Rhonda and Azat met for the first time through friends in August 2007 at the Rolling Stones concert at Slane Castle. Little did they know they would be getting married inside the castle four years later!
Their beautiful ceremony and reception was captured by wedding photographer Paul Kelly Studio 3. The humanist wedding ceremony was held in the Ballroom on the ground floor and the reception was in the Phoenix room on the 3rd floor of the castle.
On 21st February 2009, we booked a weekend away to visit my cousin Massi in Rome. I thought it was to celebrate my birthday which was on the 21st Feb. We had planned to stay with Massi , and I thought it was just a normal weekend break away, but it turned out that Azat had been in ca-hoots with my cousin and her boyfriend James and they had planned the whole thing.
On the afternoon of my birthday Azat took me to one of my favourite spots in Rome, Villa Borgese, which is a lovely park overlooking the Spanish steps and Piazza del Popolo, and he proposed sitting on the marble benches in Lover’s Lane. I was completely shocked and by the time it had sunk in we were sitting in a restaurant with live music and a bottle of champagne. Later in the day we met up with family and friends for a celebratory dinner, and then the final surprise came when I found out Azat had checked us into a stunning hotel for the rest of the weekend. I have to say it was my best birthday weekend ever!
One thing I was worried about was hair and makeup and I did a couple of trials but wasn’t completely thrilled with the results, I couldn’t really complain about them because they were fine but I decided to do a couple of more trails to make sure. And I am so glad I did, when I did my trial with Raina from Hair by Raina and make-up artist Ruth Lawlor.
I knew straight away that they knew exactly what I wanted and they were so professional to deal with on the morning of the wedding. All of the bridesmaids and both of our mums were delighted with their hair and make up, so it just put everyone in great form from early in the day.
I spent a few weekends trying on various dresses. I initially thought I knew what style I would go for, which is the mermaid style dress, but I then tried on lots of other options, just to be sure. Eventually I went back to the mermaid style when I found the perfect dress in Kathy De Stafford, it was an off white Pronovias design called Silaba, and I thought the design of the french chantilly lace was just gorgeous . I chose a cathedral length mantilla veil which I absolutely adored wearing on the day, my bridesmaids had to pry it off me before the first dance, as I wanted to wear it for the whole night.
Our florist Jenny from Flowers by Moira really put together the whole floral design concept for me. I am not a flower expert but I knew what I wanted. I requested an elegant and chic design that would be both romantic and look effortless. Jenny was amazing – she came up with a selection of flowers that were perfect. I had requested cream and green flowers, but didn’t necessarily know which flowers I wanted, so Jenny mixed it up with some posed bouquets, and some loose flower displays in simple vases around the castle.
The bouquets were romantic and soft and she even added little details such as black berries in the bridesmaids bouquets to tie in with their dresses. I loved everything she did, especially the 5ft silver candle holders and stands that she used in the ceremony room. She came in on the morning of the wedding and dressed the castle. I hadn’t realised a pinned corsage wouldn’t work on my mum’s dress, so she was able to change it last minute into an around the wrist corsage.
As we were getting married in the ballroom, the ceremony was the most important part of the day for us. We had a humanist blessing ceremony. Brian Whiteside preformed the service, and he was brilliant on the day. I received lots of lovely comments from my family about the service as there were people who had never been to a humanist service before.
We also booked the Dublin String Quartet to play some of my favourite classical pieces, which included Flower Duet, from my favourite movie True Romance and they were so great on the day and worked really well with the Soprano singer Helene Hutchinson. Her voice with the string music was so beautiful and emotional it made the ceremony feel so special to us, and I have to say as a result there were quite a few tears during the ceremony, from both the guests as well as myself.
As the wedding planner in Slane Castle, and having worked with numerous couples over the years, it was a natural choice for Rhonda to choose the stunning venue.
I did worry I might not be able to relax and enjoy the day, but I needn’t have worried, as I enlisted the help of my event manager friend Aisling Hughes to manage the day for me and she was absolutely amazing and took charge of everything on the day. It was so lovely to have my family and friends in the castle to share our special day and they all thoroughly enjoyed the wedding. They were particularly impressed with our menu, as I had worked with our caterers Fitzer’s to design a menu that would work well for both the Irish / Italian and Turkish people attending the wedding.
We booked Paul Kelly for the day, I have worked with lots of photographers over the years, but I love Paul’s style. He is quick and efficient and always manages to put people at ease, and when people are at ease I really think you can see that in the pictures so for me it was a no brainer. Paul out did himself at our wedding though, I have to say he went above and beyond on so many levels to make sure he captured every moment. The weather wasn’t great on the day but that didn’t matter as Paul and his assistant had lots of lovely photos taken in various areas of the Castle. He took a huge amount of images on the day, right up until the end of the night, so it was kind of hard to choose which ones to put in the album but he was really patient with trying different layout options and sending me proof copies. I would highly recommend Paul, he really gives 120% on the day and afterwards.
It was important for me to make use of the castle in a different way to the way most of our clients would use it, so it felt unique to our wedding. As we had 106 guests we decided to only use one half of Burton Hall, so we asked Sharon and her team from Frog Prince Events to build a pipe and drape entrance way and corridor of ivory material and fairy lights, and we used the circular side of the Pheonix room and hired in some par can lights to create a warm amber glow in the room, that worked really well with the 5 arm silver candelabras that we had on the tables.
I was lucky enough to find a range of diamond encrusted candle holders and pillar candle plates from Dunnes Stores so I bought enough to place on the cake table as well as all the dining room tables and a few other areas around the main hall. We also replaced the red seat pads, with Ivory seat pads to create a more neutral feel in the dining room, so the only main colours in the room came from the up lighting around the windows.
The ceremony was the most special moment for us both, but we had so much fun dancing too. Azat is Turkish and his family and best friend had come over from Turkey for the wedding. So we decided to mix up the music with both our Irish band Electric Lemon and Halim the Turkish musician who played a few songs in the middle of the set. All of our guests got really involved and enjoyed trying the traditional Turkish wedding dance. We had so much fun, I remember at one point everyone was still doing the Turkish dance to U2’s ‘where the streets have no name’- it was hilarious!
Electric Lemon were so helpful in letting my cousin sing the first song and Halim do the Turkish tracks, but then they rocked it out for the rest of the evening – they are such an engertic bunch of musicians that they really did make the atmosphere electric in the Ballroom on the night!
Now that she has planned her own wedding, Rhonda has learned some things along the way that she can share with other couples, as the wedding planner in Slane Castle.
I think you have to identify what suppliers are important for the day to you and do a budget up in advance, before you start researching. The one thing that I would say is I was always one of those people who thought the videographer wasn’t an important part of the day, but my husband decided to organise one last minute and we were so chuffed that we did, as it was only after the wedding was over that we realised how quickly the whole day goes by and both myself and Azat missed certain times during the day, so it was great to be able to watch the DVD back and see all the things we missed as well as watch the dancing and funny moments.
Rhonda and Azat’s Wedding Service Providers
Ceremony & Reception Venue: Slane Castle, Co.Meath
Celebrant: Brian Whiteside
Wedding Dress: Kathy De Stafford
Photographer: Paul Kelly Studio 3
Hair: Hair by Raina
Make-up: Ruth Lawlor
Florist: Flowers by Moira
Ceremony Music: Dublin String Quartet
Ceremony Singer: Helene Hutchinson
Caterers: Fitzer’s Catering
Décor: Frog Prince Events
Band: Electric Lemon