One gorgeous Sunday in May, in the heart of the English countryside, the sun took a moment to shine on the nuptials of Daire and Laura-Jayne. Married by Daire’s father, a priest in the Catholic Church, the ceremony followed tradition before the guests, who had arrived from all over Ireland, Hong Kong, Singapore and Dubai, descended upon the beautiful five star country hotel, Down Hall, for a good old fashioned knees-up. “We had about 85 guests because we wanted it to be really intimate,” says Laura-Jayne. “To be honest, I don’t know how couples have more as I didn’t feel like I managed to talk to everyone even though most of our friends and family stayed in the hotel and we made such an effort to speak to everyone.”
How did you choose the colour scheme for your relaxed, country wedding?
Daire liked the idea of a shamrock and English rose so I chose soft green and pink which we carried through from the flowers to stationery and the bridesmaid dress and ties.
Working in events, was it easier to personally plan the day?
My natural inclination was to go into ‘event mode’! Due to the short timeline we agreed on some key things we wanted and made decisions quickly – we had our date, venue and church within three days of getting engaged! Daire dealt with all the legal and religious details and I worked on everything else. Ultimately we agreed on pretty much everything before we booked it. We aren’t highly strung so things were quite calm during the planning, apart from the odd meltdown on my part!
How long did it take to find your dress and where did you find it?We had decided to get married quickly, so I had to buy something off the shelf. It was fine because I knew I wanted to get my dress sorted early – after all it’s the inspiration for everything else, so I started my search in Dubai. My friend Rebecca helped, but my first appointment was a disaster. The first shop we tried didn’t have enough to choose from, but we slipped on a few dresses anyway to try and get the ideas fl owing. A week later we hit Jumeirah and had two great appointments. Trying on dresses really made it ‘real’ for me and hit home that it was my own wedding I was organising.
How did you know it was right for you?
I am not a fussy person so ‘poofy’ was not for me but I felt nice in the one I chose. It was simple and lacy, needed only a little alteration, was the last one in the shop and was on sale! I did have a couple of moments when I had the fear that I’d chosen the wrong dress but ultimately I was thrilled with it on the day. Then, I bought my veil and shoes in the UK where I knew I’d have more choice.
The bridesmaids dresses beautifully complemented yours, was that a challenge?
Daire is uncle and godfather to some gorgeous little ladies aged between three and seven, so we ended up with seven flower girls and my sister, Charlotte, as a bridesmaid. Charlotte’s dress was light green and the flower girls were all in ivory. I wanted them to look and feel like fairies or princesses so they had quite romantic styles, all of which I found online, including the accessories. With Charlotte, I used the Dessy website to look for a dress we both liked before she ordered it from the shop.
A dapper groom and groomsmen really complete the elegant feel of the bridal party. Were the suits handmade?
Daire’s gorgeous light grey suit was made in Hong Kong shortly after we got engaged. Then for the best man, his brother, who lives in Ireland, we bought enough fabric and lining and sent it to him, along with detailed pictures of Daire’s suit. For the men in the bridal party - the best man and both our dads - we had rose and shamrock cufflinks made, which they wore along with matching ties and an ivory silk handkerchief.
What mattered to you most when you were planning your wedding?The most important thing for us was to bring everyone together in one space, for them to have a great time and share our special day with us. Living abroad and having so many friends around the world makes it difficult to get everyone together, so we kept numbers down. To ensure it was intimate, our invitation didn’t include a ‘plus one’ – all our guests were people we knew well. We were overjoyed that we could have our nearest and dearest with us. It’s the one part of the wedding that will stay with me forever.
Did the glorious sunshine make the day even more special?
When the lovely English summer came to say hello, it was amazing. On the day, we were so overwhelmed that we didn’t take everything in and even now we are remembering things. The speeches out on the lawn after dinner were gorgeous. It was set up with cushions and candles and looked stunning in the evening light.
You created a memorable day on a limited budget, were you happy with the results?
The fact that we got married quickly meant we kind of had no choice but to save money. The package the hotel offered for the reception cost less and we sent email invites out rather than printed ones. We also used contacts from friends who are planning their own wedding, and one of my best friends designed and printed all the stationery which was a huge saving. Finally, we chose a few days away in Scotland for our honeymoon – which was perfect.
Homemade cakes are a personal touch, how did you decide on yours?
A friend of my dad’s made our cake. We went against tradition and got a two tiered carrot and chocolate double sponge with plain white icing, decorated with ribbon and a few flowers. It was not a high priority for us so I refused to spend time and money on it.
How did you get the party started?
We made sure we had good entertainment. As an event producer, there is nothing I hate more than a bad band or entertainer. It is pivotal in getting the party started but you have to be sure it works for everyone, not just for you.
The accent was definitely on the entertainment. What’s the recipe to keeping your guests on the dancefloor all night?
Daire loves music and I love a good dance so we were prepared to spend money on a decent band. A recommendation led us to a band called Vice Versa. They did jazzy breakdowns for the outdoor reception, then in the evening they played funk, soul, Motown, pop and rock. We were blown away and had so many comments about how good they were. Everyone got up and had a boogie, the dance floor wasn’t empty all night!
What was your first dance to as a couple, and why did you choose that song?
Our first song was Stuck on you by Lionel Richie and the performance was as good as the man himself! We spent ages going through our music collection to find something. One day we put on a playlist and that song came on. We both love it and agreed on the spot that it was for us.
What was your most emotional moment?
I was so calm getting ready but when it was time to walk down the aisle, I suddenly felt my legs go to jelly. My dad had to talk to me all the way as we were walking to Daire!