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Makeup & Marriage With s.a.k Designs

April 7, 2014
sak designs makeup artist

I will admit it – I am not a make up girl, but after meeting and watching plenty of amazing makeup artists work at bridal photo shoots, I have a big appreciation for the magic they create! Your makeup artist will likely become the person to calm your nerves on the morning of your wedding, the person who helps mop up your tears when you catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror for the first time and the person who helps bring all your hard work, fashion styling and ideas to life; so choosing someone that you admire, trust and get on with is pretty essential!

Today, I am so pleased to introduce you to Stacey Kilpatrick; wife, mum of two littles and one of the leading makeup artists in the country – not to mention a mean face and body painter as well. Whilst building a brand new home, planning and launching a make up studio and growing two beautiful babies, Stacey has built her business s.a.kDESIGNS over the past four years to be much more than amazing! I caught up with her (her schedule is hectic, good hectic) to chat marriage, makeup and making brides dreams come true…



Have you always wanted to be a makeup artist?

Yes, I always wanted to become a makeup artist. To be honest, it wasn’t seen as a ‘proper’ career choice when I was at school and I was pointed in a slightly different direction studying Beauty Therapy, Fashion Design, Event Management and Marketing. My love for art and being creative led me to set up my first business in 2003 – a face painting company called Crazy Faces. My love for makeup remained and in 2005 I was awarded Most Promising Make up Artist through a talent lab with Cinemagic and in 2010 I graduated from the Oonagh Boman School of Makeup in Belfast with a Diploma in Fashion and Photographic Makeup and also undertook several short courses in London with makeup brand Illamasqua. My love for bridal makeup and my company Crazy Faces weren’t exactly a perfect match – with a name like that, I’m sure I’d freak most brides out, so in 2010 s.a.k.DESIGNS was born! s.a.k.DESIGNS has a few different sides to the business; makeup artistry, face and body painting, face painting training and I also have a fab team of children’s entertainers who specialise in face painting.


What’s your favourite things about working at weddings?

I love weddings and bridal makeup! Weddings are such an exciting time for couples and in my job I get to be involved with that and it’s very special. I love the buzz on the morning of a wedding; the excitement, the nerves, the giggles and sometimes the tears. It’s a lovely feeling to know you are adding to that and helping calm nerves (with my bottle of rescue remedy), ensuring things run smoothly and helping a bridal party feel extra glamorous!

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Where do you get your inspiration from? 

I follow a lot of makeup artists whose work really inspires me such as Lan, Rae Morris, Lisa Eldridge, Alex Box and the ultimate has to be Pat McGrath. But I am also inspired by current trends, new products, the seasons, fabrics and of course my subjects; people!


You’ve been married to the lovely Darryl for over five years now, how was your wedding day? 

Darryl and I met through a mutual friend just two weeks into our university courses and eight years later I became Mrs. Kilpatrick! We got married in December 2008, a beautiful crisp winter’s day; with gorgeous lighting and a little frost. It was perfect! We married at Parkanaur Manor House and had our reception in Brownlow House in Lurgan. Then honeymooned in Las Vegas, Hawaii and New York. Five years later we have two beautiful children Riley (almost 3) and Evie (7 months).

I loved every second of our wedding day. However, I know if we did it again (to each other obviously!) there would be a few things I would do differently. The industry has changed massively in five years! It’s a lot more creative and being in the heart of it all I know too many amazingly talented people now. I’d probably want five photographers, three florists, four hair stylists…gosh it would be impossible to choose now!


With the value of years, what does marriage now mean to you now? Has this has changed since you were first married and have you any secret formulas for marriage?

I don’t think our values have changed at all. The only difference is we now have our precious little rascals who take up pretty much all of our time. We do try (although often fail) to arrange date nights but we adore spending time with our kids and helping their fantastic little personalities develop! It’s hard work but incredibly rewarding.

Being super supportive for one another, understanding, compassionate and appreciative will help make your marriage work – you need to believe in marriage and truly love a person to make it work. They say opposites attract but we’re like two peas in a pod and that works for us.


What wedding trends are you loving at the minute?

I am loving pastels at the moment and have been involved in some stunning bridal shoots recently with soft colour palettes. I just love how individual and creative weddings have become and the amazing wealth of talented suppliers out there to help create a bride and groom’s vision. I exhibit at the Quirky Weddings fair and it is a real eye opener for what can be achieved if you want to break away from traditions.

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Anything exciting in the pipeline for s.a.k designs?

