“The church is a very small and pretty country church and the reception was in a barn, so we wanted it all to be a little rustic, without bling or fuss.”
Your Names: Miriam & Conor
Length of engagement: 20 months
Wedding Date: 2019-09-14
Wedding location: Durhamstown Castle, Meath
Photographer: Thomas Stewart
How did you meet and get engaged?
We met when we were eighteen, at our first college ball! But we didn’t actually start going out until a few months later, when he asked me to dinner in a doorway outside a club in Galway on a class trip. Six years later, he surprised me with a trip to Brussels and Bruges – it snowed more than it had snowed in Belgium in fifteen years. Conor was in a strange mood all day until he finally got down on one knee in a snow covered, silent square in Bruges. It was magical.
Describe your wedding:
We wanted a laid back wedding – neither of us have big families so we had the luxury of only eighty guests, all people we loved and wanted close to us. I wanted it to be bursting with colour – the bridal party wore navy as a neutral against bright and beautiful bouquets, and my mum and I made invitations each decorated with different watercolours. The church is a very small and pretty country church and the reception was in a barn, so we wanted it all to be a little rustic, without bling or fuss.
It was a very handmade wedding – I made myself a denim jacket, my mum and I did the invites and the place settings, I made the table plan and origami cranes as favours to everybody.
We are also avid Star Wars fans, and this was reflected in a few small ways throughout the day – I made the table plan to be named after planets from the series, and some of our ceremony music was also chosen for this reason.
Tell us about your bridal look:
I knew I wanted a full skirt, and lace – I initially really wanted long sleeves but quickly changed my mind once I started shopping. Being awkward, naturally I chose the furthest possible bridal shop from Dublin – McElhinney’s in Ballybofey in Donegal. They are amazing up there, their attendants and seamstresses are so talented and they’ve an amazing selection of dresses. My dress was by Justin Alexander, with a full mikado skirt and lace bodice, buttons the whole way down to the hem and POCKETS.
I didn’t want a veil hiding my gorgeous train. Instead I ordered a colourful floral headpiece from Falcaldo Flowers on Etsy.
My hair and make up were both soft and natural – I wanted my hair to be just like my natural curls only more refined. The girls did an amazing job.
What did your bridesmaids wear?
I had four gorgeous bridesmaids – we were all friends from college – but with four different shapes and styles! Eventually we chose a universally flattering navy tulip skirt from Folkster, and a belt to match, and the girls all chose tops to go with it that blended more with their own personal style. They all chose so well and I think that the looks ended up really cohesive. I barely did a thing, the girls really sorted themselves out, from their hair to their shoes.
What was your ceremony like?
We had a very traditional Church of Ireland wedding ceremony with some personal touches – the solemniser was my godfather and in lieu of a sermon my uncle said a few words, and our siblings and mums did readings and prayers. We had a very talented organist, David O’Shea, who wasn’t opposed to playing music a little outside the norm – I came up the aisle to Raglan Road. We left the church to The Throne Room from the end of Star Wars Episode IV – this is an amazing piece of music, and it starts off just like the wedding march before becoming clear it’s John Williams! It got a great reaction from everyone. Afterwards everyone told us that they thought the whole ceremony was so nice, so personal and sweet, and just the right length (about 40 minutes).
Tell us about your wedding venue:
Durhamstown Castle is a really special place – the castle itself sleeps 27 people, and the barn venue attached is just magical and barely needed any adorning at all, it was basically ready to go. It’s a family business and they really made us feel right at home, like we were friends. They cook all the food themselves and it is really amazing. We had a lamb tagine or salmon in parma ham as our options, and antipasti, and unreal lemon tarts or brownies for dessert. It gave us the best of both worlds, with the gorgeous country house to get ready in and accommodation for us, the bridal party and our families, and the rustic barn feeling. What’s even better is that they let us colonise the house the day before, and let us have a rehearsal dinner in the main dining room for our nearest and dearest. Everything was attended to throughout the weekend with such kindness and ease. They were as laidback as we were and that made everything so pleasant!
What is your favourite memory from your wedding day?
Too many! Walking up the aisle to Conor was perfect. Running through our confetti tunnel just afterwards was hilarious. We then got into our MG Roadster and drove off just the two of us – thirty minutes of a couple in all their wedding finery, just married sign and ribbons, in a vintage convertible – we definitely drew some looks! But it was great to have some time to ourselves.
Our speeches were incredible; we are so indebted to our speakers – our mums, best man, bridesmaids – there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.
Have you got any advice for other couples?
I’m a firm believer that some things are only as stressful as you make them. Wedding planning was only stressful on a couple of occasions. The rest of the time it was a lot of fun. I did a lot of DIY, and loved it – but you do need to have patience and to know that you enjoy that kind of thing before you take big projects on board.
It can’t be said enough – it’s your wedding, and the only things we might regret are times we let ourselves be swayed by other people’s opinions. Don’t let other people dictate what you do – especially not when it comes to the guest list.
Most of all, enjoy it. It’s the best day of your life, and it really will be, and that’s all you need to focus on. At the end of the day, the two of you will be married, and the rest is simply noise.
Wedding venue: Durhamstown Castle | Photographer: Thomas Stewart | Musician and DJ: House Party | Hair: Claire Finegan – Wedding Hair Creations | Makeup: Lorraine Caraher – Hollywood Make Up | Dress: Justin Alexander – McElhinney’s Bridal | Suit: Magee Suits | Bridesmaids dresses: Folkster | Groomsmen outfits: Protocol Menswear | Cake: Marks & Spencer | Celebrant: Leslie Stevenson | Stationery: handmade | Flowers: Linda Bradshaw
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Kelly is a former wedding planner and a lover of anything pink. She believes that any bride can plan her own wedding, with a few tips and helpful tools.