Real Scottish Weddings - Timberyard, Edinburgh

October 17th, 2023

Timberyard & The Rowan Tree

For days the weather forecast said rain. On the 9th, Edinburgh had woken up to fog. By the morning of the 10th, uncertain rays of sunshine were finding their way through the cloud layers. As I gathered up my photography equipment and took my last sip of tea before I left, I saw at least a glint of light hit the slopes of Calton Hill.

It is a rare event that I get to walk to a wedding, but Rosemary & Ian's wedding venue only a few minutes walk away from home it was nice to not drive or worry about the challenges of city parking. As I crossed Lothian road and snuck down the side streets, my day's work began with a man shouting down from the second floor window as I awkwardly tried to film a scene for my Insta Stories.

Something told me he was one of the groomsmen.

Rosemary & Ian had taken over two apartments around the corner from Timberyard.

Beautiful aesthetics aside, I arrived into the girls' flat to a wonderful scene of friends & family in the midst of anticipation and nerves. Mimosas were already flowing, and everyone was lounging around waiting for their turn for hair and make-up. All the pieces were in place for the start of an amazing day.

That Wedding Dress!

What I love about a traditional Edinburgh New Town flat are the beautiful windows I can use to set the scene for details. The flat was flooded with light, making a perfect backdrop for this stunning dress from Emma Roy.

Finding the best place to photograph the dress in is my number one priority when arriving at morning preparations. For dresses as beautiful as Rosemary's, only the right light and composition can really do it justice.

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With the boys in the flat above, it was like flitting between two entirely different realities.

Downstairs Chris Dickson  and Kirstie Suttie were on a creative mission with the mums and bridesmaids for hair and make up respectively. It was a sophisticated affair of prosecco, fruit and relaxed chit in coordinated pyjamas.

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Meanwhile, upstairs, Rosemary's brother was drinking beer from a mug.

Details are one of my favourite parts of the day. I get to play with light and composition a lot more than at any other time during a wedding.

Seeing the dress, the rings, the little cards, jewellery and tokens of love from friends & family allows me to feel more connected with the couple, and to their loved ones.

And I won't lie, being surrounded by so many beautiful objects is definitely one of the perks of the job!

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Sentimental Wedding Details

Sometimes details are more than just about the bride or the groom though, they can be symbols of those who cannot be there for their child's important day.

When the bouquets and buttonholes arrived from Pollination, there was something special about the floral arrangement.

And now for something completely different....

With his Scottish heritage, you might expect Ian to turn up in his family tartan, full kilt outfit with sporran and sgian-dubh passed down the generations. This is Ian though, and the second you ever met him you'd know he couldn't have worn anything else but this bespoke floral suit.

And it was only fitting that he brought the rest of the boys into his colour scheme with matching trousers, bowties and braces. As smashing as they looked once fully dressed, Ian's two best men and groomsmen didn't quite understand how braces worked. Normally it's dresses I'm buttoning up or necklaces I'm clasping, today it was bowties and buttonholes.

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For so many weddings the main focus of the day is on the bride, but when a groom is getting ready nearby it's great to capture some of the weird, insane and hilarious moments between a groom and his brethren.

As we crowded around on the street outside, I yelled to the boys that the theme for their photographs was Reservoir Dogs meets Trainspotting.

And then the boys were off... Heading back for more shots with Rosemary, her hair was complete and she looked stunning.

During the finishing touches of make up, the flat was suddenly overcome with the collective realisation that this was happening - that the preparations were coming to an end and that Rosemary would soon be walking down the aisle.

It's amazing how fast those hours speed by in the morning of your wedding. An hour can go by in the twirl of a GHD tong, or the flick of an eyeliner pencil.

Bridal preparations are myriad of emotions, and as much as you think it might be the bride at risk of mascara stains, I always look to the parents who more often than not are silently and only just keeping it together. And so it was no sooner than a second after I'd asked Rosemary's mum how she was that we were both crying in each others arms.

Thoughts composed, tears dabbed: it was time for Rosemary to finally put on her dress. As her mum buttoned up her beautiful lace detailed back, Rosemary glowed in the daylight streaming in.

Bridesmaids, sister Lizzie and Kaz, were emotional seeing Rosemary in her wedding dress, perfect hair and so ready to be married.

It was time.

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The Ceremony Begins

When I arrived at Timberyard, Ian was standing underneath the tree. The couples' friends and family were seated and standing around in the restaurant's courtyard.

With buildings surrounding us, the courtyard brushed with greens and rustics, it felt like we were in our private world. No cars, no city bustle or pedestrians pummelling through crowds with places to be. Here, there was no other place to be, not for Rosemary & Ian.

All was still with anticipation as the music played and Lizzie & Kaz gracefully walked down the aisle one by one to greet and kiss Ian on the cheek.

Every eye was upon Ian, who up at the front has his own eyes fixed on the door for his first glimpse of Rosemary.

And what a glimpse he got. Arm in arm with her mum at her side, Rosemary was radiant.

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Sunshine and smiles

The sun blessed their wedding with its rays as the couple were finally reunited together under the tree at Timberyard.

Their friends & family watched as their celebrant recounted their story - from their first meeting through to Ian's dramatic proposal in Ibiza involving secret flights, and one of his best men dressed as a unicorn. If you think that's crazy, keep reading until the speeches!

And if you hadn't guessed already, this was no ordinary wedding. With every tradition, there came a twist.

