An intimate autumn wedding for two in Gretna Green, Scotland

27 Apr 2021

Malcolm Ian and Elise Kirtley tied the knot during coronavirus restrictions in October 2020 after having to move their wedding date four times

Tell us about the proposal. 

Ian surprised me with a day out in London. I didn’t know he was going to propose. Firstly we had a lovely day around Camden. We wandered around the markets and stopping for drinks just enjoying each-others company. Ian had the full day planned out which I found out later was meant to be a trip on the River Thames where he was going to propose.

It was our eldest daughter’s birthday on the November 28 and unknown to us she too was also in London with her partner celebrating her birthday. She saw from social media we were in London and called us to meet up in a bar. Ian was very reluctant, as he of course had plans, but I was adamant that we should meet them and didn’t understand why he didn’t want to.

We met at Henrys Cocktail Bar for drinks. Ian started acting very strange and seemed nervous. He ordered champagne, and suddenly dropped to his knees and asked me to marry him. I of course was stunned and delighted. He admitted that this was not how he wanted to propose but became nervous carrying a £3000 ring in his pocket and just popped the question. We often laugh about getting engaged in a pub and he always said he would propose again in a more romantic way. 


How was your wedding affected by Covid-19? 

Our wedding was re-booked four times. Originally booked for the October 28, 2020 at Bassmead Manor Barns, but this was cancelled due to Covid-19. We then rebooked for 3rd February 2021 hoping Covid-19 would have gone, however in September 2020 we were advised it wouldn’t go ahead in February 2021 either. We then rebooked for October 28, 2021 however being a mature couple and having such a long engagement we were eager to marry. We got in touch with Gretna Green who were still doing weddings and decided to tie the knot. 

What restrictions were in place at the time of your wedding? 

Social distancing, face masks, unable to have social drinks in the bar area of venue the night before our wedding. 

Did you still wear your planned wedding outfits? 

I wore my dress however as we plan to retake our vows next year, Ian wore a silver grey suit instead of his navy suit. 


Will you be holding a celebration at a later date with those who couldn’t attend? 

We will re-take our vows with our family and friends on November 3, 2021 and celebrate one year of marriage and our wedding day. 

What was the theme for the day? 

Originally we were going to have navy and orange with a very autumnal feel with pumpkins etc, however we decided to keep it simple for just the two of us at Gretna and save our theme when we can enjoy and share with everyone. 

What venue did you choose and why? 

We chose Gretna as I am Scottish, and it’s a very romantic venue bursting with history. We also manged to secure the date of October 28, 2020 which is the original date we chose, therefore the bridal dressing gown with date on back could be used as well as our cake topper with date. 

How did you know you’d found ‘the’ dress? 

I tried on about 80 dresses over many months and just couldn’t find the one. I had a very vivid image of a simple slash neck, backless with a long train. However the neckline I wanted did not support a backless dress. I decided to choose a Justin Alexander dress as the front of the dress was very elegant and simple but the illusion back made it look backless and had the most fabulous train. 


Who were the bridesmaids and what did they wear? 

We are saving our bridesmaids for November 2021.

Tell us about your floral arrangements. 

I chose a autumnal dried bouquet as we were travelling from Bedfordshire to Scotland the day before. 

Often the aspect that makes a wedding original to the couple is the detail – tell us about the details of the day.

Our wedding day was obviously affected by Covid-19, therefore was just the two of us. We made this extra special with exchanging gifts throughout the day. We chose expensive Chanel perfumes and aftershave. I received a beautiful Tiffany pearl necklace on the morning of our wedding. Ian received a framed print of one of our favourite songs called All Of Me by John Legend with our wedding date on it, and lots of other little things such as matching 'Mr and Mrs' mugs and champagne glasses. We had a blank 'decorate your own' cake, as we sipped on champagne with breakfast we made a small cake for decorative purposes to show off our cake topper that we had originally ordered. Ian left the venue so I could get ready so that my dress and whole look was a surprise. 


How did you feel as you walked down the aisle? 

I was absolutely thrilled to be marrying the love of my life. I couldn’t wait any longer and was so eager to become Mrs Kirtley. We have been together for so long but life was so busy with university, then work and a large family of seven children and one grandson. We just never got round to booking our wedding, hence the hurry and eagerness to just tie the knot. 

How did you make the ceremony personal to you? 

We chose a song we both fell in love with called This I Promise You by Ronan Keating, and a reading by Ecclesiastes 4:9-12:

Two are better than one,

Because they have a good return for their labour:

If either of them falls down,

One can help the other up.

But pity anyone who falls

And has no one to help them up.

Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm

But how can one keep warm alone?

Though one may be overpowered,

Two can defend themselves.

A chord of three strands is not quickly broken.

What was the most challenging aspect of planning this wedding? 

Deciding whether or not to marry without our children, family and friends due to Covid-19 restrictions. 

What was the most important investment for you? 

Most definitely our photography and videography by Abraxas. As we married on our own we then had moments to cherish and share with everyone.


Tell us about your wedding cake. 

We decorated a plain white Asda cake in the morning using spare buttonhole flowers, a personalised cake topper and candles. 

If you could go back and change anything, what would it be? 

To have our family there. 

Did anything go wrong on the day? 

Yes. Ian's taxi did not turn up on time, so our wonderful photographers took him instead. I was then waiting for my taxi when I received a phone call to say it had broken down. She sent a replacement cab which was not exactly wedding material. It was a very old dirty car both inside and out with rubbish etc on the floor. I had a wedding piper awaiting my arrival so it wasn’t the best to arrive like that, I was also in a bit of a panic before I left as I thought I was going to be late so I forgot my bridal bouquet which I had hiding in the wardrobe from Ian. When I arrived at the venue and got out the filthy old car I then realised I had no flowers. The staff were fantastic and rushed back to the hotel however didn’t know my proper bouquet was in the wardrobe but did pick up the small bridesmaid bouquet so at least I had something. 

Was there anything you wish you’d known before? 

Yes, how bad the transport was and would have booked something nicer. 

Where did you go on honeymoon? 

Due to Covid-19 we couldn’t go on a proper honeymoon. We stopped off in York on the way home at the Principal hotel. York was our first weekend getaway when we first met so it was nice to back even with the restrictions. 


Steal Their Style

Photography and Videography: Abraxas 
Venue: The Famous Blacksmiths Shop, Gretna Green 
Dress: Justin Alexander
Hair and Make-up: Kirsty McEwan
Groom’s outfit: River Island
Stationery: Amazon 
Cake: Asda decorate your own
Flowers: Etsy, fascinatorandflowers

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