Our real wedding couple Anna and Conor, celebrated with a magnificent wedding day full of personal elements, creative DIY, and an abundance of vibrant colour! The most precious detail of this whimsical day is that it took place at Anna’s family lakeside home in Co. Down, brought to life to reflect their lust for life, dancing, and of course their unique style. We promise whether you’re planning a marquee wedding, a county house celebration, or outdoor nuptials – prepare to fill your Pinterest board with imagery from this delightful day. Paula Gillespie captured the magic, so enjoy these gorgeous photos below!
This love story first began when Conor moved home from South Africa and Anna had just moved back to Northern Ireland after working in England for a few years. “We met on the old faithful, Tinder! Anna was forced to widen her search radius to the maximum distance and luckily that included Donaghadee! We met up pretty quickly and our first date was on a sunny evening at a beach near Strangford,” they say. Conor arrived having just run up the mammoth Mournes and Anna arrived in her old yellow mini skirt – much to her sister’s dismay! “We dandered, drank cider, ate buns and went for a dip! The rest is history and probably less romantic!”
We love colourful bridal shoes! The aesthetic of this vibrant home wedding was bursting to the brim with personality, creativity and a lot of DIY! “We are both pretty relaxed, and we just wanted a relaxed day. Anna is a big fan of colour and likes a bit of chaotic clashing – so we had a bit of colour and lots of flowers!” says Conor.
The garden floral selection was all homegrown, then bunched beautifully together by her florists, to create bouquets for the bride and bridesmaids. Anna even had a flower crown made for her gorgeous pup Basil to wear around his neck. There is lots more inspiration to come, you’ll see same gorgeous wildflower style on the dinner tables!
When Anna set out to find her perfect wedding dress, she wanted to ensure she would feel 100% like herself and not interfere with her love for dancing – meaning no long train! “I found the dress in Phase Eight and then a friend chopped the top off and amazingly made a different top half. I wanted fun and practical as there was a lot of dancing to be done! I did a dress change in the evening for the ceilidh, which was sweaty dance work. I ordered a sequin jumpsuit from a great company called Rosa Bloom! It was unbelievably comfy and I adored it as much as my dress and it allowed a lot of high kicking!” she laughs.
We adore the blue bridesmaid dresses, in a classic milkmaid style with delicate button detail. The flowers are pop against the shade magically! “I wanted dresses that were a vibrant colour and that suited everyone! I also only wanted the girls to wear a dress that they would wear again. As for the shoes, the bridesmaids wore their own. There were no criteria, other than being comfy!” says Anna.
As for the idyllic lakeside location, which is totally giving us vibes from The Notebook, it’s actually Anna’s family home. The couple describes what made them choose it for their dream wedding day: “It’s a pretty special place and we were so fortunate that the sun shone and we were able to get married outside. We had back-up plans if it was raining, but thankfully they weren’t needed. It did take a lot of planning, and I do think we were probably a bit naive! But it was worth the work in the end,” says Conor.
Basil, the couple’s dog was very much a part of the wedding and brought a smile to everyone’s face as he walked up the aisle with the bridal party. “He is a bit of a character and loves a party, so he had to get an invite! He ended up being the ring bearer last minute unknown to me – which was slightly unnerving as we got married beside a lake that doubles up as a Basil private swimming pool!” they add.
A very special moment for Anna during the ceremony was having her grandparents attend the celebration. “My granny did a reading at our ceremony and at 92 she stole the show and I will always remember it!” she says. “Conor’s mum read Love is Like a Bicycle which was just so perfect. On our second date we rode a tandem bike through Donaghadee, and much to my surprise I turned up in a leopard print all in one unprepared for the activity! I really liked this ceremony reading because it felt personal to us as we still enjoy a spin on the tandem from time to time.” And guess what, the famous tandem bike appears later in the evening!
