PR and Marketing Director Lindsay married Technical Marine Specialist Gordon on 6th April this year at The Byre at Inchyra in Perthshire, Scotland.
This is one of those weddings you can lose yourself in. Lindsay has very generously shared so much information and insight – if you’re planning a wedding of any kind right now, I suggest you bookmark this article as a reference point. It’s full of incredible advice and supplier recommendations.
Photography by the brilliant, talented and wonderful Becky of A Thing Like That.
Location, Venue & Vibe
We originally wanted to get married in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe (Gordon is from Zimbabwe), however, logistically it was proving too tricky. The next best thing was Scotland; I’m from Aberdeen and Gordon’s dad’s side of the family was originally from Glasgow. What was important to us was to have touches of Africa in our day, which I think we managed to achieve.
Our focus was on a creating a super fun, relaxed day with personal touches and lots of laughter. We wanted to celebrate, we didn’t want it to feel pretentious, and I think we managed to achieve that.
I always wanted a destination wedding and have travelled the world to friends’ weddings – it was always my dream to get married someone overseas but as I took a little longer to get there, it was going to be almost impossible to have the people I wanted to be there – kids, mortgages, and so on!
Hair & Makeup
Hair and make up was provided by Sophie Alexis Make Up, a local team who were wonderful! I had an eyelash emergency – yes, really – the week before, and they were so reassuring.
Sophie and her colleague Iliana Gerletti worked their magic on me, my sister Kim, my mum Gill, Caitlin and even Daisy who is very particular about her hair.
Our morning getting ready was super relaxed and not at all rushed, exactly what I wanted.
Scent & Accessories
Le Parfum by Elie Saab has been a long favourite of mine, but had recently become tricky to find. Gordon managed to source some in Budapest airport on his way back from a work trip in January 2022.
My mum is a huge fan of a Liberty London hankie, something that has been passed down to me. We both always have one lurking in our handbags as we’re both prone to watering eyes! For my hen party, I bought my favourite Liberty London print – Queue for the Zoo Tana Lawn – and had hankies made up for all my friends coming to the hen party. The idea was that they would all bring them to the wedding, however, I forgot to remind them! did, however, have mine, which I clutched onto around my bouquet as we walked down the aisle.
Unfortunately, it came to a sad end as a friend mistook it for a paper towel and used it to cover up some dog mess that was discovered just after the ceremony! I’d asked someone to hold my bouquet, the hankie was swiped from their hands… My friend who watched in horror regaled the story to me, we were both bent over laughing, as she apparently exclaimed – No, that’s Liberty! Something on the list to replace eventually.
My other wow accessory was a pair of Shine Shades, all the way from Australia. It’s a new venture by my friend Celeste, who designed all our stationery, and she very kindly sent me a pair for the big day. Just as I was finished getting ready – and on a day that had been forecast to rain all day – the sun came bursting through the windows of the bridal suite and our photographer managed to capture a lovely shot.
My dress was designed and created by Barbaranne Heaton from HOM Bridal, here in Dubai. She is a British dress designer who has been operating her bespoke bridal business for over a decade. To say she is a genius is an understatement!
B had designed my friend Rachael’s bridesmaids’ dresses, then when I started looking through her website, I realised she had also created dresses of two other friends I knew in Dubai. It’s a small city.
Barbaranne and I met in October 2018 and just talked through my style, what I was drawn to, some Pinterest boards and looks. One thing that kept coming through was sequins and sparkle! B drew up some designs and we eventually agreed on the one we loved. The design process was lovely and fun and engaging – you really feel like every stitch has been carefully considered. B’s tailor Rupesh works alongside her seamlessly.
Of course, we were almost there when I called her in a total panic in early March to tell her we were leaving for the UK early – in two days – they worked through the night to get the finishing touches done. My friends insisted we still have the happy champagne moment of a dress handover, but I was an emotional wreck in 2020 and B and I were both crying at the uncertainty of what was unfolding.
In early 2022, we went back to B’s studio and made some changes to the top half – a few lockdown pounds had been added and I wanted a little more of a relaxed silhouette! B gave me the encouragement I needed to create a little more shape around my bottom – something I’ve always been very aware of – telling me it was Kardashian’s dream!! I’m not sure about that but I did gift her with an Anissa Kermiche ‘bottom’ vase in gratitude for her amazing work!
