Olivia married her love Tom, on 18th September last year in Edinburgh. The couple had moved to the city in 2020 and loving it so much decided to celebrate their weddings across three locations, which included a ceremony at Edinburgh City Chambers, a drinks reception at Angels with Bagpipes and an evening reception at The Scotch Malt Whisky Society.
I adore that Olivia chose to wear a non-traditional yet cult-sought after dress – there’s a beautiful story about this below too. And I very much hope you enjoy this beautiful day as much as I do. Olivia has shared so much useful information.
Photography by the very talented Ali Jay.
The Vampire’s Wife and a note from Susie Cave
I wore the Falconetti dress by The Vampires Wife in red. I have since rented this exquisite dress out several times on HURR.com.
I love the fact that my wedding dress has been to so many fabulous parties since our wedding, it’s been worn at an Awards Night, a Jubilee Party at Sothebys, weddings, dinner parties and balls. It gives me so much joy to know that other people have the privilege of wearing this exquisite dress. I couldn’t bear to have it sat in a wardrobe for years collecting dust.
I spotted The Duchess of Cambridge in the emerald Falconetti dress one rainy, lockdown afternoon and looked up The Vampire’s Wife, I fell in love! These dresses were to die for. I knew I recognised the brand, then remembered I’d seen a draw dropping Villanelle wear it in Killing Eve.
I put the dress to one side and waited out five more months of lockdown until shops reopened and I could hit the bridal boutiques. My friend, my mum and I had great fun trying on a huge array of bridal dresses, many of which were absolutely stunning, but just didn’t excite me in the same way the Falconetti did. I decided to order the Falconetti dress from Liberty of London, it arrived, I tried it on and it was perfect. It fit like a glove and required zero alternations. Most importantly, I felt like me.
I phoned The Vampire’s Wife once I had tried the dress on at home and spoke to them about styling advice, chatting through different ideas was really helpful. Dionne from The Vampire’s Wife Client Support team was fantastic and really took the time to chat through different styling options and how to store the dress before the wedding day. She also said how touched Susie Cave was when anyone chose to wear one of her dresses for their wedding, they’d had a few Brides in the silver and gold Falconetti dress, but not many in the red!
I sent Susie Cave and team some photos of our wedding day afterwards, I didn’t expect a reply as I imagined they were too busy dressing the rich and famous, however, I got the most wonderful reply back, which really showed how much The Vampire’s Wife care about their clients.
Veil & Shoes
I wore a headband with birdcage veil which was custom-made by Jennifer Behr in New York. I’d spotted the triple rosette headband in an Edinburgh Bridal Boutique, however, it was in cream and I didn’t think it would work with the red dress, so I contacted Jennifer Behr on the off-chance they would be able to create the same headband but in their Oyster shade. I wasn’t hopeful but they came back to me and loved the idea, their team got to work on creating the custom headband then shipped it across from New York. I was worried it wouldn’t arrive in time, but rest assured, it did and completed my outfit.
As the dress was a bit of a showstopper, I felt the birdcage veil complimented it really well without being overbearing. After the ceremony, I tucked the veil part under the headband and wore that for the rest of the day. I’ve worn the headband a few times since – as you can tell, I love a re-wear!
My shoes were from Gabor. Total granny brand! But I needed comfort and stability for my weak ankles and walking along the Edinburgh cobbles, up Calton Hill and through Queen Street Gardens. Plus, I’m 5’7 so wasn’t worried about adding height. They’re pretty but fairly subtle, not taking away from the main event – the dress! I’ve worn them loads since, my feet weren’t sore at all by the end of the night.
I wore little pearl studs that my late Grandma (known as Mar-Mar) bought for me when I was 19, they’ve been special ever since and it felt particularly special to wear them on our wedding day when she couldn’t be there in person. She died just a few months before our wedding. Mar-Mar was a catwalk model in her heyday and was an absolute style icon, she would have adored my wedding dress and Tom’s suit.
Tom wore a beautiful and classic lambswool tweed three-piece suit from Walker Slater in the Grassmarket in Edinburgh. Tom has worn this suit several times since for events and weddings. It’s something he will wear for many years to come.
My Dad, who I am very close to, walked me down the aisle and also wore a Walker Slater suit. Similarly to my feelings about Bridesmaids, we didn’t want everyone in matching outfits, so Dad went for a navy lambs wool, to compliment Tom’s suit, not match.
We met in December 2013 at a mutual friend’s birthday party. There was instant connection from both sides and we’ve been together ever since. We spent the first few years of our relationship doing long distance between Manchester, York, Newcastle, London and even Kenya, until we finally both ended up living and working in London. We moved to Edinburgh in November 2020.
