Your Wedding Supports Creativity and Wellbeing at Grassmarket Community Project

creativity and wellbeing your wedding

By Laura Pathe

When you get married at Grassmarket Centre it’s your special day, but you are also supporting all the work Grassmarket Community Project does during the year. So here’s a small snapshot of why we build creativity and wellbeing in to our members’ lives.

Grassmarket Community Project is dedicated to taking an innovative approach to creating an oasis of support away from the stress of everyday life, for those who are most vulnerable. Grassmarket provides a community and a sense of belonging for people, which is a vital component when promoting better wellbeing and mental health.

Grassmarket responds to the human need to have a purpose in life by providing the participants with skills that aim to improve their quality of living. Specifically, through creative mediums such as writing, photography, cinema, theatre, cooking, textiles and woodwork, Grassmarket promotes the importance of social interaction, communication and wellbeing. Creativity has incredible value in society and more recently in mental health services, as it is now known to improve well-being and self-confidence. Many studies have been conducted to prove that artistic practices are instrumental in helping people discover a personal sense of meaning; it gives them the confidence to find what it is that defines them as an individual. When experiencing difficulty with mental health, having the opportunity to be within a supportive and nurturing environment, where you can find time to rediscover a sense of purpose, is incredibly valuable. Grassmarket is a place where you can do just that.


Researchers Wendy Teall and Tamzin Forster compiled a body of evidence to consolidate ‘The Importance of Creativity for Health and Wellbeing’, as their title would suggest. They draw upon a wealth of research to back up the growing awareness of creativity as a direct cause for improved wellbeing, listing examples of how it improves self-worth through its therapeutic qualities. They begin by describing creativity as ‘a set of skills, an attitude to life, the ability to have original, meaningful ideas that often cross over disciplines and connect previously separate information. It’s a vital ingredient of being human, leading to growth, change and progress at individual and societal level’. Therefore, it seems undeniable that such a process would create a more positive outlook and potentially alter someone’s perspective on life for the better. This theory has indeed been proved by countless studies. One, in particular, is called ‘The Relaxation Process’, which refers to how art can release ‘feel-good’ endorphins in the brain, much like what occurs during physical exercise. This study goes on to suggest that that merely viewing art can have the desired effect, even without the need to participate in hands-on creativity. At Grassmarket, the regular showings of films at the Picture House would certainly have this effect, as it is a space where you can sit back and enjoy moments of creative escapism. Grassmarket is, without doubt, an example of a place that is putting these theories into practice and creating the evidence to back up the many studies that have been done.


Creativity requires an emotional connection, that is certain, but it also demands a practical outlook on what is being made. This blend of emotional awareness with problem-solving abilities is what makes the process so valuable. By using both the right and left side of the brain simultaneously, that person is stimulating their sense of self to a heightened level. By doing this you ‘become part of the present moment’ and engage in a process called ‘Flow’. Flow is when a person participates in a challenging activity that draws upon their previously acquired set of skills, meaning that they are using their abilities with a purpose in mind. The fulfilment this gives a person leads to internal gratification, helping them to discover what it is they enjoy doing and to reach a better awareness of their sense of self. The combination of ‘The Relaxation Process’ and ‘Flow’, give a person a more developed awareness of wellbeing and both a practical and emotional perception of their individuality, as well as developing valuable life-skills.


Indeed, among a few of the life-skills that the arts can give to a person are emotional literacy, communication, social connectedness and stress management, which are also all fundamental values that govern the Grassmarket Community Centre. The work that the participants get stuck into when learning to make Grassmarket Tartan provide practical textiles skills, as well as a place to develop communication, connectedness and eventually experience Flow. This project is just one example of how Grassmarket is giving back to the community – it is providing new skills in the creative sector that can improve wellbeing. There is no doubt and plenty of evidence to back up these claims, in the form of scientific research and most importantly the responses of the people that Grassmarket help on a daily basis. Grassmarket is putting theory into practice and giving the most vulnerable individuals in society a chance at self-development through art and community. So, if you feel like expanding your sense of self-worth then don’t hesitate in paying us a visit. See you soon!

Why choose Grassmarket Centre for your same sex wedding?


Why is Grassmarket Community Project the perfect venue for your same sex wedding?


Grassmarket Community Project provides support and community for everybody. All are welcome, 7 days a week. And Love is Love.


Likewise we welcome all to hold events at Grassmarket Centre – we’ve had visiting royalty and we feed homeless folk, all are equally important to us. Community is everything, and to build community we need to join together.


