How did your ‘story’ begin? Tell us a bit about you both and how you arrived at this special day
We’d been together for six years by the time we got married - we first met when we were thirteen and started going out at fifteen when we ended up at the same school - pure high school romance stuff!
How did the proposal go, if there was one?
We went down to Dublin to re-create our first date, which has been a sort of a yearly tradition- this helped maintain the surprise as I thought it was just the standard day trip that we’d done probably a dozen times. We spent the morning going round the National Gallery, then had a massive feed in Avoca (which we love, and where we also went on the first date). After that we went for a walk round St Stephen’s Green, finishing up at the same park bench where we had our first big relationship chat back when we were fifteen! By this stage Richard’s nerves were about to break on account of the MASSIVE ring box very obviously (in his mind) sticking out of his pocket.
The knee was dropped and the question was popped. I said yes!
Could you sum up your wedding in a couple of sentences?
I am a farmers daughter, so there was a clear country theme. The barrels and apple crates came courtesy of my Uncle – a bramley apple farmer who lives close by. Straw bales were from my Dad’s shed. We tried really hard to make sure the day wasn’t stuffy or formal, which really worked out – the whole day was really relaxed with hardly any travel and something different happening pretty much every hour.
How did you go about planning your day? What advice would you give to other brides, and were there any bumps along the way?
From the very beginning we decided to shape the day around three things that mean a lot to us: people, food and music. That description even made it into the front of the order of service. We tried really hard not to cut corners in having all of the people we love and care about, LOADS of really yummy food and a broad variety of good music. We both come from the same town and were in the same year at the same school, so a lot of our guests already knew each other, which really helped the atmosphere and made for a lot of good craic. We’re both foodies, as are loads of our friends and family, so we wanted to push the boat out a bit beyond the usual wedding sit-down meal and get in some really good grub. We had a folk/bluegrass band (Reel Time) to play as guests arrived at the tipis and during the meal, and some musician friends played four different acoustic sets into the wee hours, with a few inventive cover-versions along the way!
We were keen for the day to be as personal as possible. We both have a lot of creative interests/hobbies so we were able to bring a lot of ideas of our own and see them through to the end. We loved the opportunity to work from a completely blank canvas by choosing somewhere that wasn’t a standard wedding venue. I was really able to express all of my interests in decorating the tipis myself. I spent months filling my parent’s spare room with what appeared a very random collection of odds and ends, discovered on Gumtree, at auctions and in the old faithful – TK Maxx. My bridesmaids are all into crafts as well, so the pre-wedding production line was able to churn out a serious amount of handmade decorations, even after we’d spent a solid week folding the origami wedding invites!
We wanted to take the focus off us, hang out with our friends and have plenty of craic. So, we cut the speeches down to the bare minimum and didn’t bother with the usual formalities of cake-cutting, bride-and-groom-entrance and the first dance. Our cake was instead a massive “cheese cake” made of rings of cheese (Richard loves cheese) which was served with supper. We didn’t have a top table, meaning we got to sit with our friends and our parents got to sit with theirs, which really made for good banter during the meal – especially when my parents surprised us with a singing chef (Cameoflage)!
How did you go about picking your venue?
We wanted somewhere quirky and different, but we also wanted to keep things really local. In the end, we found the perfect spot five minutes away from Richard’s childhood home! I had already decided on all of the colours for the wedding, so when I saw that the Quaker Meeting House was painted bright mustard (which was to be one of the main colours) it really sealed the deal.
We wanted to create loads of little spaces for guests to chat/relax and the grounds of the house lent themselves perfectly to this. The walled-off field was perfect for the tipis and had a really cute little gate which created a great entrance when framed with flowers. It was all a little hard to picture when we were trudging around in the grey of February, but with a little creative imagination we took the plunge. By August the whole place became really beautiful with natural flowers and greenery. A farmer even conveniently planted the adjacent field with barley, which turned out really well in our photos and meant we didn’t have to waste and time on the day by heading off elsewhere.
What was the most memorable aspects about your wedding, or things you feel came together really well?
Not having a “venue” to fall back on really gave us free reign and meant that everything felt very personal – there wasn’t really anything there that we hadn’t brought ourselves! Both of us got properly involved in pretty much every aspect of the day, so in the end the whole thing felt really personal as we saw all of our big and small ideas brought together.
