Photo Courtesy of Joe Conroy Photography Portlaoise at the wedding of the lovely James and Christine
Photo Courtesy of Joe Conroy Photography Portlaoise at the wedding of the lovely James and Christine
Tell us a little about Wedding Belles;
Wedding Belles is a bridal accessories studio and online store located
in the quaint village of Castlemartyr in Cork. We stock all the finishing touches for the bride to be and Ellen, the owner, will go to the ends of the earth to assist a bride to be with her accessory selection. There aren't many shops like Wedding Belles around that focus only on bridal accessories...basically I eat and sleep them and I am never off duty, always available and more than happy to chat with a bride to be over Instagram DMs, Messenger, Whatsapp or whatever medium they use.
Where might we have seen Wedding Belles featured before?
Wedding Belles has been featured in The Wedding Journal after our fantastic win in 2018 of their Bridal Accessories Award. More recently, we got an amazing write up on Evoke.ie at the beginning of Lockdown (1.0) which was excellent coverage for Wedding Belles. We have had write ups in the Evening Echo in Cork and featured in multiple photo shoots over the last couple of years with our accessories as we have something to suit every taste and style.
How did your business begin?
Wedding Belles was born out of a love of ladies accessories really... Ellen is the owner of another online store Fab Fillies and became known for selling ladies glitzy and understated jewellery and Ladies Day at the races umbrellas and gloves. A couple of ladies asked Ellen to source their wedding earrings for them or their bridal headpiece and before long Wedding Belles had taken full flight with a huge range of wedding accessories. Still to this day Wedding Belles runs in tandem with Fab Fillies which has a hat hire section located on a separate floor at the bridal studio.
How do your source/choose the beautiful items you stock?
When looking for stock I spend hours upon hours browsing suppliers from all over the world. I have earrings from Australia in the studio, handmade jewellery from Cork, items from the States and the UK so I choose items from all over and I love that I have a huge array and selection of accessories to choose from. It's actually one of my favourite things to do, just grab a cuppa and head on a stock hunt. And I am always happy to help a bride with finding the correct item for her.
If you could sum up Wedding Belles in one line what would it be?
Wedding Belles...for everything except the dress!!
Do you get many requests from brides?
In the Winter a lot of brides look for cover ups like shrugs or wraps and this year we have sourced an incredible selection that has gone down really well. It includes wool capes, high neck boleros and knitted cardigans which are a really cool look.
In Summer it would be things like fans for guests or gifts for the wedding party which we always have in stock from pocket watches to hip flasks, flower girl gifts to mother of the bride/groom gifts.
What it your favourite wedding accessory then?
I have to say I love veils...we don't have many occasions in our lives to wear one and I think this adds to the whole bridal experience! The soft flowing tulle floating behind the dress of your dreams...just like a fairy-tale really!!
I am so excited to announce the wonderful Ellen of Wedding Belles has given us an absolutely stunning Ivory Cathedral length veil finished with a satin edge. This veil is beyond beautiful, it is soft so it will move and flow with you on your special day. The satin edge brings a simplistic class to this piece, while the length bring the drama! See BrionasWeddingBlog on Instagram for how to enter!
AHHHH! My first Giveaway, can you believe it?!
I have teamed up with the wonderfully talented Anneli's Illustrations to give one lucky winner a bespoke bridal illustration, the most amazing keepsake. I am over the moon to be offering such a beautiful prize for my very first giveaway. This will definitely make one lucky persons week! Anneli is an incredibly talented artist, let me introduce her and her work:
Anneli's illustrations creates custom bespoke wedding dress illustrations so a bride can remember with a glance how gorgeous and feminine she looked on her wedding day. These timeless hand drawn illustrations are created with mixed media (pencil, pen, paint) and to highlight any embellishments, a hint of glitter is added for extra sparkle!
Anneli started drawing and painting from a very young age and her passion is still very much alive today! Illustrating brides, it's something she has always had an interest in. The first wedding dress illustration she ever did was her own wedding dress portrait, which still makes her smile every time she sees it. She found herself drawn to the style and sentiment attached to being a bride. The idea behind these one-of-a-kind illustrations is to capture the elegance, uniqueness and femininity that each bride possesses.
Anneli is passionate about what she does and is excited to create one for our winner! This is truly unique prize to be to be treasured! We are so excited about being able to spread a little joy during such a tough year and to offer this incredible keepsake to our winner! I also want to end by saying a huge thank you to everyone for the support over the past few days! I have enjoyed this blog so much during lockdown, it genuinely kept me sane and to see 1,000 of you enjoying it too, makes my heart very happy.
Competition details; Head over to the Bríona's Wedding Blog instagram page, follow me and Anneli's Illustrations, leave a comment describing your dream dress, like and share the post to your story (Don't forget to tag us both) and the winner will be announced on Friday the 6th of November at 7pm (GMT). YAY!
This week we watched eagerly for announcements regarding the possibility of moving to a level 5 lockdown and wedding numbers being cut once again from 25 guests to 6 guests. At 9pm on Monday, the couples of Ireland breathed a sigh of relief, in the news that weddings will remain at 25 guests for the remainder of the year. When did we ever think the news that weddings of 25 people would be celebrated so greatly, as it was for many couples last night?!
This pandemic really has shaken and changed everyone’s preconceptions of what a wedding “should and needs” to be. Of course, we have all seen so many family and friends postpone until 2021, in the hope that they can have a larger wedding, and rightly so, always do what feels best for your day!
However, as someone who is not even engaged but had an idea of what I thought my wedding would look like, I have found myself reevaluating. Seeing weddings of 15 – 25 people and the joy and amazing time had by all, it just made me think “They had an amazing day with 15 people, imagine what you could do with a wedding of 60-80 people?" I had always considered this a small wedding by the standards of the hotel, I was wedding coordinator, the majority of the weddings were averaging 150-160ish people. However, now looking at it with a set of new eyes following 2020, it sounds like a dream.
