Tell us a little about yourselves, what you do, what you love…

I’m Sarah, a 30 year old Self-employed wedding and event Florist from Ireland. I am a mum of four beautiful girls, all under the age of 10, who I am insanely jealous of as I always wanted a sister but didn’t have one. They have 3 sisters each! No fair! They are my muse and inspiration; they are what drives me to do well in my business. As does my new Husband Tiarnán. It’s odd referring to ourselves as ‘newlyweds’ as we have basically been each other’s family since we started dating at the age of 16. Childhood sweethearts. Tiarnan is my person. He supports me in everything I do and is the best father to our girls. 

When I’m not working weddings or in the studio, the family and I enjoy time out in nature, long walks, we hit a different Forrest Park or nature reserve each Saturday, spend time in the garden. We cook and eat together. We eat out more than we should big foodies in our house, even the kids. I have a home studio in a converted section of our garage where I work from. Wedding floristry is a huge part of my business, prep takes place each week in the studio where the older girls are now able to help with conditioning the flowers, washing buckets etc and I teach them a few techniques here and there. It’s a privilege to be able to work so close to home, it allows my kids to be a part of what I do, not only to see and learn about work ethics, but to have the space and freedom to explore their own creativity. 

When we are setting up or collecting from a wedding venue, they are often with us, and as babies they were always with us in the sling, no matter where we went. Which Forest Park we visit of a Saturday is often determined by how close it is to the venue we are collecting from. So, I would say that my family and I are very familiar with the celebration of marriage and weddings overall. The payoff for this, we realised later, that when it came to our big day, the four girls were comfortable, they knew the drill, they had seen it many times, knew what was expected of them, were so exceptionally well behaved (Tiarnan and I were both so pleasantly surprised by this) and were exemplary Flower girls. Most importantly they enjoyed every minute of the day. 

How/where/when did you meet – and what were your first impressions?

Tiarnan and I met when we were youngsters, around 13 years old, we both grew up in a small town where all the alternative kids had joined forces to create one group of misfit friends. If you were a dude with long hair, a chick with piercings or simply loved heavy metal, you were in. of course we were part of this group. And still are very close friends with many of the old gang to this day. When we first met, I was initially drawn to Tiarnan’s best friend Paddy haha but that would never have worked out. Funny enough Paddy was Tiarnans best man at our wedding. My first impressions of Tiarnan were that he was very calm and collected for a lad his age. He was quiet, didn’t feel the need to demand attention from the group when speaking, but, when he did speak, he would say something so clever and hilarious that we would all be buckled over in fits of laughter. When you are a teenager, you don’t intend to or even want to find and start dating the person you are going to marry. Plus, when you are friends with someone first, its riskier right? More to lose. But, when two people are as well matched as tiarnan and I, it’s hard to hold back, hard to resist. Looking back, I think I knew that as soon as we connected romantically, that we would be inseparable. We held out for a little white and finally, At the grand old age of 16!!! We had our first kiss. And the rest is ancient history. 

When did you first realise that this was someone you’d like to spend the rest of your life with? 

As we have been together since we were teenagers, Tiarnan and I have pretty much grown up together. We have supported each other through different stages of life, finishing high school, going to university, discovering our trades all whilst welcoming our daughters into the world. Our own separate home lives as teenagers were both less than ideal, however, strangely we both had similar experiences, just in separate households. Because of this we were well equipped to offer support and understanding to each other, and naturally for me, Tiarnan became the meaning of the words ‘home’ and ‘family’. There was never any doubt that I wanted to spend my days with Tiarnan; the topic of marriage, however, wasn’t high on the agenda for a long long time for one reason or another. 

My life has been hectic in my 20s to be honest. I have basically been continuously pregnant or breastfeeding for the best part of a decade. We took on a derelict building in our early 20s which we renovated and made into our home, it’s still a work in progress. The house project sucked up a lot of our time, money and focus for many years. This, plus work and business as well as running around after 4 little ones to school, clubs, sports and playdates meant there was little to no time or energy to even consider getting married let alone take on the mammoth task of planning a wedding. That was, until lockdown happened.

Was there a proposal? Tell us a little about it…

During lockdown, both of our jobs came to a standstill. Suddenly, we had all of this free time on our hands. It was time to reflect and settle our brains after a crazy busy few years. Time to get life in order, proposing to Sarah became my main priority. I set the wheels in motion and as soon as I had secured the perfect emerald and diamond ring, I planned the proposal. I wanted it to be a complete surprise for Sarah. She wasn’t expecting it and I wanted to keep it that way. Of course, there were no hotels and restaurants opened and flying abroad to pop the question was off the table with the shut down on international travel.

