Hawick couple Donald and Katie Rudkin have made history by exchanging wedding bands at the outdoor venue they got engaged at almost a year ago while watching a band of a different sort.
The pair’s wedding was the first ever held at the Zandra Elliot bandstand in Hawick’s Wilton Lodge Park.
They chose the venue, renovated as part of a £3.64m regeneration of the park completed last year, as the location for their special day as it was the scene of their first date and also where Donald, 37, proposed to his 30-year-old dance teacher bride.
Almost 190 guests turned out, in glorious sunshine, to see them tie the knot at the spot where Donald popped the question, in front of around 700 fellow gig-goers, at a concert by now-defunct Hawick folk-rock act Scocha.
Donald, a crew manager at Hawick fire station, said: “I was told by the registrar, Pam Douglas, that nobody had been married at the bandstand, and she’s been in that role for 12 years, so it goes back even before the renovation work was carried out.
“The park was where we had our first date in Hawick, at the bandstand, and I walked Katie around the park because it is just so nice.
“Because Katie was not from Hawick, I thought it was one of the nicest places to take her, and I actually proposed at the bandstand last July at the Scocha gig for the Hawick Summer Music Festival, so it’s a special place for us both.
“I have always loved the park. I have a little dog called Callie and I used to go around the park two or three times a day with her, and I thought it was a romantic place to take Katie on her first time in Hawick.
“The weather was absolutely brilliant on the day. We couldn’t have asked for anything more. Katie had always wanted an outdoor wedding, and it worked out brilliantly.”
Donald hopes other couples will now follow his and Katie’s example, despite the months of planning it took to make their big day a success.
He explained: “I had to go through the council. I was told that before they could even make a decision that I had to create a risk assessment for the event. I had to create an event plan and a site plan and also provide evidence that I had purchased public liability insurance.
“It took over three months from the time I first contacted the council to get a decision.
“It was the only place that I wanted to get married, and it paid off in the end.
“The park is under-utilised in Hawick, and it’s something people should be proud of because it is beautiful.
“We hope the lengths we went to make this happen will encourage others to do the same.”
After their wedding, the couple, of Salisbury Avenue in Hawick, held a reception at the town’s Mansfield Park rugby club.
The club allowed them to use the rugby pitch so that 28 children of all ages could enjoy a bouncy castle and games in the summer sunshine.
Donald also revealed the couple have had to put their honeymoon on hold because of Callie.
He explained: “Unfortunately, our little dog is ill. She’s got a tumour, and we’re not going away until she passes.
“We were told between Christmas and new year that she only had weeks to live, but she hung on for the wedding and we had her there, which was great because it was her special place too.
“We can’t go on honeymoon and be away when she dies, so we’ll wait until she passes.”
The wedding decorations at the bandstand were arranged by Lorna Watson, of Hawick event decor provider Sitting Pretty.
She said: “The bandstand is already a beautiful venue within the stunning backdrop which is Wilton Lodge Park so Katie and Donald wanted to keep it simple to ensure the beauty of the surroundings weren’t overlooked.
“I used such items as an ivory carpet to mark an aisle for Katie’s arrival and complemented the entry with co-ordinating ivory blossom trees.
“They were blessed by a beautiful venue on a beautiful summer’s day.”
The couple also passed on their thanks to Murray MacDougall of Borders Vintage Experience of Lilliesleaf for lending them two vintage wedding cars after he witnessed Donald proposing to Katie at last year’s summer festival.
“His generosity just added to our amazing day”, Donald added.