When planning their dreamy garden wedding at home, the most important elements were good food, plenty of wine and non-stop dancing! “We had the best day and the dancing was out of this world, we loved all the small businesses that helped us along the way, it made everything feel personal! As someone who doesn’t really like having their photo taken, I was a bit anxious at the prospect of a day full of having to pose for photos. Paula was amazing and made us feel relaxed and was more efficient than the word efficient itself! We have so many unreal photos and spent so little time away from the party for photos on the day. She was so good at getting everyone together and took no nonsense – Paula for president!” says Anna.
We must shine the focus on the ever-so-stylish gentlemen of this wedding party. The groomsmen opted for a laid-back look of an open collarless shirt, khaki trousers and braces – that leant into the rustic vibe of the wedding! The groom wore a smashing green suit, pairing it with a quirky bow-toe and wildflower buttonhole. The perfect summer-garden wedding party attire!
Like all wedding planning, seeking advice from your trusted suppliers is imperative. But as for Anna and Conor, who took on a lot more being at home, they have advice for those who may be thinking of going down the same marquee hire route: “I think with hindsight it can be quite stressful planning your own wedding start to finish. At times we definitely got caught up with a few minor things, like what kind of toilets we should hire for the day! At one point Conor was researching DIY compost toilets. Thankfully we didn’t have to go to such drastic measures. We just hired bog-standard (pardon the pun) blue portaloos. We hated the thought of spending an absolute fortune on one day. Thankfully with a bit of planning, we were able to pull some family and friends together who helped with lots of the finer details in the build-up to the day and helped to keep our costs down.”
“In the planning, we discussed what we wanted most from our wedding, and that was a relaxed feel to the day with top food and a banging dancefloor. As a result of this, we prioritised our budget towards food and music. We were so fortunate to have had so much help, if you’ve got friends and family who may be able to lend a hand we would highly recommend it. We found the few days setting up with all of our pals almost as fun as the day itself. We were lucky enough to have almost 12 months to plan and prepare. We could tick off most of the larger things like food, music and outfits early on. This allowed us plenty of time to have fun with the finer things like invites and details for the tables.” they say.
Some of the delightful DIY decor was handmade with love by the couple’s amazing troop of friends and family. There was a photo station where guests posed for polaroids and pinned the fun images to a board, along with a creative table plan made from pegs and of course not forgetting the whimsical decor inside the wedding marquee! They gathered ivy the day before the wedding and cable-tied it along with fairy lights inside the marquee. Anna had bought lots of bright cardboard and paper decorations from several places and used them to hang the ivy. A Pinterest-worthy board in the making!
Conor’s sister made the giant disco ball which went down as a huge hit and a was prize feature on the dance floor!
The tablescape, made up of adorable floral bottles and wildflowers in vases was arranged by family and friends the days before. “We went for wildflower arrangements along the tables which was actually a really fun day-before activity! As for the cutlery and plates, we tapped into all of our family and friends’ cupboards and borrowed all the plates and cutlery which meant it was all miss matched – which we loved!” say the newlyweds.
As the summer sun set, the music began to play and it was time for Anna and Conor to share their first dance. With their zest for life, it’s no surprise that they picked an uplifting song to start the dancing, Your Love Keeps Lifting Me Higher. A quick dancefloor break, and dress change for the bride in an incredible blue sequin playsuit, so she could join the ceili dancing and kick away to her heart’s content, then a tandem ride around the grounds on the very same bike they went on their second date for fun. That all sounds like hungry work so everyone was delighted to see a local pizza truck pulling up later on in the night.
The wedding celebration didn’t end there, the next day the newlyweds made a weekend out of it and ordered lots of pastries. “After a mass tidy up, we tucked into a mountain of croissants and had the most epic slip and slide! It was nearly as much fun as the day before! For us, the important bit was having our support and party crew there. We both went to university in England and lived there for a while so we had lots of friends who travelled which was so special!”
A very, very special thank you to the lovely pair, Basil of course and Paula Gillespie for allowing us to show off this epic garden home wedding day with One Fab Day!
Are you thinking of a Northern Irish wedding? We have real weddings for inspiration and magical northern venues for you to explore, from Big Impact Small Venues to Amazing Civil Ceremony Spots!