Josie & Brett are a lovely American couple who live in Edinburgh. They got married at Carlowrie Castle in Edinburgh and all of their friends and family flew over from the States. Josie’s dress was designed by London designer Dana Bolton and the wedding has oodles of personal touches throughout, including the involvement of their beloved husky, Shasta.
The photographer is Fraser Stewart. “he was SO MUCH FUN!” say the couple and we think he has done a great job of mixing modern photography with a very classic backdrop.
Fraser Stewart – he was SO MUCH FUN!
Josie The Bride: We found Fraser through one the various wedding blogs and set up a time to video chat as we loved the style of his photos. After chatting with him, we both thought, “hey, we need to be friends with this dude” he’s awesome, so of course, we had to have him as our photographer. Not only did Fraser create some magnificent photos for us, but he also brought such a fun, relaxed vibe throughout the day. He is an old pro with what things need to happen when throughout the day and was super helpful beyond his photographer duties. He was super tolerant of all the family members trying to take their own versions of wedding photos and relieved any pre-ceremony nerves and tension with his humour. He also had a second shooter named Zoe and she was lovely as well. An added surprise for us was that we learned Fraser is also quite a talented musician as later into the evening, he jumped in with the ceilidh band and played with them for a few songs. The wedding party all had a great time hanging with him throughout the day.
Mark Wilson – he was a friend of ours and he kindly agreed to be our videographer on short notice. Initially, we thought we would skip having a videographer, but decided we would like to just have a basic video of the day for posterity sake. He exceeded our expectations and created a beautiful video through which we could relive the day. It was great to have someone we knew being a part of the intimate moments from the wedding.
Brett and I moved to Scotland about a year before our wedding. Because our family and bridal party all lived in the US, I did the majority of my dress shopping on my own, I tried on a lot of beautiful dresses, but none were quite right. When my friend/bridesmaid Jackie and my cousin/Maid of Honor Achiamar came to visit, we went to Dana Bolton’s Studio in London and I fell in love with her dress designs. Much of her collection is Vintage/Boho-inspired and each dress is handmade by Dana from the most beautiful French Silk and French Lace fabrics which were so lovely and comfortable to wear. I loved the idea of having something unique, high quality, not mass produced and uniquely British. She created a lovely semi-bespoke dress that fit perfectly and was so comfortable to wear. Dana is so lovely and talented painstakingly working through all the details of the design with me.
I love doing a bit of DIY, but I didn’t want to take on too much stuff since we wouldn’t have family around the help until the two weeks before the wedding. To save a bit of money, I made the veil based off of Dana Bolton’s design (she kindly provided me with the fabric and specific pattern dimensions) with significant help from my wonderful sister-in-law Jane Hyun. I cut the tulle and she very kindly attached all the lace trim (in a much more elegant fashion than I would have) while I was away on my hen night. The fabric was a nylon (silk-touch) tulle and French lace.
Living in Scotland, we thought it would be nice for Brett to have a nice Harris tweed 3 piece suit. We thought a tweed suit was the perfect balance of smart, but not too formal. Walker Slater has a lovely shop on Victoria Street here in Edinburgh where he was fitted for his 3 piece Martin suit – Grey Fine Herring Bone. It took quite a few months to track down the suit in the right colour and size as the suit availability is dependent on the tweed production coming from Harris, but we eventually were able to get just the right one! He also had a Walker Slater Violet necktie and button braces.
Brett wore Bertie Canister Wingtip Brogue Boots in Tan – we found these at John Lewis and they were the perfect shoes to complete the vintage gentleman’s suit look.
Lydia at Rose + Ammi was amazing. I didn’t have a super specific vision regarding flowers except that I knew that I wanted flower crowns for the bridal party. As far as the bouquets, we knew that we wanted a fairly simple palette, with sage foliage, neutral blush with a pop of purple. We also included cotton flowers (to represent our home state of North Carolina) and thistle flowers (to represent our new home in Scotland). Lydia also made a little flower/foliage hoop for our husky Shasta.
Apart from these pieces, we used loose foliage and flowers for the flower girls, buttonholes, the centrepieces and cake décor.
The Flower Girl Bouquets and hair pieces were designed by Maids of Honor Lani Chan and Achiamar Lee, Bridesmaid Jackie Hobgood. The Button Holes and Centerpieces were also designed and assembled by the bridal party.
We didn’t exactly have a firm theme for the wedding, but we both have a love for an eclectic mix of vintage-meets-modern styling. We were inspired by some of the British turn of the century aesthetics we were seeing in while living in the UK so we tried to incorporate that into the overall feel of the wedding. Also, our wedding day was June 22nd, the second longest day of the year, so we tried to incorporate a bit of whimsical summer solstice flavour into the styling with the flower crowns and bridesmaids dresses. Our general colour palette was inspired by the colours of the landscape/foliage we had seen from our travels in Scotland, a blending of purples and muted sage/greens from the heather and thistle and greys from natural slate rock formations and stonework in the farmhouses which pepper the countryside.
We did very minimal décor as we wanted to spend our limited budget in other areas. As a venue, Carlowrie Castle offers the perfect mix of old-meets-new. Carlowrie is a small castle built in 1852, but reimagined with a contemporary interior, so we really did not do much as far as décor, we wanted to focus on creating a great time for our guests.
