I will always be a sucker for a wedding with laid-back charm and style, nothing forced or unnatural, only pure happiness radiating from the couple and on their guests’ faces who just happen to be dressed in their finery. Today’s wedding has all that and more, talk about excited when the bride, lovely Claire got in touch! I’m delighted to kick this week off with their wedding at the Mill at Ballydugan with photographer by Fraser Stewart and flowers from The Promise recommended supplier, Gil at Flowers by Mee. Enjoy and here’s to a great week!
Couple: Claire + Gary Lynas
“We first met way back in 2004! We both worked part time in the same shop in Belfast while we were students, but it took a couple of months for us to actually start chatting. We would socialise after work with the rest of our colleagues, so we gradually started getting to know each other. We discovered we shared the same taste in music (a solid foundation for any relationship when you’re 18!) and Gary started making me mix tapes – I should have realised then that he wanted to be more than friends, but I was a bit oblivious and it took me a while to catch on. We began spending more time together and the rest is history!”
“Gary surprised me with the proposal a few days before our 10th anniversary. Unbeknownst to me, he had been hiding the ring for several months, and he popped the question one night at home. It was low key, romantic and just the two of us. We knew we wanted to get married and had talked about getting engaged but it was still a total shock when it happened. I burst into tears, then promptly phoned all our family and friends to tell them the news!”
Wedding date: Saturday 10th September
Ceremony & Reception: The Mill at Ballydugan, Downpatrick, Co. Down
“I had been pinning away at my secret Pinterest boards for a while before we actually got engaged! Once I knew a proposal was on the horizon, I got a bit excited and started having a little look around for inspiration. So I already had ideas about what I liked and thankfully Gary shared my vision. Once we started planning properly, we made sure that we booked all the big things first – the venue, photographer, flowers etc. We were really fortunate that all the suppliers we wanted were available on the date we had chosen. Once we had them all secured, it was time to work on the finer details. I am a notorious list maker and I found that this helped keep me organised while planning! Reading wedding magazines and using blogs and Pinterest helped us find lots of ideas and inspiration.
It was really important to us to find a photographer whose work we loved and who would capture the day in a relaxed and informal way. As soon as I saw Fraser Stewart’s work online I knew he’d be perfect. Once we met up with him for a chat and he and Gary started bonding over a shared love of playing bass guitar, it was a done deal!
The guys at Head & Heart Films had previously worked on some projects with Gary’s band. Although at first we weren’t sure we needed a videographer, once we met up with Wilson and watched some of Head & Heart’s previous wedding films, we knew we had to get them on board too.
My parents and I made the decision to rent some beautiful cottages close to the venue to stay in the night before the wedding, to cut the travel time in the morning and take some of the pressure off. This proved to be a great idea, as we had some close family and the bridesmaids staying too and we all ended up having a bit of a party! It was a great way to relax and kick off the wedding celebrations, and the cottages also provided a gorgeous setting for our photos in the morning.”
“We didn’t set a specific budget to begin with, but we had a rough idea of what we would be able to spend. Looking back, we probably should have had a more specific figure in our heads to keep us on track! We were really fortunate in that my parents very generously offered to help us out with a lot of the major costs, and Gary’s mum was big help too and also contributed. We were then able to budget for everything else ourselves, to cover the finer details such as the invitations, videographer and a photo booth.”
“While planning the wedding, we found we were drawn to rich, darker colours and antique inspired styling. This worked really well with our venue as The Mill at Ballydugan is a restored 18th century flour mill, with lots of gorgeous original features. The colours we went with were deep plum and burgundy, with touches of green, navy and gold. The flowers continued this colour palette and also featured lots of greenery with touches of pale pinks and blush. The vision I had for my bridesmaids was for them to look beautiful and bohemian. I knew I wanted them to wear darker coloured dresses, so when I found the deep purple Lori May maxi dresses at Coast I was over the moon! They featured beautiful sheer necklines with floral lace detailing and embellished belts – perfect for my boho babes.”