My dress was gorgeous but so comfortable to wear. We had played around with a lot of different underwear, shapewear, boob tape, the lot! In the end, I had M&S underwear (the glamour) and a Spanx bodysuit. I knew I didn’t want to feel like I had to breath in all day! I loved the shoulders and the back detail the most – B had sourced some amazing iridescent flowers which we applied to the shoulders, and then replicated those on the veil and I just loved them.
Shoes & Jewellery
For the 2020 wedding, I bought a pair of pink Loeffler Randall pumps which I absolutely adored, and ended up wearing them for our legal marriage signing at Perth City Council offices, with a Ganni dress I bought from a pre-loved boutique.
I was planning to wear them again for the wedding, however, browsing Vestiaire Collective one afternoon, I happened upon a pair of Miu Miu glitter heels in my size and had to have them. Having not really worn heels much during the pandemic, I realised halfway down the aisle that these beautiful shoes weren’t going to see much more of the day! Gordon even asked me during the ceremony – are your feet sore?
We made it through the ceremony and confetti throw, then I popped back to the bridal suite and changed into shoes #3… a pair of Nike Air Max, the 2021 Valentine’s Day specials, in red and pink, which I wore for all the official photos and the rest of the day. No regrets.
I borrowed a pair of vintage pearl and diamond earrings which were originally my grandmother Mabel’s. My sister wore them on her wedding day and I’m so happy I was able to wear them on mine.
My other earrings were my usual mix of Maria Tash, Otiumberg and Astrid & Miyu studs and huggies, while my rings were Monica Vinader and a vintage opal ring my mum handed down to me years ago.
The night before the wedding Gordon had pressed a small velvet pouch into my hand as we were saying goodnight to each other, and there was a Riva kite diamond bracelet from – yes, Monica Vinader. I haven’t taken it off since the morning of our wedding.
Bridesmaids, Flowergirls and Pageboys
My sister Kim wore the most incredible Needle & Thread silver sequin dress, from Net-A-Porter.com, which she rocked. It blew me away!
My niece Caitlin wore a dress from Monsoon – miraculously her 2020 dress still fit in 2022, while my younger niece Daisy wore a pre-loved dress from John Lewis.
How They Met
We first met in the late 2000s through a rugby club in Dubai, and then many years later, swiped right on each other on Tinder. I was ready to give up on the app after a string of terrible experiences, including an amazing date the night before I met Gordon, but who I then found out was married with kids!
There was an immediate connection and it all seemed to fall into place quickly and easily. One weekend early into our relationship, he decided my freezer needed to be defrosted… unfortunately he burst one of the pipes and had to buy me a brand-new built-in freezer – it wasn’t quite how we expected to see out the weekend but his commitment to making things right definitely stuck with me.
Our engagement was truly one of the most incredible stories. I thought he would do it while we were at Victoria Falls in 2017, it felt like the perfect time and place, but, he waited a whole year longer – 1st September 2018 at the Braemar Gathering with both of our parents, the Queen, Prince Charles and a few hundred bagpipes as the soundtrack! I was so surprised, totally unprepared, and just kept repeating ‘what are you doing, what are you doing?’
We were handed champagne from onlookers, a family friend ran down to the main arena and had our news broadcast on the loudspeaker, then the RAF celebrated their 100-year anniversary with a Hercules fly-by. An unforgettable day! The first person we called was Jessie, Gordon’s son, who lives in New Zealand. He knew about Gordon’s plans and we couldn’t wait to tell him the wedding was on!
We knew the only time of year which would work for our families (schools, university calendars from England, Scotland, Australia, and New Zealand) was Easter. We set on April 2020 and started to plan. By January, 2019 we had decided Zimbabwe was just too tricky, so I hit up Google from our home in Dubai and pretty much had my heart set on the Byre almost immediately.
My dad, Doug, walked me down the aisle. It was a really special moment. I would never have said we look alike as I am so like my mum, but one guest snapped a photo of us in profile and we both have the exact same expression and our mouths are identical! We really tried hard to keep each other walking at a slow pace, but didn’t do a great job! The adrenaline was kicking in at that point.
We entered the ceremony to the best song in the world to walk down the aisle to, ‘Let’s Get Married’, by The Proclaimers. I knew I was going to be so nervous and it’s such a joyful song, you can’t help but smile.
We were so lucky to work with Gary J. Smith, a Humanist Celebrant who set the tone for the whole day. He was a joy to listen to and I feel as though he made us instantly relax, and everyone felt like they were in safe hands. His motto is Be Happy, and we certainly were!
