“I knew I wanted to get married in West Cork, and for the details to reflect the region. One way I did this was by picking around 600 wildflowers for the decor.”
Names: Sonia Hickey and Freddie Martelli
Length of engagement: 9 months
Wedding Date: 31st August 2019
Wedding location: Liss Ard Estate
How did you meet and get engaged? We met on Bumble (dating app) in London four years ago, and got engaged in Cuba last November.
Describe your wedding (theme/colours): We wanted a classical wedding, that wasn’t too trendy or fashionable, something that would age well in photos. The colour scheme was pale green, light blue with some pops of white, grey and silver.
I knew I wanted to get married in West Cork, and for the details to reflect the region. One way I did this was by picking around 600 wildflowers for the decor. We had small bunches of wild flowers (montbretia, fuschia and a beach thistle) on each dinner setting, and lots of blue hydrangeas picked by an aunt, in urchin shaped vases (nearby Lock Hyne has lots of urchins visible below when you swim there) for the table centre. We also made the bridesmaids bouquets, these were simply two blue hydrangea heads tied together. They didn’t have matching dresses but the mismatch of sage green and light blues worked perfectly, on the day one of the bridesmaids observed the colours on their dresses were like the range of shades in blue hydrangeas. I also dried gorse and my mother in law dried hydrangeas and rose petals for the confetti. We had the church decor, corsages and bridal bouquet made by a great local florist.
Food and drink is incredibly important to us, and in this we also wanted to showcase the best of West Cork, with touches of England, as my husband is from Dorset. Our wedding favours were miniature bottles of poitin for English guests, and violet gin for Irish. We had English rose wine on offer as well as the usual white and red. We had an oyster and champagne bar under a beautiful oak tree, with stunning views of the west Cork landscape. Then a five course dinner, which included an English gin and tonic sorbet palate cleanser course, a choice of beef or monkfish for main, and a boozy trio of desserts, including baileys crème brulee, and a chocolate tart with 10 year old West Cork whiskey.
We called in some favours on the day. My father’s two classic cars were spruced up for the occasion. The one I was driven to the church in is actually coincidentally in the wedding colours (I actually chose the paint colour as an eleven year old!). My husband has three Scottish cousins who play the bagpipes, so we roped them in too. A highlight was them surprising the Irish guests with “Fields of Athenry” on the bagpipes during the reception. One of the two best men also surprised us with a charity auction of some portraits my husband did of his friends a few years back. We had a friend play people into dinner on the grand piano, and a traditional Irish band after, followed by a DJ til late.
Tell us about your bridal look (dress/hair/makeup): My hair was meant to be a flowing wavy half up do, however it was a windy day (so much so my veil blew off outside the church) so ended up looking as it does naturally quite quickly. Oh well!
I decided to invest in amazing make-up from Space NK and took the time to learn new techniques. I think some brides can look too overdone on their wedding day, or sometimes just not like themselves, and I wanted to avoid this by doing it myself. Plus I have a fantastic make-up drawer now, complete with all the primers, correctors and make-up fixing sprays that one could possibly need! On the day I laid everything out for the bridesmaids to help themselves too, which I think they found very fun.
What did your bridesmaids wear? I had six bridesmaids, my two sisters (who were head bridesmaids) were in a matching bluebell coloured TFNC tall dresses from Asos, and the other girls chose their own dresses to suit their style and shape. I just asked them to get something in either light green or blue, and as it so happens we had three in each colour which worked beautifully. I also gave each of them a gift of a silver pashmina to tie their outfits together and keep them warm! They all had their hair styled, with thistles, gypsophila and roses added, so that tied their outfits together further.
What was your ceremony like? We had a Catholic wedding mass, with traditional hymns (Amazing Grace, Tell out my soul), and I walked down the aisle to Pacabel D Minor. The ceremony went very well, apart from Freddie nearly passing out just before we said our vows. He turned to me and said he thought he might faint, and could he take his jacket off. Luckily he pulled through and I avoided being left at the alter!
Our priest was fantastic, cracking jokes throughout, which really put us and the congregation at ease. During the signing of the register our organist sang a favourite song of mine, Raglan Road.
Tell us about your wedding venue: Liss Ard is a fascinating venue. It is a classical Georgian building, with a totally modern, crisp and minimalist interior, and a rotation of modern art on display. It was actually owned bought by the Swiss government in the 1970’s, with the intention that it should be used as the base of a Swiss government in exile in the event that the country was invaded by the Soviet bloc. Now it is a gorgeous wedding venue with an award winning chef who relies on local produce for their amazing menu. The venue has 25 bedrooms in the main house, a lake lodge and stables/mews. There is a private lake on the estate, which a good portion of the guests (including the groom, best man and several of the bridesmaids) took a dip in on the wedding morning. Liss Ard estate also is home to the fascinating “Irish Sky Garden” a huge crate like land art piece by Jame Turrell, considered the greatest American land art artist.
What is your favourite memory from your wedding day?
I think walking down the aisle for me (Sonia). I was just so excited and smiling ear to ear to see everyone I love there for us, and to see Fred waiting for me.
Fred loved giving his groomsman speech. He had been so nervous about the speech, but nearly fainting in the church removed any nerves he had for the rest of the day, so he was in his element by the time the speeches came round.
Have you got any advice for other couples? Enjoy the build-up and the weeks before as much as possible, as that is half the fun! As everyone says, the day goes super quickly so enjoying the time before the wedding is critical.
Also, you will have dropouts on the week, so don’t worry too much about the size of your guest list! From an event planner’s perspective, odds are you won’t be over capacity!
I would also say half way through, look again at the things you have decided on, is there anything you can cut? I wish I hadn’t bothered with a couple of things (photobooth etc), as they in retrospect weren’t important. I am also glad we didn’t bother with a cake, as it just isn’t important or memorable to us.
I love the mismatch look, so if you are struggling to find a dress that all bridesmaids agree on, it could make your life much easier to consider mismatched!
Wedding venue: Liss Ard Estate | Photographer/Videographer: Kate Bean | Musician: Kesh | DJ: James Murphy | Hair: Aisling Hair studio | Makeup: Bride | Dress: Mori Lee (Vows, Cork) | Suit: Faverbrook (for groom) father of the bride suit hired from Morleys, Cork city | Bridal party outfits: Miscellaneous | Celebrant: Fr. Kevin Blade | Stationery: Papier | Jewellery: Fine Jewels (Hatton Garden, London) | Flowers: Fleur Angelique | Organist: Veronica Tadman
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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.