Our Magical Winter Wonderland Wedding.
When deciding to start this blog it was primarily to document my DIY journey as I try to restore a 19th Century house and make it into a home and a family one at that.
Like most people my family mean everything to me, they are my compass and my roots. I am the only girl in our gentleman's family and I couldn't live without them. Two years ago on the 30th of December 2015, I added to my family, by marrying my best friend and soulmate. Together we have taken on this crazy labour of love project which has now become our life ambition to finish our house, preferably before we are 50 lol...
Seamus's name will be popping up on many occasions as I explore my passion for DIY as he's my right-hand man! So, to get to know us a little better I thought I would share with you how a blue-eyed boy from Kerry ending up marrying a freckled-faced girl from Belfast. Here is our story!
Aislínn & Seamus
I had to fill in this little questionnaire for Getting Married In Northern Ireland so I thought it would be nice to share our little love story!
How did you first meet and get together?
Like all good love stories I met Seamus in an Irish bar, however, the ironic thing is I don’t even drink. It was the summer of 2005 and I decided to go to Barcelona to work in my Dad’s friend’s Bar for a few months by myself (this was totally out of character as I am such a home bird). The night before I started work I went to meet some of the staff and that’s when I met Seamus. He was working out there too before he returned to start his career in Cork. The following night we shared the same shift, showing me the ropes and teaching me a few Spanish phrases, my life had changed without me even knowing it. I had met my best friend and my future husband.
When did you know it was for life? Seamus and I met when I was 20, however, we didn’t start going out until I was 26. We were best friends and even though we were miles apart we still managed to include each other in our everyday lives. We must have spoken every day (I was actually going to get O2 to sponsor our wedding we talked that much lol… and my birthday is 02/02 lol..)
Then seven years ago one rainy September night Seamus called me and told me that he was on his way to my home in Lurgan, this was a real surprise as he had never been up North to meet me before. I told my parents my “friend” Seamus was coming to stay. At this stage, it was the big family joke, " My friend Seamus" my Dad would say laughing, as they all knew how much we liked each other.
It took him 4 hours to drive to my home, which gave me just enough time to tidy up and get changed out of my pj’s. He arrived close to midnight and from that night we never looked back, we realised that we were meant to be together and the rest is history.
I said "YES"
Being a total romantic I always wanted to get engaged at Christmas however as we had just bought a house and were living with my parents I didn’t think it was going to happen for another year or so. It was our first Christmas day that we had ever spent together and after opening our presents and going to Christmas Day Mass Seamus told me he wanted to go round to our new house and check on it. When we arrived Seamus went to the front door and called me up onto the top step to look at something. It all happened so fast, as the next thing I knew Seamus had swung round and was down on one knee with a little ring in his hand. With a few excited "Yes, yes's " and tears rolling down my face, I jumped into his arms resulting in me nearly killing both of us by falling down the steps. I was in total disbelief, we were engaged. When I got back to my family home he handed me another Christmas card which was strange as I already got one that morning to my ‘girlfriend,’ this one, however, was to my fiancé (he was confident lol)… inside there where tickets for flights to New York on my birthday a month later to pick out my real ring. I always wanted to see New York when it was snowing and now my dream had come true.
We picked my ring from R&R Jewellers on 6 W 47th St New York in R&R and the day really was like something out of a movie. Dressed head to toe in Primark white fur lol… we hit the diamond district around 11 am and I have never experienced anything like it. It can be very overwhelming as there is so much choice but a few hours later I had found my perfect ring - a rose gold vintage princess setting ring, with little flowers on the sides that hold up the centre diamond. In the shop, you can choose the diamond yourself which made the experience all the more unique and it was actually quite fun. With the diamond picked and finger measured we walked out of the shop with our special ring. It’s weird I never thought how much it would mean to me to be engaged but it really is a once in a lifetime moment.
How we created our Winter Wonderland Wedding:
A traditional Irish family wedding full of Christmas cheer, music and good food was the key elements of what we wanted in our wedding. I just adore Christmas and growing up I always dreamed of getting married at this special time of year. Winter Wonderland thus was my theme, I wanted to create an old-fashioned wedding straight out of a fairy-tale book.
The chapel was probably the most important part of the day as it would not only set the scene and tone for the day to come it was where Seamus and I would become husband and wife. The church was like something from bygone days with a long aisle, wooden pews and stain glass windows that the winter sun shone through with beams of light. The aisle was lined with beautiful vintage lanterns that David McConkey Wedding specialist kindly lent me; he was a true Christmas angel. At the end of each pew was a wreath made up of baby breath flowers that resembled snowdrops tied together with lovely satin bows. Candle holders filled with snow and acorns sat at the bottom of each pew, which added to the winter theme.