Our celebrant Gary suggested a few different humanist customs that we could incorporate into the ceremony. We chose to do the ring warming – where the rings are passed to each guest before we placed them on each other’s fingers. Then we drank a nip of Highland Park whisky from a quaich that my sister, her husband Andrew, and their children, Tom, James, and Daisy gave to us on the morning of the wedding, engraved with our wedding date.
We asked Gordon’s sisters to share our first reading – Union, by Robert Fulgham. Our second reading was A Speech on Love by Phoebe Waller Bridge, which became hugely popular from the final episode of Fleabag. My wonderful friend Annie read it so perfectly. It starts by saying ‘love is awful!’ It was brilliant.
My friend Kate got married in London in 2018 and her photographer, Becky Rees of ‘A Thing Like That’, was a former colleague when they worked together at Harper’s Bazaar Arabia in Dubai. I was a bridesmaid at Kate’s wedding and just loved Becky’s photos. When Kate’s wedding was featured on LMD, I was hooked!
Becky wasn’t able to travel to Scotland from Cornwall, but she recommended a colleague, Christopher Ian, who is based in the Lake District and loves the wild landscapes of Scotland. Christopher was available and happy to make the drive north, so he did all the shooting on the ground, then Becky worked her magic in post and edited all our shots.
LMD also helped me feel so reassured at booking The Byre at Inchyra without actually visiting. I looked through every single wedding at the venue featured on the site, and then found our videographer, Erin Rose Films, florist, Adelaide’s Secret Garden, and band, Corra through those features.
Our videographer was one of our star suppliers. Andrew from Erin Rose Films just nailed exactly what we wanted in terms of personable, relaxed, fun, and he knows the venue so well, we were in very reliable hands. Within a week or two, he had sent the 4-min highlights video which absolutely blew us away.
It was sent to us just as we arrived back in Dubai, post-wedding blues starting to creep in, and it was perfect.
Our legal marriage licence signing day was on 21 March 2020 at Perth City Council Registry Office. It was such a weird day, full of uncertainty, the city was a ghost town, and we were their last couple of ever get married in that specific room as the building had been sold and was changing hands within weeks. The pen was sanitised before we signed our marriage certificate.
There were 13 of us at a dinner afterwards and we were the only people in the hotel, except for a woman whose house was under construction. Everyone tried to make it a celebration but it was just a scary time for us all.
Our original wedding date was 8 April, 2020. We had guests flying in from the USA, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Luxembourg, not to mention everywhere in the UK from the Isle of Wight to the Orkney Isles, as well as the bride and groom (and many friends) from Dubai, UAE.
After a few weeks of angst, we decided to fly back to Scotland on 15 March – “to be in the right country, at least” – in the hopes of salvaging our day. We decided on the flight that we were going to be forced to postpone. We rescheduled for 2021 with all our suppliers on 16 March. The UAE borders closed on 17 March, we got legally married at the Perth Registry Office on 21 March, I was let go from my job on 23 March and the UK went into lockdown on 24 March. It was quite a week!
Later in 2020, we decided to postpone again, this time to 6 April 2022. I was so defiant that I didn’t want the dreaded C word mentioned at the wedding, that we would wait until it was a moment in history and not something that was still affecting us on a day to day basis, but of course, we know now that that moment is a long way off.
In the end, we lost around 50 guests who weren’t able to come due to flight concerns, restrictions, and also some who understandably chose to take advantage of the world opening up again to visit family who they hadn’t seen in years across the world.
Others had had babies during lockdown and their priorities had of course changed, so it was a really tough few months in the lead up to the wedding to come to terms with the fact that, despite waiting two years, it still wasn’t going to be the day we had originally planned. Life is different now and we had to do some work to accept that.
Then, with the Russian invasion, we had one Russian-Ukrainian-Syrian friend who wasn’t able to get a visa to the UK – that one was heartbreaking to us as it was just so unexpected and seemed so unfair.
I never would have imagined saying this, but the wait was worth it. Everyone was so up for a party, everyone had been on this journey with us and you just felt that everyone in the room was rooting for us. I started my speech by saying I had been the President of my very own Pity Party for the last two years, but that – unlike Boris and co – I knew when the party was over. As I looked across the room of faces – the people who had cajoled and supported and consoled and chivvied us along – I really had nothing to feel sorry for.