We tried not to bring in outside help where we could avoid it - Richard’s brother in law acted as the chauffeur in his Dad’s classic Lotus, my Dad was drafted in to mow all the lawns around the Meeting House on the morning before the wedding and to pull it all off we called in a lot of favours from friends and family. Both of us have really talented friends who have oodles of experience in music, sounds and lighting, graphic design, video work, catering and even carpentry.
It was a real privilege to have so many of our friends, who would’ve been guests anyway, playing such an important part in our big day, and knowing it’d all be done to a really high standard.
Where we did use “outsiders” we made a massive effort to pick people who we knew we would really enjoy working with. I really enjoyed working with the florist and had a clear idea of what I wanted, which was a little out of the ordinary - Charlene and I were really on the same page and had a great time combining ideas to pull it off. Richard has some experience himself with video and photography work, so was really keen to find a photographer and cinematographer who would disappear into the background. Holly from Paper Window and Michael from Story of Eve did a fantastic job, both of them completely understood us not wanting things to be typically “weddingy” and did their best to blend in after we’d got a few posed photos. The most crucial bit of outside help came from the caterer, Alex Berry. We had a great time sampling a whole load of food and coming up with our own ideas, and Alex did a great job in pulling off the burger bar and selection of steaks, tandoori chicken and yummy gourmet salads. The main course was self-service, which gave people a chance to get up, mingle and chat while working through all of the options – that really helped the atmosphere along.
What really helped make the day special was that the weather was absolutely perfect! Even the day before had been windy and showery, which was a real worry with the tipis, but on the big day the sun didn’t stop shining and there wasn’t a drop of rain. The sun was just starting to turn golden as guests arrived at the tipis, which made the grounds look beautiful and really helped with our photos, and the sunset that came after made for a great backdrop to the whole event.
Finishing off the day chatting around fire pits and sitting under the stars with friends was great, as was the firework display which capped it all off.
What advice would you give to brides and grooms planning their day?
Don’t be afraid to do things differently: We drew on wedding tradition where it made sense to us, but largely ignored the preconceived ideas of what you “have to do”. We thought about all the things we’ve not enjoyed at weddings before - long speeches, long journeys, long photo sessions, dull food, awkward discos - and set out to eliminate them from our day.
Have a clear vision: Pick a few things that really matter to you, make them your priority and let them shape your day – for us it was people, food and music. We also spent a lot of time at the start working out a kind of “creative vision” for the look and atmosphere we wanted to achieve. Having a really clear idea of style/theme/colours helped us make all of the key decisions along the way and tied everything together nicely.
Do things yourself: We both got really involved in planning the day and used our different perspectives and interests to make things better. We tried our best not to farm out the jobs to “professionals”. Doing things ourselves allowed us to put funds into the aspects that would really benefit – especially the food!
Where did you go on honeymoon?
We had two days in Dublin with the bridal party to unwind before we flew out to Venice for five nights. We then sailed from there for a week’s cruise round Greek islands. At this stage, I thought I was heading home, but Richard surprised me on the last night with a five night extension of the honeymoon to Florence.
What would you say to other couples thinking about hiring a cinematographer for their wedding? Why was it so important to you to invest in cinematography?
Story of Eve did an absolutely fantastic job with our wedding cinematography. Both Michael and Aisling pulled out all the stops to get to know us and our individual ideas and desires for the film beforehand, and saw them through to the end. We were really keen that the cinematographer and photographer would disappear into the background, Michael didn’t disappoint. He was great craic before the ceremony and put everybody at ease. During the ceremony and after he made himself nearly invisible – a few friends didn’t even realise we’d had a video made. The final film was beautifully put together, and again Michael bent over backwards to do what he could to make us happy. It’s one thing to master the technical skills to make a great video, but quite another to be the kind of character who can add to, rather than take away, from the experience of one of the most important days of your life. Michael manages both.
Everyone that made our day possible:
- Wedding Bands: Fred J Malcolm
- Ceremony music: Ian Vennard, Katharine Philippa
- Wedding Band: Reel Time
- Sound. Lighting & Production: KASAT
- Catering & Cheese Cake: Simply Irresistible
- Pizza Oven: Papa J’s Wood Fired Pizza Company
- Cupcakes: The Cupcake Cupboard
- Fireworks: Emerald Fireworks
- Favours: Charity donation to Sneha Doon School, Dehradun, India