Like many couples, Emma and Bruce had spent months planning their perfect wedding day, chatting with suppliers and putting together their guest lists; only for those plans to be shattered when the COVID pandemic hit.
This is the story of how Emma and Bruce had to adapt their plans and hold a micro-wedding in Winton’s Walled Garden this August.
Emma and Bruce initially visited Winton Castle back in November 2018, as the first tour of 6 potential wedding venues for their special day.
“We both grew up in East Lothian so we knew we wanted to get married in the area,” say Emma and Bruce. “After some internet research and a few emails back and forward we had a shortlist of 6 potential venues that we booked to see. We almost didn’t book in to see Winton as we thought it might’ve been just a little too close to where we grew up.
“However, having visited the castle a few years previously, I was curious to see what a Winton wedding was like. So, we booked our first viewing with Rae, fully expecting to use it to test the waters and get us into the swing of wedding planning. It probably took less than 10 minutes to fall in love with the wedding venue but tried to keep a level head as we still had 5 other visits to make.
“We went to the 5 other venues, but every time we compared them to what we had seen at Winton we agreed that it had everything we were looking for: friendly staff; beautiful grounds; a stunning interior; and a comfortable, quiet space for our grandparents to sit by the fire should the dancing be all a bit too much for them. Bruce had said to me that we could create a personal and intimate day for us in such a grand setting, so the tagline, ‘Intimacy on a grand scale’, is perfect!”
With an original wedding date of April 2020, a delay of 4 months seemed like a good compromise as the couple tell us in their own words.
“When our original date in April was cancelled, we were devastated but optimistic that things would be back to normal by the middle to end of summer. So, with the support of Rae and her team we rescheduled our date for August. As time went on and it became clearer that we were in exactly the same position as back in March, we had to rethink our plans.
“As much as we wanted to have all our friends and family there to celebrate, we agreed that the most important thing was for us to be married. We decided that as long as restrictions allowed us to have our closest family there, we would go ahead and celebrate with everyone later. Ultimately, we didn’t want to go through the same upset and stress of re-arranging suppliers for a second time, postponing really wasn’t an option that we wanted to consider.
“We had originally planned for around 85 day-guests and an additional 20 people to join us for the evening celebrations. We were to get married in the beautiful drawing room with a pianist to lead the hymns and then provide music for the drinks reception. There should’ve been a piper to welcome guests and a band to get everyone up dancing. We were to have full use of the castle and the grounds for guests to mingle as they pleased.
“In the end, there were 18 of us, the music was provided via speakers and Spotify playlists, and the centre pieces were replaced with flowers carefully placed around our table. We had always planned to keep the day relaxed and, in many ways, our stripped-back wedding was everything we could’ve ever wanted.”
After chatting through options with Emma and Bruce, it was decided that the day would mostly be hosted in Winton’s Walled Garden as limits on an indoor wedding reception at the time remained at a maximum of 8 guests from 3 households.
For guests to be able to enjoy the gardens in full without relying on the Scottish weather, a large canopy was set up under which the socially distanced meal was hosted and an outdoor bar area set up. Fire pits were dotted around to provide warmth, and picnic benches and straw bales provided relaxed and flexible lounge areas for guests to enjoy. Garden games went down a treat and provided lots of entertainment for all the guests.
“The idea of a marquee had stopped us from selecting one of the other venues back at the start of the planning process. It was something neither of us had been interested in, but after seeing some of the photos from the trial run that the Winton staff had set up in the Walled Garden our preconceived idea of nasty plastic tents quickly went out of our heads!
“The flowers and gardens added so much colour that the marquee blended in perfectly, with the sides removed it was simply the perfect cover for us to have our wedding breakfast and enjoy a couple of drinks from the bar. We loved the set up so much that we are hoping to incorporate it into the celebrations we have with the rest of our family and friends next summer.
“The atmosphere at Winton is so different to anything else we experienced. It is the perfect blend of elegance and simplicity. Everyone loved the castle, but the real strength is how homely it feels.
“Our guests were just delighted that we managed to have our day. They all thought it was perfect in so many ways. After so many months of uncertainty, we all enjoyed the opportunity to see each other and relax as much as possible.
“The hospitality at Winton was second to none! From the start, Rae and the rest of the staff couldn’t do enough to help us. The process of planning the wedding was very smooth; we felt completely relaxed and didn’t have any concerns that the day would run like clockwork. On the wedding day, the staff were ever-present yet very discreet. Nothing was too much trouble.
“The lawn games set up in the garden were a great touch; while Bruce and I were off having our photos taken, our other guests could have a drink, and play Jenga and croquet, so there was never a dull moment.”
Winton were delighted to host such a special and intimate wedding celebration for Emma and Bruce, and they look forward to welcoming them back, along with their extended family and friends, for a big party next summer. The team at Winton wishes Emma and Bruce a lifetime of happiness as Mr & Mrs!
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Many thanks to Mark Quinn Photography, and Emma and Bruce, for the excellent photos.