That’s why we particularly love holding weddings here. What could be a more joyful celebration of community than a wedding? All of your family and friends coming together to celebrate a special day and the start of a new chapter in your life. We even welcome your dogs if you want to include them, we know just how much a dog is part of the family so it’s natural if you want them to be at one of the most special days of your life.

d7a4c772530111f90a71dffbe1057c25Photo from Ruffled blog

So why get married here?

Grassmarket Centre is central. Just nestled in the heart of Old Town, we are well placed for rail and bus links & there is plenty of choice of hotels should you or your guests wish to stay over.

But while we are central, we don’t charge central prices. Your budget will stretch a lot further at Grassmarket Centre. Our packages start from just £20 per person and we have a great all-inclusive package deal available in partnership with a fabulous ceilidh band, Sporrandipity.


What’s more every penny we make in profit from your wedding budget goes straight into our charity supporting homeless & vulnerable adults in Edinburgh. Some of the staff who work for us have been homeless or socially isolated themselves and have been supported by us to find their place in society again. Your wedding at the Grassmarket Centre, part of the multi-award winning social enterprise and charity Grassmarket Community Project, will bring joy and happiness to countless people and not just your guests!


Grassmarket Centre is flexible. You don’t need a traditional wedding to fit in here, it’s an anything goes blank canvas venue. Space can be flexible to give you a large room or smaller spaces for other needs such as a dressing room. There’s also a state of the art sound system well used when we hold concerts or Fringe events here. Whatever entertainment you choose to have, you’ll definitely be able to hear it!

Grassmarket Centre has a bit of everything – it’s a contemporary, architectural award winning building with a unique ethical, social & heritage twist in the middle of a historical district. Always the poor relation historically, Grassmarket is now the up and coming place to be.

Grassmarket Centre has a team of great staff who are highly experienced in this kind of catering. Whatever your needs, we can probably accommodate them.

What’s left after the wedding day other than your memories? The photos! Grassmarket Centre has a wealth of interesting photo opportunities with Greyfriars Kirkyard as our backyard and an outside view of Edinburgh Castle.


We would love to see you and your future husband or wife here at Grassmarket Centre to talk about your wedding. We are taking bookings for 2018 weddings but we do still have some slots available if you don’t to wait until then for your special day. If you’d like to take a look around or if we can help in any way please call Catherine on 0131 225 3626 or visit our contact page on

The Photography’s the Thing

This week we’re having a look at your local options for wedding photography around Edinburgh. Naturally there are loads of great choices here and we can’t cover them all so we have picked a few that we would definitely recommend. In no particular order…

Ewan Barry & Audrey Pinard

Ewan & Audrey make up two halves of the award-winning Tete a Tete Foto. They want your wedding photos to be authentic and unique to you. A few words from Ewan: “Our thoughts on weddings: it’s difficult to generalise as there isn’t such a set formula these days, there are lots of options – religious, humanist, civil partnerships and everybody has their own ideas which is great. The important thing is to listen to a couple and work out the best way of capturing moments they’ll love to look back on. Just as important as getting the picture, is making sure it’s easy for them, so we’re happy to advise on timings and organisation of the photography around the other elements of the day. From a more selfish point of view, it also helps a bit with the photos if people are happy and relaxed!”

Ewan also very kindly volunteers to run our photography group at Grassmarket Community Project. This group have just launched their first book, the Grassmarket Community Project Photography Book Volume 1 which can be browsed here. The book features the photographs of our members and they are justifiably proud of them so all feedback is welcome!

Tracey Largue Wedding Photography

Tracey Largue is an East Lothian-based photographer and is the fabulous photographer for our Win Your Wedding competition! So the lucky winners will soon be getting to know her better.


Tracey welcomes meetings with the bride & groom before the wedding so that she can get to know the kind of photography they’d really like – formal, or more ‘fly on the wall’ style.


The Gibsons


Chantal & Scott Gibson have always been the ones with the camera in their hands. Their love of photography shines through on their website, here’s what they say:

“We are a husband and wife team and our style is very natural and romantic with a soft fine art influence. We love capturing love, laughter, relationships…which translates into our work and also how we deal with any client from the first email to the delivery of the photos. It’s as much about the service as it is about providing a beautiful set of photos. Photos are forever. Little pieces of time in that one shot which you can look back on. Matching the service to those beautiful photos is what we are all about.”


