Every year thousands of couples are faced with the hard decision of where to celebrate their wedding in Edinburgh. With such a large choice of outstanding wedding venues, I can understand the dilemma, trying to fit one’s ideas and wedding dreams into four walls that translate into who you really are as a couple. Regardless if you are eloping to Scotland, eloping to Edinburgh, or you call Edinburgh your home, when looking for a wedding venue in Edinburgh, one you can totally customise to your own tastes, dreams and ideas, Mansfield Traquair should be on the top of your list of Edinburgh wedding venues to consider.
The following article will show a typical wedding day at Edinburgh’s five-star wedding venue Mansfield Traquair - if there is such a thing as a typical wedding! I hope to shed some light on the magic that oozes from this venue and will help you understand - if you are considering venues from afar - what it’s like to celebrate the biggest day of your life at Mansfield.
Mansfield Traquair is located at Mansfield Place, just off Broughton Street, very close to Edinburgh’s city centre. When you drive down Broughton Street, to the right of the roundabout, you will see a large church building - that’s Mansfield Traquair.
Mansfield Traquair was built in the 19th century in the Norman style and in 1876 it was consecrated - dedicated formally for a religious purpose. What makes the building so majestic is not only the murals that were painted by Phoebe Anna Traquair between 1893 and 1901, but also its combination of stained-glass windows and soaring space.
In 1988, it was sold to the Edinburgh Brick Company and ceased being a place of worship. However, with the work of Friends of Mansfield Place Church and the foundation of Mansfield Traquair Trust, the church would not be forgotten as a once important building in Edinburgh. The Edinburgh Brick Company was made to sell the building to the Trust and emergency repairs to the venue started in 1998. The restoration of the outstanding murals as well as exteriors was completed in 2005. The building is now recognised as one of the most magnificent places in Edinburgh’s architectural and artistic heritage, and it has been called “Edinburgh’s Sistine Chapel” on several occasions.
Mansfield Traquair is no longer a place of worship. It is now used as a venue for weddings, private parties and corporate events. If you are visiting Edinburgh and want to see this splendid building, Mansfield Traquair Trust have regular open days. Their calendar can be found on their website.
Mansfield is big, proper big! Not just spacious vertically, but it’s just huge! It can easily seat up to 300 people for a wedding breakfast! The weddings I have photographed at Mansfield usually had around 100 day guests, and an additional 80 or so evening guests. The space near the altar is often used for the wedding ceremony and in the evening as a dance floor, and the space before the curtain is often used for the welcome reception.
More information about the capacity can be found on the Mansfield Traquair Website.
Mansfield Traquair is run by Heritage Portfolio which is - we think - Edinburgh’s best Catering and Event Services Business. Check out their website for mouth-watering images of their outstanding food.
So if you like really good food, you value presentation and service, you’re in for a treat!
I would recommend meeting with the amazing Heritage staff at Mansfield and discuss your wedding plans with them. You can also get a feel for the building and the space and no doubt come up with lots of ideas for your wedding.
The one big, huge, vast space at Mansfield is like an empty canvas and you can decorate it according to your likes. The room can be split into three areas (or probably more). They have a huge curtain which can be closed before the meal and it keeps the reception separate from the decorated tables for the wedding breakfast.
The centre area of the venue is mostly used for the set-up of the tables, and the area at the front of the building, where the amazing altar is, is often used for the wedding ceremony, and in the evening it turns into the dance floor.
Each area can be decorated and prepared for each stage of your celebrations, and with the event planners, you can really create an atmosphere which is perfect for your own wedding. Play with lights, colours, curtains, candles, picture frames, trees (yes, trees!!), floral arrangements, round tables or long tables; everything is possible.
Mansfield doesn’t have any rooms as such where you can stay over. So it’s best to get ready in an apartment in town, or at your home, and then arrive at the venue just before the ceremony.
The building has a large reception area, which is big enough to welcome your guests. The Mansfield team will set up a bar area near the entrance, so your family and friends have easy access to refreshments. You can put your own touch on the entrance area with candles, your wedding flowers and decor or both. They have friendly staff helping the guests with their jackets and welcoming them in. The guests usually wait inside the building before the ceremony and then take their seats when it gets close to the bride arriving.
When the bride arrives, the car can stop right outside the front door. Should it rain, it’s only five steps between car and main entrance, and the staff will always have umbrellas, so you can cross the weather off your “worry” list :)
When the bride arrives, the big red doors into the main area are closed so that the guests and most importantly the groom cannot see the girls arriving. Once the lipstick is freshened up, the creases smoothed out of the dresses, the train laid out nicely, and the last big deep breath taken before walking down the aisle, the event organiser will announce to your family and friends to stand up, for the bride walking down the aisle.
