Over the past few years I’ve realised that most brides find they learn more from past brides who’ve already experienced planning their wedding.
So, I’m dedicating a section on my blog to ‘Planning your Wedding – Inspired by real Brides Experiences”. Here I will feature as many of the weddings I’ve done and brides I’ve met as possible. It’s a questions and answers style blog post with lots of lovely inspirational images too!
Jane and Mark surprised us all by getting engaged just after Christmas last year but definitely surprised us even more when they announced that they would be getting married in the Summer of 2016! They’ve known each other for long enough God knows and make a fantastic team in every way so there wasn’t a doubt in anyone’s mind that they had made the perfect decision.
I have to admit I did panic slightly when Jane announced a Summer 2016 wedding – from a make up artist’s point of view dates get booked up very quickly – particularly summertime. Of course I was thrilled and honoured to be invited to be part of her special day, both as a guest and to be her makeup artist (I was just terrified she’d land on a date I wasn’t free!)
Thankfully it all worked out – Mark and Jane planned their wedding on the breathtaking island of Inishbofin … a perfect venue for that pair who spend 90% of their lives surrounded by water!
Jane is a very special friend and we were all almost in pain laughing as she got ready with her beautiful bridesmaid Kate and her Mum! With the help of her very talented Mum, family and Mark’s family they planned this wonderful day in a short few months… read her story .. I know you will love it!
How did you meet Mark?
Mark and I share a passion for boats and grew up in the same area equal distance from the local sailing club. From there, the rest is history!
Tell us a little bit about the engagement – how did he propose? Was it a surprise? Was it romantic……
Was it a surprise! Not really! We where heading off for a little break after Christmas to Sneem in Kerry and as I was packing I found the receipt for the ring lying beside the TV !! So I knew something was up!! …. It poured rain and gusted gale force winds most of the weekend but Mark found the right moment to get down on one knee! We had a fantastic trip and have some lovely memories to look back on.
How did you choose your engagement ring?
I worked in Design Yard in Dublin selling beautiful diamond rings after college, and then went on to actually making jewellery for a living! So I thought I knew what I wanted for my ring but I was wrong! If anyone knows me I am not a typically girly girl, I tend to express myself with my jewellery. George Sheffield from Sheffield’s in Athlone was brilliant and so helpful. He ordered in lots of different modern rings for me to try but the more I tried I kept going back to the first ring I tried on. I thought I wanted a modern statement ring (always thought I would have a pressure set diamond!) but in the end I fell for a very beautiful vintage, traditional style ring. It is very important to get the right ring as you are going to be wearing it for the rest of your life.
Did you choose your wedding ring at the same time and tell us a little bit about choosing that?
I am quite rough on my jewellery so I chose my ring and my wedding ring as they are beautiful but also well made and designed to withstand my lifestyle.
What about Mark’s ring – what did he choose?
Mark went for a brushed peladium simple wide fit band. He doesn’t even wear a watch so I think he is still getting used to wearing a ring, it will be a miracle if he lasts the year without losing it as it is his new thing to fiddle with !!!
How did you decide on the location for your wedding?
We both knew that our dream wedding venue would be a small island called Inishbofin. It is a place we would go to often and loved every minute, it was our escape from the real world!
Both being sailors and growing up together on the water we felt a very natural theme just grow as we planned! With a island wedding ‘The Nautical Theme’ just seemed to fit.
We were lucky to have our wedding in the Inishbofin House Hotel and our service in the beautiful St. Colman’s Church on the harbour front.
We both wanted our wedding to blend into island life on ‘Bofin, not create a circus so we were very aware and respectful of the island as a whole. The hotel was great and helped us in any way they could. Everything we needed for the wedding needed to come over on the ferry so that was a challenge!
We tried to keep everything simply with a little twist! We had navy and white striped colour scheme to fit in with the nautical theme. My mum and a great friend undertook the job of making handmade linen napkins and we got them embroidered with the guests initials so it acted like a name card and a napkin – all the napkins where individually knotted.
Our invitations and menu’s and seating plans where all done by a friend who runs a company called Splash graphics and she did a amazing job keeping to the theme and made it all very easy.
Did you style it yourself or hire a professional?
Being a pretty creative family we were lucky enough to be able to plan everything ourselves. We were so lucky to have a amazing bunch of talented friends. Our photographer, cake maker, graphic designer, make up artist, musicians and jewellery maker were all friends before the wedding which made our day that extra little bit special.
We want all the details on your dress, from shopping to choosing to purchasing to alterations?
Being the kind of girl that would love to have been able to get married in jeans and a t-shirt I was really worried about finding THE dress !! In total I went to three dress shops after the first two I was very worried and disheartened that I would never find something that I was comfortable in and that suited me! I found my dress in a amazing shop called Belladonna in Galway, Tina was amazing she listened to me and what I wanted and she cheekily said I have your dress!! And she was 100% right .. the minute I tried on my dress I got THAT FEELING !!! It was perfect simple but elegant, flattering but comfortable and it even had a boat neckline, it was made for me! It was the first dress I tried on and the last one !! I didn’t need to search anymore!
