“The whole event was run spectacularly by Marcella Doran from Your Dream Wedding in Spain, whom we are eternally grateful to.”
Your Names: Gary and Michelle Manning
Length of engagement: 21 months
Wedding Date: 2019-09-16
Wedding location: Casa Santonja, Beniarbeig, Alicante, Spain
Photographer: Schillings Photography
Planner: Your Dream Wedding in Spain
How did you meet and get engaged?
Gary and I were set up on a blind date mid each other’s Christmas parties. We got on so well that we went on a date the next day and the day after and have been inseparable ever since.
Our Engagement took place in Lough Eske Castle in Donegal. Gary had decided to take me away for my birthday that weekend! The hotel and location were beautiful! We went for dinner. (Before going to dinner the concierge had come to our room to tell us a car had been crashed into and he thought it may be Gary’s – I thought Gary would be in a foul temper. However on his return he told me it wasn’t his, but acted disgusted that someone else had the same car as him – this will make more sense further down in the story).
In the restaurant Gary told me he had planned a Historical tour of the grounds and building. We took the tour and it was lovely. Towards the end, we were told to continue up and look around ourselves. As I walked in the room, it was lit by hundreds of candles, rose petals all around the room and floor with a bottle of Champagne in the centre on a table! I thought to myself some girl is getting proposed to tonight anyway!
Gary had just bought a new car and we had gone to see Jimmy Carr in Dublin and he had made a joke about engagements and I looked at Gary hinting and he responded by telling me to go away he had just bought a new car, so that dashed my confidence in it happening any time soon. On entering the room I was so certain that this was laid out for someone else. I was in my head talking to myself staring out the window telling myself not to get angry or upset or cry, that he was taking me away for a lovely weekend for my birthday. So I kept telling myself to turn around and smile.
Little did I know that this beautiful set up was for me! I turned around and Gary was down on one knee! I was so surprised my reaction was not one I had ever anticipated. I threw my bag across the room and repeatedly said “are you sure, are you sure?” We sat down and had a glass of champagne before ringing our parents and siblings. Thankfully we had the rest of the weekend to take it all in before we told everyone else.
Describe your wedding:
We didn’t have an exact theme. We wanted to keep it simple and classic, from my old Hollywood glamour makeup, the bridesmaids wore shades of blue/green. Heidi Francis flowers worked with me to incorporate all the things I was after and there were many.
The ceremony area was styled simply with a soft white drape accentuated with flowers, our bouquets had hints of white and green and a little pink to set it off. For the reception, we dined in the rave cave as it was very hot outside. This too was styled with lots of greenery and candles. The centerpieces were white orchids and candles and beautiful silverware. We added in a few additional pieces such as a remembrance table which was placed beside the cake table-which was cheeses which we later cut with a sword. Heidi had also created a beautiful exotic seating area for guests to take pictures and we had a photo booth that all the guests really enjoyed.
El Poblets catered the event to such a high standard. Their efficiency was second to none. The music had everyone dancing all night and had a lot of Gary and I’s favorite music. The whole event was run spectacularly by Marcella Doran from Your Dream Wedding in Spain, whom we are eternally grateful to.
Tell us about your bridal look:
I actually had quite a difficult time in choosing a dress. I wanted something very plain without beading and lace originally. I had my heart set on a crepe dress with long sleeves, although when I tried my “dream dress” on it looked awful on me. After visiting a lot of stores, I eventually ended up at a Truly Bridal trunk show. The person who helped me really listened to everything and the dress she found for me was “the one”. It was the Maggie Sottero Cassidy Dress and Tulle cape trimmed in lace motifs.
My hair was down in old Hollywood curls with a headpiece to the side. The look was created by Jo Black Hair. And my makeup was simple to the skin tone with red lips and red nails. My makeup look was created by Maria Rodriguez owner of Revivebeauty-Novias. Both Jo and Maria were amazing both on the trial and the day, putting me at complete ease with their professionalism, attention to detail and fun and friendly manner. They had quite a task on the morning with mothers, bridal party and myself to look after but they never appeared overwhelmed. They were truly wonderful from beginning to end.
What did your bridesmaids wear?
Originally I had a very different color scheme in mind, however that color did not suit any of the girls. We had gone to a few different boutiques but we found that Emma in Chantilly Lace gave us an absolutely wonderful experience. From the beginning we all felt very welcome and special. She allowed us to try on a variety of colors and styles. All the girls were different shapes and sizes and also had different tastes, so we opted for 2 different styles in similar colors for the four girls. Two of the dresses were Ice Blue and the other two were in the style Paisley and color aqua, these dresses had a little beading under the bust area.
What was your ceremony like?
Our ceremony was beautiful. We had included as many of our family members as possible – our niece and sister in law sang throughout the ceremony, Gary’s brothers walked both the mother of the bride and groom up the aisle, my sister was a bridesmaid, we had readings and prayers of the faithful from aunts, uncles, cousins and friends and the rest of the bridal party was made up of friends.
The ceremony was set in the beautiful gardens of Casa Santonja where guests were seated under canopies out of the heat, the alter had beautiful sheer curtains and flowers and small stools and Father Juan was engaging and funny and charming throughout the ceremony and had all the guests crying with laughter. It was very warm on the day and the sun was shining on us all.
Tell us about your wedding venue:
Casa Santonja is definitely my favourite place on this planet. It is the most beautiful magical place with the most amazing serene gardens, it truly is an oasis. Upon entering, it is a place that immediately puts you at ease. The venue is the gift that truly keeps giving, it is private, secluded and peaceful. It has different sections such as the surprise element of a rave cave which reminds me of a large old and beautiful wine cellar. The chapel on site is ornate and gorgeous. The room allocated to the couple for the night of the wedding, which is where we got ready, is spacious and beautifully laid out. This venue has it all. I fell in love at first sight.
What is your favourite memory from your wedding day?
Having all our friends and family there and getting spend quality time with everyone. The venue, the decor and the food were outstanding. My personal favorite was a surprise Marcella and I had for Gary which was Frank coming in and playing the sax throughout the DJ set, I loved that.
Have you got any advice for other couples?
Get a Wedding Planner. Marcella Doran from Your Dream Weddings Spain was without a doubt the best decision we made. Marcella showed us a variety of venues but my heart immediately belonged to one. She is warm, engaging and so helpful, nothing is ever too much of an ask. Marcella put us in contact with all of the suppliers and was honest when asked for suggestions and opinions. She responded to all my queries (and there were many) so promptly and professionally. We would have been lost without her. We also had thought that we would have to get married here before going to Spain but Marcella was able to help us in all the legal and ecclesiastical paperwork required which meant a lot to us that we did it all on the same day.
Wedding venue: Casa Santonja | Photographer: Schilling’s Photography | Planner/coordinator: Your Dream Wedding Spain – Marcella Doran | Musician: Gatecrash | DJ: DJ Darrell | Hair: Jo Black | Makeup: Revivebeauty – Novias, Belleza, Relax-Denia-Maria | Dress: Truly Bridal Boutique, Naas, Co. Kildare. Maggie Sottero gown | Suits: Esquire Formal Wear, Limerick | Bridesmaids dresses: Chantilly Lace, Limerick | Caterer: Eventos El Poblets | Cake: Heidi Francis Flowers | Celebrant: Father. Juan | Jewellery: Diamonds International, Debenhams and Glitzi Bitz | Flowers: All About Weddings, Arklow
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Kelly is a former wedding planner and a lover of anything pink. She believes that any bride can plan her own wedding, with a few tips and helpful tools.