Childhood sweethearts Orla & Chris wanted a wedding that represented them as a couple. They kept the decoration simple, elegant and timeless with creams teamed with pastel lavenders and pinks. The focus for them was celebrating their love surrounded by their nearest and dearest and they didn’t let a few wedding day mishaps get in the way.
I met Chris when we were still in secondary school as a set up between two of our friends as they thought we were well suited for each other because of our height alone! We started dating during our Leaving Cert year and then both went to Galway for college. We stayed together throughout our college years. We were together 7 years when Chris decided to pop the question in 2015! It came as a big surprise even though I should have clicked when he brought us ‘randomly’ to where we first met. He got down on one knee and had a cute little speech and all which just made the moment perfect. We decided pretty quickly that we were going to have not too long of an engagement (two years) and set out to choose our wedding date. We booked our date for May 2017 near the date of when we first started going out and then got stuck into our plans!
For both of us we wanted our wedding to be a representation of us and what we value most. We wanted a day filled with laughs and good fun with family and friends. We didn’t want anything too over the top and kept most things simple and elegant.
For the day itself there are so many highlights, but one of my most favourite moments is when I took a step back and looked at our guests out dancing and enjoying themselves and took that minute or so to really appreciate how all our planning had paid off and how the most important people to us were here to help celebrate an important milestone in our lives. Our wedding was a lovely size that allowed us to get round to everyone, our final numbers came in around 130 which was just perfect for what we wanted.
We didn’t have a particular theme in mind when choosing our wedding, we both agreed that it was important that we chose things we wanted and that we know our guests would enjoy. Little added features like our photo booth were a complete success and each element of our day was thought out and put in place for a reason which is what made everything just come together so nicely. If I were to describe our wedding in three words it would be – elegant, fun-filled and relaxed. There was quite a few hitches on the day with a bridesmaid bouquet going AWOL and a burst radiator in the middle of bridal preparations but thankfully we were all able to laugh it off and it added to the craic and fun of the day itself!
The Venue & Reception
We were married in my local church of St. Agatha’s Clar in Donegal town. We chose Clar as I always found it to be a beautiful church and always wanted to get married there. We also chose Deane Connaghan for our ceremony music as we heard him at a fair and many of our guests commented on how his arrangements complimented the ceremony so well. When we were looking for venues we considered many in the local Donegal area. We shortlisted a few and then decided to head out to Sligo to some wedding fairs to check out suppliers and also have a nosy at the hotels too. We arrived at the Sligo Park Hotel wedding fair and instantly fell in love with the ballroom. We were both there and it was the first place that we agreed on completely so we knew it was the place for us. It was also great for a bit of a change as we have attended many weddings in Donegal area and was really nice to have most of our families and friends stay over at our venue so we could see them again the morning after. We were very impressed with the wedding co-ordinator Margaret in Sligo Park and they could not do enough for us and went above and beyond to make our day extra special.
We printed off our stationery from Optimal Print online. We chose Optimal Print as we liked the designs and what was great was that we could get our Invitations, Thank you cards, etc. to all match which looked amazing. We made and printed our own mass booklets for the ceremony and liked the way we could say we chose all our designs and that ourselves.
For our wedding cars we went with our local provider Michael Gallagher. I have used Michael’s taxi service for years and knew he would be the perfect choice for getting us there and having craic along the way! We chose the Mercedes limo for the bridesmaids and the lovely S Class for ourselves so we could arrived to Sligo in style.
They said finding the dress you love can take you so many different shops and you can try on hundreds of dresses, that was not the case for me. I went in with an open mind and looked at lots of dresses but I only went to two shops. The first shop I tried was mainly to see what I would like on but in the second shop I found the dress I loved. I brought my Mum and sister with me as I wanted as little people to know about the style as possible so it was a surprise for everyone on the day.
I tried on 5 dresses in Tomorrows Bridal shop, then narrowed it down to two very quickly and as I couldn’t decide I had to go away and think about it. Claire and Amy in Tomorrows were so wonderful and helpful when trying them on. I eventually made my decision as I knew the dress I couldn’t get out of my mind was the one and I went for a Mikaella dress. I chose this dress because it was so elegant and classy and would never date. I didn’t want much detail on it so the simple style suited me better. It was so comfortable to wear and not at all heavy even with the hoop underneath. It was perfect!