Catering & Cake
Wild Rover Food were spectacular! Dylan was our point of contact and there the day before for set up, immediately putting me at ease. They’re one of a small handful of caterers that The Byre at Inchyra recommend, and I loved them.
All their ingredients are locally sourced, they take their food seriously, but with a great attitude and relaxed manner. Their trusty vintage Land Rover which forms the basis for their field kitchen makes for a few nice photo backdrops too.
They also provided the cake.
Reception, Decor & Detail
The neon sign was a great hero piece, and we hung that on the wall behind where Gordon and I sat for the speeches and the meal. I bought copper frames for the wedding signage – Our Welcome sign and our ‘We’ve waited 728 days for this. Please party accordingly’ – which was a wonderful idea I saw on the Love My Dress private Facebook group!
Another sign read: ‘Today is 8 April 2020, Please Don’t Argue With Us’.
Additional touches were personalised napkins I sourced on Etsy, from Rubi and Lib, with illustrations of Stevie and Dave, and personalised coozies – to keep drinks cool – also with the dogs in illustrative form, by Chick Design Boutique, again found on Etsy.com.
Finally, we had personalised confetti bags from WedCo Handmade via Etsy with our names, the date, and our hashtag.
Another creative friend with amazing design skills. Celeste Mackay did all our stationery – from save the dates to the (three) invitations, the order of service, table plan (there were approx. 87 versions of this), all our signage and even our thank you card – one is winging its way to her in Melbourne as we speak!
Our wedding favours are possibly my most favourite touch of the wedding. They were African animals by Gogo Olive, an initiative which creates employment for Zimbabwean women. It was created by Julie Hagan, who is originally from Orkney, where my sister and her family live – so the connections between Scotland and Zimbabwe, mirroring Gordon and me, are almost too good to be true.
We had key rings with knitted lions, elephants, leopards, zebras, giraffes, and wild dogs – one for each guest, plus a few leftover which were snapped up by parents to take home for their children.
It meant we were able to donate to a cause that means a lot to both of us, and provide our guests with a gorgeous memento of the day.
Gogo Olive also knitted us a larger Lion and Unicorn – the national animal of Scotland – as our Cheese Tower Toppers. They are now back home with us in Dubai.
I knew I wanted to work with local suppliers as much as possible and I also knew that the florist budget had every chance of getting out of control. The Byre at Inchyra is a ‘blank canvas’ venue so you have carte blanche to create exactly what you love but that also means the ideas were endless.
I found Adelaide’s Secret Garden on a Google search, and she was also recommended on a Love My Dress real wedding. I liked that it was a one-woman show, and that she actually grew the vast majority of her flowers up the road in a flower field.
I very much wanted the wild meadow kind of atmosphere. Good friends of my parents also own flower fields in Laurencekirk, Aberdeenshire and offered to gift us some daffodils which were perfectly in season. Peonies are my favourite flower, however, it was too early in the season for them, so Adelaide recommended ranunculus and anemones, sweet peas, Astratia and blossom.
My sister had found hundreds of vintage milk bottles from a marketplace site in Orkney and we used those as vases, alongside empty gin bottles which served as candle stick holders.
The team at The Byre are very proud – and rightly so – of their amazing lighting at the venue. It’s all hooked up via iPad and James Inchyra pulled me aside on the set up day to confirm exactly what lighting I would like for each phase of the day.
I’ll admit it’s not even something I had thought of until that very moment, but we went with a soft white light which also set off our custom neon sign, ‘Only To Be With You’, which was created by Lyte Up DXB. The sign was a surprise for Gordon, a nod to one of his favourite songs by Roachford. I had a friend of my mum’s – Samantha Gray – record an acoustic version of it which we played as we signed our ‘Celebration of Marriage’ certificate with our parents.
About six months before our original date, my mum sent me a whatsapp “I’ve got an idea…” She had some friends from her amateur dramatics world who provided ‘singing waiter’ services – where a group of trained singers pose as waiters at events and then break out into song. She asked what I thought and said she’d like to pay for it as a surprise to everyone – only we would know. We booked them in, chose our songs, and couldn’t wait for the surprise reveal. Then we had another two years to wait!
After the main course and before the dessert, it started. The team from Right Here Productions apologized to our guests for interrupting the dinner but explained it was his last day and he had been coaxed by his colleagues into ‘singing for his supper’. He broke out into Nessum Dorma with the most incredible voice, and everyone starting to figure it out… That was the warm up!
