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Real Weddings

When faith, hope and love collide…

As a photographer we get involved in the happiest and saddest of times. From the joy of a newborn – to tears brought back from photographs of love ones since departed,  the roller-coaster of emotions is part of what makes this job an exhausting yet wonderful way to make a living.

And never was that more true than Aaron & Jenni’s wedding. I went to university with Jenni, yet as is so often the way we hadn’t seen each other in many years. So I was delighted to hear she was engaged – and even more delighted that she trusted me to capture the day.

 

I hadn’t realised that Jenni’s health ‘hadn’t been great’ (her words not mine – a massive under-statement). Indeed, pretty much all the wedding team were on stand-by to re-arrange incase her health took a dip. And while Jenni hadn’t been well, Aaron had lost a loved one very close to him. So this was a special day – a celebration of love, a celebration of faith that had helped them get through and a hope for even better things to come.

 

Above: When the postman arrives at the door!

 

Jenni and her mum did the flowers together – and Jenni’s mum was head seamstress on the dresses!

 

Lissanoure was the venue for the service and the reception. With so many friends joining to celebrate – the atmosphere was one of excitement as we basked in the March sun and dodged the odd shower!

Above: The kids running up the aisle!

 

No more had we started the photographs did the rain start. But the couple were more than happy to grab a wee cuppa while we waited for it to go over. Lissanoure Castle is a beautiful venue – and I was itching to get outside!

 


I’d only met Aaron once before, but he has such a caring attitude towards his new wife and everyone for that matter. His smile is also infectuous – when he smiles you end up smiling too. You just can’t help it!

 

 

 

His speech was just lovely – even the manliest of country men had a lump in their throat.

 

So there you go – Aaron & Jenni are married. On 24 March 2018 something special happened – faith, hope and love collided – and the resulting fusion was something that everyone involved will remember and cherish for years to come.

 

Venue: Lissanoure Castle
Cars: Champagne Moments

If you would like to learn more about my wedding photography check out the website here

 

Hair & Make-up advice: Interview with Bridal Beauty NI

With all eyes on you, it’s no surprise that’ll you want to look and feel amazing on your wedding day. Having worked with Bridal Beauty NI for years, I know first hand how wonderful this company are, making them first choice for hair and make-up with brides across the country. Today, I caught up with Claire Gibson, hair and make-up artist at Bridal Beauty NI to discuss trends, best products, and the importance of booking professionals for your wedding day.

Claire, how long have you worked in the make-up & hairdressing industry?

Initially I trained in make-up when I wasn’t long out of school (at the age of 16), with the wife of my Church’s pastor. She had trained in make-up, colour analysis, light hair etc in New York after her modelling career and my mother thought that it would be good for me to train in make-up because I really hadn’t decided what I wanted to do and so she was getting a tad worried. Therefore in many ways, you could say make-up chose me! I wasn’t a girl who wore lots of make-up but I was intensely creative and had a real love for how the light fell and captured people’s features.

Hair came much later. I found when working with brides that I would often have to fix their hair. I was working at a time when a lot of hair stylists had just been trained through NVQ. which included little in the way of up-styling training. A lot of the hairstyles created weren’t built to last. They would have been perfect for a few hours on a night out, but a wedding demands an up-style that can last up to 16 hours. Seeing there was demand for this, I trained in session styling and up-styling because I found brides referring people to me and so I always had to tell them that I wasn’t a hairstylist. One of my previous brides said: “Well you need to go out and get a certificate because you re-did my hair in a way that was far superior to what I was given at the salon”. So I trained and that was around 7 years ago now. I have attended lots of different training since but first-hand experience has been the best training of all.

Tell us the history behind Bridal Beauty NI.

I moved to Belfast in 2006 and until then I had been living in my home town, Omagh. In Omagh I had always have been very quiet about doing make-up because I was in a town of people who knew me from my school days. I had worked in insurance while living there as well so make-up was only part time for the first while.

When I moved to Belfast, obviously no one knew the ‘dorky Claire’ from school (which was an advantage) but also no one knew I did make-up and I needed to start again. I was planning my own wedding at the time and it was really hard to actually get someone to come to the house to do my make-up as I didn’t want to do my own (every bride deserves to be pampered, right!?).  So I had the idea that I would set up a company based around bridal.

I bought the site and put up a few photos of bridal make-up looks that I had worked on. I also linked in with a stylist who did the hair while I did the make-up. A few years went by and the stylist became popular outside of Bridal Beauty NI and I was also working on my own more and more and I had trained in hair by this time. It became very clear to me that I needed others on board too when I started initially referring people to other artists and then the bride wouldn’t book them. I realised that instead of referring to the other artist I needed to take the booking and now I have lots of great freelancers too.

