“We wanted our day to feel like a classic, midsummer wedding with lots of beautiful florals, combined with a mixture of Scottish and Irish elements to reflect where we are both from.”
Names: Claire O’Flynn and Gregg Thomson
Length of engagement: 2 and a half years
Wedding Date: 28th of July 2018
Wedding location: St. Mary’s Cathedral, Killarney and Ballyseede Castle, Tralee – Co.Kerry
Photographer: Into the Light Photography
We met… Gregg and I met on my very first day of work! I had moved from County Cork to Aberdeen, Scotland the day before, in order to begin my first job as a primary school teacher in 2014. Gregg, who is from Glasgow, was teaching in the classroom next to mine and suddenly we were always asking to “borrow” staplers, worksheets – you name it – from each other! Eventually, towards the end of the school year, Gregg had finally plucked up enough courage to ask me out and we have been together ever since.
Our proposal… Gregg surprised me with a proposal on the night I got back home from taking my pupils on a week-long skiing trip to Glenshee in Scotland. I arrived home, exhausted, to our apartment all lit up with candles. Gregg told me to go into one of the rooms where there was a book full of all our memories and photographs he had made himself. On the last page the question “Will you marry me?” was written – and in true teacher style – it asked me to tick the correct answer of yes or no. When I turned around, Gregg was down on one knee with a Haribo ring and gave me a big speech before asking again, just to make sure. We purchased my beautiful pear-shape halo engagement ring from Brereton Jewellers on Grafton Street in Dublin, the following weekend. The part I found the cutest of all though, was that as we were living in Aberdeen at the time, Gregg had actually written a lovely letter to my dad in Cork asking his permission to marry me and wouldn’t propose until he got a response!
Our wedding theme/colours… We wanted our day to feel like a classic, midsummer wedding with lots of beautiful florals, combined with a mixture of Scottish and Irish elements to reflect where we are both from. To achieve this we incorporated Irish and Scottish music into the wedding ceremony which was performed by Sinéad O’Brien, we had Irish dancers perform at the reception followed by a combination of Irish and Scottish ceilí dances for everyone to join in. Our wedding favours included shamrock and thistle shaped shortbread with Baileys and Whiskey flavoured fudge. And of course, the groom and groomsmen all wore traditional Scottish kilts! Our colour theme was mainly a mixture of blush pink, grey and purple – however the flowers also added touches of bright coral pink, plum, red and ivory – along with my mother’s outfit bringing in a hint of duck egg blue! I love the mix of blush pink, grey and purple however I didn’t want the colours to look too muted, hence why we brought in a combination of brighter summery colours – it all turned out so much better than I had imagined and the guests were all raving over how beautiful the flowers were.
Things we DIY’d/made ourselves… With a lot of help from one of my bridesmaids Eilís and mom Deirdre, we made all of the wedding favours ourselves – ensuring that everybody got the correct combination of Irish shamrock shortbread, Scottish thistle shortbread, Irish Baileys fudge and Scottish Whisky fudge, all tied up with our handmade “Love is sweet, thank you for making our day complete” tags, took a lot longer than I first anticipated! We also attached childhood and present day photographs of ourselves to chicken wire love hearts to display at the drinks reception. Gregg made sure that all of the table plan cards were stuck on to the golden gilded mirror (which we brought over on the ferry from Scotland) exactly right and he hasn’t let me forget about all the help he was since!
My dress… I found my Rosa Clará wedding dress at Lilac Rose Bridal Boutique in Limerick. Stacey and Donna were extremely helpful and made the whole experience feel very personal and relaxed. I had gone to four other boutiques but when I tried my dress on in Lilac Rose, I knew it was the one. I originally thought I would like a lace dress, however I tried lots on and something never felt quite right. We eventually came to the conclusion that a more simple, classic style dress suited me the best and we tried to keep the wise words of “you wear the dress, the dress shouldn’t wear you” in mind. The most amazing moment happened with Stacey, as the minute I had said “yes to the dress” the song I knew I was going to walk down the aisle to, “A Thousand Years” came on the radio in the boutique! It was like a sign! Only my mom, godmother and granny had seen the dress before the wedding so it was really special to see the reactions of my dad and bridesmaids on the big day. One of my favourite elements of my outift though was my something blue – in the form of sparkly blue Jimmy Choo heels, fondly dubbed my “Cinderella” shoes.
