Contemporary and Body Positive Wedding

Fraser Cameron Photography

April 16, 2018

Sarah and Callum have been sweethearts since their very first week at Edinburgh University where they met seven years ago. Their wedding day style was beautifully contemporary, with lots of greenery hoops, florals and the modern look an arts centre naturally possesses. And what’s more, Sarah wanted to show that all brides are gorgeous in an industry at times obsessed with selling one image of beauty.

“When we were planning our big day, I never would have thought to describe our style as particularly Rock n Roll, but it turns our that a plus-size bride who is unapologetic in her body, and who wants to be the centre of attention at her dream, contemporary wedding, is pretty revolutionary in the wedding industry! I’d love to show all brides – but particularly those who are plus size – that looking banging on your wedding day doesn’t have to mean diet pills, exercise regimes and shapewear, it can mean loving yourself as you are and surrounding yourself with people who love you, too.”

“We wanted our wedding to feel modern and relaxed, but still special. We tried not to get caught up in ensuring everything fitted with our ‘theme’ but towards the end we tied everything together with elements of pink marble, gold and lots of foliage. Callum had been a wedding photographer’s assistant growing up so had seen a ton of super traditional weddings, but I’d never been to a wedding as an adult, which turned out to be a bit of a blessing as I was shielded from a lot of the traditions and expectations. I wanted to create an atmosphere that felt really natural and ‘us’ – the kind of party I’d love to be invited to.”

The ceremony and reception were held at Summerhall, Edinburgh, and officiated by a family friend, chosen because she had conducted Callum’s parent’s wedding ceremony. “She had previously been a full-time registrar, so helpfully had all the scripts to hand and could chat us through the options. It still felt quite impersonal though, so we added in some elements from scripts we found online – cue frantic Googling of ‘feminist wedding ceremony’ – including a section where she read our short paragraphs we had written about why we love each other. We’d initially chatted about writing our own vows but I hate public speaking, so having her read them took the pressure off, although Callum still ended up crying!”

The bride wore a dress from ASOS with shoes from New Look, and Callum’s traditional kilt outfit was from Hector Russell Kilt Makers. Each of the bridesmaids bought their own dress. “We didn’t set out to save money on my outfit, but in the end I spent just over £100 on the whole look. Plus-size wedding dress options are generally super traditional or have a strong retro vibe, neither of which really fits with my day-to-day aesthetic, so I started checking out non-traditional options. After a misadventure with a custom made dress on Etsy (a costly mistake as it was beautiful but just not really me, and I wish I’d at least tried on some styles before committing to a purchase), I spotted this one on ASOS and fell in love, but didn’t quite commit, and two days later it was out of stock – that’s when I knew it was the one! So, with the help of a customer service representative, we hunted down the dress on ASOS’ French site and a week later it arrived. I had a few alterations done to make sure the fit was perfect – something I’d definitely recommend to other brides with high street dresses.”

The couple’s approach to finding their vendors was refreshingly different. “We were really focused on finding suppliers that got our vision of an informal but still contemporary day, so we ended up using quite a few folk who don’t usually do weddings. I chose my make up artist on Treatwell after a disastrous encounter with a super experienced wedding make up artist; we picked our cake supplier because they’re one of my favourite cafés in Edinburgh; and I knew our stationer through fat-positive, feminist circles. As a plus-size bride, it also felt like I was really pushing back against the wedding industry’s body shaming – I didn’t diet in the run up to my wedding, I didn’t wear shapewear, and rather than engaging in the negative body chat I saw in bridal groups, I focused on self love.”

Their budget was £15,000. “Our biggest expense was the venue but it was worth every penny. We knew we didn’t want a traditional castle or country hotel wedding, and Summerhall has a reputation for being a slightly offbeat arts venue, so when we saw they’d also recently started doing weddings, we knew we had to check them out. The interiors are beautiful, they were super flexible, and Sarah their events coordinator was a literal angel.”

They did some DIY, but not lots as the bride explains! “The little cutlery packs were our main DIY project and given how much we argued over them, it was probably for the best! We had cute comment cards for our guests to complete, paper napkins, wooden cutlery, a pen, and a paper straw (I hate smudging my lipstick on wine glasses). It seemed like such a good idea to tie them together with twine until we realised we then had to transport them all to the venue without them falling apart…”

There were a few really lovely standout moments to the day, said Sarah. “I was really laid back about the morning of the wedding, so my bridesmaids and I all got ready at our house and then got a cab to the venue. We’d stopped in traffic when a child in the car next to us started waving at us, so we all smiled and waved back. He then pulled out a huge pile of cash from his pocket and started making it rain – it definitely helped release some tension! Also once my make up was done, our photographer asked to see my dress to get that shot of it hanging up. Unfortunately it was hanging in our third bedroom surrounded by my ‘floordrobe’! I kicked a couple of bras behind the door, and he grabbed the photo! And finally, in my paragraph for the ceremony about why I love Callum, I included a line about how I love that we send each other blurry photos of great dogs we see. When we were out getting our photos taken, we saw this beautiful whippet so we had to grab a photo with it – I think the owner was a little baffled but it was a really sweet moment.”

As you know, this blog is all about doing your day in your way, but Sarah reflected that “We were both so chilled out about the wedding that it literally never crossed our minds how big a deal it might be to others, particularly our families. I don’t think we would change anything about the day itself, but taking time to bring our loved ones along on the journey with us would have saved us all some heartache.”

The best thing about the day, said Sarah, was “Having all our friends and family in one place. It was really special, and seeing them having a great time – whether it was second helpings of moussaka or dancing to covers of early 2000s rock – made all the stresses of the lead-up worthwhile. When we started planning, I don’t think we were really clear on what we were doing or what we wanted, so getting to the end and seeing it all come together was amazing. The day of our wedding felt like Christmas – I couldn’t wait to get there and see it all in one place.”

The only bad thing about the planning was a spot of last-minute DIY when it should have been prosecco a go-go. Sarah said, “We had a table plan board designed and printed by our stationer, but agreed that we’d print the actual plans the day before in case there were any last minute changes. It made sense, but on the evening before, with a hot glue gun and four tiny table plans in my hand, it was almost the final straw!”

Sarah had this advice for future brides and grooms: “Suppliers who have a lot of wedding experience can feel like a safe pair of hands, but we’d really encourage couples to take a chance on those who are just starting out. My make up artist is still at college and our stationer was looking to build her wedding portfolio – both were total babes and delivered exactly what we were looking for. Personally, I’d also encourage brides – particularly plus-size brides – to be critical of the narrative that the only way to look good on your wedding day is to lose weight. It made me genuinely sad to see how many women were contemplating extreme dieting and exercise regimes – putting so much pressure on themselves to change at what is already a pretty high-anxiety time – when they would look stunning regardless.”