We met in university where we were both studying the same course, we were very much friends first and I would still regard him as one of my best friends, we then began dating in our 4th year. After university we moved to Australia for a few years and did a good bit of travelling and lived in both Perth and Melbourne and loved our time there, before moving back in 2018 to pursue further training in our chosen fields. He proposed in January 2020 on a skiing holiday atop a glacier in Tignes, France, I was very surprised and delighted to turn around and find him down on one knee in his ridiculous one piece illuminous ski suit and I said yes straight away.
I went to 4 different shops and had a lovely bridal experience with prosecco and fun with my mum and my 3 sisters. I probably tried on about 25 different dresses in total over the course of a few weeks and tried on all the different styles to see what would suit me and what I felt comfortable in.
I bought my dress from the bridal rooms in McElhinney’s Department store in Ballybofey, Co. Donegal. My sister Ciamhe had bought her dress there a few years ago and had had a lovely experience and I was keen to go with a local retailer so I was delighted to find “The One” there. The dress was bought during a level 3 lockdown in which all café’s and restaurants were closed for indoor dining, so instead of going for a nice lunch to decide if it really was the dress for me, my mum, sisters and I drank take away teas and sausage rolls in my sister’s car in the car park, before going back in to order the dress and pay the deposit!
My dress was the Celeste Gown by Ronald Joyce (style 69404). I felt 100% comfortable and myself in the dress, it was everything that I was looking for, it had cap sleeves and a classic design and a beautiful embroidered illusioned neckline. I fell in love with the dramatic detachable train- knowing I could take it off later for dancing and running about while still having a very dramatic look for the church was such a bonus. I loved the classic crepe and the shape of the dress from behind with the buttons - My sisters commented that it was the only dress I’d tried on that I wasn’t pulling at a certain part or tugging down the bottom so I knew that meant a lot.
The whole experience was lovely and the staff were very attentive and caring and really knew their stuff when it came to ordering, recommended timelines and all the bits in between- I owe a special thank you to Caroline in helping me choose the gown and making the shopping experience really special. The store has a huge selection of bridal wear, carry lots of designers and a beautiful show room set up that was one of the nicest that I have seen.
For the wedding itself, I was thinking along the lines of a green botanical theme, lots of greenery, succulents, eucalyptus, wisteria etc. Green is both myself and Kevin’s favourite colour and this was reflected in the bridesmaid’s dresses, the groom’s suit and my green bridal shoes. I am a budding plant mom with a growing collection of plant babies in our apartment, so I wanted to bring this aesthetic to the wedding.
Planning a Covid wedding was definitely more stressful than it should have been. We didn’t know until 10 days before how many we would be allowed to invite- the government had planned to increase wedding numbers from 50 to 100 on the 5th august (they announced this at a press conference in May) but didn’t confirm that this increase would go ahead until July 27th, so we had invited 100 guests in the hopes that we would get the increased numbers and luckily we did! However, the weeks preceding this final announcement were stressful to say the least. We both have very busy jobs so my family were amazing at helping with the planning. I am the youngest of 6 children and this was the final wedding for our family so my parents and siblings were a wealth of information and tips when it came to the nitty gritty of the planning. I couldn’t have done it without them they were amazing.
We went for a religious ceremony, in which the father of the groom’s cousin (Fr Tim) was the priest who married us, which brought a lovely personal touch to the ceremony. It was really important for me to get married in my beautiful home county of Donegal as I have so much grá (gaeilge for love) for it, so I was over the moon to find the perfect venue in Rathmullan-a beautiful beach village only 25 mins from my family home. The venue is called Drumhalla House and is located right beside beautiful Kinnegar beach on the Fanad peninsula in North Donegal. Drumhalla House isn’t open to the public and caters exclusively for weddings, which really appealed to us. We rented the house for 2 days and this enabled us to have a second party there the day after the wedding to really catch up with friends and family we hadn’t spent enough time with on the actual wedding day.
We were so lucky with the weather as it was raining solidly in most other parts of the county but miraculously we got a warm, dry day with some fabulous sunshine in Rathmullan. I was able to get beach photos and drive to the church and venue with the top of the car down. I was really relaxed and enjoyed every minute of the day and would do it again in a heartbeat if I could as it absolutely flew by!
My favourite part of the wedding was either the ceremony or the speeches, both were so personal and special, to be surrounded by so many people that you love and for them to have made such an effort to celebrate Kevin and I’s wedding was honestly incredible, especially after what a difficult 18 months we have all been through with Covid. There were so many times where I thought we would have to postpone the wedding due to covid but we were so lucky to have been able to celebrate on our original date! One of Kevin’s cousins commented that our wedding felt like the part in “The Wizard of Oz” when the movie goes from black and white to full technicolour, and I really like that analogy, and I hope that we never have to go back to the black and white life of strict Covid restrictions.
What bit or thing turned out better than expected? We had organised for a “singing waiter“ to come and perform after the dinner and it turned out to be a big hit, he got everyone up and dancing and onto their feet and created a real party atmosphere. It was my sister Niamh who recommended that we organise it – I had never been to a wedding where this was done and I’m really glad we went for it as it was great fun and really got the party started!
My top tip for future brides would be to enjoy the build-up, as stressful as it may seem, cherish the time with family and friends and take time to spend some alone time with your husband or wife during the day.
Photographer: Jude Browne Photography
Written by Emily Cook