The Offbeat Bride: Elle, Freelance artist and full-time mama
Her offbeat partner: Bear, IT Genius
Date and location of wedding: St. Mary's on the Rocks, St. Andrews, Scotland, UK — September 3, 2011
Our offbeat wedding at a glance: We were never anti-tradition, despite being accused of such… we just wanted every piece to be meaningful for us rather than be there “because it's a wedding.”
The wedding was held on the clifftop ruins of St. Mary's on the Rocks (big thanks to Historic Scotland who let us do it for freeeeeeee). We were also somewhat surrounded by tourists and a few people we'd met during the week and just invited along.
Bear wore a Welsh tartan called Pride of Wales, which we have adopted as our family tartan, and a piece of McAllister (maiden name) tartan became a train on my dress. This was then changed to the Pride of Wales tartan once we were married to signify the change. The bridesmaids' dresses were made from the same fabric, but designed by each one so they would feel comfortable. We also had a couple of groomsmen in tails rather than kilts/cilts.
I made origami bouquets and button holes for the bridal party with a secret compartment for sweets that each of the bridesmaids could munch through the ceremony. I also made cushions which were personalised for each person in the wedding party as a thank you gift (flowers- or Volkswagen Type 2-patterned) and a way to sit comfortably on the stone ruins during the service.
The next day, we celebrated by going to church and having a pub lunch and ice cream with friends and family.
Tell us about the ceremony:
Despite us both having a strong faith, we both felt that God was happy for us to be a little creative in our ceremony, so not everything was exactly as people expected. We had a mix of music including a friend singing “Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring” as I entered (just after the bridesmaids and fully-grown flower girls), and another playing a little jazz guitar whilst we signed the register. We exited to Civilisation IV's “Baba Yetu” both because we're a little geeky and love it a lot. It's also the Lord's Prayer in Swahili, which is pretty cool. We were also gifted a toilet paper roll with a ribbon by our minister as a blessing that our marriage would be “soft, strong, and very long” — definitely a memorable gift!
Being able to sit on clifftop ruins and gaze across the North Sea was extremely special. The weather didn't ruin anything and the sun appeared at just the right moments to take our breath away. We set up the seating so as to make the most of the ruins so there were even some blankets on the grass for those who wanted them.
Our biggest challenge:
Our loose approach to traditions definitely caused some rifts, and we got quite hurt by some comments made. I won't say it didn't get very difficult, but ultimately our plan was to get married and have a wedding which would bless people. It has taken two years for me to be able to separate hurtful comments from my wedding day and be able to write this submission.
We overcame it all by having conversations privately, and then publicly, about the decisions we made. For example, the reason we didn't have a receiving line (despite loving the hosting/welcoming intent of it) is because we didn't want our guests (some rather frail) to be queueing outside in variable Scottish weather just to say three words to us. Instead, everyone went straight in to the reception, received a colourful mocktails, and we tried our very best to greet them all at varying points of the day.
All I can suggest to those going through similar differences of opinion, is to try to be kind but clear. We love our friends and family but that did not mean we planned to do everything they suggest, no matter how forceful their tactics.
My favorite moment:
We wanted to serve our guests, not just be served by staff, so we grabbed muffins immediately after the ceremony to offer around. It was great to have a quick chat, hug, and offer tasty treats in this way because these people had done so much for us.
The other moment I have often remembered is just taking a moment to gaze around the room we hired to eat and dance in, and catching friends of ours who had never met laughing and chatting. It was wonderful to see such a diverse group coming together from so many different places at such a special time.
Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?
- Groom's cilt: Welsh Tartan Centre. They were lovely and delivered all the way to St. Andrews for us, as well as helped us source their exclusive tartan fabric for the extra plans we had for it.
- Photography: Gillian Gamble was the best choice we could have ever made! She is an amazing artist and entrepreneur and created beautiful images for us. We also got to know her and gained an incredible friend and mentor who we've been blessed by so much more than her fee could ever have been worth.
- Catering: Hatter's Catering company. Stella recognised our need for a flexible budget, some food that our grandparents would be comfortable with, but also bits from our travels to Greece and love of Scottish nibbles. I have not been able to get her white chocolate and lemon tiffin out of my dreams!
- Cartoon images for invitations: Will Moore
Enough talk — show me the wedding inspo!
Comments on Elle & Bear’s Welsh and Scottish clifftop wedding
I love love love love love everything about your wedding, it’s gorgeous! I think my favorite bits are the way your tartan-train changed (AMAZING), the picture of you two and the wedding party on the beach, with them peeking under your skirts, and I love the idea of grabbing a tray of nibbles and being the ones walking around. Thank you so much for sharing this!
(By the way, your hair is GORGEOUS.)
edit: also is that a hood on your dress??? How/what? Did you make it?
It is indeed a hood, but attached to my wrap rather than the dress. It seemed like the better option but I feel like I didn’t quite do it justice. I didn’t like the idea of a veil and couldn’t find a hat that seemed to work so hood it was. Problem came with the wind but oh well ! Adventures don’t always go our way 🙂
I think it may be safe to say that, other than my wedding, this has got to be my favourite! I love that you were able to get married at St. Andrew’s (such a beautiful location), and for free! I am sorry to hear that you have some negative comments from loved ones, but I am very happy to hear that you have since been able to separate those comments from your wonderful day. Seriously, Elle, this is just breathtaking from start to finish. And the toilet paper as a gift from your minister…love it! Congratulations on your newly-weddedness (hey, anything less than five years in counts as newlywed status in my book 😉 ) and may you and your Love enjoy many more such beautiful days together!
Ooooh does that mean more honeymoons? Best excuse ever for free drinks and chocolate! 🙂
It’s a VW bus cake! And pillows! I love you!
Llongyfarchiadau/Congratulations! We’re also having a Welsh/Scottish wedding so was lovely to see all the celtic touches x
Beautiful! There is so much here that I love that I don’t know where to begin. I think my favorite part is the tartan train that you changed out after the ceremony. And there is absolutely nothing so handsome as a man in a kilt and Prince Charlie! 🙂 Love, love, love the VW Microbus cake, too!
Speaking as a native, the East coast of Scotland doesn’t get enough love compared to the rest! But then I would say that. What a beautiful day, thank you for sharing it with us and for being so honest about the effect that people’s comments had on you, I’m sure that’ll help anyone else troubled by something similar.
My. Word. I lived in East Neuk Fife for about 4 years and it had never once occurred to me that it might be possible to get married at St Mary’s On The Rocks. D: I am full of awe (and slight jealousy) – what a beautiful, beautiful location! Everything looks beautiful, in fact! I’m fairly certain I won’t be incorporating any tartan/kiltage into my eventual wedding party (I’m Scottish, but my other half’s family is Latvian), but love love love seeing it done well!
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