Back in September, I was contacted by a couple based in London enquiring if I would be available to co-ordinate their wedding on New Year’s Eve at Cloghan Castle in Co. Galway. I was 8 months pregnant at the time, and would have a 7 week old baby by the time New Year’s Eve rolled around – but as the beautiful Cloghan Castle is located just a few moments from where I live, I agreed. I’m so thrilled that I did! Pauline and Owain are a wonderful couple, and their charismatic and jovial families and friends really made the day all the more special. In the days leading up to the wedding, the weather was truly rotten around the area – I watched weather reports with bated breath, praying that the roads would be clear by the time the 31st rolled around. Thankfully, it did – New Year’s Eve 2015 was a chilly, dry day, with soft winter sunlight. Their day was captured by talented Galway photographer Vanessa Jordan. On the day itself, I was on hand to assist Pauline, Owain and their families, as well as their wedding suppliers, with anything they needed. They put an incredible amount of thought into their day, with personal touches everywhere. Everyone pitched in, creating centrepieces, signage and wedding favours. Pauline was kind enough to share their beautiful wedding photos with me as well as the story of her and Owain’s wedding.
How did you meet?
We met in Feb 2013 on a skiing trip to Val Thorens in France. I was away with a group of friends and he had joined some work colleagues having decided on going at the last minute. We had both been skiing only once before, him on a school trip and me about 10 years before. We met in Hotel Tango when I sat down beside him on a window seat in the bar where my friend was keeping a spot for me. I bumped his arm as I sat down and apologised and he smiled and said ‘how was your day skiing?’. And that was it – must have been the gorgeous Welsh accent! We met up for a coffee the next afternoon for our first date. When we went home after the trip we kept in touch and met up 2 weeks later and thus begun our long distance trips back and forth between London and Wales.
What was the proposal like? When/where did it happen?
Owain proposed on our 2 year anniversary – we were away skiing again with some friends, this time in Courmayeur in Italy. It was the final day of the trip and we stopped midway down the slope to admire a view of Mont Blanc and he took something out of his pocket. At first I thought he was getting his phone to take a picture until I finally registered the little ring box. I completely wasn’t expecting it and of course I said “YES!”. It was so exciting telling all our friends and family when we got back home.
Why did you decide to get married in Cloghan Castle?
We wanted somewhere unique and somewhat rustic where we could feel at home and the fact that you can rent the entire castle for 2 days and do your own thing in terms or decoration, catering etc really appealed to us. It turned out to the perfect venue for us. And Lorraine, the castle manager, and Kevin, the caretaker were absolutely brilliant – they couldn’t have been more helpful.
Was Owain happy to get married in Ireland?
Absolutely. The Welsh contingent were really keen to come over to Ireland for the wedding while the Irish would have been more than happy to have a trip to Wales. We did debate both for a while and jokingly made it dependent on the outcome of the Six Nations Rugby last year and as Ireland won that was that decided.
Where did you buy your dress? Tell me about your experience.
I bought my dress locally in Twickenham in London in a shop called Emma Elizabeth. I left it quite late to start shopping after getting engaged in Feb only starting to look properly in August time. Most boutiques were aghast and worried they wouldn’t get the dress ordered in sufficient time. I thought I would go for something completely different than the dress I ended up choosing. The Mia Mia Estelle dress was one of the first I tried on and the only one that made me feel ‘like a bride’ – it didn’t take too long to decide it was the one.
Did you find it hard planning a wedding from abroad? Did you have much help from family and friends?
It was a bit daunting to begin with and I didn’t know where to start in terms of venue and date. My sisters were amazing and did lots of research and went to see places for me taking pictures and videos. Once we narrowed down the options Owain and I came over to Ireland for a weekend and saw the two places on the shortlist. We decided on Cloghan Castle and also met the caterer, make up artist, hairdresser, solemniser and did the marriage notification at the Galway Registrar’s Office. It was a really busy weekend but we got so much done and then it was down to the finer details and lots of help from pictures on Pinterest for ideas. Closer to the time all my family took on jobs individually which was a huge help – my mum and sister made a fabulous cake, another sister looked after table centrepieces and castle décor, another did the sweets table for the kids. One of my brothers built a bespoke ski resort sign for us, while the others looked after outdoor lighting and fire braziers for the castle entrance. Everyone contributed so much to the day in terms of all the little touches and we were so grateful.
What was your favourite part of the day?
It’s really hard to choose just one part – the whole day was so perfect. Getting ready in the morning and all the excitement. Coming down the stairs in the castle to walk up the aisle with my Dad and seeing all my friends and family, and seeing Owain waiting at the top of the aisle for me. The ceremony itself and the vows were probably my favourite part though. Standing in front of everyone we knew and saying “I do”.We chose some lovely readings which were read beautifully by my nieces. We also picked songs that meant a lot to us that were sung movingly during the ceremony. Owain’s daughters, Nia and Lowri, and my godson, Tom, took part in the hand tying ceremony using different coloured ribbons to bind our hands together. The whole ceremony was really emotional for us and having family taking part throughout it made it more meaningful and special.
What advice would you give to other couples who are planning their wedding at home in Ireland from abroad?
Enlist help from family and friends who are always more than happy to help. Find a wedding coordinator who can make recommendations and help with the planning and on the day itself. Don’t stress or worry too much; it will all be fine on the day as in the end people are just so happy to be there celebrating your special day with you.
A massive thank you to Pauline and Owain for letting me share their love story and beautiful wedding with all of my lovely readers. Special thanks also to Vanessa Jordan for the photos. If you’d like to find out more about my wedding day co-ordination service, please feel free to contact me.
Venue: Cloghan Castle
Venue Styling: I Do Candle Lighting
Wedding Co-ordinator: True Romance Weddings
Catering: Justin @ Maggie May’s, Loughrea
Hair: Beautiful Ambition
Makeup: Malvina Barrett
Ceremony Music: Emma Brady