Hazel and John – by Doreen Kilfeather

Tell us a little about yourselves, what you do, what you love, what is unique about you and your relationship…

John works in property, and I work in marketing. We met at a party when I was 2 and he was 4, but of course we can’t remember that!

I was friends with his little cousin, and we were at her second birthday. We didn’t see each other again for a very, very long time, I knew of him and him of me, but it took a trip to the full moon party in Thailand to be reunited. We had a little kiss that night, but that was it, I continued travelling with my friends, as did he. I moved to Sydney a few years later and spent 4 years there. When I moved home, a friend of mine was in a relationship with one of his friends, we were at another festival, and John talked to me there, and followed up with a Facebook mail on the Monday asking if I would like to go to dinner with him. It wasn’t until 3 months after I said yes, and it has been going on ever since!

We got engaged in the lovely Balyfin Hotel, set at the foot of the Slieve Bloom Mountains in the centre of Ireland. I had absolutely no idea; we set off as we hadn’t been on a relaxed weekend in ages, and he said he just wanted to get away and chill out. So, we set off and I had no idea where we were going, I should have copped it when we arrived at Balyfin that something special was going to happen as it was such a beautiful place. John arranged a horse drawn cart to explore the grounds. During the excursion, when we arrived at the lookout tower, I turned around to John and was slightly emotional as the guide reminded me slightly of my late grandfather, Jimmy, who I was very close to. We halted to a stop to climb the lookout tower, John ran ahead of me, which he always does, so I thought he was just going to jump out to try and give me a fright, but when I got to the top of the tower, he was there on one knee with a ring. I couldn’t stop crying, it really was the most romantic gesture. John had organised a bottle of champagne and strawberries at the top of the lookout, so we sat there and really enjoyed the moment. It was so lovely.

Tell us about your special day, was there a specific theme or style? Tell us a little about the setting, the styling and some of your favourite details…

My style is very simple, classic and cool, with a love of neutral colours. I knew I wanted to stick to this theme throughout our wedding. I tried not to get too bogged down with too many inspiration sources, so I stuck to weddings I had seen — specifically Pernille Teisbaek, the co-founder and creative director at Social Zoo, whose wedding occurred a few months before ours — plus Pinterest, our wedding planner Tara Fay and some online vendors, which were brilliant. I found Pinterest great for inspiration, as I knew I wanted to stick with cool, classic and simple so I could just search those words and get inspiration straight away. Pinterest was also fabulous for wedding invitation inspiration. Just try not to get too bogged down with Pinterest throughout, know your vision and stick to it!

Tell us about your main outfits:

When I was choosing my wedding dress, I went to about five different wedding dress shops. I knew I wanted my true, simple style shine through so I ended up staying true to myself, which I am so thankful of. I was inspired by Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy’s wedding dress, and eventually I found my perfect dress (dress shopping can be daunting but stick with it and go through the process, don’t just say yes to the dress if you really aren’t feeling it! I nearly did that just before I found the dress perfect for me!) I loved the minimalist vibe of the dress, I loved the dramatic length of the train and the beautiful, backless element of it, as well as the button detail that started at the very lower back of my dress right down the train. I dressed it up with a cathedral-length veil for the church ceremony and took it off for a cool, chic look for the reception, dinner and dancing. John wore a tux by Prada, and the guys also wore tuxes as it was a black-tie wedding. The bridesmaids wore Ghost dresses and Zara shoes, and they were gorgeous in them, and the flower girls wore gorgeous dresses from Cyrillus, Zara shoes and beautiful custom-made floral headbands by Appassionata flowers.

What were some of the most memorable/unique moments from the day?

I absolutely loved getting ready in the morning with my amazing mum, my mother-in-law, granny and my bridesmaids. Having a few glasses of champagne and chatting about memories we all had together was truly amazing, and when we were mid-conversation, one of our gorgeous flower girls knocked on the door and handed me a gorgeous gift from my husband-to-be, as well as the most beautiful, emotional and loving letters I have ever read. That really was the start of the tears for the day. I just remember feeling so happy.

The next moment I will hold dear to my heart was sitting in the wedding car beside my dad, I was so emotional and he just held my hand the whole way to the church and we had a lovely chat. I was so nervous walking up the aisle, however, I kept holding my dad’s hand and it was the loveliest feeling, seeing everyone you love there all looking back at you so happy. Then once I got up to John, my husband, and seeing his gorgeous face was just the most amazing feeling! I loved the church, I had wanted to do a humanist wedding years ago, but I really enjoyed the church wedding.

The priest, Father Nash, is close to my husband’s family, and he made the ceremony beautiful and personal and happy. Everyone was laughing throughout, and even in the video everyone looks so happy. My husband had also organised an a cappella group from Trinity College Dublin for our drinks reception. We had them dressed in tuxes too, so when our guests arrived, they were left so shocked had hired them. We caught them off guard just before they left, and we had a singsong in the lobby area with about 20 close family and friends, which just happened so randomly. They were excellent and even sung John and I into the dinner.

Another great memory was the speeches. I was so happy we had a videographer capture all the speeches as they were all so beautiful. We had my husband, dad, dad-in-law and best man speak, and they were amazing. I could have listened to them over and over again!

Once we had finished our meal, we were up dancing. We all love dancing, so we had a great ’80s band called Spring Break. They were great fun and got everyone up and dancing; no matter how young or old our guests were, they got up (that was an amazing memory!). We had also hired a saxophonist and DJ Gordon Johnson for the after party; they worked incredibly well together and we danced the night away!

Any advice for other couples planning to spend the rest of their lives together?

Don’t sweat the small stuff, enjoy every minute, it’s the best adventure you will ever go on!

Photography: Doreen Kilfeather | Ceremony location: Holy Trinity Abbey Church | Reception location: Adare Manor | Videography: Story of Eve | Bride’s outfit: Dress and Veil by Pronovias | Groom’s tuxedo: Dolce and Gabbana | Bride’s shoes: Aquazzura | Makeup: Lyndsey Cavanagh | Hair: Wildflower | Bridesmaid’s outfits: dresses by Ghost, shoes by Zara | Flower girls’ dress: Cyrillus | Entertainment: Trinitones, Spring Break, DJ Gordon Johnson | Planner: Tara Fay | Flora: Appassionata | Catering and beverages: Adare Manor | Cake: made by a friend of the bride | Invitation: Lantz | Stationery: Castletown Press