Fiona Dow and Russell Day were married at Winton House in April 2010.When we asked them if they’d like to write a blog about their Wedding at Winton, Fiona emailed back: “uncanny timing as last night I had a dream that I was living at Winton House!”
Why did you choose Winton House near Edinburgh for your wedding?
“We were looking for a venue where we could have everything in one place – ceremony, reception and accommodation for the entire wedding party. It had to be convenient to get to as we had guests coming from different parts of the UK (and across Europe).
“We also wanted somewhere that had the right atmosphere; that was very important to us. I used to work in events so have spent a lot of time in nice hotels and conference halls. I was determined that our wedding wouldn’t have that ‘hotel slightly sanitised’ feel.
“We also wanted the freedom to add our stamp to the wedding and not be prescribed to on timings, set up, menus etc. Winton House ticked all of those boxes and was above and beyond our hopes.”
Who were the guests at your wedding?
“The guests were an equal balance of friends and family. We live in London so a large contingent came up from here. Russ’s parents and the best man live down in Cornwall so were able to take advantage of the flight from Newquay to Edinburgh. We also had a sister coming over from Greece and friends from Belgium.
“Most of my family live in Scotland – some as close as Pencaitland so they were able to walk to and from the wedding. My parents live in Inveresk which was also a short drive away.”
What was the format on the day and over the weekend?
“We wanted to give people an opportunity to get to know each other better or catch up before the wedding. So we had a small gathering in Winton Cottage on Friday night and provided some food and drink. It was a great ice breaker and I’m sure helped contribute the really warm and friendly atmosphere on the day. It also gave people a chance to explore the grounds and figure out where the ceremony would be.
“The wedding was held in the afternoon on the Saturday so people had a relaxed start to the day and plenty of time to have lunch and get ready before the ceremony. We left food hampers in Winton Cottage and Wintonhill Farmhouse for those staying there to make the day as leisurely as possibly.
“We had a civil ceremony in Winton House’s amazing drawing room, followed by drinks and photographs before dinner. To help fill that time we also arranged for a Burns performance which went down really well. After a delicious dinner we had some ceilidh dancing and then an iPod playlist for the disco.
“On Sunday we offered people recovery drinks and lunch at my Dad’s house. It was a real bonus, because people were staying for the weekend; we got the chance to hear everyone’s stories from the wedding. It was fun to hear all the different anecdotes that we might not have heard otherwise. I think we would have missed out if everyone had dispersed back to their homes the morning after the wedding.”
What was the feedback from guests?
“Overall, we wanted to make sure that everyone had a great weekend away and had lots of fun. The overwhelming response we had was how relaxed, fun and friendly it was and how well they were all looked after. Lots of people didn’t want to go home!The hospitality was absolutely second to none. I can’t put into words how comfortable we felt being at Winton House. Everyone from Harry (the man who can!) to Sir Francis, was so welcoming.
“I felt that the staff struck the perfect balance between professional and friendly so at no times did things feel stuffy or too formal despite being in such grand surroundings.
“The food was superb. Our friends who had been to 8 weddings in 8 weeks before ours said that it was the best that they’d experienced. There were lots of small details that were thought of. One example is that we had real difficulty deciding between two starters at our menu tasting – so Morag suggested that we serve them both at alternating place settings. It was a nice touch that got people talking at their tables.”
Is there anything unique that makes Winton stand out?
“From the moment we walked through the impressive entrance into the warm and welcoming interior, we knew that Winton was different. The smell of the log fires left such a lasting impression from our first visit. As did the attitude that although Winton is a historic venue, it’s also a home. That attitude sums up that way we felt for the duration of our time at Winton. (And I’m not just writing this because you asked …..!).
“Last but not least the weekend would not have been the same without the exceptional calm, friendly, and professional capability that Morag brings. After every visit to Winton we left knowing that Morag had it all under control. There was never any doubt in our mind that if we’d asked for something to be done it would happen in exactly the way Morag said it would.
“It was such a great feeling to wake up on the big day knowing that as far as I was concerned the hard work had been done. It was all in Morag’s capable hands and it was such a weight off my shoulders.
“It was the most relaxed I had been in weeks (although I’m not sure Russ was quite as calm!). Every member of both our families commented on the difference that Morag made and most of our guests were on first name terms with her by the end of the weekend too.
“Our wedding weekend exceeded all of our (at times rather demanding) expectations. I smile every time I think of Winton and my Mum still wants to pop in and have a look at the house whenever she’s in the neighbourhood!
Fiona & Russell
PS. “After a wonderful wedding weekend we jetted off to the Maldives. Then, in a turn of events you couldn’t make up, the volcano exploded so we were ‘stranded’ in the Maldives. BA postponed our flight home by 11 days so we decided to hop over to Sri Lanka for 10 days. It was amazing!”