A beautiful wedding blending Scots and American heritage at stunning Carrick Castle Estate
Calfornian Kristie was working as a contractor in Glasgow when she met Mark in Maggie Mays bar. She would fly up on a Monday and head back to England on a Friday, meanwhile Mark was living and working just outside Glasgow.
After three-and-a-half years together, Mark proposed to Kristie in her native San Diego, at a park down the street from where she grew up while they were on holiday visiting family.
It was to be a short engagement with the couple tying the knot nine months later.
Their first priority was to find the ideal venue.
“It was crucial we book the venue and main suppliers such as catering, photographer as soon as possible,” Kristie explains.
“Once those were locked in, the rest of the planning was very enjoyable.”
They knew they wanted to get married in Scotland because it’s where they met and where they spent the first year-and-a-half of their relationship.
Kristie also wanted to be able to incorporate some sort of water to bring an aspect of California.
“We viewed three venues, but Carrick Castle sold us immediately with its stunning views and rustic barn.
It gave us the option to get married on the greenery overlooking the water and it was really important to us that our wedding was more of an experience than just a day,” Kristie says.
“We knew we were going to be having a lot of family and friends travelling, so this venue gave us that flexibility because it was a three-day hire.”
Carrick Castle was a great place for the rustic theme the couple had planned.
“We wanted to have the wedding be a perfect blend of our two cultures.
“I knew I wanted to keep it quite simple with whites and light pink tones,” Kristie goes on.
When it came to decor, everything was chosen by the couple to be equally representative of their two cultures.
“I tried to keep the cost down as much as possible so I got things from The Range, Poundland, Home Bargains, SHEIN, B&M, Hobby Craft, Amazon, TK Maxx, and a few shops in California while I was back home for a trip.
This gave me the flexibility to make it my own completely.”
Kristie shopped for her dress at home in England and entered the process with an open mind, willing to try on anything.
She discovered her gown at Meryl Bridal in Crowborough, having already picked out the dresses on their website.
“It was a private session with just my parents, one bridesmaid, and Meryl.
It was the first dress I tried on, and I immediately fell in love with it. I still tried all the other dresses, but kept coming back to that one.”
And there’s no question why Kristie fell for her ‘Frances’ dress by Morilee with its sweetheart neck, a corset top and a flowing bottom with a beautiful train.”
I chose it because I felt beautiful in it, it was easy to move in and the train was a staple piece.”
She chose to keep her jewellery to a minimum with a necklace Mark had previously bought her, her mom’s pearl bracelet for something borrowed, and her grandmother’s ring for something old.
“I had my florist create a stunning rose headpiece to put above my veil,” Kristie adds.
In the bridal party there was a maid of honour (Kristie’s sister) and her two best friends were bridesmaids.
“I wanted pink as my bridesmaids’ dress colour, but it was important to me that each girl felt comfortable.
I went with Cicinia, and decided on a colour of pink and then allowed each girl to pick out the dress in that colour.
They each chose a dress that suited them, so we ended up with two chiffon and one tulle, all different styles but they really complemented each other.”
Mark looked the part in his Highland Storm tartan kilt from Slater Menswear and he was accompanied by his cousin – who was best man – and two best friends as groomsmen.
The day before the wedding, Kristie was able to relax a little in the evening after they had the barn set up.
“We were all in the lodge together which had a hot tub, steam room etc., so we had drinks and food and played pool and then got an early night,” she explains.
“I slept as well as can be expected. When I woke up in the morning it felt surreal. I was excited, nervous and so happy to marry the love of my life, in front of all our favourite people in the world.”
Mark, meanwhile, slept well and woke feeling excited for the day, ready to don his kilt with no nerves in sight.
He had a relaxing morning at the sauna and steam room, enjoyed some one-to-one time with his best man, then chilled with his groomsmen and had a few drinks.
Kristie describes her morning with her friends and family as “beautiful”, putting on a big breakfast for everyone and then heading upstairs to the bridal suite to get their hair and make-up done.
“We had champagne, chit-chatted and the time flew by. It was very stress-free, and I have beautiful pictures to look back on in our matching pjs.”
It was touch and go if the ceremony could be outside due to the rain, but the couple decided in the end that’s what they really wanted so went for it.
“It was a little overwhelming, but Hannah from Carrick Castle Estate was amazing and really helped coordinate the whole thing to keep our guests happy while we pushed the ceremony back to wait on the rain to finish,” Kristie recalls.
When the time arrived for Kristie to walk down the aisle she was nervous: “I don’t love being the centre of attention, so it felt scary walking down the aisle.
“Hannah suggested I do the grand entrance so I started by myself down the spiral staircase and then my dad met me at the bottom. I cried the whole way until I saw Mark and then it was pure joy and happiness.”
For the ceremony, all the couple’s immediate family walked down the aisle, which is an American tradition.
A piper played the tune Highland Cathedral for Mark and his mum, Mark’s dad and sister, Kristie’s mum and brother and all the bridesmaids and groomsmen.
Kristie walked down the aisle with her dad to Billianne’s cover of Simply the Best.
The couple chose a humanist ceremony as it was important to them to have a ceremony that represented them.
“Natalie spent a few hours getting to know us and our relationship, and then captured it beautifully.
“We incorporated a few of the Scottish traditions like handfasting and signing the certificate in front of everyone.”
Kristie and Mark wrote their own vows.
“We were both nervous as we felt we might cry through them, but it was beautiful and something we will remember forever.
“We have our vow books so we can always look back on them.
“It’s something I would definitely suggest to any bride and groom getting married as it’s a really special moment between the two of you.”
After the ceremony there was a cocktail hour with canapés and Prosecco with entertainment from the Kilted Caricaturist.
They used the menu for the wedding breakfast to fuse their culinary cultures as well as select some delicious food for their 70 guests.
“We went with Regis Banqueting who were amazing and so easy to work with.
“We selected their street food menu because it allowed us to have three stands, one British, American and one middle eastern and Indian,” Kristie explains.
Dishes on offer included haggis, neeps and tatties, and assortment of mini pies: Scotch, beef and ale, steak and haggis and chicken curry and smokey BBQ pulled pork burgers.
The couple opted out of having a cake and instead gave guests the choice of delicious desserts such as rhubarb and strawberry crumble, sticky toffee pudding and chocolate fudge brownie.
To begin the evening festivities, Kristie and Mark had planned an entrance to the barn before the reception started.
“We entered with our bridal and grooms party one by one for each couple dancing to Signed, Sealed, Delivered by Stevie Wonder,” Kristie reveals.
There was live music from Transit Jukebox and some late night snacks of cakes, crisps, sandwiches and wraps.
She describes the atmosphere as “calm, fun and perfect”.
The live band kept their guests up on the dance floor the whole night and she and Mark slipped away to take the Land Rover up the neighbouring mountain for pictures at the waterfall.
Kristie says their photographer Rosaleen Bonnar was amazing on the day and leading up.
“We formed a beautiful relationship and really trusted that she would capture our day perfectly.
“We did a pre-shoot with her so we could get comfortable in front of the camera, and she went to the venue prior to the ceremony so she could get familiar with the surroundings.
“She even booked accommodation near us so she could be there early with us and stay all day.
“She fit in perfectly with our guests, and made us feel at total ease that we’d get everything captured.”
They ended the reception with Loch Lomond in a nod to Mark’s Scottish roots.
“To blend it with an American culture we gave all our guests glow sticks and dimmed the lights.
“It was an ending we will never forget!” Kristie smiles.