This morning's wedding from the beautiful Connemara in Ireland is giving me goosebumps. Antonija Nekic's images of Sophie and Robbie by the water with the wind whipping up Sophie's hair are just SO atmospheric. Sophie's styling is just perfect for her wedding day, I'm in love with the rustic decor, it's a great example of how to do rustic with bunting and hay bales but in a totally stylish way. Her dress is pretty special too ;) in fact, this whole wedding is just completely gorgeous and one of those that I really wish I could have been a guest at. Right, let's get started shall we?

The Bride

Sophie the Bride: My dress was designed by Lisa Duffy Kavanagh, the owner of Cari’s Closet Bridal in Malahide Co.Dublin. I loved that the dress style was quite unusual and the intricate detail throughout was beautiful. The skirt of the dress was tulle which was ideal for our rustic style wedding as I could walk through the straw on the ground easily without ruining it! I loved my earrings as they were my something blue and something borrowed from my good friend and bridesmaid Lucinda. She works in her family business which is the famous Jewellers Weir & Sons and so she lent me fabulous sapphire drop earrings from Weirs which was such a treat to wear.

The Venue

The venue was in our family’s old country home in Connemara. It is a very special place for me as I grew up going down there for all our holidays and my grandparents house was just down the road, so we have lots of lovely childhood memories playing in the woods and swimming in the lake that sits in front of the house. We chose a rustic and relaxed style of wedding that would fit with the rugged Connemara landscape, the character of the house, and our personalities! Our marquee was a stretch tent that was attached to the side of the house, with a stream running along one side of the tent and the lake in front of it. The sides were open so you could see the magical landscape outside. Outside the stretch tent we had the reception in an outdoor area around the old boat shed and turf shed. This was my favourite part of the venue!! Due to windy conditions in the few days before the wedding we only decided on the day before the wedding to change the reception area from the front of the house to the back of the house around the outbuildings where it was more sheltered. It was quite a dash to get it decorated but it worked out a dream! The area turned out stunningly well, so unique and with so much character with the amazing old boat shed with rusting corrugated iron roof which we used as a second bar; the turf shed with a gorgeous faded green door; old beer barrels which we turned into fire pits; lavender plants resting on the turf shed windowsill, and lots of bails of created a fabulous atmosphere to kick off the wedding festivities!

The Decor

The house is like a treasure trove with the amount of cool old pieces we found in the basement that we ‘upcycled’ into decorations and signage - for example we found two old beautiful windows and we turned one into the sign for the bar in the reception area, and the other into the table plan. This table plan was one of my favourite features! It was a large old sash window with one side still intact with the glass and the other side which was just the frame. So we wrote the table plan on the glass panes and in the frame on the other side we placed hydrangea plants which looked stunning. My mum also tied some dried lavender and gypsophila bunches to the top of the window frame. For the food menu Robbie painted the main menu onto a wooden frame from the back of another mirror which we found in the basement, and this rested outside the marquee. Robbie turned out to be a dab hand at making signs because he ended up making loads of them from old pieces of wood we also foraged, my favourite being the boat bar sign! One of the main feature highlights was the Boat Bar! Inside the old boat shed there was a beautiful blue boat which had just been sitting there inside the shed for 30 years untouched! We decided to take it out and use it inside the marquee as a bar, which we filled with ice and bottles of beer and cider, along with bottle openers tied to the side of the boat so people could help themselves. Getting the boat into the marquee was memorable! It was so heavy, two of our local friends (who were a huge help with setting up the venue) Pat and Brendan had to get their Quad to tow the boat out of the shed and into the marquee and it was quite the palaver! I don’t think they were too impressed with Robbie’s last minute decision on the morning of the wedding to change the location of where the boat sat! But it was definitely the right decision and the boat became the set for lots of hilarious photos taken by guests during the night. When getting the land ready for the marquee we had to cut down a big tree but we decided to keep the tree stumps as a feature in the middle of the marquee. We surrounded the stumps with plants and placed large candles on each stump, which looked beautiful when lit. Both our families and my fab bridesmaids were such a fantastic help in putting together the venue and I want to thank them all for helping us make the place as unforgettable as it was, with a special mention for my mum Shelagh who literally shed blood (with 6 stitches in her finger the week before the wedding to tell the tale!) sweat and tears into making so many beautifully creative and unique details that added such character to the wedding.

The Flowers

We went for a floral style that was informal and unstructured, again in keeping with the style of the wedding and wild landscape around. The colour theme was purples, greens & whites. The bouquets were loose, open style and made by Pamela McCullough of Connemara Florist. At the venue we used potted hydrangea plants and lavender plants which could be planted on the grounds of the house later on, as we didn’t like the idea of a lot of cut flowers going to waste. One of my oldest friends and bridesmaid Jane Shackleton’s mum Daphne Shackleton is a landscape gardener and she and my mum organised all of the flowers. Daphne provided us with beautiful cut flowers from her garden which were used for the centrepiece of the top table and a few other arrangements around the marquee. The rest of the tables were dotted with jam jars filled with gypsophila which is one of my favourite flowers.