A garden renovation had been our lockdown project, we had spent all summer there and it was a source of much joy, allowing us to meet our friends and family safely outdoors. It was perfect. I waited until all the kids and Sarah herself were asleep, when I went about setting up the area. Candles, table for two set up for breakfast, sound system and the firepit lit. I woke Sarah early, around 5am, we both went outside in our pjs, and I led her down a path of burning tealights to the garden. Pink Floyd ‘wish you were here’ was playing and beside the open fire, I got down on one knee and proposed. She listened very carefully and didn’t answer straight away, she wanted to hear every word that I had to say. Of course, she agreed, and we shared a dance right there on the patio. We celebrated with some gifts, eggs benedict and a bottle of fizz as we watched the sunrise come up across the field behind our house. The kids woke up at 8am and joined the fun. At least wee got a few special hours alone to take it all in. We agreed to get married within the year, and that we did. 

Tell us about the vision you had for the mood or style of your wedding…

We knew that we wanted to get married within the year and didn’t want a long proposal. We wanted a venue that had an interesting history, was old and with a Grande air about it but not too pristine, Durhamstown Castle was ideal. I fell in love with the front facade of the castle building. The shape of the sash windows, of many different sizes, the crumbling stone, the hollowed turrets and blanket of shrubbery hugging the walls. This inspired me and we decided that the front lawn would be the ceremony site with the castle itself standing proud as the backdrop to out nuptials. 

Tiarnan the groom is a huge fan of Bram Stokers Dracula. When visiting the venue on one occasion, a heavy fog lay over the castle grounds. It was spooky, like a scene from the movie. From there we were inspired to roll with a romantic, vampy theme for the styling. I was starting to see more gothic/vampy designs on fashion blogs too and had a light bulb moment of wanting a very modern take on sexy, vampy, Victorian drama. Drama – veil, cellists. And somehow translate this into a summer wedding. Blood red roses were used in abundance to create a sexy, romantic atmosphere on the lawn. I clashed the reds with some shocking pinks and a pop of lilacs to help the colour pallet resonate with the summer season. 

Another element to the styling was our culture and heritage. We are both Irish, born in Ireland. Tiarnan also has Italian blood on his father’s side, so we wanted to include a mixture of both Celtic Irish and Italian wedding traditions in the day. Irish influence: Celtic hand fasting with ribbons during our ceremony. Our table plan/table names for guests were given the names of Irish myths and legends, the bedtime stories which we read to our girls daily, such as ‘The children of Lir’ and ‘Tir Na N’og’ For the styling we had hand painted Italian stationary (angella Mugnai), we used Italian patterned linens. We opted for a Traditional italian wedding cake Mille Fuille which Tiarnan made himself. It was topped with an original vintage cake toper from the 1950’s which was gifted to us by the Groom’s father. 

Tell us about your main outfits, what was unique, is there a story?

Well, we got engaged and booked everyone during lockdown. Planning a wedding during lockdown wasn’t wasn’t an issue for the most, except for when we needed to sort our clothes. Most shops and bridal boutiques were closed. And I was faced with the decision of holding out until they reopened (which no one knew when that would be) and risk it not being made in time for the wedding. Or kind of guess what would suit me and order without trying on. 

I was very open minded about what I would wear, nothing was off the table to begin with but as the styling ideas developed in my head over time, what I wanted became more clear. This was the brief that I had given myself for my dress:

luxury once in a lifetime fabric,  vampire/Victorian influences without a high neck, could be reworn after the wedding, interesting shapes, versatile, flattering to my shape as I am a curvy UK size 18. 

I was on the look out for inspiration on fashion blogs when I seen that Annika Maria was featured, I clicked on her Instagram grid and feel in love. Every piece she makes is interesting and off beat. Each piece had an interesting shape and many of her designs were made as separates which could be mixed and matched. The Claire gown was the dress I chose. When I seen it, I couldn’t believe how it fit the brief perfectly. Those long Victorian buttoned cuffs, balloon, slouched sleeves, deep plunge neckline to translate into summer, beautiful crepe silk fabric, with the most elegant white piping, a long kimono style self tie belt and peplum back of the jacket to pinch in the waistline. It was perfect. I booked a zoom call with Annika as she was in Germany and I in Ireland, in the height of lockdown, there was no way we could meet in person for fittings, but I just had such a great feeling about the dress, I knew it was for me. Annika gave me the option of making the dress as a two piece, separate skirt and jacket, which could be fasted together for the wedding day, but worn as separates thereafter.  The buttoned front meant that they could be opened or closed depending on how much leg I wanted on show. It was just so versatile and when I realised that the dress could be made in time for the wedding it was all systems go. I sent Annika a lot of body shots and we had a zoom call where she talked my bridesmaid Niamh through the measuring process. Some of my friends and family thought I was crazy, spending thousands of pounds on a dress I had never even tried on. And I guess that is crazy, but hey, we were living in crazy unprecedented times with covid 19 and never-ending lockdowns. For me this was a positive distraction and I trusted Annika whole heartedly. Sure enough when the dress arrived, It was every bit as superb as I had expended. Exquisitely made and the most precious piece of clothing I have or ever will wear. I have made it clear to my family that when I die, I want to be Buried in my wedding dress. I loved it so much. 