One (among many reasons) why I always thought I would have my wedding in Ireland or locally was to facilitate a larger wedding. I am sure I am not the only one thinking about elopements and or weddings abroad, following the shit show that 2020 was for so many couples. So, I reached out to Rachel Rose Weddings to help us navigate the idea of weddings in Spain. Rachel actually helped to plan a friends beautiful wedding in Cortijo Rosa Blanca. Said friends have also kindly allowed me to use their incredible wedding photos, shot by the very talented Rafal Borek, based in Co.Sligo. Now, it's over to Rachel Rose Weddings!
So, tell us a little about who Rachel Rose Weddings is and what you do!
We are Rachel Rose Weddings and we are a full-service wedding company based near Marbella on the Costa Del Sol, with years of experience and a passion for creating the perfect destination weddings in Spain. We have three stunning wedding venues, each a beautiful private country Villa for you and your guests to enjoy, creating wonderful memories not just on your wedding day but throughout your stay at your chosen venue. We offer a full planning and design service with in house catering. Everything you need for stress free, easy planning of your destination wedding in Spain.
What would you recommend the first step for a bride-to-be who dreams of getting married in Spain do?
The first step is to decide the area of Spain you would like to marry in and then search for a wedding planner that will fit with your vision. Your wedding planner will then be able to conduct a venue search for you based on your requirements. You may have already found a venue that you like so you will need to find out if they have an in-house wedding planner or can recommend a good planner locally.
What advice would you give to couples considering marrying abroad?
When choosing the area/venue they wish to marry in it is important to take into consideration the travel implications for their wedding guests and is it likely their key guests will be able to attend their wedding. Location of airport in the UK or Ireland and distance from airport to the venue needs to be considered as some guests will only be able to come for the weekend. Another point that needs some consideration would be, the proximity of hotels and self-catering accommodation to suit a range of budgets for your guests is also an essential factor. You want to make things as easy as possible as it will be costing your guests a lot of money to travel abroad for your wedding so it is important they will have a fun and stress free experience whilst here, some may incorporate it into their annual holiday. Local beaches and good restaurants are always a winner!
Is there a directory you would recommend? In Ireland we have Weddingsonline, an online directory of venues, suppliers and starting price points etc, is there something similar for those brides considering marrying abroad particularly Spain?
Unfortunately, there is nothing really comparable – we have www.bodas.net or www.zankyou.es but don’t let that deter you, a reputable wedding planner should be able to provide your with any supplier/service details you require.
**Hi it's me Bríona, I just wanted to jump in to note, many Irish suppliers will also travel abroad and build this into their package price. I know many Photographers & videographers, Makeup Artists, Hairstylists and even Bands who have all traveled abroad to work at weddings. When have the Irish ever said no to a bit of sun. A prime example being Rafal Borek, the photographer of the amazing photos shared in this Blog from Sarah and Bill's day.
I think couples can be reluctant to hand over money for deposits etc without meeting someone in the flesh first and some are afraid of getting scammed, what would you recommend couples do to ease their mind?
It is important that couples research their wedding planners/venue not only for reassurance with regards to deposits but also to see the quality of their work and make sure they are a good fit for them. A reputable planner will have a website as well a social media pages showing photos of their real weddings. Their facebook page is a good place to read reviews and for further reassurance you can usually contact their past Brides direct to ask a few questions about their own experience.
Do you provide packages and if so what kind of thing do they include? Accommodation? Food? Drinks? Décor?
As we work within our own venues, we offer a full wedding package which would include almost everything a couple could want for their destination wedding such as Celebrant, Photographer, Florals, Music, Décor, Lighting, Stationery etc. This is not set in stone though as we understand each couple is different and we are happy to tailor this to their own needs and vision.
Our catering packages include all the food and drink from the moment your guests arrive until last orders at the bar. With Sangria and homemade lemonade on arrival, canapes and cava after the ceremony followed by a wedding dinner that can be a more formal Gala menu, a served BBQ or a more relaxed Tapas and Paella affair.
Are the packages charged per person or an overall cost?
Our Wedding Day package is €8700 and the catering costs average around €120 per guest. However, this does vary from couple to couple depending on exactly what you want to include or exclude.
What are the drawbacks/things that need consideration before committing to marrying abroad?
Unfortunately, it is not possible to legally marry in Spain unless you are a Catholic and wish to marry in the church or you have both been resident for over two years.
We recommend our couples do the legal part back home just before they travel to Spain for their real wedding. We always tell our couples to keep this as simple as possible, literally just signing the paperwork, no flowers, no vows and no ring exchange so that these important parts of the ceremony are left for their real wedding ceremony in Spain. Most of our ceremonies here are conducted by humanist celebrants but it is also possible to have a more religious ceremony if they wish.
How important is viewing the venue in person prior to the wedding?
As long as your venue has plenty of photos, video tour, floor plan and photos of real weddings is isn’t essential to visit your venue before booking. A lot of our couples come from America or Australia so it just isn’t practical for them to visit before booking and most won´t see the venue until they arrive for their wedding stay. Nobody has ever been disappointed, and they have always said the venues are more beautiful in real life. Reviews from guests staying at the venue would also be helpful.
What are the benefits to marrying abroad?
It will usually cost less for a wedding in Spain when compared to like for like back home. Better still your wedding will not be over in just one day as you will usually have a welcome event with your guests a day or two before your wedding as well as a post wedding event. Pool parties are a popular option the day after the wedding when guests can nurse sore heads with jugs of iced sangria and a paella or BBQ and catch up on the events of the day before.
All in all, a wedding abroad gives you a lot more quality time with your important guests and will create many more memories than a one-day wedding at home.