 

What sets you apart from other hair and make-up artists?

A lot of make-up artists do make-up because they love makeup, but I really see make-up as a means to an end. Don’t get me wrong, there are certain products I love because of what they do to transform your features, but for me it’s all about instilling confidence.

When I was first training many years ago, I fell in love with what make-up could do. When someone comes to you with little confidence, with their shoulders hunched forward and apologising for the face that they have been given, I see real beauty and use make-up to capture that beauty. Whenever they then look in the mirror and like what the see (perhaps for the first time in their lives) it fills me with a warm glow inside. I had very little confidence coming out of school when I was trained, having been bullied and I thought there was nothing uglier on this earth than me and so I meet versions of me every single day and get to transform not just their face, (because largely my make-up is very natural) but their self view.

What are your top 3-must have cosmetics

Cosmetics wise, there are products out there that are big because of Youtube/ Instagram influencers who have been paid to promote them and then there are products that are the unsung heroes and are often from companies that either disagree with that kind of marketing ethically or don’t have the budget for it.

My favourite powder by far is the RCMA No Colour Setting Powder. It looks white in the packaging but goes on completely transparent with no detection. It is finely milled and very little goes a long way.  My favourite highligher technically isn’t a highlighter; it is the Ambient Lighting Powder by Hourglass in Diffused Light. This is a brilliant product for any age, and offers a way of infusing light into the skin without drawing attention to fine lines and wrinkles. My favourite foundation is by Face Atelier and is the Ulta Foundation.  It is silicone based so it is a product that is very stable in cold and warm temperatures over hours and hours of wear. Also, it doesn’t need the same degree of powder to set as liquid or cream foundations will. What’s even better is the brand has adjusters so that I can adjust the tone of the foundation for a perfectly matched result.

What do you love most about bridal make-up?

Bridal make-up for me is about making women look their best possible self. In the make-up world there’s a lot of cut creases and intense contouring that has been borrowed from the drag artist world and made its way onto the mainstream faces of Kim Kardashian etc. But that’s not what my brides want. They want to look like the best version of themselves and not have their face transformed into something their spouse-to-be won’t recognise. So what I love is that time when you give the bride the mirror and she is almost in tears because she likes what she sees for the first time in her life.

What hair and trends are proving popular with brides this year?

This year I am seeing a little bit of a change in direction with a lot more brides going for the very undone look with soft waves/curls and up-styles that look loose (but obviously aren’t loose because they have to stay up. Braids are still there a little bit but are more pulled out and loose than the tightly braided crown braids etc of years gone by.

Are there any trends that you would love to see left behind?

Personally, I would love to see what I call the ‘slug brow’ left behind. Black product has no place in a blond person’s eyebrows and thick brows are lovely when natural but when they have been filled in to the point that the brow hair can’t even be seen, then it’s not a good look. Intense contouring also needs left behind. I have been contouring for years and it can be done in a very natural way, but if someone’s contour looks like they fell asleep on a Mars Bar then it isn’t going to fool anyone! Contouring is supposed to mimic natural shadow and natural shadow is something that is just naturally there – it isn’t obvious unless someone puts an intense light above someone’s head in a dark room.

What about bridesmaid looks? What do you recommend for a bride’s leading ladie

I absolutely love it when there is a common thread running through hair and make-up.  The bridesmaids shouldn’t really be attracting more attention than the bride so the looks very much depend on what the bride is having. I’m seeing a lot of requests for simple buns and chignons these days with brides taking the main statement style. Sometimes if the bride has requested a braid through hers then the only common thread needed is to incorporate braiding into the bridesmaids’, like with a braided chignon or a loose braid coming from front to back on one or both sides.

What pre-wedding skincare and hair advice do you recommend?

Pre-wedding skincare is very important. Exfoliation is key as it is usually dry skin that causes problems. I usually recommend having a microdermabrasion facial about a month before and then just once a week using a very fine exfoliator to keep on top of it. It’s important that the the exfoliator has fine bits because otherwise it could cause skin damage. If brides have been using the same skincare products for years without breakouts then don’t fix what isn’t broken. The brand of products isn’t really important but I try to stay away from anything with parabens that would irritate and so natural based products are great.

Why do you think it’s important for brides to choose a make-up artist, rather than a DIY approach?

