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Joanne & David’s Beautiful Bellingham Castle Wedding by Peter Rowen

“David popped ‘The Question’ with a marshmallow flump made out of clay that he had ordered from Etsy!”

The couple: Joanne Maxon & David Wardlow
Length of engagement: 9 months | Wedding date: 2nd November 2016
Wedding Ceremony: Swords Baptist Church, Swords | Venue: Bellingham Castle
Photographer: Peter Rowen Photography

We met… With a little encouragement and gentle pushing from friends we each created profiles on an online dating agency. After two weeks of emailing back-and-forth, we met up on Valentine’s day (the only Saturday that we were both free for coffee!) We chatted for over three and a half hours and as they say “the rest is history…”

Our proposal… After a particularly busy period in work we had planned a weekend away in Sligo. We had just arrived back from a nice walk and flopped on the couch in our little cottage. David popped ‘The Question’ with a token ring (a marshmallow flump made out of clay that he had ordered from Etsy). We kept the proposal to ourselves for a week as we picked and ordered a ring together, since we knew our parents would be together on Mothers’ day. So just before dessert on Mothers’ day we announced the “souvenir” we had brought back from Sligo. It was very special waiting to tell both families together – especially since they live two hours away from each other!

My dress… Well… My sister was also getting married earlier in the year – so we went dress shopping for her in England where she lives. I wasn’t intending to get anything for myself on that trip, but we had some extra time in a shop and I tried on a few dresses. When I tried on the second dress, I cried – this was the one! We were in an outlet store where you could just take the dress away then and there, so I came back to Ireland with an extra suitcase! I’m thankful to my in-laws for storing it for the next few months so that I didn’t keep looking at it and trying it on every night.

Our wedding theme/colours… I love pastels! Anything pink and purple… As it was a winter wedding we went with a mauve purple. The bridesmaids dresses were both from the High Street, which made shopping an easy task. The girls looked stunning and the gowns suited both my bridesmaids.

My hair and makeup… My mom’s hairdresser – Claire Allan Hair in Lusk – always does a great job so I went for a trial with her. She did exactly what I wanted and it was great to have her in the house the morning of the wedding. For my makeup my friend recommended a local woman – Karen Bowers from At Home Pampering. She also came down two days before my Big Day to pamper us with pre-wedding manicures. I received many compliments and the make-up stayed on all day!

Our ceremony… We really enjoyed picking songs and readings for our ceremony. We included friends and family in the service for the music group, greeters and readings. It was very special to have so many people involved.

We chose our photographer because… Peter (Peter Rowen Photography) had previously worked at both a friend’s and a weddingonline staff member’s wedding and I was amazed by how natural the shots were. Thankfully he was available and so we were able to book him. He was so much fun to have around on the day and we are very happy with the end result to treasure for years to come.

We chose our venue because… I (Joanne) had been to Bellingham Castle with work not too long before we met each other. I was just amazed how lovely and cosy the castle was (you’d think a castle would be cold!) and to top it off the food was yummy and the staff just couldn’t do enough for you. David is from Belfast and our wedding ceremony took place in Swords, so the fact that Bellingham was on the way back home for his guests was the icing on the cake. It was the only venue we viewed – David was sold when he saw it!

His suit… David’s brother was married a few years back and used SD Kells in Newtownards. We decided to buy the groom’s and the bridal party’s suits instead of renting them.

Our menu… We knew the food was tasty so this wasn’t very hard to choose. We stayed safe enough with duck spring rolls and soup to start, followed by a choice of beef, chicken or sea bass. Our guests couldn’t get over how they could just place their food order and even specify what way they would like your beef to Bellingham Castle’s waiting staff on the day. Especially the Northern guests who are used to stating what meal they want months in advance whenever they RSVP to a wedding.

Our honeymoon… We had two! We went to Solis Lough Eske for a few days ‘mini-moon’ after the wedding. We were treated like royalty from the moment we entered the castle. Then it was back to work for three weeks before heading off to New Zealand for a three week break to both the North and South Islands. The Kiwi scenery is breathtakingly picturesque. To top off our time away we attended a good friend’s wedding in Cooper’s Beach in the North Island. A sunny beach ceremony in December is a bit different to what we’re used to in Ireland! But we loved celebrating with them, and we made it back home just in time for Christmas to a colder climate and a warm open fire.

My favourite part of the wedding day… I loved walking back down the aisle as husband and wife to the Lego Movie song – everything is awesome when you’re part of a team! And our first dance: David is known for never getting up on the dance floor, but in a display of true love he took dance lessons with me so that we could get up on the day in front of family and friends and shock them all. Even if his line now on dancing is that it was “One time and one time only!”

My piece of advice for other brides… Enjoy every minute; it all goes by so quickly. We didn’t stop smiling the whole day. Don’t worry about not speaking to everyone, they understand!


Venue: Bellingham Castle | Photographer: Peter RowenVideographer: Quinn Video | Hair: Claire Allen | Makeup: Karen Bowers from At Home Pampering | Flowers: Little Daisy | Wedding Cake: Our friends Heather & Anne | Suits: SD Kells – Newtownards | Band: Springbreak | Mini Moon: Lough Eske Castle

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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.

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