One last huge thank you to Sarah and Bill for allowing me to share their beautiful photos with you all. <3
Congratulations you’re getting married! My name is Niamh and I am a bridal hair stylist, a mammy of three smallies, and wife to a very patient man who helps me with all my admin… and grammar! I have become a bit of a gardening enthusiast since lockdown, I love the simple things in life and I like to think this shows in my work.
I qualified from Robert Chambers School of Hairdressing in 2011 and went on to work in some amazing hair salons. I always had a love for up-styles from the very beginning! So, I finally decided in 2019 to specialise in bridal work and I can honestly say” I looove my job”. I have trained with some of the best bridal stylists out there, including Joanne Kelly (Joanne was so good I went back a second time), Aisling Hamill, Audrey Cashman (up style junkie) Katrina Kelly and Kasia Fortuna. You never stop learning and I’m always upskilling to be the best I possibly can, for all my lovely brides.
So, where do you start in your search for your bridal stylist?
Word of mouth is probably the best form of advertisement, so asking your friends and work colleagues for recommendations is a great way to start “my friend had Niamh from I Do Hair and she was amazing”.
We all use social media, in particular Instagram, so searching hashtags or popular wedding venues in locations will help you in your search for the perfect stylist. You will instantly know by looking at a stylist’s work on their Instagram if they have the same vibe as you and if you would make a good match! And remember photos over followers, I must admit I’m a bit guilty of this!
“They have more followers they must be better” which is not always the case I have a small following but I’m more than confident my work is just as good as someone with a larger following! If you like someone’s work there is no disputing that, regardless of how many followers they have.
In my opinion, word of mouth is the winner in helping you find your bridal stylist. That and reviews on social media. Reviews are great because they always give a little insight into the stylist's personality, because let's face it you want someone who’s good at hair but also brings a nice energy to your wedding morning, more often than not we are the start to your wedding day! Do not be afraid to ask your stylist questions before committing to a booking!
Like have they worked with your particular hair type before, are they confident with a certain style, what timings do they allow on the morning. They will be more than happy to help and this further instils confidence in your choice of stylist (...if they give the right answers, of course).
Choosing your stylist is as unique to you as choosing your wedding dress is. Like dresses, there is a stylist to suit everyone. Choose somebody to suit your style and you won’t go wrong!
As your big day draws closer it's time to organise your trial. I would recommend a minimum of 4 weeks in advance of your big day, where possible this allows enough time if some clip in hair extensions are needed to achieve your ideal hair, or maybe a change of hair accessory to compliment the style. The majority of bridal stylist are qualified hairdressers and all have experience within a salon environment, they will give you all the advice you need on how to look after your hair in the leadup to your big day and also how to prep for your trial.
I always say to my brides to wear a white top with a similar neckline to their dress, if they have one. Bring your veil hair accessories, earrings bring it all, I want to see it! Your trial is SOOO important, firstly it’s so nice to meet after many emails back and forth, but your trial is where all those inspo photos come to life!
I would recommend saving all your inspo photos to one place, this will help you to recognise your style, as you will start to see a reoccurring style emerge.
Your trial is just that, a trial, it’s about finding out what works and what doesn’t, whether you like volume or you don’t, do you like a smooth finish or are you all about the texture. Trust your stylist and let them advise you on what will work best for you and your hair type. Which leads me to… being realistic. Your inspiration or inspo photos are just that, no two heads of hair are the same and no two stylists will work the same, but they will use your inspo photos to give you a style unique to yourself. This unique style to you may one day be someone else’s inspo photo.
Communication is key at a trial. If you’re not feeling a style say it! We won’t take offence it actually makes our job easier in guiding us to what you do like. Personally, I like to allow 1 hour 30 mins for a trial. During this time, we will trial 3 looks, it's all about finding the right shape, style and finish and perfecting this on the day where I allow myself the same amount of time to create your chosen style. If possible, leave your hair in the style when leaving your trial and take note of how well it lasts. This will help with perfecting it on your big day.
The Most Common questions I get asked by Clients are; “What are other brides doing? What is the most popular style?”. To which I always say “Try not to worry about what other brides are doing just do you and what makes you feel amazing”.
I hope this gives all you brides to be a little insight from the stylist’s point of view and that some of these tips are helpful in your search for your dream bridal stylist.
Enjoy the build-up,
(Your dream Bridal Stylist)
I am lucky enough to have been present for Hundreds of wedding speeches, using this experience I hope I can provide some clarity around good speech content as well as the logistics of the wedding speeches! Some of the most common questions I get regarding the speeches are:
"Who goes first?"
The traditional order of speakers is as below:
The Best man typically acts as MC throughout the speeches introducing each speaker
Father of the Bride / Speaker from the Bride's Family
Father of the Groom / Speaker from the Groom's Family
And the Big Finale – Best man
"When should we do our speeches?"
Before Dinner - Doing the speeches before dinner allows the more nervous speakers to “get it over and done with” meaning they can relax and enjoy their dinner. As soon as we introduce the Bride and Groom into the ballroom and seat them at the top table, we normally hand the mic straight over to the Best man to get the show started!
The timing of these speeches needs to be quite precise. If you are considering having the traditional 4 speeches and you are allowing 10 minutes per speech that is an additional 40 minutes before dinner service begins. I'm hungry just thinking about it. Of course, some speeches will run under 10 minutes. However speaking from experience the majority run over.
After Dinner - Having the Speeches following dinner is the traditional route. All guests are full and content and ready for some nostalgia and sentimentality before the dancing begins. From a dinner service perspective this can be the easier route. Once we introduce Bride and Groom into the Ballroom it is straight into serving the first course ensuring a smooth service. The main downside to this is if you have a very nervous or anxious speaker it does mean prolonging their nerves through the dinner service.
During service - Definitely seen least often, as it can be difficult from a food service perspective. Anyone who has ever cooked a Sunday roast knows when the roast beef is ready it's ready. If it is kept warm , as opposed to being served once ready, you run the risk of it drying out. This applies to many popular wedding menu choices including salmon. Obviously, Chefs are professionals and can of course avoid this better than any of us Joe Soap’s cooking a Sunday roast. However, should a speech run for 30 minutes rather than the promised 10 minutes there is only so much can be done. I would personally avoid this option altogether.