At the moment wedding season is getting into full swing so there’s little time for making major plans. My brain is always in overdrive though so who knows what might happen! I’ve been extremely lucky in my career so far to have had the opportunities I have. Such as having worked published internationally in Gladys magazine and Professional Beauty / WarPaint magazines, working backstage at MTV EMA after party in Belfast assisting a top London Makeup Artist, meeting my idols Alex Box and Pixiwoo who both judged my work in an international makeup competition, being awarded Irish Makeup Artist of the year and most recently Best Bridal makeup Artist by the readers of Getting Married in NI magazine. I haven’t done a destination wedding yet, that would be lovely, Dubai perhaps?!


Lastly, any makeup secrets we should know about?

My top five products at the minute are Dermalogica skin perfect primer, Mac peachykeen blusher, Senna airbrush 25 foundation brush, Bobbi Brown long wear eye liner, Senna cheeky blush in petal.


Huge thanks to Stacey for sharing her love of makeup with us all! 


For more information you can visit s.a.k DESIGNS here at, email her at, visit her Facebook page here or call her on 07738 090 660.


Image Credits

Stacey applying makeup: Ciara Jones Photography.

Bride against tree: Photographer: Paula O’Hara, Model: Lauren at Distinct Model Management, Styling, florals & props:, Dress: Myrtle Ivory, Hair: Grainne Moane, Location: Florence Court Enniskillen.

Bridal party: Real life bride Jennifer, Photographer: Blackbox Photography.

Bride on bed: Real life bride Fionnuala, Photographer: Padraig Donnelly.

Bride against wall: Real life bride Michelle, Photographer: Janine Walker.

Bride close up: Getting Married in Northern Ireland image, Model: Jenny @ ACA models, Photographer: Janine Walker, Hair: Olivia Muldoon Hair & MUA.

Bride under tree: Image for and dress from Creative Ideas Bridal, Cookstown & Armagh,  Photographer: Melissa J Photography.

Brunette bride with headpiece: Getting Married in Northern Ireland image, Photographer: Catherine Mackenzie, Model: Style Academy Model Agency, Hair: Chocolate Blonde.

Vintage bride with red lips: Photographer: Jonathan Ryder.