In addition, I commissioned a custom veil from Sandra Blue Meadow Bridal. The brief was: drama, Dracula’s Bride, Go big or Go home, costume, ruffles and length. Boy did she live up to the brief. We both agreed to be brave, Sandra just went for it, She knocked it out of the park. It was quite a statement piece and a bold move. But I’m so glad we did it. I wore it the whole day, even for dancing, it felt amazing. When People talk about the day, they always mention my veil and I will be buried in it too. 

What was one element you were happy to splurge on?

Being a florist, naturally I wanted an abundance of flowers at my own wedding. The days leading uo to the wedding felt like Christmas to me. Finally I had a budget to blow on whichever flowers I wanted, I didn’t have to fit anyone’s brief other than my own. I could order flowers that I never had before. It was great and I don’t begrudge one penny. A florist friend Hollie was a great help with all the floral prep the day before the wedding. I couldn’t have done it on time without her. 

Photographer – Kat Mervyn is a friend of ours and in our opinion the best in the business when it comes to shooting weddings. When we booked our wedding, she was the first person we reached out to for availability. If she wasn’t free, we would have changed the date to suit her, that’s how important it was for Kat to shoot our day. The photos speak for themselves. Worth every Penny. 

Did anything happen on your wedding day that you laugh about in hindsight (even if it was stressful at the time)?

As Sarah and I were both heavily involved in the styling aspects of the day, it was all hands on deck on the morning of the big day. Setting out flowers, chairs etc was all planned for but could not be done any earlier than the day itself. I thought baking my own wedding cake was a good idea. I made an Italian Mille foglie, which had to be pipped and assembled as close to being eaten as possible. So there I was, after all the heavy lifting to set up the ceremony space, covered in sweat, trying to assemble the cake on a roasting hot day, 30 minutes before I was due to get married. Looking back now, that was crazy. 

During Sarah’s speech, one of the candles tipped over on the sweetheart table tipped over and set light to our tablecloth. The crowd gasped panic ensued, I reached forward and doused the flame with a menu. Sarah made a joke that the fire was ignited by my burning loins from under the table. Our guests irrupted with laughter haha. We took it in our stride. 

My best man Paddy presented me with a skateboard during his speech. I couldn’t resist jumping on and trying out a few tricks right there on the dancefloor. As I jumped on the board, Paddy’s face went white with worry, he almost fainted. I landed the jump luckily, but what he told me afterwards was that the wheels and trucks hadn’t even been tightened as it was brand new haha!! It could have been a disaster.  

Did you have a registry?

We did not have a traditional wedding list as we have lived together for over 10 years and so have collected most of what we need. Tiarnán and I sent gifts to each other’s on the morning of the wedding amidst all the madness, we made sure to take a few moments of quiet to open some gifts and read a personal note from each other.

One of the gifts given to me by Tiarnán was a silk scarf from Eadach by Sarah O’Neill called ‘The Messenger’ which is very beautifully made, and I had wanted one of her pieces for a while. Her prints are often in reference to Irish mythology and symbolism, and this is something that we and our daughters have a great interest in. Our four daughters are named after Ancient Irish Goddesses and faeries. 

Ceremony + Reception Location: Durhamstown Castle, Ireland | Videographer: Darragh Haddock – Forever Endeavour Films | Photographer: Kat Mervyn Photography | Celebrant: Dr William Collins, Humanist | Entertainment: Ceremony music: The Cellists; Evening Music: Beatclub | Styling: Bride, Myrtle and Thorn | Table plan stationary, placemats, decorative candles and napkins: Angela Mugnai Emporium | Tall pink tapered candles: Ester and Erik | Ribbons for Hand tying: Silk and Purl | Signage: DIY | Vintage sofa: Venues | Flora: Bride, Myrtle and Thorn | Catering + Beverages: Venue | Cake: Groom, Bacchus Bread and Pastry Ltd | Stationery: Bride + Bridesmaid | Attire: Annika Maria Shiobal | Groom’s Attire: Twisted Tailor | Groom’s Pussy Bow: Bride | Rings: FYM Jewellery Design, Georgia USA | Bride Shoes: Oasis Fashion | Groom Shoes: Dr Martens | Custom veil: Sandra at Blue Meadow Bridal | Brides other rings: Fiyah Pulse ring | White milk Ring made by Precious By Kerry | Makeup: Carla Bailie | Hair: Sarah Little – Oh So Boho Hair | Brides Nails: Reality Beauty By Jane | Tanning: Nuala Corry Browz n’ Bronze | Fragrance: Gucci Bloom | Bridesmaid dresses: Asos Edition | Bridesmaid shoes: Topshop | Bridesmaids clips: Oliver Bonas | Best man suit: Asos

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