The Ceremony

The ceremony took place in Christ Church in Clifden which was very special as it was my grandmother’s church and the Rector, Rev Stan Evans, who married us knew her very well and they were great friends. So he was thrilled to be marrying us and said it would’ve made my grandmother very happy which was lovely. One of Robbie’s old friends from school, Jeeban Das, is an amazing musician and he played one of our favourite Bach pieces on the violin as I entered the church. He also played the Beatles when we were leaving which was fab! A very special moment was one of my best friends, Nicola Sothern, who is an extremely talented writer had written a poem for myself and Robbie and she read it out during the ceremony. The poem is called “Like a Language” and it is such a beautiful and touching poem. She had it printed on beautiful paper and gave it to us, one of the most special gifts I’ve ever been given.

Special Moments

My Mum is South African and with it being so far away we didn’t think any of our South African family were able to make it to the wedding. Two days before the wedding when we were frantically getting the venue set up, my Dad arrived down to Connemara and as I came out of the house to say hello to him my cousin from South Africa, Justin, jumped out of the back of the car to surprise me! I was in absolute shock and burst into was definitely one of the most special moments of the few days. We both still can’t believe he was there! It was really special to us because Robbie had proposed to me on the way to the airport when we were going on a trip to visit Justin and his wife Karen in South Africa as they had never met before. So it was such a special gift having him come all the way to Connemara for our day.

The Entertainment

The band “Say La Vie” were absolutely epic! I’ve known this band for years, funnily enough they played at Jane’s (my bridesmaid) 21st party eleven years ago and they always know how to get the crowd going! At one stage we literally thought someone would fall through the dancefloor it was bouncing so much with everyone jumping up and down! I don’t think I’ve ever danced so much in my life, it was amazing.

The Food

What can I say about the food...! It was absolutely sublime! I think every single guest has said to me it was the best food they’d ever had at a wedding. For me the food was a really important part of the day. I’m a cook and a food nut, and have based my career around food so I was pretty adamant on having great tasting food. And plenty of it! There was no question in my mind who the caterer would be, when we got engaged I rang her straight away to make sure she had the date available! Alison Davis of Ali Davis Food, is my sister in law, Emma’s best friend and I had gotten to know her over the years through Emma. Her style of cooking is right up my alley (excuse the pun!) through the use of great quality local produce to create simple, great tasting unpretentious food. I also love her strong Asian fusion influence in a lot of her dishes. In keeping with the relaxed vibe of the day, we went with substantial snacks during the reception instead of a formal starter. Amongst others these included Ginger & Black Pepper Tuna Tataki with Wasabi Avocado, Galway Bay Oysters & Mini Guinness, and Slow Roasted Pork & Shaved Apple Baby Gem Wraps. For mains guest were served at the tables with platters of tamari glazed featherblade beef which was served with a fresh horseradish and mustard sauce that will go down in history it was so tasty! There was also slow cooked lemon and thyme chicken on offer, and on the table was a selection of sides ­ my favourite being the Broad bean, edamame & zucchini salad with shavings of pecorino & toasted walnuts. I have a big sweet tooth so for dessert we went for generous sized dessert boards that were placed on all the tables with a delicious selection so guests could try several desserts if they pleased! My favourite was the Toasted almond & chocolate ganache macaroon bombs. I can’t thank Ali enough for creating such stunning food for our wedding, the expectations were certainly high and she completely surpassed them!

The Photography

I think we probably did what most people getting married would consider lunacy and that is we still didn’t have a wedding photographer booked 6 weeks before the wedding! Through a combination of a potential photographer falling through and just bad organisation on our part, I found myself on the hunt for a photographer with the right kind of style for our wedding only 5 weeks before the big day! Luckily through some googling I came across Antonija Nekic whose documentary style of photography was exactly what I was looking for! I frantically emailed her and to my amazement she had the date available! The stars were aligned for us because Antonija turned out to be our perfect photographer. Her relaxed and natural style captured so many precious moments in such a beautiful way. Her photos are pure magic.

The Videography

My dad organised a brilliant cameraman (Brian) from his company Windmill Lane Post Production Studios to shoot the wedding and my talented brother Rupert edited it all into a fab snapshot of the day!

Special Details

We used wooden tables and benches with hessian runners along the tables, and simple place settings of a sprig of rosemary tied to white linen napkins with twine. My brother’s girlfriend Chelsey wrote all the beautiful name tags in calligraphy by hand. Our Caterer, Ali Davis, gave us some of her lovely vintage style cutlery for the table settings which worked beautifully.
Fern Godfrey

Written by Fern Godfrey

Dress: Cari's Closet Bridal | Jewellery: Weir & Sons | Catering: Ali Davies | Flowers: Connemara Florist | Second Shooter: Livia Figueiredo

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