How did you choose the jewellery you wore on the day?
I went to college with an amazingly talented jewellery designer called Lynsey de Burca and I have always loved her work. Her inspiration is the west coast- anything from fishing nets to chains to ropes…especially chains so I knew her work would be perfect. After giving her a quick brief and some pictures of the dress she came back with the most amazing sketches. I knew they would be perfect and I wasn’t wrong. She put so much care and attention into the detail of each piece, they were the icing on the cake to my outfit and something I will treasure forever.
How did you choose the fragrance you wore on the day?
I loved the idea of getting a special fragrance for your wedding day to remember it by and it really does work. I bought The Jo Malone “Wood Sage and Sea Salt” perfume and now every time I use it it brings back great memories.
Tell us about your shoes.
Jimmy Choo and RNLI yellow wellies of course!
Well !! I am a very lucky girl ! I have two brothers and I am the only daughter so my Mum surprised me by bringing me into Brown Thomas and I fell in love with a pair of sparkly gold Romy kitten heels. Beautiful shoes and very comfortable for the walk to the church!! And yes I then did get changed into my RNLI yellow wellies for the photos on the beach and then pink and white dubarry deck shoes for the dancing !! Pretty normal right !!
Lets not forget the boys! how did they choose what they wore on the day and where they purchased?
We both only had one bridesmaid and groom’s man so it was pretty easy to sort out the suits and bridesmaids dress. Mark bought the suits in Galvin for Men, Tullamore. They were brilliant, had a great selection and were very helpful. They bought navy blue three piece suits with white shirts, navy and white striped ties, pocket squares and brown shoes.
Tell us about your hairdresser and how you choose them?
I am lucky to have an amazing hairdresser Padraig Claffey from Custom Cuts Athlone who did my colour and cut for the wedding but for the day I had to find a hairdresser nearer the island that would come over the night before. I was lucky enough to find the most amazing hairdresser Damien Manning from Hedz in Clifden.
Tell us about the hairstyle you wanted and what inspired it?
We had a trial a few weeks before the big day and Damien got what I wanted straight away. I knew I wanted my hair up in a plaited style but it was Damien who designed the style that would last the whole day even with the island wind!! I had a head piece for the church and a hair band piece for after and he designed my hair style so that I could easily switch around. Damien did not laugh when I mentioned my hair clip headaches! And I was glad to report I did not get a headache at all and it was well pinned but not over pinned !! He was fantastic on the day and made everyone look fantastic in a short amount of time.
Any tips for brides regarding choosing hairstyles?
Choose someone you trust and get on with, they are a big part of your wedding day morning so be sure to do a trial first!! Choose a hairstyle that is you and your personality and that you are comfortable in and that suits your venue! Mine had to be wind proof !
What was important to you when choosing your makeup artist?
This is where I lucked out! I have a friend who is the best make up artist I have ever seen hands down.
Over the years I have watched her put 100% in to every person/bride she has worked with. She is the kind of make up artist that after she has done your make up you don’t see her work, the first thing you see is your face in the best light/reflection you have ever seen. The face that looks back at you is you but the best you, the beautiful you, the you that looks healthy, happy and glowing and a twinkle in your eye. She works magic.
I am the kind of person that wears no make up and when I make a effort it’s a blob of mascara and some under eye concealer and some lip gloss! So for me to get my make up done for my wedding by Aileen was a real treat. On the morning she was so organised, chilled and calming we had so much fun getting ready. She made my mum and bridesmaid beautiful also with ease.
I couldn’t recommend Aileen enough if you want to look beautiful all day long on your wedding day. Aileen has mastered the skills to applying just the right amount of everything to make you look flawless. I also challenged her work, with a beach photo shoot and lots of happy tears and it stood up to the test amazingly – only needed one touch up all day.
Did I mention that she was so dedicated that she had to get a rib to bring her off the island after dinner to get her back to shore for another wedding she had the next day .. now if that not going above and beyond then I don’t know what is!
Tell us about your make up trial – what was the most important thing to you at the trial?
The funny thing is that I had such faith in Aileen’s work that I didn’t feel the need for a trial, she was actually using me as a bad example to her clients! (“I have a bride that is getting married in 3 weeks and she hasn’t done her trial yet !! ) … so with two weeks to go my Mum and I were finally summoned to her make up table! Not being into make up in the slightest I started off just enjoying chatting to Aileen and my Mum but as it went on I got quieter! I could see what she was doing and I was amazed. It is hard to explain but it is kind of like if you were good at Photoshop and you had your face and you Photoshop it to be beautiful that was what Aileen did to my face in real life! And the best bit was she did it with such skill that you didn’t feel it on your face. The makeup did not wear you – you wore the makeup and it was amazing. After the trial mum and I bounced out of there with big beautiful smiles on our faces!
We’d love to hear about your flowers and what you decided upon and also who did your flowers?
