Whenever we get a wedding sent to us by the Navyblur duo Christine & Xander it is always a super golly gosh darn cool-as-a-cucumber magic moment tear-in-the-eye can this be real?!? wish-I-was-a-guest-at-that-one kind of a wedding.
And on that note (breathe), let me introduce to you (In the style of Cilla) Mark and the luscious Loraine…
Loraine The Bride: Our wedding was on Saturday 4th May 2013 – International Star Wars day ‘May the 4th be with you’. We said our ‘I dos’ in Our Lady Queen of Peace Chapel in Dunmurry, Belfast and then we held our reception in The Merchant Hotel in Belfast city centre.
A Two Year Wait
I got my dress from Protocol in Belfast. It was a San Patrick dress. I’m not a big fan of wedding dresses and the thought of trying on masses of them in order to find ‘the one’ was just so daunting. I went to try on a particular dress that I had seen at a wedding show and when I got to the shop I decided to try on a few more. Three more to be exact! As soon as I saw my dress hanging on the rail I knew it was the one. I was drawn to it by the fabric alone. The dress was made from layered panels of material in stripes and swirls. It had no lace and not one sequence or diamond and this just gave it the edge for me. When I tried the dress on I felt so comfortable and calm. After a few personal alteration ideas, I made my decision there and then. One shop, 3 dresses, an amazing shop assistant (Sonya!) and hey presto! I had a dress. The only problem was that I had to wait an entire 2 years and one month to show the thing off!
I loved my dress so much that I decided pretty quickly that I wouldn’t cover it with a veil. Lucky for me, I had got a free birdcage veil in a magazine and it was the perfect colour and size! I teamed the veil with a large antique hair slide with diamante details which I bought for a bargain price from ebay. As a wedding gift, my mum bought me a beautiful antique gold and pearl detailed bracelet from Tradewinds in Belfast and also as a wedding gift Mark mum and dad bought me a fabulous pair of diamante drop earrings both which complimented my dress perfectly.
My shoes were a big deal to me! I measure in at a grand height of 5ft 1” and Mark is not far off me at 6ft 1”! In the end I didn’t go for skyscraper heels to measure up to Mark’s height and we can blame that on Vivienne Westwood. I fell in love with the Vivienne Westwood Melissa Lady Dragon Heart shoes in ivory and red as soon as I saw them. After an extensive search I finally located a pair on ebay in my sizes which were never worn… Fate! If I am totally honest these shoes were my favourite part of my entire outfit!
As soon as Mark and I began wedding planning, I knew that one thing was for sure… I had to book Clare Afshar from Vintage Rocks to do my hair! I have had my hair styled by Clare many times before and she has never failed to disappoint. I have total trust in her amazing skills. In fact when I went for my wedding hair trial Clare only tried one style in my hair and I was beyond thrilled. As my hair is quite fine, I decided that I would wear it in an up-style. The only direction I gave Clare was that I wanted it to look quite soft and work around my hair clip and veil. Clare worked her magic and gave me what I wanted. My hair didn’t move the entire day!
Make up was one thing I was nervous about. I wanted to look like myself and so in the end I decided that the best thing to do was to just do my own make up. Thanks to a few amazing products and some helpful tips from my bridesmaid my makeup didn’t budge all day.
We booked Floral Earth as our florists. I knew Tim (the owner) from a previous job and I was fully aware of his amazing creativity. Mark and I went to Tim’s studio and explained that we aren’t that into formal flowers but that we do like natural, county, shabby chic inspired looks and that we also love candles. Tim knew exactly what we were after a few apple crates, hurricane lanterns, candles, wheat bales and dozens of flowers later we were organised! I was overwhelmed with the flowers and bouquets that Tim and his team created. In the end we had beautiful hand tied ivory hydrangea bouquets for the bridesmaids and a stunning mixed bouquet with brooches and pearls including my great granny Mary’s blue china hydrangea brooch (something blue) for myself. Tim knew that Mark wanted something a little bit different than the average button holes and so he created fantastic little button bouquets for their button holes!