My hair and make up… Marie Heasman was our make up artist on the day and I have to say she did a fabulous job of keeping us all relaxed, our make up stayed on all day and we received lots of compliments on it from guests, which was so nice to hear. Triona from Instyle Hair Salon, Millstreet and her team did our hair in the morning. Each bridesmaid chose a slightly different upstyle so they all stood out individually. I felt it was important to ensure that each bridesmaid chose their own particular upstyle as I really wanted them to feel happy and comfortable with their appearance on the day – as one size does not always fit all when it comes to upstyles! With all of the excitement I actually forgot to bring my headpiece with me to the hairdressers – but not to worry, my brother Bryan came to the rescue, dropping it in on his way to meet the other groomsmen in Killarney.
His suit and what our bridal party wore… Gregg and the groomsmen, Cameron, Graham and my brother Bryan all wore kilts hired from McGregor and McDuff Kilts in Glasgow. Gregg’s particular tartan was called ‘Scotland Forever’ which I thought was very apt as I am going to be married to a Scottish man forever! Gregg’s tartan was a variety of purple tones and the groomsmen’s tartans were a variety of dark charcoal grey tones. All of the boys wore light charcoal grey tweed jackets and waistcoats, which we all felt was a nice light, fresh colour for a summer wedding and toned in well with the bridesmaids blush pink lace and tulle dresses, which we found in Coast.
Our ceremony… Our ceremony was led by my local priest Fr. Séan Hanafin. Fr. Séan was a huge support to us both throughout the wedding planning process and always had time for a chat on the phone to put any concerns at rest. Throughout the ceremony he kept everyone laughing, while at the same time setting a very calm, meaningful atmosphere. We were absolutely delighted to have Fr. Séan lead the ceremony, it was particularly special for my own family as we have known him since I was a child. Sinéad O’Brien and Michael O’Brien performed the music for the ceremony. We tried to incorporate a few different Irish and Scottish tunes, as well as a couple of other songs we love. Sinéad and Michael’s duet of Pie Jesú definitely brought a tear to my eyes and we were also so happy that we got to include the piano version of “Glasgow Love Theme” which is one of the pieces of music from my favourite film “Love Actually”. It’s also very appropriate as Gregg is from Glasgow! One of the highlights from the ceremony for me was walking down the aisle with Gregg to the very traditional Mendelssohn Wedding March, it was something I had always imagined when I thought about my “dream wedding” as a child. That was then followed by the bells ringing from the cathedral as we walked under the flower arch which was something really special.
We chose our photographer because… Séan and Jared seemed really cool, fun guys who we thought would help to create a relaxed atmosphere on the day, and we must say they definitely delivered on that front! We also thought that their photographs were superior to many others we had looked at online and really suited the style of photography we were looking for, natural and full of light.
We chose our wedding videographer because… Limelight Wedding Video again really seemed to create a relaxed, natural style wedding video which is what we were looking for – we also loved the aerial shots they created using the drone and we just adore our wedding video, I can’t stop watching the mini clip – it encapsulates our day perfectly. The videographers were also so lovely on the day and just blended into the background so we were hardly aware they were filming!
We chose our venue because… Ballyseede Castle was the clear choice for us from the moment we stepped through the door. It is a family run venue and it has such a grand but homely atmosphere. We loved that the venue is so steeped in history and were really grateful to the owners Marnie and Rory who took the time to explain all of its history to us, which was so interesting. The wedding coordinator Ashton was absolutely fantastic helping us to organise all the finer details of the day and made everything so stress-free. We were looking for a venue which was slightly different but still delivered delicous food and excellent service and Ballyseede Castle does just that. One of our favourite things about Ballyseede is that the family Irish Wolfhounds, Shetland ponies and other friendly family pets roam the grounds freely! At one point during our reception the Irish Wolfhounds calmly wandered on to the dancefloor to meet our guests, which was so amazing and unique!
