London based couple Nikki and Doug may have met in Australia but it was Scotland they settled on for their big day. Doug was born and raised in Edinburgh, while Nikki’s family history traces back to Scotland. It’s a place very close to their hearts, with many special memories of trips there as a couple. Weekend wedding venue Newhall Estate, in Carlops near Edinburgh, was the perfect choice for them to host their friends and family from both the UK and overseas.

When and how did you two meet?

We met in Melbourne, Australia in 2015. Doug had just moved to Australia with Ewan (who was Doug’s best man). They were looking for a flat and found a lovely four bedroom flat that some girls were moving out of. When they went to view the flat, the girls invited them to their leaving party. I [Nikki] worked with two of these girls, so when the boys turned up at their leaving party, I was there too! Doug and Ewan didn’t have anyone else to move in with them, so they needed to find two flatmates quickly. They put an add on Gumtree and found Coach and Isak – two of our groomsmen!

When and how did the proposal happen?

Doug decided that he wanted to marry me [Nikki] in 2018. He accidentally let slip his plans to my sister Tasha on a drunken night out in Leeds the following year! With the help of my other sister, Lyndsay, Doug custom designed the ring and picked it up in Edinburgh without me knowing when we were visiting for Christmas.

Doug had originally intended to propose in Banf, Canada. However, due to covid, our holiday was cancelled so he decided to propose during lockdown instead. We had a date night in our flat, Doug got dressed up in his tuxedo and I wore a lovely dress. We opened some good wine, and ordered the fanciest takeaway. After dinner, Doug told me that there was a surprise in our globe whisky bar. I went over to investigate but found nothing in the bar. When I turned round I found Doug down on one knee with the ring. After a lot of tears we danced together and discovered ‘our song’ (Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell Ain’t No Mountain High Enough) which was to became our first dance! We then spent the night on the balcony, drinking champagne.

What was your favourite part of the wedding planning?

Having an excuse to visit Scotland (and Edinburgh) more often and being able to spend lots of time with our families. We also made/designed our own beer for the wedding day itself at Edinburgh based brewery, Stewart Brewing, and thoroughly enjoyed doing that. Obviously all the other things like menu and cake tasting were lots of fun too!

Why did you want a humanist ceremony?

We felt that it was the most reflective way of celebrating our marriage. Neither of us are religious and we wanted something that was more special and aligned with our way of thinking than a civil ceremony. A family member of ours had a humanist wedding ceremony a few years prior and we loved how personal the ceremony was.

We wanted a ceremony that celebrated our love for one another and our life together. A humanist ceremony seemed the obvious choice and we are thrilled that we had one!

Which celebrant did you choose and why?

After some time researching celebrants on the Humanist Society Scotland website and speaking with a couple we chose Sandy Caldwell. As soon as we spoke with him we knew he was the one and went ahead and booked him.

We loved Sandy’s easy-going nature and he was very personable. We found him very easy to talk to and it seemed like he genuinely cared about us and our special day. Sandy was very reassuring and helpful from the get-go.

Where did you choose to get married and why?

We got married at Newhall Estate, a beautiful venue with stunning grounds. It enabled us to design our special day around the things that really mattered to us. For example, they allowed corkage, could cater for our numbers and all parts of the day could be held inside if the weather was bad. Most importantly, all our friends and family could stay on site with us for the whole weekend (Fri-Mon) which was vital because so many of our guests were travelling from abroad. We were also instantly taken by the team when we first met with them. They were all incredibly friendly and helpful, so it was a no-brainer!

What was your favourite part of the whole day?

When the team at Newhall whisked us away straight after the ceremony to our own private garden where they gave us a drink and allowed the two of us to share a moment together as Mr and Mrs for the first time. It was so special to spend those moments together and let it all sink in. We also loved the drinks reception in the walled garden with Sedona Park playing music, drinks flowing and badminton games on show.

What was your favourite part of the ceremony?

Doug’s favourite part was seeing me [Nikki] come down the aisle. My favourite part was tying the knot! (literally) with our handfasting ceremony and drinking whisky from the quaich!

Sandy was also one of our favourite parts of the ceremony. It was great to have a familiar face to reassure us throughout the ceremony. It was also lovely to see all of our friends and family smiling back at us while we were up there.

Bride and groom Nikki and Doug after they have "tied the knot" during the handfasting ritual. They hold the material up in a saltire cross shape, it is knotted in the middle.

Your photographs are absolutely fabulous. Who did you choose and why?

Our photographer was Ricky Baillie Photography. We absolutely loved his style. It seemed so much more artistic than other wedding photographers and this was something we really wanted from our photos. Like our venue and celebrant, when we met with him, we instantly gelled. He was so personable and easy to get along with. This was the exact vibe that we wanted for our wedding day.

We love your video too. Who did you choose and why?

Our videographer was Olive & Thistle who we chose for similar reasons. We loved their unique style of wedding videos. We approached a few videographers and after a consultation with the owners at Olive & Thistle, we thought they were the perfect fit for our day.

With hindsight, is there anything you would have done differently?

We did consider having fireworks at the end of the night, but after some consultations it looked like it might be too expensive. However, we were still thrilled with the day and wouldn’t have done it any different.

And finally, any advice for other couples?

When we first got engaged, we each wrote a list of what was really important to us about the big day. We then used this as a benchmark for all of our planning to make sure that we prioritised what was important and deprioritised the things that weren’t. For example, I [Nikki] really cared about the venue and being able to source the wine (as I work in the wine industry) and Doug really wanted good food and music. On the wedding day itself, we’d really recommend talking to everyone. It might sound silly but the day flies by and was over before we knew it. We’d both made a conscious effort to go round each table during the wedding breakfast and say hello to everyone. We are so glad that we did this. So many of our guests came from abroad and there’s no knowing when we’ll next see them, so we’re glad we got to enjoy part of the day with them.

Huge congratulations Nikki and Doug, and thank you for choosing Humanist Society Scotland!

Nikki and Doug walk through a confetti tunnel in the gardens at Newhall Estate. Guests on either side throw colourful confetti which surrounds the bride and groom partially covering Doug’s face. They are both wearing sunglasses and Nikki smiles brightly.

Links to all suppliers recommended by Nikki and Doug:

Two male adults and three children waving and celebrating

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A humanist celebrant marries a man and woman outdoors in the Scottish countryside

Humanist weddings and civil partnerships

A humanist wedding or civil partnership lets you celebrate your day your way. Your humanist celebrant will involve you in planning and writing your ceremony, creating a ceremony that’s a true reflection of you and your partner. 

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