Real Calgary Weddings: Kelly and Ian Macdonald’s Urban “Backyard” Wedding

A couple celebrates their outdoor wedding day in and around the inner-city community where they met and fell in love.

Photo by Nicole Sarah.

The Italian phrase colpo di fulmine literally means “lightning strike,” but also refers to being struck by love. It’s the feeling of being so taken with someone that it’s as if your world has been turned upside down, the feeling of an instantaneous connection.

When Ian Macdonald met his future wife, Kelly Ngo (now Kelly Macdonald), for the first time, he felt that strike. “There’s no question about it,” he says. “There was this bolt through my body, and I thought to myself, “Wow, who is this person?”

After their second date, Kelly had her own colpo di fulmine. “I walked through my door and started crying out of the blue and got this really strong conviction that I’m going to marry this man one day,” she says.

Even so, Ian and Kelly didn’t start dating immediately. They had met through a mutual friend, a spin instructor at the fitness studio where Ian did spin classes and Kelly was teaching yoga and barre. Shortly after, however, Ian moved to Victoria, B.C.

A year later, he moved back, and he and Kelly reconnected at a Movember fundraising event she had organized called “Barre for Balls.” Then, five months later, they paired on the online dating app Bumble. The match was another twist of fate — each had set their maximum distance to just one kilometre. Luckily, Kelly was living in East Village and Ian was exactly one km away in Victoria Park. To this day, the couple joke that if either of them had lived farther away, they would never have gotten together.

They stayed close to home for their first date at The Simmons Building in East Village: tea at Phil & Sebastian followed by dinner at Charbar.

Two years later, while travelling in Bali (the couple were on an extended world tour that, unfortunately, had to be cut short due to the onset of the global pandemic), Ian popped the question. He held the engagement ring next to a sleeping Kelly. When she opened her eyes, he told her: “I want to wake up next to you like this for the rest of our lives.”

Back in Calgary, Ian had moved in with Kelly in her East Village home. Both worked in the area and appreciated the community, especially their daily long walks together along the RiverWalk. Though their original wedding plans had been affected by the pandemic, they used those walks to plan their perfect day for when the time was right.

That day would be June 10, 2023, with a wedding and reception that reflected the unique elements that had brought them together and shaped their relationship. The day started with a traditional Chinese tea ceremony at Charbar to celebrate Kelly’s heritage and as a symbolic remembrance of their first date. Afterward, the couple did photos at Platform Calgary and the Central Library.

Photo by Nicole Sarah.

The wedding ceremony was held outdoors at the confluence of the Bow and Elbow Rivers, attended by a small group of family and friends and officiated by Kelly’s cousin Joanne Luu. “We chose this place as it holds many special meanings,” Ian says. “The symbolism of the rivers coming together, the birthplace of Calgary, the backyard to our home in East Village, and the path we walked almost daily for the past three years, hand-in-hand.”

At the end of the ceremony, Kelly surprised Ian with a bagpiper to pay respect to his Scottish heritage and lead the way back to Charbar for the reception.

At Charbar, it was Ian’s turn to pay respects to Kelly’s heritage as he kicked off the reception with a speech in Cantonese. The dessert bar reflected the couple’s shared love of sweets, with pastries from Coaldale Bakery, Crave Cupcakes, and ice cream from Village Ice Cream. On the simple white wedding cake, instead of a classic topper, the couple opted for a Scottish shortbread cookie and a fortune cookie. Kelly later stole the show by successfully sabering her first bottle of Champagne.

The couple concluded their perfect day with a late-night snack of Connie and John’s pizza and by reciting lines from their own vows: “Kelly, you are the yin to my yang,” said Ian, with Kelly answering, “And you are the yang to my yin.”

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This article appears in the January 2024 issue of Avenue Calgary.

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