The huge red doors are opened to reveal the bridesmaids first (if you have any), and they can make their way down the aisle, in their own time, and usually to your choice of romantic music. The aisle is long, very long! It is just a delight to watch the bridesmaids walking in, and then the bride and her dad walking down the aisle. It always gives me goosebumps! Usually, the aisle is decorated so fantastically romantic by Planet Flowers. Large plinths with flowers, or even trees lining the long walk to the altar really give you a chance to enjoy these steps, soaking in the atmosphere, before becoming husband and wife (or wife and wife, or husband and husband :) ).
The altar area can also be decorated to your own wishes. You can have fairy lights all around the seating area, or coloured curtains or lots of candles. It’s best to speak to the event staff who can help bring your ideas to life. You can have chair covers, or select to have different coloured seat cushions, or simply use the banqueting chairs that are available at the venue.
Any type of ceremony is possible at Mansfield: Religious, Civil Ceremony, Humanist, Interfaith. There are no restrictions.
Fairy lights all around the ceremony setup.
Colourful decoration of the altar.
Once you have exchanged your vows, after the ceremony, there is a confetti opportunity inside the building as you walk back down the aisle. Speak to the event planners and they will help you arrange this. It’s a fun thing to do and makes for great wedding photographs!!
After the ceremony, the guests can join the newlyweds in the entrance area and the huge golden curtains are closed, allowing the staff to set up the room for the wedding breakfast.
Guests can enjoy the delicious canapés prepared and served by Heritage Portfolio before the wedding breakfast. The curtains remain closed until everything looks pristine and then they are opened theatre-style, for the guests to see the table set-up for the first time. Every time we see the curtains opened, there is a deep intake of breath of most of the guests as they are amazed at the display. Often they are stunned, and you can hear a big “oooohhhhh”; lots of people take photos before they dare to step into the Mansfield magic.
After the bride and groom are announced and greeted to the wedding breakfast, you have the choice to have your wedding speeches before or after the food is served. We have seen both options and it’s purely down to preference. Even with the most meticulous of planning and organisation, wedding speeches can last a little while. For the event staff and the chef in the kitchen it is hugely important to know when the meal will be served, so that the food will arrive at the tables in the best quality.
Usually, the top table is served first. The staff at Mansfield have the waitressing service down to a “T”. It is a delight to watch five or more servers coming out, two plates each, and the plates are put down in front of the guests at one table all at the same time.
You can opt to have additional entertainment during the wedding breakfast, such as the Singing Waiters or a magician, for example. I have seen the singing waiters a few times now, and they are hilarious. They dress up as Mansfield staff and start talking to the audience, and then the magic happens.
After the evening guests have arrived, and when your band or DJ are ready for the first dance, your master of ceremonies, or your Mansfield event planner will announce the cutting of the cake. The top table will have been moved to the side, and your wedding cake is now on display, centre stage. This will give your family and friends the chance to take a photograph, and shortly after, the first dance is announced by your wedding band.
Even if you think the first dance is just that, there are different options: Some couples opt to own the full first dance. They may even have learnt a choreography and perform it in front of their wedding guests. Other couples dance for the full length of their song, others couples want to invite the bridal party and parents on to the dance floor half way through the first song. After the first dance, everybody else can join in and dance the night away. It’s entirely up to you how you want to deal with the first dance, there are no rules. Occasionally, I have seen a “no first dance” wedding and all guests are invited to the dance floor at the start - together with the bride and groom.
The band is usually located in the altar area of the building, and there is a bar right beside the dance floor so your guests can get refreshments.
The building has lots of space for your guests to sit and chat comfortably after the meal.
If you want to give the guests a bit of quiet time during the evening celebrations, you can opt to have a silent disco. It’s a fun thing to do, and amazing to watch people dancing in “silence” to their own songs.
Usually, during the evening, Heritage Portfolio will delight the guests with an awesome evening buffet, and they can also enjoy a piece of the wedding cake too.
Usually, the newly-weds and I will disappear for a little bit of time during the reception and go outside. Mansfield has a little garden behind the building which can be accessed via an exit downstairs. We will take a few photos in the garden, and then use the front of the building for some dramatic images with the stunning building in the background. The big red doors lend themselves for some fun wedding photographs, as well as the decorated altar area inside the building.
Because Mansfield is so big, it’s a perfect place to work as a photographer, as every area is so easily accessible. Normally, I wouldn’t dare to move from my position during the ceremony, but the way Mansfield is laid out, it allows me to take photographs from the side and from behind too, without any of the guests noticing me. During the speeches, there is so much space to move around, taking photos of the people at the top table, as well as focusing on the guests' reactions on the back of the room.
And if you want to have a final look at how it all comes together - have a look at our little video :)