Bringing The Country To The City
I had an exact vision of the atmosphere and scene that I wanted to create on the day for our guests and so I had also been collecting a lot of little wooden hearts, pearls, bunting and hand-making little decorations myself for the two years running up to the wedding. When I explained this to Tim he offered to set everything up for me on the day. I gave everything I had to Tim and with his team they created an even better vision than I had. The chapel and the venue were decorated to my exact taste. There were lots of colourful flowers in little jam jars, strings of pearls, staircases lit with church candles in hurricane lanterns, bunting, wooden hearts hanging from candelabras, apple crates with stacks of wheat and more candles and flowers! Essentially, we brought the countryside to Belfast city centre! I literally could not believe how beautiful it all looked. The Floral Earth team not only took on the role of florists but they also helped create my vision and took so much pressure off me on the day of the wedding. I look back at the photographs with pride. The reception room was so beautiful and had the wow factor that I had wanted.
We bought the groomsmen suits from Jeff Banks. They were petrol blue three piece suits. Mark designed them white shirts with initialled cuffs and pink buttons and thread to match the bridesmaids’ dresses. The white shirts were teamed with white ties.
The bridesmaids’ dresses were from Coast. Mark and I were in Debenhams two years before the wedding and I saw them and fell in love with them. They were ballet length dresses with a halter neck in a bright coral colour. I was mainly attracted to them because they had a stripe detail at the top that reminded me of my own dress.
As the dresses were ballet length, I knew that the girls needed pretty shoes! I got them beautiful ivory peep toe shoes with a diamante bow detail and matching clutch bags. The bags turned the outfits into a great evening look.
Slim Fit & Chequered
Mark used to be a tailor and so he knew exactly what he wanted… A handmade suit! Mark and I went through swatches of material before he decided on a stunning fine chequered cloth. He had a three piece suit made in the material. It was slim fit and complimented the groomsmen suits perfectly.
Although I had already seen Mark’s suit when it arrived I couldn’t believe how amazing it looked on him! I was literally swooning as I walked up the aisle! He looked amazing!
In a past life I worked as a wedding photographer! I can remember working at a wedding show in the Kings Hall Belfast and noticing this very young and hip couple advertising their new photography business. They went by the name of Navyblur… an unusual name which isn’t hard to forget! When it came to deciding on a photographer I remembered this effortlessly cool couple and so contacted them (after some internet stalking!). A few weeks later we met for coffee and Mark and I knew we had to book them! It is so important to build up a good rapport with your wedding photographers as you will spend almost your entire day with them!
Christine and Xander from Navyblur are two of the most talented wedding photographers I have come across. They manage to capture every intricate detail and moment of a wedding day with such calmness. To be honest, you would hardly know they are there. I enjoyed their company so much on our wedding day. They were so genuinely excited and happy and I’m thanking them for my calmness that morning and during the ceremony! I managed to hold back the tears and save my makeup from running on the day but when these guys sent me to the link of our wedding photos I cried like a baby! I was so overwhelmed with what I saw. Anything I missed on the day like guests reactions to our vows etc were all captured by this talented duo. I cannot sing their praises highly enough!
Cake For Everybody
We decided that we didn’t want a traditional cake but one that would be enjoyed and consumed by all the guests. After a crazy search, Mark and I discovered Sarah, the genius baker behind Life is Sweet. Sarah created individual cake pops for the guests to share which included the flavours vanilla, red velvet, chocolate and lemon. Sarah also made us the most decedent chocolate cake ever! I can honestly say that there was not one crumb left.
Pockets Of Energy
Entertainment is so important. It can provide pockets of energy on what can be a long day and can make or break how your guests rate the day. As our reception venue was just 15 minutes away from the church we decided that we should provide some fun entertainment for our guests to break the day up. Our idea was to take them all on a bus tour of Belfast. We booked two buses from the Belfast City Sightseeing company and warned our guests that they did not need to organise transport to the reception. Instead when the guests left the church, they were met by two large buses stocked with drinks and snacks and a tour guide. Not wanting to miss out on any of the fun, Mark and I went along for the ride! We had a brilliant hour long tour around Belfast and even stopped off for some photo opportunities with our bridal party.
