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French Country Style at the Conyngham Arms

” When I opened my eyes, Chris and Flynn were both down on one knee, it was adorable.”

The couple: Anne Hodgers & Chris Clarke
Length of engagement:  2 years 8 months | Wedding date: 20th August 2015
Wedding venue: The Conyngham Arms Hotel, Co Meath

Photographer: Emma Russell

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We met… I first met Chris when he worked in the local nightclub as a doorman, we knew each other to say hi but it wasn’t until a few months later when we met at a party that we were properly introduced. We instantly hit it off, a few weeks later we had our first date and the rest is history.

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Our proposal… We had talked about getting engaged for some time before Chris asked me. Any time we went somewhere nice I thought Chris was going to propose; there were lots of quiet drives home from dates that hadn’t ended with a ring! Chris wanted to surprise me so he proposed at home as he knew I wouldn’t have expected that. It was Christmas Eve and we were at home with our son Flynn, who was just over one at the time. We decided to exchange a small present and Chris told me to sit on the couch and close my eyes. When I opened them, Chris and Flynn were both down on one knee, it was adorable. I was so surprised it took me ages to answer, but of course I said yes!

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Our ceremony… We decided to have our ceremony in my childhood Parish church, St. Josephs. Fr. John Mc Alinden had christened Flynn in this church so it holds a special place in our heart. It is a beautiful quaint church that has old wooden doors to the back, these aren’t normally used but Fr John was kind enough to let me enter the church through these doors. Eimear Carroll was our church singer, along with a family friend Sean Geraghty who played acoustic Cannon In D as my entrance song. Eimer is a beautiful singer, her voice gave me goosebumps and we worked closely together in choosing appropriate music for all parts of the mass. We really wanted a mass around our families so both our Mams did readings, my grandparents did the offertory procession and a selection of family and close friends read our prayers of the faithful.

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My dress… It sounds so cliché but I bought the first dress I saw! Myself and (my now) sister-in-law and Maid of Honour, Olivia went to try on some wedding dresses together. Olivia was married the December before us and I was her Maid of Honour so we were lucky enough to do all our planning together! When we walked up the stairs of the Bridal Studio, I saw my dress on a mannequin and said to my Mam “that’s my dress”. I didn’t officially say yes to the dress until the following April. My dress was an embellished Mori Lee mermaid style dress with a sweetheart neckline in ivory and soft gold. With the help of Laura in the Bridal Studio, who was such a pleasure to shop with we added long embellished straps which really finished off the look. I accessorised with an ivory headpiece and cathedral length veil. My shoes, bags and earrings were Jenny Packham and my watch was my something old, that my Mam had given me.

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What our bridal party wore… It was so important to me that all of the girls felt comfortable on the day. With my dress being a golden shade we were limited in what colours to choose for the bridesmaids but I think regardless I would have always went for blush pink. We got the bridesmaid dresses from Ciara in My Fair Lady, Co. Monaghan. Ciara was great at helping us to finally decide on the dresses. I loved the invisible neckline and how they fell so beautifully.

We rented the lads suits from McKenna Man. The navy suits really complimented the blush bridesmaids’ dresses. We teamed the suits with brown shoes and of course a blush pink tie! We wanted to keep Flynn as close to the groomsmen as possible but were worried he would be too warm with a full suit, his three piece was from Next and I got his bow tie online. His brown brogues were from M&S and were the cutest shoes I have ever seen!

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We chose our photographer because… We chose Emma Russell Photography as our wedding photographer. I adored Emma’s work the moment I saw her pictures, her ability to catch every emotion and detail is astounding! We met one evening and I knew I couldn’t have anyone else take our wedding pictures. We both felt very comfortable with Emma which was important, especially for Chris who is a bit camera shy! I loved the idea of heading off the beaten track for photos and catching the natural feel of the day.

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We chose our venue because… We instantly fell in love with the French country style of the Conyngham Arms. The venue completely suited the style and theme we had imagined for our wedding day. There was a real sense of hidden charm within the Lavender Suite, which has beautiful French doors leading into the gardens. There was so many little features that each time we visited we found something new to fall in love with. There was an intimate feel within the hotel and I knew it was the perfect venue for us. David, the manager who oversaw our wedding was so attentive and everybody commented on the level of service on the day.

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Our wedding theme/colours…   I always knew our wedding would have a nod to a vintage theme but once we had chosen The Conyngham Arms this grew into a French Garden Party theme. We went with a soft colour palette of blush pinks, ivory and golds which really captured the vintage theme. We wanted to hold as much of our reception as possible in the garden, we had our speeches on the steps in front of the French doors, I threw my bouquet from the top of the steps and our drinks reception was also set up in the garden. I tried to incorporate our theme into as many areas of the wedding as possible. My bouquet was made to look like it was handpicked whilst wandering in a garden. The girl’s bouquets were hand tied roses in blush and ivory to incorporate our colour scheme and I used baby’s breath to decorate the tables in the Conyngham Arms. Our cakes took inspiration from our garden theme and my dad (who made all our cakes) created beautiful sugar peonies as cake toppers, all the cakes stood on individual cake stands.

My cousin and bridesmaid Orla spent the week of the wedding with me putting together all the finishing touches, we stuck on flag straws, filled tin buckets with love heart sweets to tie in with our table names, put together bunting and table plans. It was a lot of work but it felt so good to see all elements of our theme come together on the day.

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Our menu… We both come from foodie families so food was a big factor for us. We wanted to offer a choice of mains to our guests and make sure everyone was well fed. The food was delicious on the day and everyone complimented how tasty it was, especially the chocolate brownie.

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My favourite part of the wedding day… All of it! It’s hard to pick one favourite moment as there are so many lovely memories. A lovely surprise on the day was the speech Chris’ sister Olivia made and the poem my brother Ciarán wrote for us, I had no idea that either would do a speech and it was so touching. The feeling of being surrounded by our closest friends and family was really heart-warming. To see everyone enjoy the day we had planned for so long was just the icing on the cake! Oh and the dancing, our band played up a storm and everyone danced their socks off!

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My piece of advice for other brides… Breathe! The day really does go by so fast so it is nice to take some time out and just enjoy the moment.

Suppliers

Wedding venue: The Conyngham Arms Hotel | Wedding photographer: Emma Russell Photography | Bride’s dress: Mori Lee at The Bridal Studio, Drogheda | Bridesmaid dresses: My Fair Lady, Co Monaghan | Invites: Design suite by Makula Stella, Etsy. Printed by Jays Printing.| Bride’s accessories: Jenny Packham | Bride’s headpiece: Debenhams | Flowers: Colette Mc Donnell | Polaroid Guest Book: Ooh la la at Bespoke Wedding Design | Wedding cakes: Gerry Hodgers (Bride’s father) | Wedding band: Shaken Edge | Church singer: Eimear Carroll | Hair : David Murray, Chameleon | Make up: Laura O’ Neill, Adam Gayle salon

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Karen
Former editor, current contributor, (she just can't let go!) Karen enjoys writing fashion but is known to dabble in decor from time to time. Her favourite section on the site is the Real Wedding section, followed closely by the Health & Fitness forums.

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