A properly trained make-up artist will know things like what products will flash back (no one wants to look like a ghost in photos) and how to make the make-up last the duration of the day. I have had texts from brides the next day saying that they fell asleep in their make-up and it’s still going strong. If someone who isn’t a professional (either themselves or an artist that is self taught) does the makeup then it may look fabulous for a couple of hours and take a nose dive at the worst time (ie during photos). Your photos are the one thing that are a perfect momentum of your day and admired by future generations, even after you are gone, so it’s very important that your makeup lasts through your photos at least and my preference is long into the night, while you are greeting your evening guests as well.

How do you ensure a stress-free wedding morning?

I try to keep things really calm. When I’m setting up I try to angle for a place that has great light but is out of the way. If it’s a small house and it isn’t possible to be completely out of the way then I treat the bride like she is the only one in the room. I am a firm believer that if someone is being talked to like they are the only one in the room then they start to feel like they are and the chaos of the bridesmaids running around starts to feel more distant.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more information on Bridal Beauty NI & to book their services for your day, check out their website here.

David & Jennie – Lime Park

Wedding guest etiquette

My first trip to Lime Park in Armoy – what a wonderful venue! When I returned from the day I described the wedding as ‘inspiring’ – and thats exactly what it was. Such a great couple and a great atmosphere…

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The dress…

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Love these old doors at Lime Park.

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The Dark Hedges

 

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Philip & Hannah – Roe Park Resort

 

 

During these winter months I’m going to be sharing some lovely weddings with you! Introducing Philip & Hannah. I just loved this wedding – the love, the ethos, the dress, the car…was a fantastic day.

 

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Any garden with bunting in it is good with me! Below – Hannah looked amazing. Rather liked the wallpaper as a background too…

 

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Below: The bride’s mothers veil hanging on the door…
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The reaction as Hannah appears….

 

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Now over to Cloughmills Reformed Presbyterian church which Hannah had beautifully decorated…

 

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The photographs took place in a grandparent’s garden. It was lovely to create these new memories in somewhere that held special memories from the past…
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Gorgeous car courtesy of our friends at Star Car Hire.
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And finally – the speeches at the Roe Park…

 

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Destination bride: advice for getting married abroad

Getting married abroad can seem daunting but armed with some fantastic tips, it can be a truly magical affair! I was recently invited to photograph the stunning wedding of Patricia and Mickey in Majorca and was super impressed by just how relaxed and flawless it was. Following the wedding, I caught up with Patricia who shares some insight and words of advice for anyone considering saying their ‘I dos’ abroad!

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Patricia, when and where did you get married?

We were married on the 22nd May 2015 in Portal Nous, Majorca. Our ceremony took place at Nuestra Senora De Portals, Portal Nous and our reception was held at Capricho and Wellies, Puerto Portals.

What factors led to you deciding to get married abroad? Was it a difficult decision?

Neither of us had ever envisioned having a big wedding. We have been to a lot weddings and knew it wasn’t what we wanted as we wouldn’t be able to relax. We both love holidays and warm weather and we wanted the day to be really special and intimate and to be able to spend all day together. I have been going to Majorca with my family on holidays from I was little and my my mum and I still go there for a break every year so it has a special place in my heart. When we looked at going away it was the only place I could envisage getting married away from home. Mickey had never visited the island but he was excited by the thought of a new experience where as I am very much into knowing every detail when planning and organising.

 

We did struggle a little with the decision at the beginning as we have a dog Rex and we knew this would mean he wouldn’t be there on the day, as well as a lot of our other family and friends but we decided to organise an evening party when we returned so that we could celebrate with everyone.

What was the atmosphere like on your wedding day?

We were both so excited on the day but the atmosphere was very relaxed and chilled out as there were no extra pressures and the day was purely about us. We just had my mum and dad with us although my two brother turned up unexpectedly at the church which was a great surprise!

 

The Church was really beautiful with fantastic scenery and I think the weather and back drop really added to the whole day. We had chosen a beautiful bar in Puerto Portals for Tapas and Champagne afterwards and I had reserved a table outdoors. You can see the luxury yachts from the bar and although the area is very luxurious it was really special and chilled out.

 

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Did you hire a wedding planner? If so, did you find this beneficial? 

When I began to plan our wedding the thing I struggled with most was the legal side of things and booking the Church and Priest. It is more difficult to get married in Spain if you are not a resident and I received conflicting advice around this, but I discovered that you can get married in a Catholic Church if both the bride and groom are Catholic – the paper work then has to be brought to the local town hall to be registered within a week of the wedding day. I don’t speak Spanish and although I carried out a lot of research online and contacted the cathedral in Palma for advice, I decided it was best to enlist the help of a wedding planner in Majorca to confirm the booking with the Church and Priest and also handle all of the paper work. I had already decided at that stage on the location but it was great to have someone to liaise with in terms of these bookings. I did find it a little difficult not to be in control of this but it was definitely a good decision for us as it meant that once we signed the marriage register on our wedding day the paperwork was all taken care of and our marriage certificate had arrived by the time we got back from honeymoon a few weeks later.

