The Scottish Hedgewitch: eco-weddings

By Pamela Spence

Green weddings are all the rage. As the season approaches, the trend for eco-weddings means that couples increasingly want to find sustainable, environmentally friendly and budget-conscious ways of getting married.

In Scotland, you can get married almost anywhere. Breathtaking scenery and mythical romance have made it a mecca for couples tying the knot. Whether you long for a tryst at Gretna Green, a fairytale castle or an adrenalin-charged adventure package, Scotland has something to offer.

Weddings give plants a chance to really shine. Not only do they have a lot to offer as foods, they make wonderful celebration drinks and of course they can be used as stunning decorations.

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Wedding Belles

Pamela Spence, medical herbalist, shares her green wedding ideas. BBC World Affairs Correspondent Allan Little describes some of the key moments from his career and answer questions about what it is like to report the world in an age of conflict. Bill Boyd reads his poem Hogmanay, written in the style of Robert Burns.

One of the first statements a couple makes about their day happens the moment the invitations hit the doormats of their guests. I love the idea of using naturally made paper. For something even more special, you can choose paper embedded with wild flower seeds. Once your guests have finished with the invitations, they simply soak the paper, leave it in their garden and in a short time, it melts away to be replaced by a beautiful patch of wild flowers – a living reminder of the day.

Flowers are often a budget-buster and many of them will have travelled hundreds of miles to get to you. There are so many beautiful blooms around at this time of year in Scotland so consider making your own arrangements, or ask your local florist to talk to you about the local flowers they have available.

Adapting a traditional bouquet can look beautiful and smell divine. You could make your own version of a tussie mussie – a small bouquet of fragrant flowers and herbs originally used to help combat the smell at large gatherings before bathing was common! Use Victorian flower language to create a tussie mussie with a secret message for your beloved. Roses, signifying true love, make a great centrepiece, surrounded by fragrant herbs such as thyme, lavender, sage, southernwood and rosemary. Choose daisy to say ‘I share your sentiments’, honeysuckle for ‘fidelity and generous devotion’ and of course ivy for ‘marriage’. In some areas of Scotland it’s also traditional to hide a sprig of lucky heather in the bride’s bouquet.

Ivy circlet
Ivy is used to symbolise marriage.

When it comes to favours, instead of the adopted Italian tradition of sugared almonds, why not add a Scottish twist and give your guests miniature bottles of a home-made herbal liqueur? There are any number of Scottish plants you can use, from gorse flowers to meadowsweet.

In fact, one thing we excel at in Scotland is making delicious drinks from our native plants. Instead of expensive French fizz, give a thought to making your own elderflower champagne or, if you don’t feel up to making it, treat your guests to silver birch, oak leaf or elderflower wine from specialist suppliers. Beers made from local plants are also available – using heather, meadowsweet, bog myrtle, Scots pine and even seaweed.

Silver birch, oak leaf and elderflower wine
Traditional Scottish wines include silver birch, oak leaf and elderflower.

Serving local, seasonally available food will go a long way to making your wedding more environmentally friendly, and may work out cheaper for you too. There are all manner of herbs that can be added to salads to make a buffet more interesting. For added taste and texture try adding a few dandelion leaves, spearmint or lemon balm to a green salad. Sprinkle with marigold petals and borage flowers to create a really beautiful dish. Nasturtium leaves and flowers can be used to add a peppery taste and their pickled seed pods are an alternative to capers. Many other edible flowers like violets, wild pansies, chives and daisies add a splash of colour and taste.

Edible flowers
Edible flowers and herbs make summer salads look stunning.

Whatever your budget, and however confident you feel about handmade drinks, food and decoration, there’s some way to include the herbs of the Scottish countryside in your plans for your big day. So experiment, break the mould and create a wedding that you and your guests will remember!

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