"Have you got any advice on the Do's and Don'ts of a wedding speech?"
Do practice out loud - Practice reading your speech aloud once you are happy you have finished writing it. This will help you ensure it flows and makes sense. Then practice “Giving” your speech. This will highlight where you need to emphasise, where you need to pause and where you can take a deep breath to relax.
Finally practice with whoever will listen! The more times you perform your speech, the more comfortable you will be on the day and less reliant on your flashcards/script. If you are very nervous about speaking in public try reading your speech for one person initially and then when you're comfortable build up to two and three. In my previous blog, I talked about how to deal with nerves surrounding speech giving, as well as all other aspects of the wedding day. You should check it out! (plug...plug...plug!)
Do consider using visual aids – Speeches are made all the more fun/interactive when photos or props are included! Personally, I wouldn’t use projectors or screens but instead get said Photos printed on A3 / A2 cards and ask a groomsman to hold up said card at designated times during the speech. Wedding speeches are nerve wracking enough without worrying about working with equipment unless of course you are well used to working with projectors and slideshows etc. Even still I would consider props over technical equipment. Should something go wrong it is much easier to poke a groomsman to hold up the right picture than it is to find a replacement HDMI, mid speech.
Do be yourself - Giving a speech can be completely nerve wracking and people sometimes feel that if they portray a character/persona it will be easier. It won't. Just be your genuine self. People understand how intimidating it can be standing up in front of a crowd and will be on your side when you stand up to give your speech. Take advantage of this empathy and allow it to give you some comfort.
Do smile! - Don’t be afraid to laugh at your own jokes or give a little smile. It is super endearing for an audience to see. When you smile the whole room smiles with you. This is 100% true and who doesn’t want to see a room full of happy people when giving a speech!
Do get a little sentimental - Open up about how you feel about what the groom means to you, let everyone know what he, his friendship and his happiness with his new life partner means to you. It’s a day for love and lord knows the world needs more brotherly love!
Don’t mention past relationships or hook ups, of either the Bride or Groom, it’s just awkward -In fact, just skip anything sexual altogether; it's not the place or time and your audience just don’t know how to react. Oooh I'm getting “cringe-bumps” just thinking about it. (similar to Goosebumps but induced by cringey/awkward situations. Normally followed by a shudder)
Don’t tell Inside jokes – unless there is a decent number of close friends who will pick up on this it is not worth alienating the rest of your crowd. A short one liner of an inside joke is fine but you will lose your crowd if you make it any more lengthy. Nothing kills the mood more than people looking at one another wondering if they should laugh or not....
Don’t talk about yourself - It is not your day! This also applies to telling stories about the groom where he comes off the bad guy and you the hero who saved him. People are there to celebrate the marriage, not how you saved the day and managed to get the deposit back after the groom trashed the Air BnB at the stag do. (an actual story told during a real-life speech – I wish it had been as short as I just made it).
Don’t do a speech over 10 minutes and DEFINITELY not over 15 minutes! - You have to keep in mind you are one of (traditionally) 4 speeches: if everyone went over by 15 minutes this means guests are potentially waiting up to an additional hour for their dinner and to be perfectly honest that is unreasonable.
"Have you seen any Alternative speech ideas that might be nice?"
Bridal Speeches – I love the idea of a bridal speech. The tradition of the bride not speaking doesn’t sit well with me. I think if you feel you have people to thank and appreciation for your partner to express, you should feel more than comfortable to do so. Remember at the very least half the crowd is there to celebrate you and your marriage, they want to hear from not only your partner but from you too.
Bridesmaid speeches – if your bridesmaid wants to step up and express their love for you on your wedding day let them. Why should the groom be the only one getting a dedicated speech from a friend/sibling! A couple of the best speeches I ever heard were given by Bridesmaids, so I am a huge advocate! GO ON THE GIRLS...
Letters to my Husband / Wife – writing each other's speech - This is probably my favourite alternative to the traditional groom's speech. Plus, it takes some of the pressure off performing a speech as everyone knows this is your first time reading the letter written to you by your partner. Like the speeches it does need to cover a few of the standard “thank you’s” to their family etc but there is something more personal and less pressurised writing a letter to the one you love than a speech to 200 people.
I got this idea when one very nervous groom turned to his new wife right before we introduced them into the ballroom and said he couldn’t do it and she said “that’s ok I'll do it for you.” There was something about watching her reading out his words and feelings about her that had not one dry eye in the room including my own. (Disclaimer - I have also cried at every ceremony I have ever attended.) I’m not claiming to have invented this idea but this is how I happened upon it. I’m sure it has been done before but I personally love this idea!
I hope this gives you a clear guide to what is involved in the wedding speeches. If you have any questions or perhaps want to run an idea past someone, i'm your girl! Leave a comment below or write to me privately via the contact page!
Here are a few helpful tips to help cope through from the initial planning process right through to your first dance!
The planning process surrounding your day
As a wedding coordinator I have had the pleasure of looking after many different people and personalities in the lead up to the big day. In my experience the main reason for people worrying in the lead up to their day is that, for the majority of them, this is their first wedding. They have never had to organise a wedding before! At most they have been involved in perhaps a sibling’s planning process or as part of a friends Bridal Party. However, the feelings do change when it is your own wedding, your own table/seating plan and of course your own Budget! I would always tell my Brides and Grooms if they needed anything wedding related to just ask, be it just someone to bounce ideas off of or if something you are unsure of is playing on your mind. This is where you should really take advantage of having a dedicated wedding coordinator/planner/consultant! You may not have been through this process before but your wedding coordinator lives this process day in and day out, use their experience.