 

However, I didn’t use the wedding planner for any of the other elements of the day as we had our own set ideas about what we wanted for the day and I wouldn’t have entrusted anyone else to organise it. It was very time consuming but I enjoyed it and I had three trips to Majorca with my mum from getting engaged to the wedding date. This allowed me to look at venues, the church, meet the Priest, look at local florists and hairdressers as well as doing lots of online research. I tried to use a lot of the services locally. We also decided to book a wedding car which we weren’t going to do initially, I found the details of a company called Mallorca Driving online. they had good reviews and we loved their old style Beetle. The service was brilliant on the day and it was a real treat. The car looked great in our photos too. I love planning and organising so it worked well for me. The wedding planner actually asked me which florist I had used on the day as my flowers were so beautiful.

 

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How did you decide on your wedding venue?

I had a holiday planned with my mum to Majorca shortly after we got engaged. I did some research online before I went and also asked locally if there were any nice Churches and restaurants. We were told that the Church in Portal Nous had beautiful views and that some of the best restaurants on the island were based at Puerto Portals which the church overlooked and was a 5 minute drive away. (Portal Nous was only 15 minutes away from Palmanova/Magaluf area where we stay). We went to have a look at the Church and I knew it was perfect right away. It was small and quaint and had the most amazing views. I knew it was right for us.

 

We had only planned to have my mum and dad with us on the day so I wanted to plan something very relaxed for afterwards. Puerto Portals is a beautiful area with a view of the water and yachts, a small beach close by and amazing bars and restaurants. I spotted a bar I loved the look of right away called Capricho – it was a champagne and cocktail bar and when I liaised with them they said they could also provide tapas. It worked great for us as we wanted to have some light bites and champagne after the service in a relaxed atmosphere. The bar had live music later that evening. There were lots of restaurants within walking distance and I booked a meal in lovely restaurant called Wellies for later that night. The staff were amazing in both venues. We received excellent service and were able to have a fun, relaxing day and night, with amazing weather and views.

Describe your dress? What advice would you offer brides-to-be when it comes to choosing a wedding dress for a wedding abroad?

My dress was called Kathleen by Jenny Packham – this was also my Grandmother’s name. It was ivory silk and was fully beaded with pearls and sequence. It has an Art Deco style belt and a scoop neck line trimmed with diamanté. I would say it was a casual but glamorous style gown with an Art Deco 1920’s feel to it.

 

I never wanted a traditional style wedding dress and found it difficult when I first went dress shopping to find anything I liked, but as soon as I tried on my dress I loved it. It was perfect for being away as the layers flowed, the train wasn’t too long and the beading on the dress meant that there was no creasing at all, it travelled perfectly.

 

To be honest I followed my heart with my dress and I would advise any bridetobe to do the same. I never wanted a big dress and I was lucky that my dream dress worked perfectly for being away and for the party back home. But I think if you have your heart set on a dress you will find a way to make it work.

 

Did you hire a hairdresser and make-up artist and did you have a trial beforehand? How did you ensure you they achieved the style you had in mind?

 

I used an English hairdresser, based close to the hotel we were staying in. I booked in for a blow dry on one of the trips to the area prior to the wedding and was happy with it. I then had a number of trials with my hairdresser at home and took lots of pictures of the style I had decided on. I booked a trial when I arrived in Majorca a few days before the wedding, using the pictures as a guide and my hair turned out great on my wedding day.

 

I decided to do my own make up on the day but went for a makeup lesson with make-up artist Catherine Fleming about one month before our wedding day. Catherine then did my make-up for the evening party at home.

 

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What 5 top tips would you offer any couples planning a wedding abroad?

1) If you are even considering getting married abroad I would say go for it! We had such a special day and were able to spend the whole day together and have the day really be about us. We loved every minute of it!

 

2) Begin by finding out what the legal and/or Church requirements are for the country you are getting married in.

 

3) Do lots of online research and if at all possible, travel to the location in advance.

 

4) Think about what you really want from the day – we wanted something very chilled out and relaxed. I had a specific idea in my head as to how the day would go and it went perfectly. We didn’t want a ‘package’ and I had to be very clear about this with each bar/restaurant/hotel we looked at. I know this wouldn’t suit everyone as you may want to stay in a hotel or have entertainment booked etc.

