colleen + stuart | balbirnie house

Colleen and Stuart were married at Balbirnie House in Fife on Sunday 8th June and had been planning their wedding for about a year. Thank you so much to Karolina Kotkewicz for her fantastic images of the day!

"Balbirnie house has beautiful, old world glamour, it was the first venue we visited and we were both very taken with it. As Stuart is from Montrose and I am from Edinburgh and we both live and work in Aberdeen, we wanted somewhere central where all our friends and family could come and stay.  We also wanted a venue where we could hold the ceremony and reception.  We viewed a few other venues, but we both knew that Balbirnie was, without question right for us. From the very first meeting we knew we would be very well looked after. Balbirnie is an award winning wedding venue, but it only hosts one wedding per day, so the place was ours and had a very personal feel. As part of its wedding services Balbirnie provided us with a wedding coordinator, Kirsty, who supported us every step of the way and, on the day itself, we had a wonderful Master of Ceremonies, Angela, who ensured that everything went smoothly. We are eternally grateful to them and the rest of the staff for ensuring we had a fantastic experience."

"Seeing all the planning come together was very rewarding. We particularly enjoyed planning the ceremony; after 5 years together it was very good for both of us to think about what made us fall in love, the reasons we cared so much about each other and our future together. We also enjoyed planning how we would ensure that our guests, the people we cared about, really enjoyed themselves."

"In terms of planning the ceremony, Stuart was very involved, we crafted our vows together and chose readings and poems that really meant something to us, as well as adding little extra things, like sharing the quaich with our guests and asking everyone at the ceremony to bless our wedding rings. For the rest of the planning, I did a lot of the ground work and consulted Stuart on different ideas, luckily he was enthusiastic about most of them. Being a musician himself, Stu had a lot of input into the music on the day, and Myke Black who provided our ceremony and reception music, and Aurora, our evening band, were fantastic!"

"I found my dress in a sample sale in Edinburgh. I was very lucky as it was absolutely pristine, having never even been tried on. It was made of beautiful hand beaded Ivory lace and made by the designer Agnes. I found the most wonderful dressmaker; Stephnie Anne Designs in Edinburgh to do the alterations I wanted, and over a few visits Stephnie transformed my dress by taking it in and up and adding delicate lace straps. To get the lace we needed for the straps I contacted Agnes directly via their website and they couriered me matching lace at no cost, which I thought was incredible service! In the end I had a unique dress which fitted me beautifully and made me feel fantastic."

"We had a Humanist service, it reflected our beliefs and values perfectly. Our celebrant was the lovely Jane Bechtel. We were lucky in that we knew Jane already, as she had been the celebrant at the wedding of good friends of ours, as well as the naming ceremonies of both their children. We loved Jane's relaxed and sincere approach to things, she helped us ensure our ceremony was everything we could have hoped for; personal, heartfelt and inclusive. Many of our religious friends and family said that it was the nicest and most meaningful wedding ceremony they had attended, which was lovely to hear."

"I actually had two favourite parts of our day, firstly the 'getting ready' part of the day in the morning, it was just wonderful, my mum, bridesmaids and I all pottering around my beautiful suite in Balbirnie in our matching kimonos. There was a little bit of champagne, nibbles ( remember to eat something so you dont get 'wobbly') and good music on, it was a lot of fun.  The wonderful girls from Made Over Ladies came to the suite to, do our hair and make-up, making us look and feel fantastic while Karolina our lovely photographer discreetly snapped away.  As the morning wore on, other family members and friends popped in and out with gifts and well wishes ( I made sure I wasnt spotted in my dress, of course!) It was a lovely relaxed way to start the day and helped keep me nice and calm! I would strongly recommend having a service like Made Over Ladies come to you on the morning of the wedding, rather than travelling somewhere for your hair and make-up, it made everything so much easier."

"I also loved the ceremony, seeing all the work Stuart, Jane and I had put into the planning and sentiment being realised, it gave us a wonderful start to married life."

"We wanted the day to be as personal as possible, Stuart and I made our own sloe gin the winter before the wedding (Sloe Gin is something Stuart's family have been making for years- it's absolutely delicious) and the week before the wedding we bottled it in miniature glass demijohns, I sourced the bottles online and the company provided free personalised labels too. Our guests loved them! We also set up a table of photographs of our family members, including many vintage wedding photos spanning several generations.  At the last minute I decided not to label the pictures and it was really nice seeing guests who perhaps hadn’t met before, chatting about who different people in the pictures might be. It was a really lovely talking point."

"I remember feeling absolutely overwhelmed with emotion as my mum walked me down the aisle. Our wonderful acoustic guitarist, Myke Black was singing the Boyce avenue cover of the Christina Perri song, 'A Thousand Years' and the atmosphere was incredible. Walking down past all our friends and family, people who'd travelled from overseas (and my friend in Australia who watched the whole ceremony via Skype!), knowing they were all there to support us, was incredibly moving. I could see Stuart at the end of the aisle smiling and looking so handsome and I couldn't wait to be next to him and share the day together!"

Colleen and Stuarts amazing cake (above) is by Dedicaked.

Colleen passes on some brilliant advice to future brides... "Relax and enjoy yourself! Its very easy to let things stress you out, and everyone has their thoughts on how things should be done, so take your time, and shop around with suppliers until you find people who you feel will do their best for you.  I met several florists before finding Laura from Flowers By Cherryblossom, she helped me find ways to achieve the things I wanted without spending more than I needed to, and we really clicked, a good relationship with your suppliers makes such a difference."

"Ultimately do what feels right for you both, whatever that might be. We set ourselves a budget and we stuck to it by prioritising what was most important to us, and what were things we could happily live without. We knew we wanted an excellent photographer and a videographer, so we found ways to make sure we achieved that over other things like a having photo-booth for example."

"Take care of yourself and let other people help, Stuart’s mum made our amazing wedding invitations for us and my sister Eileen organised the children’s favour bags and a little play area, it really helped take the pressure off!"

"Things don’t always go to plan, but don't worry and on the day, let someone else deal with any hitches! I was so nervous during the vows that I put the ring onto Stuart’s right hand instead of his left, and when it didn’t fit, I tried to force it…despite him discreetly whispering to me that it was the wrong finger!  Once I realised what I'd done, I was mortified, but really, it was a tiny and rather funny part of an utterly gorgeous day and we have so many beautiful memories on film to share with our families now and in the future."

"My favourite photo from the day is where I’ve just arrived at the top of the aisle, you can’t see my face at all, but Karolina has captured perfectly, Stuart’s expression at the exact moment we face each other for the first time that day. I love that picture!"

You can catch Karolina on her website or Facebook.