One lovely couple in particular comes to mind, in relation to wedding planning nerves. The groom was an admittedly anxious person, he said he was aware he might find the planning process stressful. He had already envisioned the many nights of lying awake worrying about “should they or shouldn’t they’s” surrounding their wedding. The main stress being that they had no idea what to expect or what was involved in the wedding process.
We sat down over coffee and went through the main milestones in the planning process from Bedroom allocations, to invites and RSVP’s, menu tastings, final numbers and table plan deadlines to name but a few. I told them not to dare lie awake at night wondering and worrying about something and instead to send me an email, not matter what the time, asking the question and take some comfort in knowing there was a response for that worry on its way to them.
There does come certain point a few weeks before where all the planning is done, no more can be done and you can relax a little more. The time for changes and adding extra bits on is all done and dusted and it's time to enjoy the excitement of what's to come in addition to the Hens and Stag do’s of course.
The wedding day jitters
Once the big day arrives it is completely normal to have a few nervous butterflies in your tummy that morning. However once the bridesmaids /groomsmen join you to start getting ready your mind is so focused on what is happening around you rather than on the walking down the aisle portion of the day. I loved when we had a civil ceremony within the hotel, the Bride normally stayed the night before and got ready in one of our larger family rooms with plenty of room for hair and makeup. I would pop up to them about 11.30am to check in and see how their morning was going/ how they were feeling. It allowed me to offer that extra bit of support the morning of the wedding. Everything from making sure she is feeling ok to making sure she has enough prosecco/snacks on standby. (which in my opinion mean the same thing)
The most important thing is to know the order of your day inside out! Have a schedule in your head but try not to focus on the clock to much. If things don’t happen to the second as planned, which is normal, this can create unnecessary stress. Speak to your suppliers in advance to ensure they know how important punctuality on the day will be for you. Perhaps designate one person in your wedding party to make sure things are happening reasonably on schedule. One last tip would be, if you are having a wedding car do ask them to arrive 30 minutes before you are due to leave for your ceremony. This will allow you to relax once you see the car outside awaiting you. Also, a great opportunity to grab some photos with the car!
The wedding speeches
I have an excellent reference for this portion of the blog, my significant other. Andy was the Best man at my Best Friend's wedding, and that was the night we met. The plot of every RomCom ever, I know its sick! There were Kilts involved though so you can't really blame me...
ANYWAY, Andy said the nerves first set in the day after Rob asked him to be Best man, which just happened to be exactly 365 days before the wedding. There were a few drinks consumed the night Rob asked him and we can only assume the hangover didn’t help the nerves. This feeling eased off after a few days but really ramped up 4 months before the wedding and involved numerous nights lying awake thinking of the ways he could/would mess up and completely ruin Rob and Julies Big Day.
We sat for dinner and the speeches began, I remember thinking that Best man looked nervous, this was given away by the slight tinge of grey in his complexion. The wedding coordinator in me wanted to give his arm a squeeze and tell him it would be fine and to ask if he wanted a stiff drink to settle him. At this point in my thought process, Andy pulled out his hip flask and proceeded to what can only be described as chugged the half its contents. Which I was lucky enough to find out later was luke warm Scottish Whiskey.
He took a few deep breaths as he took the mic, and stood up and did his speech. The standing up and giving the speech is the easy part I promise. It is the lead in and the overthinking that is the hard part. The one thing I advise anyone who finds the thought of giving a speech nauseating, is l earning how to properly breath. People always say take a few long slow deep breaths and yes that helps but learning Ujjayi breath, commonly used during yoga practice, will help in more scenarios than speech giving. Focusing on this will calm your nervous system and regulate your breathing and oxygen intake. Thus, helping ward off panic attacks or anything of the sort. I promise it is worth practising in the lead up to the wedding!
The first dance
If you are nervous about cracking out the dance moves in front of a crowd, my advice would be no matter what happens during the dance, just remember nobody knows the choreography except the 2 of you! If you make a mistake no one will notice except you.
If you are going to wing it on the day rather than opting for a few dance classes and a choreographed first dance perhaps, the “all eyes on you” aspect of the first dance makes you nervous. Why not arrange for the bridal party to join you both on the dancefloor after the first verse of your song. This will take some of the focus off of you plus, when your bridal party join in your other guests will feel comfortable joining you all on the dancefloor and as a result kicking off the dancing for the rest of the night.
If you are finding the process too stressful or overwhelming please do reach out to your friends and family. The process is one in a lifetime for many and one to be enjoyed! However, it is completely normal to feel overwhelmed. It is such an emotional day and thus the decisions in the lead up to it are naturally more emotional to make. If you find yourself in need of someone to listen to your wedding worries or stresses please do feel free to contact me and I would be more than happy to help you come up with some resolutions!
An interview with Bridal Makeup Expert Bronwyn Dunne
Bronwyn Dunne is a certified beauty therapist, makeup artist and salon owner. She graduated from the Bronwyn Conroy Beauty School. She had the pleasure of being trained by Irish celebrity makeup artist, Paula Callan. For those who might not know Paula Callan, she paints the faces of such beauties as Roz Purcell and Doireann Garrihy, as well as many many others. Bronwyn has kindly sat down and answered all of our questions regarding how to choose the right makeup artist for your Wedding Day.
You graduated from Bronwyn Conroy Beauty School and have been trained by the experts, should we be looking for accreditation when choosing a makeup artist?
When it comes to choosing a makeup artist, I do think a certain amount of accreditation is important to determine the makeup artist you’ve chosen has a basic understanding of correct makeup application but more importantly a certification in safety and hygiene.
I know from personal experience as soon as my friends and I have a function to attend we start the search for a make-up artist and for us, that search starts on Instagram. Is social media presence important when considering a makeup artist?
I believe some form of social media presence or a professional website is hugely important when choosing a makeup artist. Pictures of past clients will give you a clear look at the makeup artist's general style of makeup and it is proof of how much experience they’ve had and more importantly a testimony to how many satisfied clients they’ve had.