My accessories on the day where quite simple. I bought my necklace and earrings in a small jeweller in Derry and my bracelet was bought in Debenhams. My veil on the day belonged to my Auntie Mary T who was married 25 years before me, it suited my dress so perfectly as it had little pearls on it and was a short veil, what I had wanted. It was hard to find one without spending a lot of money so this was the perfect item as my something borrowed. I have a very small shoe size so I actually had the shoes bought just after I found my dress. I am a size two and that is difficult to find in a nice shoe so I searched the internet until I found a pair that I truly loved and I bought them on Amazon. The style of the shoe was ElegantPark and they were so comfortable and I wore them late into the night.
We went round a few bridal boutiques to try and find a dress that suited our eclectic mix of bridesmaids. As our bridesmaids varied so much in height we wanted to choose something that looked elegant on them altogether while still keeping the look simple. I took one of my bridesmaids to local shops and found a gorgeous dress that we really thought would suit everyone. We sent round the snaps and discussed it at great length and decided on the style we wanted which was a full length dress with detailing on shoulders and open back. The dresses in the shop were quite expensive so my very cost efficient little sister and bridesmaid Aoife managed to find dresses nearly identical online from JJ’s House! We ordered 5 in the lilac/lavender colour we liked and were so happy when they arrived. They looked really well on each bridesmaid and everyone was happy and comfortable which is what mattered most. We took the dresses to a local seamstress Margaret who was amazing and had all alterations and everything sorted in no time. On the day the girls looked so well and we paired the dresses with just simple bracelets that we purchased as gifts for the bridesmaids along with their mugs, etc.
Hair & Makeup
For our hair and makeup we decided to have them all call to the house the morning of. Our hair was beautifully done by some of the girls in Studio Five. The bridesmaids had all requested that they would like their hair left down and for me this was great as I wanted mine up so it showed a difference of looks. The girl’s hairs were simple all curled with a gentle gather at the back. Mine was curled and then pinned up with a relaxed look so that it wasn’t too tight on my face. Our makeup was done by the talented Kerry Harvey. She was so calm and relaxing that we didn’t feel a panic or worried and enjoyed the experience with her. All the makeup looks we wanted were to be simple and natural and Kerry achieved that wonderfully. We couldn’t recommend Kerry enough to any bride she was so wonderful.
Groom and his men
For the Grooms & Groomsmen outfits Chris would go nowhere else but EJ’s Menswear. Chris had been groomsman for two weddings before and both times found that the staff at EJ’s were brilliant and exactly the kind of experience and styles he was looking for. We both went together with one of our groomsmen to choose the suits as of course only I knew the colour and style of my dress so we wanted to make sure it would all compliment each other nicely. We also needed to pick something that would suit everyone and with a groom of 5ft and a best man of 6ft tall we know it wouldn’t be easy.
Chris knew exactly what kind of style of suit he wanted and was in his element chatting with Adrian about what suits him and what would look good! We went with the option for Chris to purchase his suit and rent the suits for the lads as he would get a better fit for himself and his suit would also be slightly different which would make it stand out from the rest which was a nice touch. We rented ties and waistcoats to match the bridesmaids and the groomsmen even bought their shoes from EJ’s to match and all looked really well.
Our flowers on the day where actually very simple. We decided we didn’t want to spend a fortune on flowers as neither of us are big on them. Our bouquets were silk flowers made by Michelle from All About Weddings and they made them to suit our needs and our lilac and pink colours. Michelle also supplied our wedding candles for the ceremony which went well with everything else. We went with the silk flowers for bridal bouquets and buttonholes as it was a nice touch of being able to also keep them long after the big day too. I still have my bridal bouquet as a centrepiece in our sitting room! Our church flowers where done by my Mum, there was two arrangements of lilies on the alter and at the front door of the church there was wild flowers put together and placed at the doors to add colour.
We opted for a sit down menu which we got to have a wonderful menu tasting arranged by the hotel. We had heard from many people before that the food in the Sligo Park was amazing and were happy to report that it is definitely the case. Portions were the perfect size and we had something for everyone with even a silent vegetarian option (unadvertised vegetarian option available upon request) too which was all included!