Being on an island we knew that flowers where going to be tricky. Boats and flowers are not the best mix! So it was quite a challenge working out logistics for this one!
My grandmother was a fantastic flower arranger and my mother was lucky enough to inherit her love and skills for flowers so with her help we went to the amazing Lorna from A Room in Bloom and she made everything possible.
I wanted a garden flower theme simply elegant mix match of colours. For the tables we collected green glass vases in different shapes and sizes and Lorna did a amazing job of creating the centre pieces, we had buckets and boxes of flowers everywhere. It was magical and truly amazing how she managed to drive from Athlone get on Ferry with them all set up and return on the ferry the same day amazing. Lorna is so talented, nothing was too difficult and she went above and beyond for our wedding day.
How did you choose your bridesmaids and tell us about their dresses etc?
I had only one bridesmaid, the lovely Kate so when it came to choosing her dress it was quite easy as we just had to find one she liked, the only hard part was keeping her in the country long enough to buy a dress (she works away a lot in Africa and other far off countries). So in the end after lots of photo shopping she picked her own dress and it was perfect and she looked beautiful. It was a floor length navy ‘v’ neck dress. We also where very lucky to have Kate’s niece as our flower girl and she wore a adorable navy and white polka dot dress that was just perfect.
Anything special that you’d like to share about your bridesmaids?
Everything…. Kate was amazing she organised the hen of the century and helped where ever she could with the wedding and went above and beyond all the time even staying up with me till 2am the night before the wedding writing my speech!
Anything else that made your day special and memorable – please share?
The Sun Shone all Day! When organising a island wedding you are prepared for the weather to be difficult, we had lots of umbrellas and warm tweed jackets for the photos on the beach but we didn’t need anything. The sun shone from 6am that morning for our sea swims and presented us with a magical sunset just before dinner we where so so lucky. We also had a amazing day after the wedding weather wise which was fantastic as our guest where able to explore the island properly and we had games and a BBQ that evening.
Tell us about your honeymoon?
It was funny, because the weather on ‘Bofin was so nice we stayed a extra day so we went pretty much straight from ‘Bofin to Bali!! One island to the next! We were very lucky to have a two week honeymoon in Bali and Singapore which was an experience of a life-time.
How did you feel after the wedding day and honeymoon?
Absolutely blessed to be so lucky to have married my best friend and to have such amazing family and friends in our lives, and excited for our new adventure together as Mr and Mrs Rafter !
I have a passion for handmade and local designers and love to promote them – Please tell us about any Irish designers or makers you met?
I have already mentioned the amazing Lynsey de Burca – such a talented Irish designer. My Mum also had the most stunning hat made by the super talented hat maker Elaine Keogh. Elaine crafted this beautiful hat to work with Mum’s outfit – the detail is amazing and she was a joy to work with!
Tell us about your photographer….
I have worked with Jeff over the years and he was the one and only person that we wanted to shoot our wedding so it was lucky that when we asked him he was free that weekend and he said yes! I have always loved Jeff’s work, he always goes above and beyond what is asked of him and most importantly he is a valued friend and great fun.
In normal ‘Jeff Style’ he went above and beyond and travelled over on the ferry a few days before the wedding with us so he got from great ‘pre wedding’ shots which really tells the story. He checked out the entire island and found some great areas for photos on the day. I went for a 6am swim in the sea on the morning of the wedding and he was even up to catch that! During the day he captured the fun, feelings and flavour of our wedding without us even knowing he was taking photos. We gave him an hour deadline after the church to get the group photos done on the beach and he was amazing – the photos are breathtaking. We couldn’t have asked for a better photographer or friend ;0)
YOUR top 5 tips brides who are currently planning their wedding?
- Stay true to what you want – don’t design a wedding that you think will look/photograph the best! It is a celebration of you as a couple not a competition.
- Don’t wear fake tan!
- Break the day down and think of little things that you can do to make your guests more comfortable, involved, appreciated. Personalise if you can.
- Don’t get carried away, enjoy the lead up, take a step back and be thankful for everyone and everything you have.
- It goes so so fast so take some time away from crowd on your wedding day just to be in the moment. Take mental pictures as these are the memories you will hold for the rest of your life.
- Photographer: Jeff Harvey
- Rings Sheffield Jewellers
- Venue: Inishbofin House Hotel
- Bride’s Dress Amanda Wyatt Belladonna, Galway
- Bride’s Shoes Brown Thomas
- Brides Jewellery Lyndsey De Burca
- Graphic Design: Oona from Splash
- Boys Suits Galvin for Men
- Mum’s Outfit: Dress Boutique, Athlone
- Mum’s Hat: Handmade by Elaine Keogh
- Hair: Damien at Hedz and Custom Cuts
- Flowers: Lorna A Room in Bloom
- Balloons: Jenny Red Balloon
- Cake: Michelle Francis at Motte and Bailey, Mount Temple House
- Cake topper: Jesmie
- Band: Hickory Wind
- Church Music: Jessie Nolan
- Ferry: Inishbofin Island Discovery
- Honeymoon: Trailfinders