Our menu…The food served at Ballyseede Castle was absolutely delicious, the owners Marnie and Rory did a brilliant job of looking after us on the day and checked in with us regularly to ensure that everyone was happy throughout the meal. We chose for the starter a choice between the Trio of Ballyseede Meats and Trio of Ballyseede Fish – then a choice of Garden Vegetable Soup or Champagne Sorbet – for the main course there was a choice between Prime Fillet of Celtic Roast Beef or Pan-fried Fillets of Baby Sea bass and for dessert we had a miniature summer dessert selection. Our guests are still raving about how amazing the food and wine was from the wedding. We really enjoyed deciding on each layer of our wedding cake. Gary from O’Carroll’s Cakes in Killarney was very professional and let us bring home large samples of the flavours we thought we would like, so that we could share the experience with our family over a cup of tea at home, which is one of my favourite memories from the wedding planning process. We eventually decided on three tiers – one of red velvet sponge with a raspberry and cream centre, one of lemon drizzle and one of Guinness and chocolate with a Bailey’s and cream centre. The outer part of the cake was iced with buttercream icing and decorated with flowers from Tie the Knot Florists.
Our wedding flowers…Tie the Knot Florists from Abbeyfeale, Co. Limerick provided all of the flowers for the day. Danielle and her team were absolutely fantastic throughout the entire planning process. She listened very carefully to all of my suggestions and the décor on the day was more beautiful than I could have ever imagined. The floral arch for the cathedral door was spectacular and my bridemaids and I absolutely loved our bouquets. I adored the cherry blossom trees used to line the aisle in the cathedral and these were transported to Ballyseede Castle to be used for the reception also. Danielle used a mixture of peonies, meijer roses, hypercium, sweet william, wax flower, ammi visnaga and dianthus for my bridal bouquet.
Our stationary… Appleberry Press provided the gorgeous “Botanical” stationary. The peonies and roses on the stationary go perfectly with the colour scheme for the wedding and the staff at Appleberry Press were very accommodating and responsive to any queries that I had during the editing stages.
Our honeymoon… For our honeymoon we stayed in The Trump Soho in New York for seven nights. I had always wanted to go to New York and as Gregg had been there before years ago, he was really excited to show me all the sights. We had an even mix of relaxation by the outdoor pool at our hotel and visiting all of the main attractions, including taking in a Broadway show – had to be done! We had an amazing time and we would love to go back again sometime in the future.
My favourite part of the wedding day…
Favourite Moment Groom:
If I had to pick a favourite moment I would say when the music began in the cathedral and I knew Claire was about to walk down the aisle. It was exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time but it really hit home with me then that the big day had arrived, our families and friends were all around us, we were going to have a great time and all of our hard work planning the wedding had paid off.
Favourite Moment Bride:
The whole day was so special it’s really difficult to pick one favourite moment, but if I had to choose I would say looking around while dancing with my new husband, to see the whole dance floor packed with our families and all of our guests from Ireland and Scotland dancing to some great music performed by our band Flog the Dog. I just felt really grateful for having all of these lovely people as part of our lives and I was so happy to see that everyone was enjoying themselves and having a good time.
My piece of advice for other couples… I would say book all of your major vendors as far in advance as you can to make sure you get the ones that you want. We were lucky in that we had a long engagement so we did manage to book all of the main vendors we wanted, thankfully! Try to stick to what you and your partner would like for your wedding day and try not worry too much about what other people supposedly “expect” – that was probably my downfall in the lead up to the wedding, stressing about if the wedding would live up to my own and other people’s expectations. The dress is just “a” dress that you enjoyed wearing to a big party, you don’t have to see it as “the” dress, it does not define you. As much as you would like to, you cannot control everything about your wedding- so just enjoy your day as it is, in the aftermath focus on the positives and try not to think of anything that went “wrong” – you’re probably the only one who noticed. The absolute most important thing is that you are actually getting married to your best friend, which is amazing!
Ceremony venue: St. Mary’s Cathedral, Killarney | Reception venue: Ballyseede Castle, Tralee | Photographer: Into the Light Photography | Videographer: Limelight Wedding Films | Florist: Tie the Knot Florists, Abbeyfeale | Stationary: Appleberry Press | Musician: Sinéad O’Brien | Band and DJ: Flog the Dog | Hair: Instyle Hair Salon, Millstreet | Makeup: Marie Heasman MUA | Wedding Rings: Aksoy Jewellers, Patricks Street, Cork | Dress: Rosa Clará sourced at Lilac Rose Bridal Boutique, Limerick | Shoes: Jimmy Choo | Suits: McGregor and McDuff Kilt Hire, Glasgow | Bridesmaids dresses: Coast | Cake: O’Carroll’s Cakes, Killarney | Celebrant: Fr. Seán Hanafin
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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.