Also, reviews and word of mouth give you a great insight into a makeup artist’s general reputation. After you’ve done your research and found a makeup artist you like, it’s important to get an idea of how their past clients rate their work and their overall service. Peace of mind is key in the days leading up to your wedding and it’s imperative to know you can trust this person to be punctual, cooperative and professional when the big day rolls around.
Social media being social media, people tend to get hung up on aspects such as ‘followers’ and/or ‘likes’. Is this something we should be aware of when looking through social media for a professional makeup artist?
I wouldn’t look too closely at their social media following, I think it’s just a numbers game. Peer pressure is a powerful thing, especially when you’re planning a wedding. Everyone will have their own opinion as to who is the best choice according to their social media influence or their popularity. However, I think everyone’s style and taste in makeup is very personal and unique. If you like the work of a makeup artist and it speaks to your personal style then that should be enough, whether they have a thousand or ten thousand followers on Instagram or Facebook. It’s YOU they have to convince, not the masses!
I am definitely a fan of a good Instagram filter for sure, but is this something we should take into consideration when looking for something like makeup looks or artists?
If you have spotted a makeup artist on social media that you like but you’re worried their pictures have been heavily edited or photoshopped, the best thing you can do is trial the makeup for yourself. The proof is in the pudding! I cannot stress enough the importance of a trial makeup for the bride. It’s a crucial time for you and your makeup artist to come to a mutual understanding of your needs and your expectations. I like to ask my brides to save the trial makeup for a long day or night out to really put it to the test. The hen party is a great opportunity. It gives you an idea of the staying power of the makeup (i.e.. how it looks on the skin throughout the day) and there are plenty of photos taken to be sure how good it looks in person translates through the lens.
I have had some shy brides who maybe felt bad or even embarrassed to want to change things or even tell me maybe they didn't like an idea or suggestion. I always reiterate that this is your day, you are more than allowed to ask for/ tell your suppliers what you would like! In light of that, how important is it for Brides-to-be to give feedback to their makeup artist following a trial?
After the trial, make note of any observations you had. Were there elements that you loved? Was it durable? Did you need to top it up or add powder? Have you changed your mind about certain aspects of the makeup? I’ve had clients come to me very set on a certain idea or trend, only to change their mind having seen the look on themselves or in pictures. This is completely normal! The trial is the time to make these alterations so that you know exactly what to expect on the day of the wedding. Your makeup artist should have no problem tweaking the plan to suit your observations. However, if you are completely unhappy with the look and overall quality of the makeup trial then it is completely acceptable to inform the makeup artists of your concerns and to go another way. A trial makeup is not a contract!
What are the questions you get asked most? What questions should we be asking a potential makeup artist?
As for what you should be discussing with your makeup artist, the most common questions I get would be regarding the morning of the wedding (how the morning will go/ how much time will the bridal party need) and then how to top up the makeup during the day.
Personally, I allow at least one hour for the bride (who has already had a trial) and 45 minutes for any member of the bridal party thereafter. The bridesmaids will all have their own personal touches and requests but they generally follow a look and colour pallet complementary to each other. In my experience the mother of the bride or groom often values a good base on the skin and a youthful glow. Everyone is different, and I like to give each client the time they deserve to feel completely happy and confident. I also allow a cushion of time at the end for final touch ups. For an average bridal party of five I allow five hours in total, usually arriving at the location at 7:00am to set up my makeup, chair and ring light to start at 7:15am and ideally finish up for 12:15pm.
It sounds precise because it has to be! There is nothing like the buzz the morning of a wedding. Spirits are high and it’s easy to get side-tracked as there are so many little things left to organise. It’s honestly a joy to be around and I like to keep things moving so the bridal party has time to enjoy these special moments. Any bridal party of mine will tell you that I’m a stickler for schedule, my phone alarm is set to go off every 30mins or so to keep us all on track as the morning goes on. It sounds extreme but it brings such a sense of calm and control to an otherwise hectic time!
Following the application that morning, are there any tips you can provide to keep Brides looking this amazing all day?
As for top ups during the day I always advise that the bride and bridal party has a similar dupe of whatever lipstick of gloss we use to reapply after eating/drinking. I also leave a little kit of tissues, cotton buds, a sponge and a little tester pot of powder for the bride to dab on, should she feel she needs it. The makeup is set to last, but it’s normal to get emotional and you need to be prepared.
I come from a background of helping Brides and Grooms find/ create their perfect Wedding Package within a venue. Are wedding packages something makeup artists also offer?
Bridal packages are also available prior to the wedding including spray tans, lash and brow treatments or skincare to ensure you and your bridal party are fully prepped and glowing for your special day. I strongly recommend investing time into your skin to ensure the makeup has the perfect base. These will be the little things that take your entire makeup look up a notch and give you photos you can admire forever. Photoshop or not, you can’t fake good, healthy skin!
Thank you so much Bronwyn, for taking the time to coach us through the process of finding the right makeup artist for our Wedding Day! Working with Brides and Grooms to help them transform their vision into reality is the most rewarding job in the world, to me. I’m sure after years in the business and many Brides and wedding days later, you feel the same.
Every bride and bridal party I’ve worked with has been unique and it’s the best part of my job. I am privileged to share this special and exciting experience with them and I leave every wedding morning with new memories and friendships. All makeup artists are different but we all share a common goal to ensure our clients feel happy and confident on their big day.
A huge thanks to a very special Bride, Shannon, who both Bronwyn and I had the pleasure of looking after on her Wedding Day. Thank you for allowing me to use your beautiful photos captured by Stargaze Photography in Kilkenny. You were an absolute pleasure to look after in the lead up to and on your day. Wishing you and Seamas the fullest and happiest life together.
