Well, we actually met in the Robinson Hospital in Ballymoney as we were born one day apart (some would say that’s fate) but we met again 13 years later at a youth club. We started going out when we were 14 years old so it’s safe to say we are childhood sweethearts.
Jonny told me to book a few days off so that we could go to his family caravan. However, he actually whisked me away to Amsterdam. We had gone inter-railing after we graduated and Amsterdam was the first city we visited. Jonny told me that’s when he knew I was the girl he was going to marry. If you haven’t been, Amsterdam is a gorgeous city. We stayed in a really lovely boutique hotel called The Toren, which made our stay very memorable.
I loved having two years to plan all the little details. Having so long to do everything meant we got first pick of what we wanted in terms of dates, photographers etc. I was quite particular about our date. Jonny asked me out on the 1st of July and he proposed on the 1st of July so needless to say, I wanted to get married on that date. This turned out to be a Saturday so it worked extremely well. Because we had been together for so long I wanted to make the wedding as personal as possible. Each table setting was a year that we have been together and detailed our favourite song, favourite film and favourite moment from that year. Everyone’s place setting was a picture of them with either myself or Jonny, and some went way back so it was nice to have the time to do all those little details and see people’s reactions.
I tried on a lot of dresses... and I mean a lot! I knew what style I wanted though. I tried on different shapes of dresses on the first day and I knew they just weren’t for me. I didn’t get ‘the one’, feeling with my dress. After weeks of trying on dresses I knew I had to pick one and my mind kept going back to the dress I had tried on in Ivory Bridal. I still didn’t fall in love with it though until the amazing Bridgene Mullan worked her magic and fitted it like a glove. I loved it on the day.
I had five bridesmaids. I know that’s quite a lot but I just couldn’t decide. I had my amazing big sister, Rachael, my step sister, Amber, Jonny’s sister, Sarah, and two of my friends, Jill and Katy. I always knew I wanted my bridesmaids in red as I absolutely love the colour and it just happened to be that they are all brunette so I knew it would suit them all. People did think I was a bit mad choosing red for a summer wedding but I think it worked really well. They wore gorgeous True Bride dresses from Dream Weddings in Coleraine, with some subtle diamante detail on the shoulders.
I actually decided that I wanted to do my flowers myself. Drenagh is such a stunning venue that I didn’t overly feel like I needed a lot of flowers to dress it. Linda McAllister, who is my bridesmaid Katy's mum, is one of those people that can turn her hand to anything. She had undertaken a florist course last year, as Katy was getting married and very kindly offered to make up my bouquets and buttonholes. I was absolutely delighted with how they looked. I alternated the colours with my bouquet being red and my bridesmaids having white bouquets.
I have always loved Drenagh! Before anyone really knew much about the venue, and before it appeared in an episode of 'Don’t tell the Bride', I just fell in love with it. I didn’t get my hopes up though as my dad has MS and now uses a wheelchair. As it’s an old stately home I wasn’t sure if it would be suitable. I met with Joanne and she took my dad and I around the venue. She couldn’t have been more helpful and we decided that it was a goer! I was over the moon. My dad would usually have a lie down in the middle of the day, which was his plan on our wedding day too but he was having too much fun and partied right until the very end with all of us!
I’m quite an organised person, with lists and Excel spreadsheets galore. I had my favours made months before so everything would be nice and relaxed in the lead up to the wedding. I booked a hair appointment the week before the wedding, as we all do. For anyone that doesn’t know me, I’ve had long golden locks my entire life. Low and behold the toner took to my hair and turned it blue! I know you’re thinking I took the ‘something blue’ good luck charm a little too far. So I spent the entire week before my wedding trying to correct my hair. Thankfully it turned out ok in the end but it definitely wasn't the relaxing week I had hoped for.
Make sure you give yourself time to eat and get a glass of water! It’s so simple but it’s amazing how the day just gets away from you. Try to be as organised as possible. I see some brides sitting up until midnight the night before doing projects that could have been done months ago with a little help from the bridesmaids. I would also really advise that you have who you want there on the day and around you. It’s your day, you’ll never forget it and you want to make sure it’s the best fun ever!
Jonny and I were at the Wedding Journal show in Belfast. It was one of the days the rugby was on so I had promised we wouldn’t be too long and would just have a quick scan around. I wasn’t taking time to stop at many stalls but Catherine was there and her photos caught my eye. We stopped and got chatting and I realised she was local to us and had been to Drenagh loads of times, which was something that was important to me. I can let myself get stressed easily so I wanted someone that would be quite easy going but knew exactly what needed to be done. And that’s the vibe I got from Catherine. She kept me calm but wasn’t shy in telling someone to move if she saw a great photo opportunity!
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