“Although I loved the dress, I wanted to be absolutely sure before committing to it. I must have tried on pretty much every dress in the store before coming back to the one that I had originally fallen in love with!”
– Marianne, on finding her perfect Jenny Packham gown
Length of engagement: 2 years | Wedding date: 30th March 2012
Wedding venue: Castle Leslie Estate, Glaslough, Co. Monaghan
Photographer: Brenda McGuire Photography
We met… We met on 21st January 2004 on a night out while we were both students at Bath University. After swapping numbers, we enjoyed quite a few days and nights out as friends. We found it so easy to talk to each other and would sit for hours upon hours talking about nothing in particular. After a few weeks of friendship, Rich let me know his true feelings by sending me a big bunch of flowers and taking me out for our first proper date.
“We were friends for a few weeks before we let our feelings for one another surface but
in that time I discovered a person who was both my polar opposite and my perfect match.”
– Rich on getting to know Marianne
Rich’s first impressions of Marianne… My first impression of Marianne was that she was smart and down to earth as well as an obvious beauty. I found it so easy to talk to her that on the day we met, we ended up chatting well into the next morning. We were like chalk and cheese but I loved her accent, was intrigued by her culture and background and I can remember feeling genuine excitement at the simple thought of getting to know her better. I loved how friendly she was to everyone, her caring and upbeat nature was infectious. We were friends for a few weeks before we let our feelings for one another surface but in that time I discovered a person who was both my polar opposite and my perfect match.
Marianne’s first impressions of Rich… My first impression of Rich was that he was easy to get along with and very good looking. He was also gentlemanly and was always very well dressed and had a clean cut look, which was quite a rarity among the student population of our university! I liked his confidence and accent, but above all, I thought he was really genuine, caring and had a great sense of humour – I was very much drawn to him.
Our proposal… In late December 2009, Rich surprised me with a romantic night away at the stunning Thornbury Castle near the Cotswolds. It was under the premise of a Christmas treat as we were not spending Christmas together as I was going back to my family in Co.Tyrone. I was astounded at the room that we received, which was so large it had two huge fireplaces and an enormous four poster bed. We popped open the Champagne that was provided and settled down before the huge roaring fire and admired our room. It was then that Rich said he’d like to give me my Christmas card as we wouldn’t see each other on Christmas day. I opened up the card, which read ‘To my fiancé’. I laughed and pointed out that I was his girlfriend, not fiancé. He responded “we will have to do something about that then” before getting down on one knee and presenting a beautiful ring. I shed a few happy tears and completey forgot to say yes!
“I laughed and pointed out that I was his girlfriend, not fiancé.
He responded ‘we will have to do something about that then'”
– Marianne, talking about how Rich popped the question
Our wedding theme/colours… Our wedding theme was elegant and vintage, with subtle elements of 1920’s Hollywood for the bride. The colour scheme was dark purples, which perfectly matched the venue’s antique décor.
Our ceremony… We decided to have our ceremony at Castle Leslie, which was absolutely perfect. The room was beautiful and there was no need to rush from home to the church to the reception venue. I simply got ready in the stunning light and airy Mauve Room in the castle and Rich got ready in the more masculine Red Room. Traditional Irish music was played during the ceremony by the very talented harpest Eimear Hughes.
We chose our photographer because… We didn’t want all of our wedding photos to be overly posed. Researching photographers online we decided we really liked the “fly on the wall” approach – capturing people in real situations to keep the photos very natural. Brenda McGuire’s portfolio demonstrated just that and we certainly made the right choice. She was very professional and easy to talk to on the day, offering direction but also letting us input ideas into the photos. We were delighted with the end results.
“She was very professional and easy to talk to on the day, offering direction but also letting us input ideas into the photos.
We were delighted with the end results.”
-Marianne, on photographer Brenda McGuire
Our favourite part of the wedding day… There are so many good parts of the wedding day we couldn’t possibly choose just one. The whole day was perfect.
My dress… I originally tried my Jenny Packham dress on in Blush Belfast and fell in love with the simple and elegant style. It exuded 1920’s old Hollywood glamour when teamed with the fur shrug, which was exactly the type of look that I was going for. Although I loved the dress, I wanted to be absolutely sure before committing to it. I loved Jenny Packham’s range, so decided to go to her flagship store in Belgravia, London. The shop was filled with dresses exactly suited to my taste and I must have tried on pretty much every dress in the store, before coming back to the one that I had originally fallen in love with.
We chose our venue because… We took an enormous amount of time choosing our venue. We searched online and visited many places throughout Ireland before falling head over heels in love with Castle Leslie. Having visited other castles in our search, Castle Leslie stood out because it kept its old world grandeur. Each room was filled with antiques and outside there was a beautiful lake, perfect for photographs.
“Each part of our wedding was held in a unique room: we had our canapé reception in the conservatory,
opening onto the beautiful lake and gardens. We held dinner in the gallery, with its stunning long tables
which made the meal feel like an ancient feast, and our afternoon entertainment
was held in the more modern marquee.”
-Marianne on why Castle Leslie Estate was the perfect wedding venue
Our venue (cont.)… We were also really drawn to the castle’s quirky history and decor. For instance, the castle homed the very first club night in Ireland and in the Red Room there is a large throne toilet. The owners also make no secret of the fact they think the castle is haunted – which was a talking point amongst guests at the wedding, especially between those staying overnight.
Our honeymoon… We both really like travelling off the beaten track and wanted to have a real adventure on our honeymoon. Borneo jumped out to us as it offered so many things: tropical climate, sandy beaches, culture, adventure and unrivalled nature and wildlife. We based ourselves for two weeks at the 5* Shangri-La Rasa Ria in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Borneo. From there we enjoyed lazy days on the beach and visited many local sites, such as Mount Kinabalu, the highest mountain in South East Asia.
“We wanted to have a real adventure on our honeymoon!”
During the second week of our honeymoon, we flew to Lahad Datu before taking a three hour dirt road journey for our three day break at The Danum Valley Eco Lodge. Accommodating a maximum of 60 people, it is the only tourist accommodation in the Danum Valley, which is commonly known as the oldest rainforest in the world. There we enjoyed trekking through the untouched rainforest while spotting endangered wildlife such as the Orangutan and Proboscis monkey. It truly was an unforgettable and once in a lifetime experience.
My piece of advice for other brides… I think the best advice that we were given was to take ten minutes out with your new spouse every few hours just to take it all in. We sneaked off to somewhere quiet on a few occasions just to take a breather from all the chaos and to have a moment alone. We’re both really glad we took that time, as it’s so easy to spend the evening talking to guests and not to each other.
|Photographer: Brenda McGuire Photography|
Venue: Castle Leslie Estate, Monaghan
Bride’s dress: Jenny Packham, Belgravia, London
Bride’s headpiece/cuff/earrings: All Jenny Packham, Belgravia, London
Bride’s shawl: Blush, Belfast
Bride’s shoes: Jimmy Choo, Bond Street, London
|Videographer: DC Media|
Bridesmaid dresses: Holywood Brides, Holywood, Belfast
Groom’s suit: Geeves and Hawkes, Saville Row, London
Groomsmen’s suits: Simon Carter London
Harpest: Eimear Hughes
Flowers: Victoria Gault, Belfast
By Karen Birney
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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.