Good morning, I hope an enjoyable weekend was had by all! This morning we are kicking off the week with something rather exciting – our first ever featured Archive 12 bride! As lots of you will know, Claire Leese and her vintage wedding gown collection, Archive 12 have been big supporters of The Promise right from the beginning, so I am utterly excited to be able to share one of their gorgeous brides with you today. Sharon, a PA to her now husband, Robert married this past April, 23rd in the beautiful surroundings of the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum in Cultra. Thanks massively to Lynn Stanfield Photography for sharing their day with us.
Sharon and Robert first met during a creative writing class led by Ruth Carr at the Crescent Arts Centre in January 2012. After asking Sharon to have coffee with him after the second class, their romance took off.
“I knew after about six months when Robert was seriously ill with a chest infection that it was for life. I was looking after him and I just knew I wanted to be there for him whatever happened, for the rest of our lives; Robert took a bit longer – he ponders every decision so much more than I do – whether it’s buying the right mobile phone or choosing the right wife! – but after three years together, he felt he couldn’t be without me,” said Sharon.
I love the relaxed nature of their romance and wedding planning, so refreshing!
“Robert proposed on New Year’s Eve, 2014. It was not particularly dramatic – we were just chatting together after lunch in his house when he brought out a box with his late mum’s engagement ring in it and asked me if I liked it. I did and then he tried it on my finger. It was too big but we decided to drive straight to the jeweller’s to see if it could be adjusted to my size and it was only when they said it wouldn’t be a problem that he actually got down on one knee and asked me to marry him,” explained Sharon.
Planning their wedding was just as natural with a unusual way of choosing the date!
“The wedding had to be in April or August, as those were the only months when the Best Man, who is a cruise ship manager, would be at home. We chose April as we didn’t see any point in waiting,” added Sharon.
With their eye on a memorable venue they contacted the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum to see if the events department had availability for a wedding during April, they suggested the 23rd and their date was set.
“Because the venue – a reconstructed church dating from the turn of the 19th Century alongside a Manor House from the same period – was a period one, we naturally went for a classic vintage style. We are both quite traditional in our tastes so we had organ music and hymns, which fitted well. Our invitations and orders of service, which had a traditional font and were simply-decorated, also tied in,” said Sharon.
“Choosing my dress turned out to be easy! I knew Robert loved Grace Kelly’s wedding dress and I was looking for something similar, with long lace sleeves. I tried one from a mail order company which was nice but not a great fit, so it was returned, but then I contacted Archive 12, which I had read about in a magazine when at my hairdresser’s.
I arranged to visit Claire in her boutique with my Chief Bridesmaid, Jennifer, and she had selected two dresses which she felt would meet my requirements. I thought the first would be too small, but Claire assured me that it could be let out if necessary. She helped me into it and I stepped out. When Jennifer’s jaw dropped and she simply said, “Wow!”, I knew that this was ‘the one’. I tried the other but my mind was made up,” added Sharon.
As both Sharon and Robert are music enthusiasts they had a musical theme for their reception.
“A wonderful harpist, Jenna Harkin, played during the drinks reception, and Ruth Trimble, a rising star in the local singer-songwriter scene who has had Radio 2 airplay, came to sing at our evening do. She made an exception to her rule of ‘no more weddings’ for us as we have been fans from the start– I don’t think we’ve missed a concert in this part of the world! We also had tables themed by artists whose music we love – Steely Dan, Taylor Swift and The Mamas and the Papas, for example. It was fun!” said Sharon.
“I don’t know what more to say other than it was absolutely beyond all expectations. I am not the sort of girl who felt she needed a ‘dream wedding’, but a dream wedding it turned out to be. We had warm sunshine all day, we were surrounded by family and friends, the venue was wonderful, and we became husband and wife – what more could one ask?!” added Sharon.
Their day was filled with special, personal details including the light up letters handcrafted by Sharon’s brother in laws company, Letterbox NI, and the ring pillow which Sharon’s sister had made from Roberts’ late mums wedding dress.
“Ruth Carr, whose writing class me met in, wrote a poem especially to mark the occasion, and she read it at the reception, whilst our friend Dr Anne Bailie read Shakespeare’s famous Love Sonnet, No 116, at the end of the speeches. We gave a copy of Ruth’s poem to each guest as a favour,” added Sharon.
“We did really love the music. My Uncle Peter’s violin playing during the signing of the register, accompanied by our friend Chrissie on the organ, was sublime, and – whilst we missed the harpist because we were having photographs taken – the evening music with Ruth Trimble was beyond amazing. I got a shock when she invited me to take a second microphone and duet with her on the Carpenters’ ‘Close to You’. That was a great moment!” said Sharon.
Ceremony: The Meeting House, Folk and Transport Museum, Cultra.
Reception: Cultra Manor, Cultra.
Photographer: Lynn Stanfield Photography, Belfast.
Wedding dress: Archive 12, Conway Mill, Belfast.
Bridesmaids dresses: Monsoon.
Groomswear: Focus NI, Bangor.
Cake: Marks & Spencer.
Flowers: Ruth & Muriel Webb.
Bridal cars: Fonacab Executive.
Videographer: Robert Hastings – with no videographer available, Robert set up a single camera and videoed the ceremony himself!
Entertainment: Jenna Harkin (harpist) and Ruth Trimble (evening music – piano and voice).
Large letters: Letterbox NI.