We had been living in Edinburgh for about four weeks when we got engaged (23rd December 2020), it was a freezing cold, December evening and after having a couple of Old Fashioned and Negroni cocktails, Tom persuaded me to head for an evening walk up Calton Hill. It was a stunningly clear and crisp evening, we took a couple of craft beers up with us and climbed onto the National Monument to take in the views of the city. The city was in its element, all lit-up with the castle in red, covered by a blanket of stars in the sky. We were just saying how at home we were feeling in our new city and then Tom turned around on one knee and asked me to marry him. Of course, it was a resounding yes!
We were engaged for nine months before getting married. With busy jobs and social lives, together with a modest budget, cracking on and not spending two years planning was definitely the right decision for us.
Tom has worked with lots of photographers over the years through his role in Sports Sponsorship, so I left this task to him. He was great at whittling down a shortlist. We couldn’t meet in person at that stage so met Ali Jay and a couple of others over Zoom. We both instantly loved Ali and knew she would fit in with our day really well, we wanted someone who we knew our guests would feel really comfortable around, there’s nothing worse than having orders barked at you by a photographer!
Ali has shot loads of Edinburgh weddings so knew all the good spots and was confident in The City Chambers and along The Royal Mile, which is bustling and busy so could be overwhelming for some. She took it all in her stride and we could tell she was really enjoying our day too.
Ali never made us pose for shots and just let us enjoy our day, naturally capturing moments with each other, our friends and family.
We would definitely recommend Ali to others, aside from being a brilliant photographer, she is an absolute pleasure to work with and really goes the extra mile pre and post the wedding too.
Our dress code was ‘wear something that makes you feel fabulous’, it was really important to us to not be too prescriptive about dress code or have our guests feel they had to go and purchase something new for the day, we know the cost of attending weddings really adds up and we certainly didn’t want ours to cause worry for anyone.
Venue & Location & Supporting Local Suppliers
We moved to Edinburgh in November 2020. Although I am from Newcastle, Tom from Cheltenham and we’d both spent a few years living in London, Edinburgh very quickly felt like home for both us and there was no question that it would be the place we would get married.
We live in the city centre of Edinburgh and there was something wonderful about being able to walk to all of our venues from our flat, we chose our venues in deepest darkest lockdown in January 2021, about a month after getting engaged.
Absolutely nothing was open so we didn’t have a lot to go on, but as soon as we saw the beautiful and ancient City Chambers, we knew it was the right place for us. We didn’t want lots of fuss and the Chambers gave us the perfect place to get married in a beautiful setting, in among the lively atmosphere of Edinburgh. On many of our lockdown lunchtime walks, we would walk from our flat up to The Royal Mile and past the Chambers, it was always really special seeing the place we were going to get married in in a few months’ time.
We tried to use as many hyper-local suppliers as possible, not only because this is important to us anyway, but because this meant less chance of Covid impacting supply/delivery issues. For example, using a local photographer really reduced the chances of anything going wrong, it also helped that she was brilliant!
Another way to reduce waste and ensure longevity was by choosing dried flowers for mine and my sister’s (my Bridesmaid) bouquets, not only are they stunning and stay robust for the full wedding day but they last for years to come.
Dahlia in Stockbridge, Edinburgh, were absolutely wonderful to work with. I popped in one day and asked if they do Bridal bouquets, at that point they didn’t but they were really excited to try!
Phoebe, Dhalia’s founder and owner put loads of work into experimenting with creating bridal bouquets and then showed me the finished product. She was happy for me to make any changes but I didn’t want to change a thing, her creation was stunning!
It gave me great joy to support another local and female-owned business. The other bonus to dried flowers was not having to factor in a fresh flower delivery on the day of the wedding. I picked the flowers up a couple of weeks before our wedding day and had them in our flat until the day, they now sit proudly on our window seat and will do so for many years to come.
Angels with Bagpipes was chosen for a few reasons – although completely closed for lockdown, we knew Angels with Bagpipes had an excellent reputation for its food so were not at all hesitant to book it for our drinks and nibbles reception post-ceremony. Its proximity to the Chambers was a key feature – just a 30 second walk along the cobbles on The Royal Mile.
We were keen to support local, independent businesses as much as we possibly could so we were really pleased when Angels with Bagpipes said yes to hosting our guests post-ceremony.
One of my closest friends made our wedding cake! She’s a great baker and one of the first things she said when we got engaged was ‘can I make your wedding cake?’, I wasn’t sure if this was a serious offer until nearer the time she mentioned it again whilst we were sea swimming together. I delightfully took her up on the offer as having a friend make our wedding cake felt so much more special than buying one in. She made a three-layer coconut and raspberry cake and decorated it with fresh flowers, it was beautiful and not one crumb went to waste!
My parents surprised us with a 1930s Beauford Tourer from Edinburgh Classic Wedding Cars. We felt like film stars being driven around the city in our open top vintage car, it added loads of fun to the day and meant we could visit a few of our favourite spots around the city.