Venues had without doubt already seen a growth in demand for smaller, more intimate, weddings. Even when worldwide pandemics, lockdowns and social distancing were mere concepts in the movie “Contagion”. I believe this trend will only increase over the coming months as a direct result of the Coronavirus.
If this lockdown has given us anything, it is a newfound appreciation for what really matters. A time in our lives that physically distanced us to an extent we never imagined, has brought us even closer to those who matter most.
We know weddings will look different over the coming months, with the new social distancing regulations. However, I personally believe there will be a certain category of couple who will jump on board with the smaller wedding trend. Couples who previously felt they “couldn’t” have a smaller wedding. It seems Irish couples in particular do feel slightly more pressure to invite the whole G.A.A club or 4th cousin Jimmy to attend their Big Day and you know if you invite Jimmy sure Angela has to come.
Of course, we all know this doesn’t really matter and your day is about the two of you and celebrating the beginning of your new life together as a married couple. I have friends who have decided to get married abroad with just their nearest and dearest or eloped, just the two of them, for specifically this reason. However, a lot more couples than you might think feel this unspoken pressure to have a big gathering on their big day.
This uncertain time around gatherings and weddings in general will undoubtedly afford these couples more leeway and understanding from the extended family and friend groups. Meaning, they will be able to have the smaller more intimate wedding or even Micro Wedding they have secretly wanted for so long. Micro Weddings are typically 20 people or less. They are a lovely alternative to the traditional wedding, a more relaxed day without the constraints of timings and tradition.
As a wedding coordinator I have seen wedding couples craving the “something different” and wanting to invest their money in creating a unique day through personalised elements rather than inviting the whole parish. If you are someone who is detail orientated, a smaller scaled wedding can definitely work to your advantage. Needless to say, the first thing people will think of is the savings on having a smaller wedding. As a result of this smaller guest list, this may afford couples the opportunity to put additional budget towards those personalised details that perhaps wouldn’t have been an option at a larger scale wedding.
I have had the pleasure of organising a few different types of weddings all based around smaller numbers but all VERY different from the last and I think that is the amazing opportunity in something like this. Please don’t mistake me, every wedding day no matter what the size is unique to each individual couple. Smaller weddings just tend to be less tied into traditions and the traditional timings of the occasion.
One Smaller wedding which I had the honour of taking care of was Eddie and Georgia. They inspired my new favourite type of wedding to organise.
Their wedding day looked like this:
14:00pm - They had a beautiful ceremony for 10 people in an intimate private space decorated with fresh flowers, a white aisle and chiavari chairs in a semi-circle surrounding this lovely couple. A Fairy lit backdrop behind them added a whimsical atmosphere to the occasion.
15:00pm - We popped bottles of champagne with some fabulous candid family photos on the Garden Terrace while some of the significant others and family arrived for dinner.
16:00pm - The 30 guests sat for an elegant 5-course family dinner on a single table with candles and the fresh flowers from the ceremony running down the centre of the table.
18:30pm - The larger number of evening guests started arriving for a drink’s reception with bottled beers on ice, a selection of cocktails and Canapes. Meanwhile, our Bride and Groom had some photos of just the two of them taken with their photographer.
19:15pm - We announced the Bride and Groom into the Drinks reception and let them relax and mingle with their guests before giving a bell call to announce the ballroom was now open and the band was beginning. Everyone was straight on to the dancefloor and throwing shapes! This evening party consisted of 2 live bands.
When guests entered the ball room we had a screen playing a selection of photographs from the ceremony only a few hours previous for all guests to see!
21:00pm - A huge selection of evening food was served; everything from Hotdog stands to a pig on the spit with a huge selection of “Avoca” style salads. They had a cake table with a selection of sweet bites with a “deconstructed cake” of single tiers and double tiers in the centre.
Later - The Music carried on until late with a DJ following the 2 live bands for those who were still going & Tayto sandwiches were served in the residents bar after 2am!
They really had the best of both worlds, with a small intimate wedding ceremony and family dinner followed by an amazing party focused around this lovely couple on their special day!
Personally, I am a huge fan of the idea of the intimate ceremony and dinner service with the same 20 guests – 50 guests followed by a slightly bigger after party of 100 or more guests. I think this is a fantastic option especially given the current circumstances. If anyone made the mistake of marrying me over the next couple of months this is without doubt the type of wedding I would go for.
(Government permitting of course).
Also, in light of the restrictions and guidelines offered this far, I am of the opinion a wedding like this would work well with the social distancing rules. One clear advantage is the fact that only the immediate family and friends following the ceremony will attend the traditional “Wedding Breakfast” or dinner allowing for easier distancing.
During the evening party there is traditionally less need for seating given the fact most people are usually mingling and or dancing so with less tables and chairs there will be more space for social distancing (as per the Fáilte Ireland recommendations provided to aid the reopening of hotels). However, this is my opinion and I know the industry and venues are doing their best to piece together what weddings will look like under the new guidelines and restrictions in their own particular venues, so be prepared for a variety of options and solutions depending on the venue.
I would be happy to help you navigate the idea of a smaller wedding and if you have any questions or just want someone to brainstorm ideas with, I am more than happy to help! Leave me a comment below or use the contact page to submit questions privately!
The Day Two has grown hugely in popularity over the last couple of years and the available offering for this has become as important to people when booking a venue as the Wedding Packages themselves. Perhaps you are one of our 2020 Couples who has been forced to postpone, maybe you never considered a Day Two, but with a little extra time to save, it's on your mind about what you might like to add on to make your patiently awaited big day all the more wonderful when it does arrive.
Here are a few ideas to get you and your other half started:
The Home Bird
Initially having something small at home can seem like the easy option, especially for those who grew up with a field or two outside your front door or simply enough room for a marquee. In the Irish climate you know a marquee is an absolute essential. There are lots of excellent Irish owned events companies with marquees available for hire at reasonable prices!
