Humanist Ceremony in Scotland by Melanie Fiander

The locations of the Way Up North community members stretch far and wide, as with today’s featured photographer. Melanie Fiander of Fiander Foto is originally from Washington, DC and now calls Bermuda home. Her story is quite international in general, and we encourage you to read more about her here.

This particular wedding caught our eye as it showcased both the historical locations and traditions Scotland has to showcase. The story Melanie captured told a tale of incredible locations, an amazing ceremony, and special traditions woven into the day.

Enjoy the story, and be sure to give Melanie a follow on Instagram afterwards!

Words & Images by Melanie Fiander

The wedding was hosted at Errol Park Estate in Errol, which is a village located in Perth and Kinross, Scotland – just along the River Tay. The oldest structure of the Estate dates back to 1747, only a year after the end of the Jacobite Rising. I arrived at Errol Park Estate with my husband, Jim, two days early to do some location scouting before the wedding. The grounds, gardens, and interior of both the house and the Circular Stable Block, where the reception was to be held, were pristine. The grounds were home to some of the sweetest horses and Highland Cows you’ve ever seen.

Like all good Scottish Weddings, the wedding day was kicked off with a hint of misty rain, which really brought out the lush neon green spring landscape. The bride, her maids, and family members got ready at the Estate. As the ladies finished up their hair, make-up, and mimosas, the groom and groomsmen arrived and pinned on their buttonholes. From this moment forward, the overall “vibe” of the day was that of pure joy.

The Ceremony

The Celebrant that led Janine & Karl’s Humanist Ceremony was spectacular; she was funny with a sense of reason one may expect Yoda himself to possess. After the registrar was signed, the couple sealed their wedding with a few sips of blended Irish and Scottish Whiskey from the Quaich, which symbolized the groom’s Irish heritage and the bride’s Scottish heritage.

The Perfect Portrait Setting

Luckily, the rain slowed down a bit and we took that opportunity to step outside and take a few photos around the property. The southern facing side of the estate was covered with lavender wisteria, which provided a stunning backdrop for bridal portraits. We made our way west through the Estate; carving out some time to capture a few romantic moments along the yee walk, which was planted in 1800.

We had one last stop on the “bridal portrait” tour of the estate: the historic folly in the woods. This particular structure had an unprecedented amount of charm and when I first saw it, I felt I had fallen back in time. In one moment, I became both excited and nervous because I had a feeling that this would be where I would take “the” shot of the day. Without keeping the couple away from the reception for too long, we took photos both inside and outside the folly and from several different angles. The groundskeeper, Colin, was with us during this time and he was kind enough to light a few candles inside. As I leaned my body half way out of one of the gothic windows and aimed my lens at the couple in the opposite window, I thought “ah-ha”; this is the shot.

A Formidable Challenge

It’s a funny story actually; the most challenging moment of photographing this wedding came the day before the wedding. Mentioned above, I had arrived two days early to location scout. One day before the wedding, the couple and their friends were allowed to set-up their décor in the Circular Barn for the reception and Jim and I were allowed access into the house to photograph the details: the dress, invite, shoes, rings, etc.

Each room within the estate had a different personality and boasted a variety of colors, surfaces, and textures. After carefully selecting where I wanted to photograph all of the important items of their wedding day, I got into a serious shooting “zone”. With my iPhone playing music (at a low and respectable volume), I had a great time arranging the dress and shooting a few different flat-lays. In between helping me, Jim checked in with the groundskeeper, who informed him he was going to be locking up “shortly”.

With this in mind, I finished my last flat-lay, packed up, and we started to exit the estate. Although upon arriving at the door, we found it locked. Jim – shaking his head – looked at me and said, “you better call the bride”. The last thing I wanted to tell my client was that we had been locked in! For a brief moment I thought, perhaps I can lift this massive window and jump 4 feet down to freedom. Thankfully, common sense kicked in and I realized it would be better – meaning, safer and smarter – to just call the bride.

After being rescued by my lovely client – who was still in the Circular Barn decorating for the reception – and expressing our utmost gratitude, Jim and I made our way to the local fish and chips shop for dinner, and then back to our AirBnB, “The Nest”. That night – we laughed quite a bit about almost getting locked into the venue the night before the wedding. (Hey – it happens, right?)

The Swap

It goes without saying that the landscape, architecture, and history of Errol Park Estate were awe-inspiring. Although with this particular wedding, I was really impressed by the strong bonds the bride and groom had with their families. Both the bride and the groom had several siblings who performed significant roles during the ceremony.

To kick off the dancing, the couple organized a “confetti toss walk” and had a little surprise for everyone: a very special “dress swap”, that involved Janine changing into her Grandmother’s wedding dress; a vintage piece that was worn 50 years prior. Photographing her grandmother’s emotional reaction was very inspiring to me.

Vendor Team

Photography: Fiander Foto  | Venue: Errol Park Estate  |  Celebrant: Lucie Johnston of Humanist Society Scotland

Bridal Dress #1: Still White | Bridal Dress #2: Grandmother’s Wedding Dress Circa 1950 | Bridal Shoes: Prada

Bridesmaids’ PJs: Jean Alice | Hair: Carol Zarebski Duffy | Make Up: Catherine McCarter  |  Rings: T. Paterson Jewellers

Groom’s Attire: Marc Darcy  |  Florals: Amy Annand  | Cake: Abbie Dobson | Linen & Candleabras: 88 Events

Catering: Season Catering  |  Video: Little Films | String Quartet: Arta | Band: Northern Star

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