My very favourite part of the whole day was when he colleague opened the song to The Lion Sleeps Tonight. All my friends who had been at the hen party perched up in their seats like meerkats to find each other – this had been THE song of the hen party with many renditions (and all of us dressed up like African animals!) and immediately they all got up to start dancing. Before we knew it, a congo line had formed and almost every guest was up dancing – before we’d even had dessert!
The rest of the musical numbers – Don’t Stop Me Now by Queen, I Wanna Dance with Somebody by Whitney, and River Deep Mountain High by Tina Turner were just so joyful – all ages dancing together having the best time.
Entertainment & First Dance
Our band was Corra, they were fantastic and I would highly recommend them – a super mix of contemporary, ceilidh, and classics. Our first dance was Africa by Toto and we saw out the night with One Day Like This by Elbow. They were great at helping those not familiar with ceilidh dancing how to get through the Dashing White Sergeant, the Orcadian Strip the Willow and more.
Africa by Toto was an obvious choice for us. We both love it, we had seen Toto in Dubai a few years earlier and had a great night, and it was another way to weave elements of Zimbabwe into the day.
Words of Wedded Wisdom
Love My Dress was my number one and no, I’m not just saying that! It really helped you to choose what kind of wedding you wanted, and I must have spent hours upon hours at night on my laptop falling down more rabbit holes of real weddings on the site.
Holding our wedding on a Wednesday and asking that guests didn’t bring their children did not make life easy for a lot of people. A Saturday would have been ideal but just wasn’t an option.
In the last six months of planning, I definitely moved towards the ‘f*** it’ attitude as we’d had so much longer to save. The neon sign was definitely a purchase I wouldn’t have made in 2020 but I’m so glad we did. Our total budget came to around GBP40,000. It’s a huge amount of money but I love weddings – I love the ceremony of them and the happiness and it’s really the only time you’ll ever have (almost) everyone who really matters to you in a room. We didn’t really set out a budget to stick to, we just didn’t go crazy with our suppliers!
I had decided to only have my sister and nieces as bridesmaids, but knew I wanted some special time with my closest friends and cousins, so asked them, plus my auntie and Godmother, to come to the bridal suite 90 mins before the ceremony for champagne and had some charcuterie boards and brownies from Crunch. It was lovely to just enjoy their company, get excited for the day ahead, have a toast and a pre-game gossip.
Have a change of shoes available, almost immediately.
Really take the time to select your music, as those songs will bring back memories forever.
Plan the official photos list carefully and in an order which makes sense (we didn’t and it was a bit chaotic).
Choose your MC carefully; we asked my very close friend Fraser to be our MC and he was the perfect mix of funny, serious, and cheeky. He took his job seriously, practised a lot, but happened to introduce us before the meal as ‘Please put your hands together and welcome MR & MRS JOHNSTON’ – my maiden name, and not Gordon’s surname of Davidson. It was absolutely hilarious – and a genuine mistake!
If you feel you can, as the bride, do a speech! Be brave and go for it. I was very undecided right up until the day before, but Dylan from Wild Rover told me that whenever brides do a speech, they are usually one of the highlights as they have freedom to really say what they like.
Host an event the day after if your budget can stretch to it. This was really important to us as it’s often my favourite part of a wedding weekend – hearing all the anecdotes, different people’s perspectives of the day, their favourite moments, people they met that they hadn’t before – it makes your heart soar! It also meant we were more relaxed and had more time to chat to people. And I definitely was finally able to drink and just take a big sigh of relief!
And finally, gaining perspective is easy in hindsight, but I think my main piece of advice to brides struggling with postponing or amending their plans is to grieve what you had, and look forward to what you will have. One friend told me – you don’t remember the people who weren’t able to make it. There were some really significant people who weren’t able to be there and I will always be sad that they missed it, but my friend was right – all I remember are the people who were there and the magical moments that we had.
Annabel is the founder of Love My Dress. She has a passion for photography, walking, yoga, nature, and loves to support talented artists and creative businesses. In 2013, she became a published author. Annabel lives in rural North Yorkshire with her husband and business partner Philip, their two daughters Eska and Leanora and menagerie of furry hounds. Annabel supports Philip in the running of the family flower farm at at Moonwind Flowers. She is also co-founder of What About Weddings.