There are lots of options for at home shindigs, Pig on the Spit or BBQ with the option of BYOB (Bring your own beer) for family and friends. As an at home gathering is usually a slightly more relaxed vibe, BYOB would be an acceptable invite request. However you could of course have a few buckets of ice with a selection of beers available. For those who might like to get a little more “Boujee” with the at home affair, Mixologists or Cocktail Bar hire are an excellent addition, not only do they provide top notch cocktails they also have amazing entertainment value; the same goes for the Pig on a Spit it has huge entertainment value. The company PigSpit.ie, whom I have worked with on events and weddings previously were extremely professional. In my opinion they offered an excellent value for the service with their “Hog in Hand Package”, a client (and personal) favourite. It consists of slow-roast hog, homegrown on their farm, served with a choice of ciabattas and brioche buns plus a choice of two sides! This business established by Johnathan Marry comes from family farm roots in Meath so you know you are getting quality Irish produce. The wonderful advantage to this option is that it can be served Outdoors or indoors so it is a great flexible option to compete with the ever-changing Irish Weather.
Personally, the at home option wouldn’t be for me. Let me explain why. Every year we have a Family Kris Kindle this involves my Dad’s side of the family congregating in one of the 4 family homes on a Saturday in December to exchange gifts. We get together for a buffet selection of dishes, as well as a smorgasbord of desserts and drinks. It really is the start of Christmas in our family. Having watched my Mam prepare for this weeks / months in advance, everything from organising the menus to cater to the families ever changing vegetarian/vegan guests, making her famous mince for the mince pies and organising games and entertainment, I wouldn’t even begin to consider trying to plan all this for twice the amount of people in addition to planning my actual wedding. Thank God this tradition only comes to our house every 4 years, like the Olympics and only twice as competitive!
The Easy One
I personally love the idea of having everything in the one venue, especially if your venue is slightly further from home. Make a weekend of it! Also, from a Wedding couple’s point of view organising everything from start to finish with one person, your coordinator, is an invaluable convenience in the weeks leading up to your special day. Speak with your coordinator regarding options available for Day Two, some questions to keep in mind would be:
Probably my favourite idea for the Day Two event, is the Post Wedding Brunch, an easy going start to the morning after your Big Day! Brioche breakfast baps with tea and coffee and the option of Mimosas, Bloody Marys and other “Hair of the Dog” type Cures are popular choices. Anytime between 12pm-3pm works best. This allows for a gathering of Family and Friends to discuss the shenanigans and fun from the night before without the obligation of having to stay the second night. Some guests will check out of their rooms, join you for Brunch and then head home, leaving a smaller intimate group of friends to continue the celebrations until later should you wish. This is also a great all-year-round option, more so than the classic BBQ option.
The Quirky One
Another great all-year-round option would be a quirky and super fun Arcade themed party. A laid-back gathering in a private space with finger food, personalised wedding couple cocktails and old-style Arcade games. So Fresh Entertainment (Based in Kildare) has a great selection of Arcade Games for Hire for such an occasion. Along with some room uplighters, with some great 80’s tunes in the background and a selection of throwback sugary sweets will be enough to create nostalgia even your Auntie Mary will appreciate! Think Pac Man but make it wedding...
Just a few Ideas for you to consider in the run up to your big day!
Do you have plans for a Day Two? Leave a comment below and share your ideas/plans with us!
So... I moved to Scotland...
For those of you who have had the pleasure of knowing/working with me prior to this Quarantine Creation of a Blog, would know that I would not have left my previous job in the Wonderful Midlands Park Hotel for anything but amazing. Ok, admittedly, Scotland may have been a slightly biased move on my behalf, as my someone special is Scottish and the long-distance thing was fun for a while, but who wants to do that for any longer than they have to!
The dream job was in the beautiful, independently owned, Gleddoch Hotel, Golf and Spa Resort. The property which has been recently renovated, overlooking the River Clyde and surrounded by the most amazing views of Dumbarton Rock and beyond. The award-winning team, in the unfortunately short amount of time I got to spend with them, was a natural fit. It really did feel like a home away from home.
The very first wedding we attended together as a couple, in June 2019, was in this beautiful venue. So, at the beginning of 2020, when I was casually browsing through jobs in Scotland online, I saw Gleddoch advertising a position in Weddings and Events which just felt too much like faith to ignore. I applied and as you can tell from the opening line I got the job! Everything just fell into place for us and it was tremendously exciting, despite the whispers at the time, of something called Coronavirus.
Following some emotional goodbyes, I moved to Scotland the week before I was due to officially start. The day after I got off the boat in Cairnryan, I got a call to say that the position had been withdrawn as a result of the Coronavirus and Lockdown. Of course, even through the initial feelings of "what do I do now" wore off, I completely understood it is such an uncertain time for all business' and for an industry so close to my heart, hospitality. It will be an extremely harsh test, one that not all will survive. All we can do now is weather the storm, and when we are again able to, support our local business' and local communities.
This, as unavoidable as it was, admittedly had me down in the dumps but following a few weeks of figuring things out and exploring alternatives here we are.
I want to offer any and all advice on weddings and planning. Using my experience within the industry and passing it on to anyone who might need it during this uncertain time. As the weeks roll by, I constantly think of the weddings and couples I would have been looking after this summer prior to my move and my heart goes out to the Brides, Grooms and wedding couples of 2020.
Please remember, this isn't forever.
Before we know it, we will be polishing our shoes and struggling to tie a standard Windsor knot, while our elders continue to usefully point out “tying a tie is a basic life skill”. We will be smiling and posing for photos with family and friends until our jaws are sore and abs tired from sucking in our post-quarantine tummys. Sitting through speeches, ready for our dinner, betting on how many “Thank you’s” will be given out. We will be dancing the night away in Flip Flops, so kindly provided by the Bride who has literally been in our heels and understands our pain.
Weddings will happen again and we will celebrate bigger and better with all those whom we so achingly miss during this lockdown.
Your Day will Come!