An intimate, international elopement wedding atop Calton Hill in Edinburgh

23 Feb 2021

American couple Christine McFarlane and Andy Kowalewski travelled to Edinburgh for a family wedding at Calton Hill 

Photography: Love to the Core Photography    


What venue did you choose and why did you choose it?  
A few factors led us to the decision to have our wedding in Scotland. After getting engaged in France while on a family vacation, we instantly knew we wanted to celebrate our wedding day with the same group of family surrounding us in Scotland. My paternal family is all over Europe in England, Scotland, and Sweden, so Edinburgh was the perfect city for us to host our celebration. Months prior to our wedding day, my grandfather passed away. He is the patriarch of our family, and I wanted to make sure we felt his presence on the big day. We invited our closest friends and family members from the US to travel with us to Scotland and be a part of the nuptials. Throughout our wedding day, I wanted to capture all the beauty Edinburgh has to offer, while showing my friends and family, especially Andy, my favourite parts of this magical city. When we began planning the Scotland wedding, my father recommended looking into Calton Hill for the ceremony since he knew I wanted a scenic outdoor ceremony. The reception venue was a no brainer since my aunt and uncle owned Spoon.  

What was the theme for the day, and did you have a colour scheme?  
The colour scheme included: rust, blush, champagne, and emerald. 


Tell us about your dress 
Being in the industry, (I’m a wedding planner) I have seen my fair share of beautiful white gowns - so I knew I wanted something coloured and non-traditional. I wanted the dress to represent me, so pink was the obvious choice for colour. Marchesa’s embroidery, embellishments, and attention to detail has always inspired me so I looked online first. I went so far straying away from the typical dress shopping experience, that I purchased my Marchesa gown off of eBay - and it worked out wonderfully. 

Who were the bridesmaids and what did they wear?  
I only had one maid of honour, my sister Caitlin. She wore a long sleeve wrap dress gown in a champagne colour. It matched the colour of my belt.  


Tell us about your floral arrangements 
For flowers, I connected with Mud Urban Flower’s style instantly. We got bouquets and boutonnieres and one large arrangement for the head table. For the guests table we opted for an eclectic style of mix and match vintage bud vases down the long wooden tables.  


Often the aspect that makes a wedding original to the couple is the detail – tell us about the details of the day 
Our reception decor included a mix and match of jewel tone coloured water goblets, napkins, and candle sticks to complement the eclectic mix and match style of Spoon. We added a touch of modern, trendy flare with Spoon’s vintage nuances.  


Jamie Wheeler Designs created all the paper goods for our wedding day including the invitation suite, escort cards, and signage. Jamie used hues within our colour palette of mauve and rust to design a tartan pattern used throughout the wedding. The invitation suite even included the Clan MacFarlane Crest.  


Our signature cocktail was The Kowalewski Kollins that was made of scotch, lemon, and club soda. 


Although we weren’t able to fly over our beloved French bulldog, Pierre, he was there in spirit via a life size cardboard cutout. 
My family surprised us with a slideshow of pictures of me and Andy from over the years. We were able to keep it running all night for all the guests to enjoy. 

How did you feel as you walked down the aisle?  
When the processional began, it felt like time had stopped. All the visitors surrounding us on Calton Hill stopped in their tracks and looked on. I was hyper focused on taking the moment in and locking eyes with Andy. 


How did you make the ceremony personal to you? 
We made our way up Calton Hill, where we were met by the sound of bagpipes playing in our honour. Our family and friends gathered on the backside of the hill to have Arthur’s Seat as our backdrop. My cousin was our officiant and we customized the service with our own take on the traditional wedding vows. 


What was your most memorable moment?  
It would be my first looks it was important to me to have a first look with my dad at my late grandfather’s house. This is a moment I will never forget. 
When it was time for the first look with Andy, we ran into a bit of trouble. We wanted to have this special moment as close to the castle as possible but the guards had other ideas. Our photographer Corinne from Love to the Core Photography quickly jumped into action and found a beautiful side street for this private moment to happen.  

What was the most challenging aspect of planning this wedding?  
The most challenging part was being in America throughout the planning. Last minute logistics were determined just days before, once we arrived. It was slightly stress inducing to be on crunch time but also exciting! Also, ensuring we had the proper credentials to host the ceremony on Calton Hill.


What song did you choose for your first dance, and why?  
We selected Can’t Help Falling in Love but had our own twist to it, having our two talented friends sing it live. 

Did you have any evening entertainment?  
During the reception, my American guests were in for a treat when my family surprised us with a traditional Scottish ceilidh. We danced the night away. 


Was there anything you wish you’d known before?  
The day does go by quickly, although it is a marathon of a day - but enjoy it all. 


Steal Their Style 
Photography: Love to the Core Photography   
Reception venue: Spoon  
Dress: Marchesa Notte  
Hair & Make-up: Emma Motion  
Bridesmaids’ dresses: Lulu’s 
Groom’s outfit: ASOS 
Stationery: Jamie Wheeler Designs
Cake: 101 Bakery
Flowers: Mud Urban Flowers
Planner: Christine McFarlane Events
Transport: One Fare Day


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