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Denise & Sean – Ballyliffen Lodge, Donegal

I’ve never been to Ballyliffen before – Its a nice place! Ballyliffen Lodge is a great hotel too. It’s obvious that Sean & Denise really enjoy each others company – they are always smiling and laughing when together. I’ll talk you through the day!

First port of call for me was a few photos of the groom before the service and guests arriving:

One of the more interesting guest photos 🙂

Denise & her Dad arrive!

…and the service begins!


Music during the service was provided by these guys. The guy on the Bodhran is Denise’s brother. I arrived quite early before the service so we got chatting. We were happily debating the rights and wrongs of re-incarnation – he’s a big believer, I’m not! But when he reckoned I would have probably been Ansel Adams in a previous life – suddenly the theory sounded much better! 🙂 (still nowhere convinced though!)

After the service we took some photos on the beautiful beach and in the hotel garden.   

The infamous best mans speech!

As I packed my stuff into the car to head home, I accidently dropped my keys into the boot. After the familiar ‘beep’ of the car, that was me locked out and stuck in the middle of Donegal. Of course my phone was in the car – as was my wallet! A local mechanic came to the rescue, but after some attempts to break in, we ended up taking a hammer to the window! YIKES! After a rather cold and noisy drive home, it was easy enough to get fixed. Definetly will be more careful about not putting my keys in the boot from now – as it’s basically impossible to break into a Skoda!


Getting Ready: The Winter Wedding

Over the last few years, I have noticed a real increase in the number of people getting married during the winter. In particular, Christmas and New Year weddings have blossomed. There are many reasons to get married in winter including:

  • Increased availability – get married more quickly by choosing a winter date, especially mid-week
  • Hotel rates are sometimes cheaper – honeymoons may also be less expensive but you typically have to go further for sun.
  • Photographs have a distinct winter feel – with crisp sunlight and beautiful reds and greens
  • Getting holidays from work is often easier – especially if you are a teacher

I often get asked about the feasibility of winter weddings, so here’s a brief article on preparing for a winter wedding. With a little thought, winter weddings are absolutely great – indeed I got married on a cold January’s day myself!

1. Wrap up warm!
Many wedding dresses are strapless with short arms – not always so practical for a cold winters day. Brides – look for matching coats or wraps, men – ensure you hire a warm suit. You can always take a layer off should you become too warm!

One brides uses a small coat to good effect (Photo: Peter Thomas Photography)
One brides uses a small coat to good effect (Photo: Peter Thomas Photography, Oct 2008)

2.  Location Location Location
While a professional wedding photographer can make the most out of any location and still produce great results, here are a few ideas for your winter wedding. Often hotels with open fireplaces keep the guests happy and make ideal photograph locations. Between November and February there is a good chance the weather won’t be good, so think about the practicalities of indoor photographs. Is there somewhere for group photographs? Are there any unique features? If you’ve already booked your location don’t worry – a professional photographer can make alot out of very little!

3. Check out the Christmas Decorations
Hotels often put Christmas decorations up early – so be sure to ask what the hotel does for the festive season. I often use christmas decorations as seasonal backdrops for my pictures, but you may regard early november as too early for Christmas! If you are having a civil ceremony in the hotel, be sure to ask about decorations in the room.

4. Timing
After the clocks change in October, there is limited time to get your photographs taken outdoors. As a general rule of thumb, light starts to fade around 3.30pm. Having said that, you might be fortunate and have a nice, bright day. If  you want the majority of your photographs outdoors, its often best to schedule your wedding early. 12 noon is a popular time. In late February/March, you will have until about 4.30pm before the light fades. If an early wedding isn’t possible, don’t worry – your photographer can take a few photographs outdoors and leave the rest for inside. If your wedding is later, you might consider allowing your photographer to attend the ‘brides house’ before hand to get some outdoor photographs of the bride, bridesmaids and parents.

New Years Eve 2008 in Belfast City Centre (photo: Peter Thomas Photography)
New Years Eve 2008 in Belfast City Centre (photo: Peter Thomas Photography)

5. A Cuppa Tea goes a long way
Your guests will feel the cold too – so why not provide a tea or coffee mid-afternoon. Hot punch can work well during the festive season.

6. Think about the bridal party
You will hopefully be pumped with joy and adrenaline – chances are you won’t feel the cold too much! But spare a thought for your bridal party. Ask your photographer if he/she can take the bridal party photographs first, allowing them to go inside quickly. Don’t have them standing around outside for long periods of time. Be especially aware of page-boys and flower girls. It is often a good idea to bring along normal coats which can be removed for the photographs.

Keeping the Bridal Party comfortable results in great photographs (photo: Peter Thomas Photography)
Keeping the Bridal Party comfortable results in great photographs (photo: Peter Thomas Photography, Feb 2009)

7. And finally…
Have a great time!! If I’m your photographer, please feel free to call with any questions or comments. If anyone reading this has other ideas or suggestions, just let me know!

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