We had a gorgeous three tier cake designed by a school friend of Chris’s, Cliodhna McCaughey. She runs her own local business Cakes by Cliodhna and is very famous for her tasty cakes and amazing designs. We showed her some styles of cakes we liked and decided to go with a design that incorporated fresh flowers in our tiers which then all tied into our colour scheme of lilacs and pinks and just looked stunning in front of our top table. We chose chocolate biscuit for the bottom tier, red velvet (my favourite) for middle and madeira with cream for the top tier.
We sent around our cake later in the evening when the midnight buffet was set out by the hotel. The cake and food were set out at each table on lovely tiered cake stands in an afternoon tea style. It was a lovely touch from the hotel and guests enjoyed being able to stay seated and get their fill without having to queue for a buffet.
We had Top of The Popz as our wedding band and DJ for the night and have to say they were brilliant! They kept the floor going all night with something for everyone (and we have some very varied music tastes in our family and friends) It all looked so well with the gorgeous fairy light backdrop provided by the hotel and they were the talk of our guests for weeks after. We also rented light up letters and a photo booth from Scene Setters. The photo booth went down a storm and everyone loved they had little print outs for themselves and thoroughly enjoyed getting all dressed up with big glasses and wigs! We received a copy of all the photos taken in the booth and even received some hilarious video messages our guests left for us which was an added bonus too.
Photography & Videography
For photography, we booked Gerard McHugh very early on as we knew we would want him to do our photos for the big day. I have had some of my childhood photos taken from Gerard and he knew our family well which made a huge difference. He was an absolute delight and work so well and quickly that we weren’t spending all day posed with sore faces from smiling. We went to two different locations for outdoor photos on our way to our venue which gave us some really nice shots of us with stone surrounds in the Abbey in Donegal Town and gorgeous sea and cliffs at the Fairy Bridges in Bundoran.
For videography, we chose Jason McGarrigle. Jason and Gerard have worked together in the past and Chris also knew Jason from doing work at his brother’s wedding. We were always impressed with Jason’s videos and like Gerard, he was great fun and so good at being there without even seeming like he was there at all. He captured some brilliant moments and even included some of our hilarious bloopers in our wedding trailer which just completely encapsulated the hilarious and fun day our wedding was.
We want to mention the amazing light up letters and photo booth that were provided by Connor of Scene Setters which were perfect for that something extra and made the day very enjoyable for us and our guests.
We also found adding in our own wee touches that we did ourselves to the day made it that bit more personal and unique to us. For us, it was making our wedding mass booklets & favours ourselves, handwriting our welcome blackboard and printing out pictures of our grandparents and parents to add to the tables.
We also rented a gorgeous vintage style post box for our wedding cards from My Wedding Store which looked very well in our reception and was again a great added touch as my dad is a postman!
There was a beautiful moment during our first dance where our bridesmaids surprised us by coming out and throwing confetti on us. We were laughing and looking around at all our guest gathered around us and for both of us, it was an amazing moment which captured what our big day was all about – love and laughter!
Bride To Bride
My advice for the next bride is not to plan your wedding according to what people say you should have, it’s your day and you should enjoy it. Have the music you want and have the food you love. Take other opinions on board but make sure not to let others dictate for you.
My other bit of advice that I took from another bride is when the band is in full swing take a moment to just stand back listen to the laughs, the stories being told and the guests out dancing and smiling because that is one moment no picture will capture or no video will have it’s a mental picture in your head. It was truly one of the moments that I remember and will never forget.
Ceremony: St. Agatha’s Clar ♥ Reception: Sligo Park Hotel
Stationery: Optimal Print ♥ Transport: MM Wedding Cars
Dress: Mikaella from Tomorrows Bridal ♥ Accessories: Debenhams & ElegantPark
Bridesmaid Dresses: JJ’s House ♥ Hair: Studio Five ♥ Makeup: Kerry Harvey
Grooms Attire: EJ’s Menswear ♥ Flowers: All About Weddings
Cake: Cakes by Cliodhna ♥ Entertainment: Deane Connaghan & Top of The Popz
Light up Letters & Photobooth: Scene Setters Post Box: My Wedding Store