Planning the Big Day

So you’ve just got engaged. You realise this means you need to plan an event. Quite a big one in fact. You start to write a list of things to decide. You flounder. You postpone that and start a guest list. You can’t both agree on who should be invited and the possibilities seem endless. You need help!


Well, as Douglas Adams said in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Don’t Panic. There are people who can help.


First of all, take your time. Unless you want to get married in a couple of months you have time to properly understand what kind of day you want and research how that can come about. A great place to start is a wedding blog, and there are some great ones.

Plans and Presents (MrsPandP)


Wedding blogger Alison Tinlin has many years’ experience in the wedding industry and was previously a wedding and event planner.


Her love of all things wedding shines through in her blog and in her many reviews of venues, suppliers & wedding fashion. While she is based in Scotland, Alison covers weddings all over the country and indeed the world, and reading her past blogs and reviews will give you loads of ideas on wedding possibilities for your special day. She has also written a lovely review of Grassmarket Centre as an ethical wedding venue choice.


Plans and Presents has a great wedding advice section where you can read about everything from taking the stress out of planning to alternative wedding shoes.


There’s also plenty of real-life wedding inspiration. Here’s Taye & Justin who got married at Crichton Church and had their reception at Easterbrook Hall.

Images by Tom Cairns Photography

We Fell in Love blog

Another Scottish wedding blog, which features weddings around the world as well as in Scotland, is We Fell in Love. This blog was set up by two wedding photographers, Christina and Alie.


Christina & Alie love the diversity of the Scottish wedding scene, and the fact that you can legally get married anywhere means they can be blogging about some very unusual weddings! To quote them:

“One of the best things about Scotland is that you can (legally) get married practically anywhere here – on a mountain, in a distillery, by a lighthouse, the list really is endless!
From handfastings (where the couple are literally bound together) to drinking whisky from the quaich (the Scottish cup of friendship), there are so many wonderful Scottish traditions that can be incorporated into the ceremony. At the time of writing, Scotland is one of just 10 countries in the world where Humanist ceremonies are legal, and couples are really able to personalise this part of the day. It’s beautiful to see!”


Their advice for brides and grooms? Do it your own way. All that matters is your future life together.



And if you want the world to know about your special day, submit it to We Fell in Love



Braw Brides blog


And last but by no means least, here’s Heather from Braw Brides.


Braw Brides is based in Glasgow and has great supplier inspiration for you with a library of ideas from cakes to entertainment. Vintage photo booth anyone? Try the Bygone Photobooth Company.


There is plenty of wedding inspiration for you and real life blogs from brides and grooms to be.Here are Jenny & Craig who were married at West Brewery in Glasgow.

Photography by Rooftop Mosaic

In addition Braw Brides have been running highly popular wedding workshops with selected suppliers – much more intimate than a wedding show and much more chance to ask any questions you may need and learn about the infinite possibilities out there. The next workshop will be in March 2017.


There’s almost limitless resources out there but this was a selection of wedding experts here in Scotland. Next blog: photographers.

Dressing for the Occasion

So you’ve got engaged, you’ve found a wedding venue, you’ve bought the rings. The next in what is going to feel like a long list of important decisions has to be The Dress! We are lucky in Edinburgh to be blessed with plenty of choice in this arena. There are some fabulous bridal shops and kiltmakers. Let’s look first at the Groom’s choices if he wishes to wear traditionally Scottish wedding attire.

Did you know Grassmarket Community Project themselves make kilts under the banner of Greyfriars Tartan?


Grassmarket Community Project is a social enterprise born from a century old partnership between Greyfriars Kirk and the Grassmarket Mission in Edinburgh. It has transformed from a humble soup kitchen into a vibrant and inclusive community hub. We reach out to disadvantaged and vulnerable people by providing a nurturing, safe place where they can attend workshops, meet others and build up their skills and confidence.

In 2011, a talented member of our weaving group took inspiration from the famous local story of Greyfriars Bobby and designed Greyfriars Tartan, the first of our Grassmarket Tartans. In 2014 we started a tartan textiles group where our in-house tailor equips members with the skills required to create a range of beautiful handmade products. While making the products, members are undergoing a comprehensive textiles training programme and working towards becoming more employable, as well as gaining valuable life skills such as basic numeracy, improved communication and team work.

We also use other, well known tartans to make products to order. Our kilts are all handmade and made to measure. You can take a look here.


This would be a great #sociallyconscious choice if you wanted to make an ethical decision about your wedding day attire.