Initially I had planned to just jump in a taxi to the wedding, but the vintage car really added something very special to the day – sometimes parents do know best!
The atmosphere was electric! Our friends and family headed to a nearby pub whilst we got driven around the city in the car, it was a scorching hot day so we had the roof down all day. We drove up Calton Hill, which is where we got engaged and one of our favourite places to go for a post-dinner walk so it was really special to go up there together on our wedding day.
Ali, our photographer, gave us the time to walk around together and soak up our day, whilst managing to get some incredible shots of us, without ever making us pose or feel awkward, which was exactly what we wanted.
Planning in a Pandemic
Luckily, we did not have to move our wedding date. However, we did always say that even if our wedding day could not go as planned due to COVID-19 rules, we would go ahead and get married the two of us anyway. We were both very glad that this didn’t have to be the case, but getting married was always the important part for us.
The Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS) on Queen Street, was actually only chosen around six weeks before our wedding day, as our original evening venue had to pull out due to unforeseen circumstances. However, this all worked out beautifully in the end.
Every bottle of whisky at the society has a unique and characterful name, the society let us pick a bottle from their whisky selection for the Toast, we chose one called ‘Scent with Love’. It was all these small touches that made our day really personal, I definitely feel it reflected us as a couple and our new home in Scotland.
The SMWS’s reputation preceded it when it came to the food, the food really was outstanding and they catered without fuss to various dietary requirements from family and friends. We wanted somewhere that was a restaurant first and foremost and not a ‘wedding venue’ as such, so we could ensure the food was of top quality. We had scallops to start, braised beef short rib followed by a dark chocolate and whisky tart. It was mouth-watering!
We had lots of long candles and flowers in an eclectic mix of small vases. My colleagues sent me a beautiful bouquet of flowers the day before our wedding, I decided these shouldn’t go unseen in our flat and instead brought them to the wedding venue, they were perfect for on top of the whisky bar.
We collected oyster shells and scallop shells for the place cards, writing each name on the shell. We’re always at the beach, going for long walks or a sea swim so it felt right to bring a bit of the coast to our wedding day. Lots of guests took their shell home with them, I love seeing them in people’s homes when we go over; on a dressing table with earrings in or as a unique soap dish.
One of our closest friends, Katharine from The Absolute Word, designed our wedding invitations. She drew by hand a map of Edinburgh with all of our venues depicted perfectly. Our invitations were very informal and fun, reflecting the two of us well.
Our values were reflected throughout our wedding day, from the handwritten notes that each guest found as they arrived at their place setting, to the local businesses we supported, to the lack of waste which is important to us both environmentally and financially – it’s never sat well with either of us when we’ve seen the late-night buffet food or wedding cake go uneaten.
Supporting a charity was important to us both. Instead of wedding favours, we bought second-hand records from our local Shelter Charity shop and used these as the place setting for the evening meal, either the artist or the artwork on the record cover had a link to each guest. The joy of having a ‘wee wedding’ meant that we could personalise many elements of the day.
We definitely did not want a ‘theme’ or a ‘colour scheme’, this felt far too restrictive and twee. When you put beautiful and meaningful pieces together, without really trying, these all come together in an eclectic mix that reflects you as a couple.
Evening & Dancing
We didn’t do a first dance, however, my brother Theodore, blasted ‘September’ by Earth, Wind and Fire on a portable speaker whilst our wedding guests threw confetti on us along the Royal Mile. An Edinburgh Tour Guide flash mob then began dancing and shouting CONGRATULATIONS at us.
It was all incredibly fun and had a real city wedding vibe. The atmosphere was amazing and the bystanders were loving it.
Words of Wedded Wisdom
Love My Dress is a fantastic resource for Brides and Grooms, I particularly love the ‘Real Weddings’ section, I LOVE reading about Brides who have challenged the status quo and done something a bit different. There’s some really fun and creative weddings depicted by Love My Dress which are an excellent source of inspiration.
Many of our best memories are things that haven’t cost a penny, so why blow the budget on one day? We had a modest budget that meant we focused on quality over quantity, supporting local and not wasting. This reflected our values and meant we had some money leftover for Honeymoon.
Renting my wedding dress out on HURR.com has been brilliant, I have more than made back the cost of the dress, whilst also having the satisfaction of it not being sat in the wardrobe for years!
When well-meaning friends and family ask for updates on your plans and decisions, feel empowered to say ‘we’ve not quite thought about that yet’ or ‘we’re considering a few options’ then move on if you’re finding their questions overwhelming. It’s only natural that people want to ask questions, but it can sometimes add pressure.
Be confident to have the day you want; a day that reflects you as a couple. This might mean straying away from traditions, for example, having 30 guests instead of 100 or wearing a red wedding dress! But don’t let anyone try to persuade you to do otherwise, they will try but stay true to what you want. You will thank yourself for it later.
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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.