The top of the church was just amazing; we had candles and baby breath flowers with pearl droplets handling from the floral display across the entire front of the church along with two wreaths hanging from our wedding chairs. As it was winter the chapel was a little darker than usual so it was as if we got married by candlelight and the flickering of the flames really added to the romantic atmosphere.
At the bottom of the aisle, I had the most wonderful arch of roses, it was beautiful and a surprise from my Uncle Sean and his wife Daniella. They own McPeake's florists and provided all the flowers, displays and dressed the castle and chapel. I remember standing at the bottom of the aisle watching the bridesmaids walk up and it was just perfect, they really pulled out all the stops to make our dreams come.
At the entrance to the church, we had two large candles from Creative Candles with our family crests on them along with a memory candle on the altar for our grandparents that have passed. The little table in the vestibule of the church had hooray signs for the kids and little napkins for the ladies tears of joy.
Outside the church I kept it quite plain as the Cathedral spoke for itself; we had little lanterns and pots of baby breath along with a huge Christmas wreath above the Chapel Door.
To tie in our traditional theme we had the Concerto Choir who sang all our Christmas favourites. The music really made our mass, they where such incredible singers, all our guests told us they had hairs on the back of their necks when they sang.
Bellingham Castle was the most perfect venue to follow the chapel. On arriving at the castle the party started instantly with mulled wine and canapés flowing and people listening to a rat pack band, our wedding was in full swing. The bar of the first floor was decorated with A&S illumined letters from Electric Alphabet and they brought the room to life. We had kiddie’s tables with gingerbread houses and sweets along with old drinking bottles of lemonade and a boy’s table with cigars and chocolate bars. The vintage postbox for our cards, which we hired, was a real find and well worth the money. I love photographs and bows so they were included as much as we could on the day, from our wedding invites to putting old framed pictures throughout the castle. It was a talking point and a nice way to involve our grandparents who have past.
The dining room was enchanting. Our top table had rose gold tablecloths and entirely covered with the baby breath flowers and candles. The guests' tables where all different in size and shape and could be described as a sea of candles, with the baby breath rings from the chapel placed at the centre of each candelabra. Among the candles of all different shapes and sizes were old tea stained books with a little teacup and saucer with a candle in it sitting on top (I’m a teetotaller and adore tea so they were just me.) Believing every girl should have Cinderella moment the ladies all had a glass slipper favour that I made into Christmas decorations so they can hang from their tree this year. The men’s favours where little chocolate bars with a sixpence we got minted with our names and wedding date on them for a little keepsake. The kids had little Cinderella horse-drawn carriages with sweets in them, along with stockings filled with presents.
Our table place names where the story of our lives from bouncy baby photos to first communion to our first home together, all of which added a little light amusement for our guests. My table plan was a little Christmas tree full of bows and roses with the place settings hanging from each branch. I also designed our invitations with the help of my graphic designer friend Chris Scott. We incorporated old photos of our family and included pictures of things that meant something to us as a couple such as my engagement ring, the map of Ireland to show where we both came from, little robins and keys. I was delighted how they turned out and it was a nice way to start creating our theme.
For as long as I can remember I have always loved baby breath or ‘gip’ as some people may call it, therefore when it came to choosing my wedding flowers my bouquet had to be made up of hundreds of baby breath flowers as they reminded me of snowdrops. The boys also had baby breath with acorns and winter foliage. My aunt did all my flowers and they where amazing.
Kathryn Hodge from Candytuff cakes made us the most unique and spectacular cake. I loved the grandeur and height of one of Kathryn’s cakes she made for the Merchant Hotel but I had an idea that I wanted lots of old photographs of our lives to feature heavily, in ornate gold frames and a wintery blue colour. With 'frames and bows' as our main theme she also managed to incorporate a symbolic representation of the Sagrada Família Barcelona, the place where we first met; some roses; a little robin; and also a little ornate lock, all things with personal significance. It also tasted unbelievable and it broke my heart to cut it, however, I still have all the little frames that I have put in a bigger frame to keep forever.
What was the highlight of your day?
There were two highlights of the day for me. The first was going to the church in the car with my Mum & Dad. They mean the world to me so it was so special to have that hour to ourselves before the wedding started. The second was walking down the aisle towards Seamus with my Dad at my side. It was so overwhelming to see all the people we love in the chapel at the same time, knowing that they were all there to share our special day. I couldn’t wait to see Seamus at the top of the altar and as corny as it sounds it did feel as though I was walking towards my new future as Mr & Mrs. I have never been happier than in that one moment.
And that was how I became Mrs Higgins xx