If you would like somewhere to browse the whole range of men’s Scottish wedding attire you are well-served in Edinburgh.

First let’s take a look at 21st Century Kilts.

Designated by The Guardian as ‘One of the ten best independent shops in Edinburgh’, 21st Century Kilts aims for a modern take on a traditional item. As founder Howie Nicholsby says: “My aim is to give men throughout the world a realistic alternative to trousers. Pioneering the next step of its evolution, 21st Century Kilts is true to the original kilt which was everyday clothing. Casual or formal a kilt should be an option for any man from anywhere who can realise they are part of the history of an international garment.”


The full array of kilts are available, in ready to wear or made to order, and with a pretty whacky choice of fabric too should you wish. If you’d like to be measured up by Howie in the Thistle St store, you would be wise to make an appointment. All your accessories can be sourced here too, to give you a wedding day to remember.


Now let’s put the spotlight on The Kilt Store on Haymarket Terrace.


In here you can buy or hire a kilt, in fact they have a special offer of 30% off kilt hire for October & November. There’s also a wide range of kilt accessories, jackets, giftware and footwear. Virtually the whole range can be ordered online as well as in the Edinburgh, Dundee or Musselburgh stores. Hamish at The Kilt Store says “We are a small, family business, trading 25 years, where the emphasis is on quality, customer service and value for money. Our main aim is to supply Scottish manufactured products to men and women that have a desire to shout out that they love Scotland & want to feel great in Scottish highland dress. We have three locations with the back up of our warehouse which holds our hire fleet and allows us to press and clean kilts with state of the art machinery.”

They also have their own Men in Kilts calendar for 2017 which seems to be very popular on social media, we can’t imagine why!



Next, for the ladies, we’re visiting Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo Bridal Boutique in East Kilbride.

This gorgeous boutique has one branch for brides and another for bridesmaids, flower girls and mothers of the bride. Choose from different styles of bridal gown – ball gowns, fishtail, A line, curvaceous or fit & flare.


For bridesmaids there is plenty of choice in both long and short styles.


Naturally veils, underskirts, shoes & tiaras are also available, along with a dressing service to assist you on your wedding day.

Finally let’s put the spotlight on Simply Exquisite Bridal and Prom Boutique in Elm Row, Edinburgh.


The team here pride themselves on providing a relaxed atmosphere for brides to look at and try on gowns. You can choose from a wide range as you can see, and they also specialise in prom dresses.


How far in advance will you make your decision? That’s up to you, but it will be a day you remember for the rest of your life!



A Sense of Community

What better place to get married than in a friendly, supportive community?

Grassmarket Community Project is a social enterprise which relies on community spirit. From the hems of our Greyfriars Tartan kilts to the icing on our delicious cakes in the Café, community spirit is what makes us special.


This is why it’s so wonderful when we can stage celebration events in the Grassmarket Centre. And what could be a more happy occasion than a wedding? We haven’t held many weddings yet, but that’s all about to change. There are going to be a lot more of these special events happening in forthcoming months and we can’t wait!


Grassmarket Centre do weddings?!
Yep. We know you might not expect it along with the Greyfriars Tartan and sewing classes, the Grassmarket Café and hospitality training, the Grassmarket Furniture commissions and the woodworking classes, the free film showings with Grassmarket Listings. But we couldn’t resist, because Grassmarket Centre is a FABULOUS wedding venue!
Here’s why you should tell all your friends that they should get married here (unless they are already happily married. In which case getting married again would be inadvisable, and illegal, and they should have an anniversary party here instead.):
A super central location in Edinburgh’s historic heart, nestled into Grassmarket’s Old Town area and with a splendid view of Edinburgh Castle from our back door, and photo opportunities in the lush green Greyfriars Courtyard.


Our architectural award-winning building marries the historic city’s Old Town architecture with a light, modern, adaptable space. Our state of the art sound system, used to great effect by the Fringe all August, will make your entertainment sound great, and should you wish to have a room for changing, or for entertaining the littlies, we can accommodate that.


If you thought you couldn’t afford to get married in Central Edinburgh we may be able to change your mind, with our reasonably priced packages starting from just £20 per person.


We have highly experienced staff who can cater to your taste and make sure your day goes according to plan. We can also help you plan!


You can have a #sociallyconscious wedding at no extra cost, since you will be contributing to the running of our social enterprise which exists for the benefit of our members.


So there’s five reasons to tell the world they should get married in Grassmarket Centre. We’ll leave it there for now.