 

5) Book a good photographer – initially we were going to book a local photographer but after meeting with Peter to discuss booking him for our evening party at home we realised there was an option to book him for our wedding day in Majorca – we are so glad we did as our photos are amazing! We have so many special moments that have been captured. One of the reasons we chose that destination was due to the scenery and location and the photos really capture this. Also, we were having such a good time we forgot to take any photos of our own so we were glad that the photographer had captured all of our special moments.

 

What was the highlight of your day?

There were so many! The wedding service was really personal and intimate, and my two brothers had travelled to Majorca to surprise me and were in the church when I arrived so I got the shock of my life, and it really topped the day off.

 

 

The whole day was so special and we both have such great memories of the time we spent together throughout the day, the location and views were fabulous and the bar and restaurant we went to were amazing. It was everything we had dreamed of!

 

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View more photos from Patricia and Mickey’s wedding by clicking here.

 

Kyle & Laura – Millbrook Lodge

Now the wedding season is almost at an end, I can get a little time to do some blogging again! I don’t think I’ll get to blog every wedding, but have loads of nice stuff to share!! Meet Kyle & Laura… a rather lovely vintage / farm styled wedding in June with some added barley field action!

 

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The Service was in First Killyleagh Presbyterian – I think it might be the first time I’m ever been in Killyleagh and first time I’d seen the castle!!

 

 


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Some not-so-conventional wedding transport – restored by the groom himself.

 

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LOVE this field on the farm.

 

 

 

 

 

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Strangely I quite like this concrete wall too – perhaps I’m just weird 🙂

 
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I was so impressed with the renovations they have done to Millbrook Lodge. Laura had done such a great job with the decor too…Looks great!

 

 

 

 

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Bradley & Lynda – Springhill

It was a privilege to be able to photograph my friend Lynda’s wedding last month. When she described her vintage, outdoor wedding on an ultra-tight timescale, I thought she had gone a little crazy! But in true style, the whole thing ran perfectly and the weather held up well! Enjoy!

 

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The bride’s entrance was very memorable. Excellent!

 

 

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Love all these details!

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We dodged the showers at Springhill – its a great location for photographs.
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Patricia & Mickey’s Wedding – Majorca

Wedding guest etiquette

Its not everyday you get asked to photograph a wedding in Majorca – and I must admit I was rather looking forward to it. The scenery was indeed amazing – and so was the couple. Patricia & Mickey were so chilled out – and the whole day was loads of fun!

 

 

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….and just when you think things can’t get any better, the bride shows up in a VW Beetle!

 

 

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There was a bit of a surprise outside the church when the bride’s brothers showed up unexpectedly!!

 

 

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Such a quaint church – and an amazing view.

 

 

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After the service we all went for some tapas and champagne. Patricia & Mickey were kind enough to invite us along! The food was simply amazing – and honestly I felt like we were treated like royalty. Thank-you!

 

 

 

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A few weeks later it was time for the NI wedding reception in Cookstown. It was great to meet Rex the dog!Wedding-Glenavon-Cookstown 1
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Ailish & Tim’s wedding at Rathmullan House Donegal

I was looking forward to getting to a new Donegal wedding venue – and Rathmullan House didn’t disappoint. This was a great day – a fantastic venue, a relaxed vibe and lovely couple.

 

I had some fun with the shoes and dress!

 

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Lets take a look at the service…

 

 

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Rather love this confetti photo!!

 



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The beach at Rathmullan is fab.

 

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I have a bit of a thing about shooting through things at the moment – I just love the foreground interest! So its safe to say I like the photo below…

 

 

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I must thank the hotel for this prop!
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Rachel & Cian’s fabulous outdoor wedding!

Rachel & Cian are outdoors types of people. We did their engagement photographs at Crawsfordsburn Park – it was rugged and beautiful. So I knew if anyone could pull off an outdoor wedding in N.Ireland it was them! Sure enough, the sun shone, the sky was blue and the day was amazing.

 

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This next photograph was taken in one of the chalets at Lusty Beg.

 

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The whole event was really relaxed. Some guests stood and watched, some sat in the sun – was a lovely atmosphere.

 

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After a little mingling, we spent a little time making some photographs. Lusty Beg is a lovely spot.
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Then it was time for the speeches and the craic to continue!
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And the party began, the groom sang a song to his new wife. Lovely.

 

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So as the sun set, it was time for me to get a boat and a car back home, and to reflect on a lovely day spent with a great couple.

 

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