saturday night until the very last guest left our Monday morning brunch. There are too many moments to pick my favourite part."

"In keeping with the venue, we also wanted some natural styling to the inside of the venue as well, and made all our own hessian table runners and hessian bows for the chair covers. We had brilliant flowers by Planet Flowers in Edinburgh, half the tables had huge lime tree branches and the other half block green flowers in tiered vases, The hessian alongside our amazing trees as table decorations really brought the outside in!"

"Our whole theme was very much centered around the garden and the grove. Its difficult not to when you have such a beautiful venue to simply pick elements that fit with it, so all our invites, order of service and website were designed  and created by us in keeping with our wedding venue…”under a tree in a beautiful garden”. Chris and I learnt how to use Illustrator and I now know how to use WordPress after Chris designed our website and I completed the copy for it. You can see the website here" This is some serious effort, Clare & Chris's website has all the information you could possibly need about their wedding!

"We’re very proud of these elements that took us the extra time, and were very pleased with the result, many of our guests commented about how personalised the wedding felt."

The day didn't all go smoothly, but the important thing is to remember those stressy moments fondly, "Probably the moment I realised I had forgotten my bouquet of flowers half way to the Botanic Gardens. Panic! My Dad couldn’t believe me, but stayed calm and thankfully we weren’t too late after rushing back and my dad heading back to get it for me! It was the only real blooper for the day and certainly made my Dad and I laugh on our way to the ceremony and in a way, kept the nerves at bay! A moment between the two of us I’ll always remember very fondly."

And finally, Clare's advise to all your future brides would be, "Don’t be afraid to go with something a bit different, whether it be your hair piece, the opposite of what the experts are telling you or challenging yourself to be more creative than you normally are or think you can be! Secondly, if you get the chance of a photography pre shoot… DO IT! You’ll feel more comfortable on the day and get better shots because if it."

Clare & Chris' had a few favourite photos taken by Phil, "There are some very unique ones, like Chris and I stood up the tree, I think its shows our playful side. I particularly love the shot of my dress from behind when I’m stood on the tree as well, showing all the beautiful buttons, right down to the bottom of my train. And also the ones under the tress and amongst the Garden.

Phil got a beautiful shot showing the height of the tress in the grove where we held our ceremony, a truly stunning setting, and with all the guests below, it really highlights the scale."

You can catch Philip on his website, as well as Facebook and Twitter too.