“I found my dress at the beautiful Petticoat Lane Bridal in Hillsborough, just over a year before the wedding. I had been to a few other bridal boutiques and had tried on some beautiful dresses, but none of them had felt like they were really me. It was my aunty who pointed out what would end up being my perfect dress – Young by Badgley Mischka. It was so different to anything else I had seen, figure hugging and made from gorgeous champagne coloured lace with dark crystals and beaded embellishments. It had such a beautiful antique feel to it, I couldn’t wait to try it on! I had initially thought I wanted quite a bohemian, flowing wedding dress but as soon as I tried on Young, it felt like it was made for me. The reactions from my mum, aunty and friend sealed the deal! I really couldn’t recommend Petticoat Lane enough, the team there are all so lovely, helpful and patient and the boutique itself is stunning.”
“I knew I wanted a suit in either green or burgundy, something a little different to the usual wedding suit. After lots of searching and trying on, I found a great burgundy suit at Next and felt great in it. I teamed this with a navy tie and pocket square, also from Next, and a great white shirt from Reiss. I finished off with my favourite beard oil and aftershave, both by Captain Fawcett. I wanted my best man and groomsmen to co-ordinate without looking too matchy-matchy, so I chose relaxed forest green trousers and deep blue jackets for them from Topman. We accessorised with green braces and brogues – burgundy for me and brown for the guys.”
“The day itself was fabulous! It was great to see all our planning come together and it was so special having our friends and family all gathered in the one place just for us. There was such an intimate, relaxed and fun atmosphere all day that our guests seemed to really enjoy. We had asked our friends Fiona and Dave to play some tunes during the drinks reception and they went down an absolute storm. The party was well and truly underway before dinner had even been served! “
Claire – Definitely the ceremony. It was so lovely to walk in and see all our family and friends, and Gary waiting for me – I ended up very embarrassingly crying my way down the aisle! We had chosen two readings for the ceremony, A Lovely Love Story by Edward Monkton which was read by my aunty Geraldine, and The Ent and The Ent-Wife, a poem from The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, which was read by two of our best friends, Neil and Jennie. We also had two of our close friends playing the music, which was really special – I walked down the aisle with my dad to our friend Craig playing an acoustic version of Northern Sky by Nick Drake. Our friend Tony then played No-One’s Gonna Love You by Band of Horses while we signed the register, followed by Craig playing I Need Never Get Old by Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats as we exited. All of these choices were very personal to us and made the ceremony so special.
Gary – I loved the whole day, but the highlight was definitely seeing Claire walking down the aisle towards me. I also loved our evening reception, everyone was dancing like mad and having a great time, plus the music from the band and DJ was outstanding. Our first dance was great too, and we also had a little impromptu dance together later on to Kiss by Prince – somehow our dance moves were perfectly in sync with each other the whole way through the song!
“Don’t sweat the small stuff! Make sure you stay true to yourselves and your vision for your wedding. Lots of people will have opinions on what you should and shouldn’t do, but you’ll never be able to please everyone. So make sure you just go for it and plan exactly the kind of wedding you both really want! I have to say we are both really glad that we invested in the photographer we really wanted and also in having a videographer. So book the best photographer you can and if you’re undecided about having a videographer, we’d say go for it!”
Bridesmaids dress: Coast.
Grooms wear: Next, Topman & Reiss.
Hair: Emma Troupe, The Best Little Hair House, Belfast.
Makeup: Lynsey Hill, Pro Beauty Atelier, Newtownards.
Wedding rings: Mairi, Belfast.
Cake: Lily Pink Bakery, Belfast.
Flowers: Flowers by Mee, Killinchy.
Decor and props: Betty Williamson Weddings & Events, County Armagh.
Bridal cars: Unity Wedding Cars, Newry.
Videographer: Head & Heart Films, Newtownabbey.
Band: Discobeard, Newcastle.
DJ: Scott Edgar, Belfast.
Photographer: Fraser Stewart Photography, Lurgan.
Honeymoon: Kuala Lumpur & Bali.