A Hilltop Ceremony and Dinner for 12: Charlotte and Ben

This city wedding is like nothing we've ever seen before!

Downsizing your plans due to Covid? This week, we're showing you just how magical small weddings can be, by resharing some of our all-time favourites! With guest list numbers ranging from 0 to 18, these beautiful real weddings will help you get inspired for your own big day! Today, we're swooning over a delightfully low-key city wedding...

We love to see a couple doing something unique on their big day, but Charlotte and Ben, the pair at the centre of this real wedding, really let their imaginations run wild for their gorgeously offbeat Edinburgh wedding! Not only did they narrow the guest list down to 10, and exchange vows near Arthur's Seat in Holyrood Park (OK, so technically it was an extinct volcanotop ceremony!), they also incorporated a beer ritual into their ceremony, turned a guitar into a guest book, and had their wedding bands made from heirloom jewellery! As you might expect from such a creative duo, they even combined their surnames after they were wed! It's a gross understatement to say that I like their style, so I'm thrilled that we can share the images from their big day, which were taken by Rachel Burt Photography.

wedding at Haggis Knowe, Holyrood Park, Edinburgh

Charlotte tells us that she and Ben met as teenagers. "We hung out a few times together as friends, until, one night at a party, I was unexpectedly disarmed by his smile and his sense of humour. After that, I pursued him pretty relentlessly and he drunkenly asked me out over the phone. I was about to go to university in London, so we just intended to have a little bit of a summer romance. But nearly 10 years later, we are still inseparable!"

wedding at Haggis Knowe, Holyrood Park, Edinburgh wedding at Haggis Knowe, Holyrood Park, Edinburgh

Ben picked an incredibly romantic backdrop for his proposal. "We were sitting on a rock on Stanage Edge in Derbyshire, overlooking the beautiful valley full of purple heather," Charlotte remembers. "This is somewhere we go walking often because it’s so beautiful, and it’s also somewhere my parents used to go rock climbing together as teenagers. Ben had had a special ring box made out of my favourite book, Pride and Prejudice. He tricked me into thinking he had bought me a special copy of the book, but opened it up to reveal the ring inside. He asked me to marry him, and I was so overcome with emotion I couldn’t do anything but hug him tight and cry for a good few minutes!"

wedding at Haggis Knowe, Holyrood Park, Edinburgh wedding at Haggis Knowe, Holyrood Park, Edinburgh

Charlotte tells us that she and Ben initially considered a blow-out party for their big day. "We started out trying to plan the big wedding that would please everyone (and simultaneously break the bank and cause a huge amount of stress!)" she says. "We quickly realised this was our nightmare, so we planned things in secret. That way, we were able to prioritise the things we cared about without any pressure from family or outside expectation."

wedding at Haggis Knowe, Holyrood Park, Edinburgh wedding at Haggis Knowe, Holyrood Park, Edinburgh

Despite loving their hometown of Stockport and city of Manchester, the couple decided they really just wanted to run away and get married with a small group of family members! "Getting married in Edinburgh was Ben’s idea," Charlotte says. "He visited Edinburgh a few years ago and fell in love with the city, so he took me there and I fell in love with it, too. We visited a few times during the planning process to have a look at the venues and meet with suppliers, and each time we visited, we fell in love with the place a little bit more. We’re planning on moving up there as soon as possible!"

wedding at Haggis Knowe, Holyrood Park, Edinburgh wedding at Haggis Knowe, Holyrood Park, Edinburgh

Once they had settled on Edinburgh as the location, Charlotte and Ben set about planning a wedding that incorporated all of their favourite things, namely nature, beer, music and food! "It was really important that our wedding reflected our shared taste in music (lots of David Bowie, The Kinks, Britpop, and music from Wes Anderson films), that beer featured strongly in the wedding day, that we didn’t have to ‘perform’ our wedding for a huge number of people, and that it just felt simple, relaxed, informal and unaffected."

wedding at Haggis Knowe, Holyrood Park, Edinburgh wedding at Haggis Knowe, Holyrood Park, Edinburgh