As time came to the ring exchange, Ian got down on one knee - or at least as close as he could before that tradition with a twist added another word beginning with T to his trousers.

With the support of his best men, he looked up - for the last time - at his fiancé to once again profess his love for Rosemary.

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Rings exchanged, vows made

It was underneath the tree that the couple looked at each other  - married at last, and the shining sun glinting in their eyes - before their very first kiss as husband and wife.

Rosemary's mum took to centre stage to recite a special medley of poems by Ogden Nash for her daughter and new son-in-law. Her hand gripping the tree for support, she bravely made the entire wedding party laugh, smile and cry.

"To keep your marriage brimming,

With love in the loving cup,

Whenever you're wrong, admit it

Whenever you're right, shut up."

- Ogden Nash

Another twist on tradition

One of most popular traditions of Scottish weddings is of course the Quaich Ceremony.

Both Rosemary & Ian wanted their loved ones to also be included - and so a very "traditional" Guatemalan rum with a dash (and judging by the reaction shot of Rosemary it really was just a dash!) of coke was poured into four glasses and then the Quaich.  

And so it was time to celebrate

In the rustic surroundings of Timberyard, cocktails and canapes were served.

Splinters of sunlight broke through the clouds and bathed the little courtyard in the last of the summer light. Guitarist Sean Lithgow sung serenely while strumming his acoustic, a perfect addition to their relaxed and intimate atmosphere.

For a couple of hours I wove in and out of the guests, capturing candids and arranging group shots - and finding three rascals in the shape of Chris, Ian and best man Craig colluding underneath one of beautiful trees in the courtyard.

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Before dinner was served, Rosemary took the microphone to pay special tribute to her late father while Ian stood up to proudly declare how much he loved his wife.

With everyone distracted by the sentiment and emotion, no one was quite prepared for what was going to happen next.

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Co-best man Lee walked up from his seat and bee-lined straight for the TV set up by the bar. He started fidgeting with settings before telling the wedding party "I'll be back in a minute!" and ran out of sight.

Cue the video that began to play on the TV as the guests, Rosemary and Ian watched in confusion, surprise and laughter as Lee - on screen - ran out of the Timberyard, down Lothian Road - stopping for a pint at The Huxley - before making his way to his home and back via bike, jet ski and sportscar and all the antics in between to get a copy of his speech and be back in time to run breathlessly into the room - everyone cheering and applauding loudly.

With dinner  served against soft lighting and cosy lit-candles, the guests enjoyed a fantastic  meal with wine pairing.

It's at this point that I have to commend the staff at Timberyard for their top-notch service and for managing to wash over 350 wine glasses by the time desserts were devoured.

The Evening Begins (with a surprise)

Once the guests fed and watered (eau de grape) there was one surprise waiting for them in the form of Louise Marshall - booted, kilted and bagpiped. After some heel stomping rhythms in Timberyard, Louise marched the entire wedding party across the Grassmarket to the tunes of "We Will Rock You" and "500 Miles" with diners and drinkers alike standing up to watch and film their epic procession.

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A Moment Alone

As the sound of bagpipes led the guests onwards to The Rowan Tree at the far side of the Cowgate, Rosemary, Ian & I slipped out to Victoria Terrace to catch the last of the evening light and incorporate the glow and magical hues of one of Edinburgh's most magical streets for their couple portraits.

Romantic poses were only briefly interrupted by a certain someone's bad choice of footwear...

Taking to the cobbles, Rosemary twirled underneath Ian's hand, allowing her beautiful gown to swirl in the soft evening breeze.

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The Fastest Forty Seconds

And as we approached The Rowan Tree, once again all eyes were on us for one of the most challenging shots of my year so far. We'd agreed this shot when Rosemary & I first spoke, and with so many factors at play, there would be no second chances at taking it.

In the space of about 40 seconds, I had to setup my off camera flash, trigger, get Rosemary & Ian into position, into the perfect pose, get the best men to stop traffic on either side of South Bridge, and push my camera settings to their limits to get this shot.

Thank you to all the taxi drivers annoyed with us that night! And thank you to all the passers-by cheering us on!

This photo felt like a culmination of the whole wedding party's joint effort to ensure that Rosemary & Ian got the shot they wanted.

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With adrenaline coarsing through my veins, we ventured inside to the peaceful and majestic music played by the wonderful harpist Dara Watson.

Announced as husband and wife for the first time, there was some quick switching of cameras and flash on my part as the excitement mounted ahead of their first dance.

And then the romantic moment halted for the eclectic sound of a saxophone screaming over the intense and awesome music courtesy of Beyond Entertainment and Shades of Sax.

For nearly 18 months this type of celebration had been banned - and it was surreal to be back in amongst it again.

With dubious limb-throwing-style moves from some of the guests (looking at you Harry), I slipped out of the party and into the cool of the night to leave Rosemary & Ian to make merry memories that even alcohol couldn't let you forget.

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Supplier Credits

Ceremony Venue - Timberyard

Evening Venue - The Rowan Tree

Dress - Emma Roy

Hair - Chris Dickson (and Robin to his Batman, Ian)

Make-up - Kirstie Suttie

Flowers - Pollination

Cake - The Cake Lounge

Guitarist - Sean Lithgow

Harpist - Dara Watson

Evening DJ & Sax - Beyond Entertainment & Shades of Sax

With thanks to Rosemary & Ian for allowing me to use their photographs