Real Scottish Weddings - Riddles Court, Edinburgh
The sun's rays brushed my skin as I stepped out into the Royal Mile, and I felt a sudden rush of nostalgia for summer time, swing dresses and the sweet taste of Pimms in the sunshine.
It was easy to forget that it was only the 3rd of April, and even easier to forget that it was Easter Weekend. Though the cobbled streets and shadowy closes echoed the conversations of friends catching up after months of isolation, the boarded up shops and restaurants were a reminder of just how much further to normality we had to go... but no reminder was greater than my destination...
Riddles Court on Lawnmarket... for the micro wedding of Anna & David.
Framed by ornate stonework, it is difficult to make out the now faded letters carving the words Riddles Court, and as many pass by without even a glance I have already caught my first frame of the day as a shard of sunlight illuminates the vibrant terracotta courtyard beyond the shadows of the Close.
By a green door I can hear the giggles and laughter within. This is my favourite part of the day, where every moment is captivated by excitement and anticipation for all that is to come.
As I make my way up the spiral staircase to the King's Chamber, the door opens wide to a beautiful Anna in her silk white bridal pyjamas. A smile as bright as the sun greets me and I enter into the stunning self catering accommodation that is part of Riddles Court.
With Hair and Makeup already underway and only an hour and a half before the ceremony, it's time to stop lusting over the intricately painted overhead rafters and get to work.
Details are always first on the shot list for my weddings. As a photographer, it's easy for me to go in and immediately enter candid mode with my Nikon camera and 70-200mm portrait lens. However, I appreciate that as many times as I have shot bridal preparations, I know that for this bridal party it is nearly always their first. Starting with the details allows everyone to get used to my presence and begin to relax around me.
Two years ago, the wedding today would be called an intimate elopement, the legal minimum. Today, with just Anna and her bridesmaid, it is both that and the legal maximum.
Before my arrival at the King's Chamber, I had snuck into the Geddes Room for a peak at their ceremony setup. Lovingly arranged by AL Productions, every detail was laid out in a playful, rustic fashion, even incorporating David's love of whisky into the décor. It was absolutely stunning.
The sun spears through the window and illuminates a corner of the room, providing a perfect place for the dress shot.
Capturing the dress in the perfect light is a priority for me - it's such an important part of the wedding for many brides and with so many intricate details and sparkles this dress definitely deserved two stunning locations!
Within a silver box lies a six pence - a treasured family heirloom handed down from Anna's grandmother that will be slipped into her shoe later for the ceremony.
The prosecco is flowing and Anna is now ready for her Hair and Make-up.
Many brides can be a little shy about photographing bridal preparations. It can feel intrusive and it's easy to feel self conscious during this time. I reassure everyone in the bridal party by being as discreet as possible, and catching key moments of the finishing touches and candid moments together.
These images also act as a marker in time, with the generations to come asking curious questions about mask wearing make up artists in a pandemic a long time ago.
Leaving the girls to their fizz, I head to meet groom David and his best man for a Lads on Tour photography session - aka a wee wander about the Royal Mile.
Kilted to the hilt, David looks quite at home in amongst his grand Old Town surroundings. His best man jokes that he could maybe make a few quid busking before the ceremony.
We walked down towards St Giles Street - stopping for a few snaps at the famous Deacon Brodie's Tavern to lament about it's current closure.
It was at this point that several pedestrians wished David and his best man congratulations in their new married life and for a while the bromance threatened to derail the entire ceremony as Anna was jilted in favour for David's long haired lothario from Fife!
Our tour continued up the side of The Mound - with a quick stop for a dram from a hip flask along the way - and back up to the Royal Mile.
It's not easy to capture candid moments between two people immediately after meeting them for the first time, so I engage my Scottish banter and try and relax them into being themselves in front of this weirdo stranger with two cameras strapped to her body.
With half an hour to go before the ceremony, I am now back with Anna and her bridesmaid who are so relaxed I do have to remind them they might want to put on their dresses at some point. I loved this about them - they were so wrapped up in the moment, the excitement and their friendship.
Pastries and prosecco lay as evidence of the fun the morning had brought them both.
As the two friends completed their looks with jewellery and a final touch of lipstick, it was time to discard the PJs.
The best moments came from fixing the buttons on the back of Anna's dress...
...and from realising that they'd coordinated their wedding colours with the doors and windows in the courtyard....
It was from the ground floor that I hear the applause. With only 5 allowed at the ceremony, I was unable to capture those key moments of any wedding - the bride's arrival, the first kiss, and the ring exchange.
Live streamed through the power of Zoom, their loved ones were able to watch as they declared their love and said their vows and so it was that the first time that I saw Anna and David together in person was as they were married.
Before they noticed I had arrived, I managed to capture Anna & David saying their virtual goodbyes.
Though there were no cocktails or canapes, there were castles and confetti!
So much of any wedding is planned in intricate detail by couples, so if I can add a little surprise and spontaneity in any way to bring out a little smile and laughter then I will.
Before the ceremony, I was left in charge of the confetti and we had planned to do that shot exclusively at Riddles Court. I saved two boxes in case we needed to do a second confetti shot at the venue (ever the cautious photographer). The shots at the venue were great and I knew our next location was the Castle. Discreetly letting the best man and bridesmaid in on the secret, when we went in for the group shots at the Castle door after the initial couple shots, I knew I was going to get some great candid moments between the group.
As part of our pre-planning, we had discussed the idea of incorporating Calton Hill into our day's photography. We had scheduled it to be the last stop of the day, but as with every wedding, plans on the day change and evolve and I am always thinking creatively and on my feet in any given location.
Edinburgh is full of hidden gems, and there's always a unique perspective waiting round every corner. Having lived in Edinburgh for over a decade, I knew exactly the place to grab some final shots of this beautiful couple and their wonderful friends.
Anna & David's love and laughter was so infectious, I couldn't help but want to share it with you.
Congratulations to the happy couple, and to many more years and decades of everything that makes this couple so truly, uniquely beautiful.