We assembled DIY centrepieces using an eclectic array of repurposed liquor bottles and put flowers in each of the bottles. We also scattered tea lights on each table as well as a single white lantern with a purple candle on each table. The table numbers were actually different places that were meaningful to us. Some of them were as simple as our address from our home in the US (the first house we bought together), to the NC Art Museum (where Brett proposed), to the Kingdom of Titus (affectionately named after our husky Titus who past just a month before the wedding – what we called our home no matter where in the world we are living).
For the wedding party, we created custom bottles of our favourite gins for the bridesmaids and whisky for the groomsmen. Brett designed personalized Gin and Whisky labels for each person the wedding party for a little extra pre-wedding treat.
We had a fantastic piper, Alastair Hutcheon, to entertain and welcome guests before the ceremony. We wanted everyone to have a fun and relaxing day, so as they arrived they received a welcome cocktail. We were lucky to have a beautiful Scottish summer day and held our ceremony in the walled garden.
We had a relaxed humanist ceremony, our goal was to keep it light-hearted and wanted to involve as many of our friends and family as possible.
The bridal party and Josie walked down the aisle to “Somebody to Love” by Queen. One of our dear friends read an excerpt from Mindy Kaling’s book “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)”.
During the ceremony, one of our bridesmaids, Vanessa Lucero, sang “Nothing Can Change This Love” accompanied by Josie’s brother, Ethan Bodle, on guitar while we were signing the registrar documents. We incorporated some uniquely Scottish Traditions like ring warming and drinking whisky from a Quaich, poured by Brett’s dad and Josie’s brother Tristan.
We wanted to make sure everyone in the bridal party was able to pick a dress that they felt comfortable wearing, we thought that was more important than dictating everyone wear something super specific. Also, having a variety of dresses in different colours and textures captured the sort of vintage/boho/dreamy vibe. Even though the bridal party was scattered across all corners of the US, from California, New York, North Carolina and Boston and everyone was shopping for their dresses separately, it all seemed to come together quite nicely on the big day.
Wedding Planner Stationery
All stationery, Save-the-Date photo and design, Letter-pressed Invitations, Hand-drawn map of Event Locations, Programs, Bottle Labels, Sweatshirt prints, luggage tag favours and place cards were designed by Brett Hartsfield, the groom.
All guests were transported to the venue in a Vintage Double Decker bus from the Heritage Fleet of Stagecoach East Scotland.
Carlowrie was such a great venue because while photos were happening, people could explore the grounds and the castle, the kids were running around playing tennis, hanging out with our dog Shasta and chasing the sheep.
Following the speeches and delicious meal, we had a rocking ceilidh band called Teannaich. 90% of the guests were from America, so ceilidh dancing was completely new to them, thankfully Colin, Josie’s friend who was the drummer, also did a great job calling the moves and everyone had a great time. It got EVERYONE dancing, which would not have happened otherwise and we loved every minute of it.
We also had Blair Bowman, a whisky consultant, running tastings and educating our guests on the world of Scotch whisky to close out the evening. All in all, our goal was to make sure our dearest family and friends had a blast and to make sure the experience was worth the long journey to Scotland.
We were not sure how many people would actually make the journey from the US to our wedding all the way in Scotland, but we were ecstatic that our nearest and dearest made the trek over. We had over 120 guests and wanted to make it a week to remember.
In addition to the big day, we had a pre-wedding welcome reception the day before the wedding at the Golf Tavern with Pitch and Putt Gold on the Bruntsfield Links. The day after the wedding we had a Chinese Wedding Lunch at Lee On and then broke off into smaller groups to tour Edinburgh Castle and to explore the Royal Mile. After the festivities, for the weekend following the wedding, we even took a 3-day bus trip up to the Highlands with family and friends (with 50 people!), so it truly was an epic wedding week.
If you can make the time for it, try to plan wedding festivities to last a few days, even if your wedding is not a destination wedding. It does not have to be anything elaborate or fancy, but just having events over the course of a few days allows you to soak it all in and to enjoy having all your favourite people together in one place. Because we were not at home for the year prior to planning our wedding, we didn’t have any of the typical pre-wedding events people tend to plan, but because of that our friends and family were excited to participate in the activities we had planned in Edinburgh. Having everyone together with us in our little neighbourhood in Scotland was so precious to us. This is really the only time in life when the people you love from all the different parts of your life intersect and we loved basking at that moment for that one special week.
Photography by Fraser Stewart Wedding Photographer
- Dress Dana Bolton
- Bride’s Shoes Rachel Simpson
- Groom Walter Slater
- Groom’s Shoes Bertie Canister from John Lewis
- Jewellery Bailey’s Fine Jewelry, Raleigh
- Rings The Ring Maker
- Bridesmaids Earrings River Island
- Florals Rose + Ammi
- Venue and Caterer Carlowrie Castle
- Cake Bibi’s Bakery
- Bridesmaids Dresses Reformation
- Bridesmaids Dresses BHLDN
- Bridesmaids Dresses Watters
- Maternity Bridesmaid Dress Motherbee Maternity
- Bridesmaid Dress John Lewis
- Transport Stage Coach Bus
- Entertainment Teannaich