Gather and Tides: Behind the Lens

March 14, 2014
Gather & Tides wedding photographers
It’s Friday and it’s the beginning of a long Bank Holiday weekend – double win!
Today we’re very happy to introduce a new series of posts from some of the provinces’ top wedding suppliers and the married life they lead behind their wedding businesses. First up is the awesome duo, Tim and Gillian Higgins – the husband and wife team behind Gather and Tides. If you haven’t checked them out, do it, now!
 Gather and Tides
Gather and Tides is your new rebranding – tell us how this change came about? 
Gill: Gather and Tides is just us  – Tim & Gillian. We are a husband and wife team and have been shooting together for the last couple of years. Our business started out as me (Gillian) flying solo, under the business name Gillian Higgins Photography. Tim gradually came more on board, initially helping me make business decisions, designing, writing blogs and then I started to teach him how to use my camera (mainly because he wanted to be able to take photos of me with the kids) but he just was such a natural and now I find him teaching me things! In 2012 he started second shooting weddings with me and from then I found when we worked together our resulting photos of a wedding were so much more ‘complete’. Within a few months I was no longer looking at him as a second shooter but as an equal team member – it was a hard pill to swallow when I realised his shots were sometimes better than mine! We soon felt that ‘Gillian Higgins Photography’ didn’t really represent who we were and we knew we had to choose a new business name… which is where Gather and Tides came into being. It was a big decision for us and I was SO nervous before we re-launched but it’s been received so well and we’ve had amazing support from past and present clients, and other photographers too.  And we’re delighted we made the change. Tim is still working as a social worker but is able to work his shifts around weddings and photo shoots, so it works really well for us.
Photography wasn’t your first career choice.  How did you make the change?
Gill: I originally trained as a physiotherapist, but I  never really loved it.  I knew that even when I was at uni, but I’m glad I did it and worked at it for the years I did. I guess the part of physio I liked the most was the people I worked with and the relationships I built with clients. I definitely miss working as part of a big team, as with photography I spend a lot of time by myself when I’m doing long hours of editing.
When I left my physio job, I didn’t know that I would end up doing photography – at that stage it was still just a hobby. I was working in a private clinic, and I was working good, flexible hours…  on paper it seemed like a great job but I was still coming home from work feeling down, frustrated and unfulfilled. One evening I came home and Tim just told me I should probably stop doing something that was draining life from me and do something that was life-giving. We prayed a lot about it for a few days and then I handed my notice in. We just decided I would rather be happy and enjoy life than dread going to work everyday – we really had to tighten the purse strings as we were down to living off Tim’s salary but we were happy to just live simply and enjoy the time we had with me not working. After a few months I booked my first family portrait session and the rest is history! The best change is the time I get to spend outdoors on shoots, trekking around forests, beaches, city centres with lovely people to photograph.  I also love being my own boss, and all the time off I have during the week to hang out with my kids.  I try to do the majority of my editing and admin after they are in bed! So it works well.
Gather and Tides
What’s your favourite things about being a photographer/working at weddings?
Tim: We love people, we aren’t the type of photographers that spend hours taking landscape pictures. So weddings are ideal, as friends and family from all over come together to witness and celebrate two people saying hugely significant things to each other. We love how powerful photographs can be, especially the beginning of a marriage, which have the potential to colour the walls of a home. Personally, I love the positive energy that comes with a wedding day. I spend some time working with homeless people, and I feel this strangely fuels me on a wedding day. I have perspective and I don’t live in the bubble of ‘wedding day land’. Life can be complex so we have to laugh and party on occasions like a wedding day – the photographs are a constant reminder of good times. Our favourite part of a wedding day is to head off for some time with the couple. We love when they have alone time together, to stop, breathe slowly and get closer.
You’ve been married for over seven years now, how did your own big day go?
Tim: We got married in my family church in Portrush and then headed to Lissanoure Castle. We were young, the first of ‘our crew’ to get hitched, easily excited, a bit naive but madly in love. We went out for a year, got engaged and married the exact date a year later. It was a fairly traditional day, we had help along the way, mates led worship at the church, awesome food kindly made by some good friends and a loud party with our friend Craig Skene (The Gents) and his band.  It’s all a bit of a blur….
Gil: We decided to get married in April (my favourite time of year) and we were blessed with a 20 degree sunshine-filled day. I remember afterwards just feeling so grateful how smoothly everything went and just buzzing about it all!
Gather and Tides
If you could relive the day would you do anything differently?
Tim: We got married before we woke up to the fact that you can be really creative with your day, so we would potentially do a lot of things differently. However it doesn’t bother us too much, we made vows in front of our family and friends which is what it comes down to. But on the more superficial side of things, I guess I would like to have worn something that was more ‘me’, more casual and not hired. And I’d rather I hadn’t broken a surf board on the morning of our wedding!
With the value of years, what does marriage now mean to you? Do you think this has changed since you were first married?
Tim: We’ve been married seven years; 10 different jobs, 3 house moves and 2 kids… marriage means more each day. It’s only natural that marriage changes as you go through the highs and lows which life inevitably throws at you. I think what we know is that we are better together, and I love who Gillian encourages me to be. We choose to love each other, each day and see the best in one another. Our faith is the cornerstone of our marriage, it is the encouragement and grace we learn from Jesus which help us be a better partner. I love the words from Bruce Springsteen;
“We swore we’d travel darlin’ side by side,
We’d help each other stay in stride
But each lovers steps fall so differently
But I’ll wait for you
And if I should fall behind
Wait for me.”

Gather and Tides

Do you think there is any secret formula to a successful marriage?
Tim: Grace and laughter.
Gill: I think what works so well for us is that we genuinely are best friends! We have so many things in common and it’s just a joy to spend time together doing stuff we love. And as Tim said, I think over the last seven years (and continually) we are learning more and more the importance of being gracious, but still being able to challenge each other when our character needs a little polishing!
What wedding trends are you loving at the minute?
Tim: We love to see so many more couples thinking outside the box. In Northern Ireland we are blessed with amazing agriculture, farms, wild countrysides and barns. It’s been great to see people embrace this side of their identity rather than see it as ‘uncool’ or ‘not elegant’ enough for a wedding day. We love to see people working with what they’ve got. Also we think simplicity is underrated!
Gill: I definitely feel like high fiving a bride when she tells me she and her fiancé just want to do things a little differently and have a day that reflects them as a couple. I spoke recently to a friend who is getting married this year and has decided to source as much as she can for the wedding locally (flowers, material for her dress, food etc) – something she is passionate about. Such a great idea!
Gather and Tides
Anything exciting in the pipeline for Gather & Tides?
Always! We have one really exciting story that we hope to have on the website in the next few months, its a story of friendship and a shared passion. All in good time, but we are excited for our 2014 weddings and listening to, following and documenting some awesome stories! Plus, we are always keen to hear from a couple who want to do something wild and crazy with their day!
A huge huge thanks to Gillian and Tim for letting us into life of Gather and Tides, I think you’ll agree, they are a pretty immense couple!! 
To read more about this North Coast loving, home brewing, cookbook addicted pair visit their website here.