The couple held their ceremony at Haggis Knowe in the shadow of Arthur's Seat in Holyrood Park, and, bravely, there was no Plan B! "It is an unbelievably stunning place, with lots of rugged landscapes and natural scenery, whilst giving a breathtaking view of the city," Charlotte says. "We knew it was a huge risk to get married outdoors in Scotland on the 5th of October (as everyone kept reminding us!), but we just embraced the idea of bad weather and decided not to care. If it rained, we’d get wet, but we’d be married and have some cracking pictures of us splashing through puddles with our umbrellas. Luckily, we had incredible sunshine with bright blue skies, so the umbrellas are still in their packaging!"

wedding at Haggis Knowe, Holyrood Park, Edinburgh wedding at Haggis Knowe, Holyrood Park, Edinburgh

Between Charlotte's Dad's musical performance at the ceremony, the custom-made socks the couple exchanged on their wedding day, and the pair's new composite surname (Knowles and Johnson became Knowlson!), this wedding has too many unique details to mention! "We drank beer as part of our ceremony, which was our own personal little twist on the Scottish Quaich ritual," Charlotte says. "We both work in the craft beer industry, and are renowned for being craft beer geeks. We couldn’t get married without incorporating beer somehow! We chose to toast our marriage with a gueuze called Mariage Parfait, the French phrase for 'Perfect Marriage'!"

The Gardener’s Cottage, Edinburgh

Even the jewellery at this wedding was so meaningful! "My engagement ring is made from diamonds from my mum’s and my great grandmother’s rings, and an aquamarine from Ben’s great grandmother’s necklace, tying our families together," Charlotte explains. "My wedding ring is made from the gold from my great grandmother’s wedding ring and a ring my dad gave to my mum. I feel like my rings don’t just symbolise the love we have for each other, but the love of both of our families, and that I carry a little bit of each of our histories on my hand."

The Gardener’s Cottage, Edinburgh The Gardener’s Cottage, Edinburgh

For their reception venue, the couple chose The Gardener’s Cottage, close to the park on the outskirts of the city. "They create stylish plates using delicious, seasonal ingredients (many of which are grown in their own little garden) without being pretentious or showy," Charlotte says. "The atmosphere there is really relaxed, with great music playing on their little record player in two elegant but cosy little dining rooms. We ended the night in Salt Horse, which is hands-down the best craft beer shop and bar in Edinburgh."

The Gardener’s Cottage, Edinburgh dried flower table names, wedding table name ideas

Charlotte has Ehlers Danlos syndrome, a chronic illness which causes chronic pain and fatigue, and she has some stellar advice for couples experiencing similar symptoms. "If anyone struggles with fatigue and is trying to plan a wedding, I’d recommend getting married later in the day. We got married at 3pm, meaning I had more time to relax and sleep a little later in the morning, and I wasn’t on my feet for as long, so I could still enjoy myself towards the end of the night! I spent the whole of the next day in bed recovering from exhaustion and pain, so I think it’s important not to plan too much the day after, if you have a disability or chronic illness."

wedding guitar guest book wedding guitar guest book

Charlotte and Ben say they would wholeheartedly recommend a small wedding to any couples currently flirting with the idea. "It felt so intimate and special, and it took a lot of the nerves and pressure out of the whole thing. We held a party a few months later for those who weren’t part of the actual wedding day, and this enabled us to have a big party with lots of fun, without taking away the intimate wedding day we wanted."

We've got to say a huge thank you to Charlotte and Ben for sharing their beautiful wedding day with us, and to Rachel Burt Photography for providing the incredible photographs.


Photographer //
Rachel Burt Photography
After Party //
Salt Horse
Wedding Dress //
Esther Couture on Etsy
Groom’s Suit //
Bridesmaids Dresses //
Bridesmaid’s Coat //
Elsie May Vintage on Etsy
Bride’s Earrings //
Infinity Orgone on Etsy
Bride's Shoes //
Steve Madden
Groom's Shoes //
Tie & Pocket Square //
The Tie Garden on Etsy
Groom’s Socks //
Small Female Skull on Etsy
Cufflinks //
Claire Lowe
Makeup & Hair //
Lyn McKenzie
Flowers //
Cake Toppers //
Oliver Bonas
Favours //
Aelder Liqueur
Wedding Rings //
RA Designer Jewellery
Videographer //
Sugar 8 Films

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