The tour finished up at The Merchant hotel where our guests enjoyed a drinks reception on the roof top garden. This unique experience was certainly the talking point of the day!
Music is also so important to Mark and I. We book the amazingly talented Arco String Quartet to play during the ceremony and also at the drinks reception. Arco played beautifully as our guests filtered into the chapel for the wedding and played songs chosen by Mark and I during the ceremony including Florence and the Machine ‘You got the love’, Stevie Wonder ‘Signed, Sealed, Delivered’ and The Wannadies ‘You and Me Song’. The music continued at the drinks reception and provided the perfect elegant atmosphere that we had dreamed of.
For the evening reception we booked The Big Kahuna. A seven piece band that lifted the roof that night! The dance floor was packed the entire night and the energy and effort that the band provided was first class.
Dog Days Are Over
Originally Mark and I had planned on having our first dance to a Foy Vance song; however, due to technical difficulties (I forgot to bring the song with me!) we ended up taking a gamble and going back to an old favourite of ours. As we scrambled with the band and DJ to find the song I couldn’t help but whisper to Mark ‘how on earth are we going to dance to this?!’ But as the opening strings of Florence and the Machine’s ‘Dog days are over’ started, I completely relaxed and enjoyed every little second of the song! Mark and I do not claim to be great dancers; in fact, we’re terrible, but we do have a lot of energy. Instead of doing the awkward first dance shuffle, we just threw each other around the dance floor, spun round in circles and made the crowd join in with the necessary clapping during the ‘instrumental’ break down. I was SO glad that we reverted back to this song. It now means more to us than ever and it’s up-beat, joyous sound along with our silly dancing started the evening party perfectly! It is one of my favourite memories of the day.
Wooden Hearts & Candy
We decided against having favours. Instead, our guests got to keep the wooden hearts that I had made and as many sweets and treats as they could pack into a bag from our large candy bar that was created around our cake and cake pops!
Every Special Moment
What made our wedding unique was the relaxed atmosphere. Although the evening reception was a full on party atmosphere, the entire day was very relaxed. The guests were catered for all day and we made sure to make time for everyone that came. I was so calm on the day and I can remember every special moment vividly.
My advice to anyone planning a wedding would be to make it your own! It’s your day and your guests are there for you so put your favourite things into the mix.
Choose your numbers carefully! I wanted to have the option to spend time with all of my guests so we kept our numbers at a decent 110. This meant that we had time to spend with everyone and thank them personally for coming.
Choose your photographers carefully. Make sure that you have a connection with them as you will spend so much time with them.
Remember to entertain your guests! Give them something fun to talk about!
Finally my most important piece of advice is to relax. This is your one big day and you want to enjoy it and remember it. If you relax and de-stress then you will enjoy it all the more. I was so calm on the day of our wedding because I knew I was doing the right thing by marring my soul mate but I also knew that if something went wrong then it really didn’t matter. All that matters is the two people standing up and saying their vows in front of their family and friends and celebrating that lifelong union and commitment with good food and good entertainment and good FUN!
I honestly had the best day of my life. I am so proud of how the day went and I am even more proud when I hear my guest reminisce about the music, the food, the bus tour etc. We made our day our own and it showed.
Mrs Loraine Brown
What a great idea to have an actual bus tour of the city to fill the gap between ceremony and reception. Loraine and Mark’s two locations were only 15 minutes apart but it would be a really great solution if you are planning a city wedding where your ceremony and reception venues are not so conveniently located.
Yep… As I said in my introduction – I wish I’d been a guest. You must MUST MUUUUUUUST Visit The Gallery for this wedding as I simply could not fit all the pretty into this already choc-a-block post.