I had been a student at Scotland’s University of St. Andrews for about a year and a half when Ewan walked into the pub where I was having a casual drink with my best girlfriends. It was early and the place was empty, so we were thrilled when he and his mate Paul came up to us and asked whether they could join.
I don’t know whether it was his Aussie accent, his cheeky smile, or his messy hair that did it, but I loved him immediately. Five years later, he proposed. I had the wonderful Adzia of AdziasJewelryAtelier design a gorgeous rose gold engagement ring for me, and we started planning.
At that point we were living in Switzerland, having left Scotland after graduation. This is where it got tricky: where would we hold the wedding? My family lives in France, and Ewan’s is in Australia – the wedding would be the first time they would meet in person. We wanted to bring everyone together somewhere that would be fun and meaningful, so Scotland became the obvious choice. We met there, we loved it, and we decided that’s what we wanted.
As I began planning, Ewan got a great job offer back in Australia. With only two months’ notice we moved Down Under, and I organized the entire wedding online without meeting any of our vendors or visiting any of the places (often I was talking to people on the phone at midnight or later because of the time difference). The whole thing was a giant leap of faith.
We booked Balbegno Castle, a beautiful holiday home, for a week in August 2012 with the idea of having both families under one roof with plenty of time to get to know one another. From that point on, we realized our wedding would be a sort of “family elopement.” We always imagined a small wedding, but it ended up being tiny with only our immediate family and a witness each that doubled up as best man and maid of honor. In all, we had 12 guests – 14 with our photographer, Caroline, and videographer, Eileen.
We didn’t have a specific theme for the wedding, but we wanted something in keeping with our castle venue: classic, nostalgic, romantic and a bit whimsical. We held our ceremony in the beautiful misty ruins of Dunnottar Castle, on the cliffs next to the town of Stonehaven. There is no car access and we had to climb thousands of stone steps amid hundreds of tourists to get there. It was hilarious to do this clad in full bridal gear, let me tell you, which is why my wedding shoes were a sensible pair of sparkly TOMS. They could not have served me better.
Ever since I was a little girl, I had always pictured getting married with flowers in my hair, and I also absolutely love the paintings of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. I asked my florist, Di from RootsFruitsandFlowers, to make me a vintage-looking trailing bouquet and a Pre-Raphaelite crown in shades of peach and plum. She really outdid herself.
For my dress, I ordered a simple strapless empire gown dress blind online because I couldn’t find one with sleeves that I liked at a reasonable price. I really wanted lace sleeves, and Etsy came to the rescue. I ordered a gorgeous little lace bolero from AlexBridal which was perfect layered on top of the dress, and finished the look with a champagne colored silk sash from Eclu. Ewan’s silk cravat and bunny cufflinks were also excellent Etsy purchases, ordered from Elegantascot and WildlifeDesignsUK, respectively.
I’m an illustrator, so I designed my own invitations. I also made the bridesmaid’s black feather fascinators, the men’s feathered boutonnieres, and fascinators for both my mum and mother-in-law. My mum made our wedding cake herself (fruit and marzipan – delicious!), and she and my dad drove it up from the South of France. I scored a gorgeous bunny cake topper from VintagebyCrystal, which was also a huge hit!
We were so lucky and had the most beautiful day: bright sunshine and then dramatic sea mist at Dunnottar. Our families met and got on like a house on fire. It was so small and so huge at the same time; being in the Highlands of Scotland all together for the first time, getting married. Nobody but the people present knew about the wedding. We kept it a secret.
A few days later, we flew off to our honeymoon in Iceland. We announced the news to our friends with Facebook status updates and to the rest of the family with emails. It was perfect.