May 04 2020
As Friday was Global Love Day, we thought we would give the Larchfield Estate owners Gavin & Sarah Mackie a little bit of a grilling about their own love story. Married at Larchfield Estate in 2007, their big day also became a trial run before they opened the estate for bespoke weddings that same year. Filled with hilarious moments alongside some top tips for anyone planning their own wedding, we hope you enjoy reading their chat as much as we did. It turns out you can find out quite a lot about your bosses through blogging…
So. first thing’s first - how did you both meet?
Gavin: At my sister's (Holly) flat just round the corner from Sarah’s flat in London. Sarah went to uni with a good friend of Holly.
The main question…tell us about the proposal!
Gavin: I proposed at the top of a munro (Ben Lawers) in Scotland. It started off a glorious sunny day but by the time we reached the top it was as if there were 100 people throwing buckets of water at us. Thankfully the big group of Irn Bru guzzling ramblers we met just before the top had moved on, and we had the place to ourselves (or think we did in lack of visibility!). Walking down the mountain we came back into sunshine and sat by an idyllic stream to enjoy the champagne and picnic I had lugged to the top.
Sarah: On the way for our walk / hike I called my parents and my mother weirdly gave a blow by blow account of where they would be all day at what time… it transpired she and dad were waiting for ‘THE phonecall’ and wanted to ensure they were contactable! At the bottom of the munroe I picked up Gav’s rucksack to hand it to him and worried I had under-packed due to the weight – turns out it was a bottle of bubbles. When he got down on one knee I asked if he was joking… apparently this is not the thing you are meant to say! His phone then got soaked and would not work so we couldn’t phone anyone to tell them the news. Luckily for G I had booked a restaurant (The Kitchin) in Edinburgh that we had been wanting to go to for a while, so the evening was sorted.
What was your vision for your wedding day?
Gavin: We wanted a relaxed and fun day with friends and family. Two of Sarah’s sisters had recently married at home, and as we planned to start hosting weddings at Larchfield she thought we should trial the venue ourselves. The barn was nothing like it is today! Our food was the most delicious BBQ rump of lamb which was cooked outside, and then served to the tables inside.
Sarah: I knew that I did not want a Marquee or hotel wedding as two of my sisters had done this, and I wanted somewhere that was exclusively ours. We kept the décor elegant and simple, with the fairy lights in the trees along the side of the barn (they are trees not branches, Gav!) and candelabras on the table. I was rather worried about being the centre of attention on the day, but it was truly so special to have all our friends and family there and just so thrilled for us both.
What would you say would be your ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ for anyone planning their wedding?
Gavin: 1. Keep it simple! I said I would organize the band, the booze and turn up on the day to say “I do”! We restricted our photographer's time so that we had more quality time with friends and family. Flowers were kept to a minimum, but friends helped bring the trees (still in the barn to this day) and large greenery into the barn.
2. Have 10 minutes to yourselves – we just walked around the fishpond lake together, which was great after being so busy with planning and socializing in the lead up to the day.
3. DO NOT save your speech in one location – my laptop wouldn’t start on the day to download it! Thankfully my brother in law managed a flying trip to Lisburn to get a new lead that booted it up.
Sarah: When G says restrict the photographers… I think more than the 15 minutes he allowed would be advisable. The poor photographer nearly had kittens on the day!
DO remember what the day is about – the two of you tying the knot and looking forward to your married life together. DON’T get too caught up in the really fine detail. I am a planner and list girl, which worked well, but I wasn’t worried about minuscule detail. We also had a set budget and stuck to it. We worked out what was really important – the barn had plenty of character so it didn’t need too much extra added. It was important that we had the place to ourselves, and that there were no hidden supplier costs (part of the reason we don’t charge corkage!) and of course our guests. We negotiated or trimmed down on other areas that were not as important to us.
How can couples make sure the planning is as stress free as possible?
Gavin: Get the big things right (vows, venue, food, and music come to mind) and don’t stress about the small details.
Sarah: Shouldn’t the person you are marrying be in that list?!
Did you have any pre-wedding celebrations?
Gavin: We had dinner and drinks in the Pheasant pub across the road. They have a perfect private function room upstairs (The Gamekeepers loft). I enjoyed the pre-wedding party so much that I had lost my voice when it came to say “I do” the following day.
Sarah: (He sounded like Darth Vader!) The night before gave our extended families to meet and we also included the bridal party in the dinner. Strangely enough, as I disappeared before midnight Gavin continued til the early hours (hence Darth Vader!)
What was your first dance song?
Gavin: Guinness Theme Tune!! (editors note: This seems fitting - we have heard there were epic proportions of the black stuff consumed on the day!)
What were your favourite moments of the day?
Gavin: Watching Sarah walk down the aisle in the local church, looking around the gardens to see all our friends having a great time, partying till 6am in the barn (no entertainments license restrictions!) and then being driven on a trailer of hay in the rain to a tent my family had set up in the woods… All set up with mirror on tree with washstand and seats around what apparently had been a roaring fire (but had been put out by the now torrential rain!). Laughing at finding the air vent on top of the tent hadn’t been put on, the duvet was soaking and someone had placed a box of Viagra + Panadol beside the bed!
Sarah: The morning with my family and bridesmaids getting ready. My dad walking me down the aisle (though he nearly ruined my make up by saying ‘ You look beautiful and I am so proud of you’ as we walked through the church door… followed by ‘6 steps forward and 20 to the front’). So much fun and laughter… marrying my best friend, the tent, then the debrief the next day as to what else went on that we had missed…
Any other fun tips or memories of the day?
Gavin: On our seating plan we split up couples in the hope that they met new people and made new friends. This paid off as after dinner couples then introduced new people off other tables. Many of these new introductions are now still great friends with each other and sometimes see more of one another than us!
We gave everyone a shot of Flugel (Sloe vodka and red bull) at about 1am and it was hilarious as my parent’s friends came off the dance-floor at 5am not sure how it had got so late and wondering where their new energy came from!
Sarah: And my parents friends fully embracing the taking a shot and putting it on your head… eye opening! We also arranged a creche for friends with young babies which meant they could relax. This is part of the reason we have babysitters on our recommended suppliers list now!
Gavin: Larchfield was very different in 2007. We had a very basic marquee where the Orangery now is, only 3 basic loos and one urinal(!). The kitchen was a quarter of the size and the Main Barn had terracotta/orange coloured walls and a 2nd hand patterned hotel carpet.
Sarah: We got married in June for the amazing rhododendrons – the day before, we got sun burnt as we tied ribbons around the orders of service in the garden (I was worried about tan marks!). The wedding day was overcast and people wore winter coats in the garden for drinks. As we moved through for dinner the heavens opened and it didn’t let up, but we honestly didn’t know until much later that the weather was so bad – we were ensconced in the barn, dry, happy and having a great time!
Let’s finish up with your golden tips for a happy and successful marriage:
Gavin: Enjoy life to the max- it is short, don’t worry about the small stuff, stay positive. Listen to each other but having selective hearing can be a benefit.
Sarah: HA! Communication… trying to mind read or guess isn’t nearly as effective. Keep talking. Don’t sweat the small stuff.