From the colour scheme to the catering, a magical Harry Potter wedding theme was the order of the day for Mary-Kate Devaux and Paul Doyle
How did you meet?
We met at Paul’s half sister’s wedding.
Tell us about the proposal.
Paul planned for the proposal to happen on Brighton beach, one of the first places we went on a date. However, when the moment came, our daughter started crying so Paul had to quickly re-plan the proposal and relocated to the Brighton Pavilion for a second attempt. The ring was hidden inside a Golden Snitch box that had the quote ‘I open at the close’ engraved on it.
What was the theme for the day, and did you have a colour scheme?
The theme was Harry Potter. The tables and flowers were themed with the four house colours, while the rest of the décor (groomsmen ties, cake and flowers etc) were all purple.
What venue did you choose and why did you choose it?
Eltham Palace has been a dream venue for most of my life and we have been on several dates there. We love the history of the building and the Great Hall looks just like the Great Hall in Harry Potter, so it was perfect.
When did you know when you’d found ‘the’ dress?
I initially bought a dress on eBay but I didn’t feel it was exactly what I wanted. I knew I wanted a ballgown shape, but I ideally wanted straps. In February 2019 I thought I’d just have one last look (cutting it close to the wedding date which was in May 2019) and at Paverly Bridal I found a gorgeous ballgown dress by Maggie Sottero. It had straps and was covered in diamantes and beads. They had one in stock and it fitted me perfectly. I didn’t really believe in the idea that there was ‘the' dress, but I was proven wrong.
Did you have bridesmaids?
I didn’t have bridesmaids, but I had my three of my best friends do readings instead. They wore black dresses, to stand out from the usual wedding crowd. It meant they would be able to wear their outfits again, and it ensured that the colour would suit them... who doesn’t look good in a little black dress? I have been bridesmaid many times and didn’t want to start the politics of who to have as my bridesmaids, so this seemed to be the fairest way to do it.
What did the mother of the bride wear?
A red maxi dress with flowers. I tried to encourage people to wear the house colours where possible, to complement the décor.
Where did you find your suits?
Paul had his suit custom-made by Kilgour.
Tell us about your floral arrangements.
Mimi Fleur was a recommended vendor of the venue. We had two large urns on either side of the ceremony room which contained flowers in the Harry Potter house colours. Each table had two arrangements containing flowers of the relevant house colour and on the top table we had a purple arrangement. I made my wedding bouquet out of pages from Harry Potter books and we did the same with the buttonholes.
Often the aspect that makes a wedding original to the couple is the detail – tell us about the details of the day.
- We used a magic mirror photo booth to look like the mirror of Erised.
- Our favours were antique looking keys that doubled up as bottle openers (keys were also used on the canapé plates to tie the look together).
- I made confetti for the tables out of pages from Harry Potter books, a table plan that resembled the Marauder’s Map and all of the table centres using a collection of antique books, potions bottles and other Harry Potter memorabilia.
How did you feel as you walked down the aisle?
I was mainly worried about tripping down the stairs. I hadn’t had much time to process what was about to happen, but as soon as I saw my friends and family, and obviously Paul, I felt overwhelmed with happiness. I was also just hoping my toddler wouldn’t kick off.
How did you make the ceremony personal to you?
We had songs that were personal to us, that we had listened to a lot when we first started dating. We had three readings which were three of our favourite poems: Sonnet 116, The Cloths of Heaven and I Carry Your Heart. The ceremony itself was very short and felt a bit like an out of body experience. We stood in the centre of the room with our friends and family literally all around us, it meant that it felt very intimate and everyone had a good view of what was happening.
What was your most memorable moment?
We had many so special moments but it was actually really nice having some time to ourselves when we went off around the gardens with our photographer (Tamara Jay Photography). In the evening I also performed a song from Hamilton (our favourite musical), which was nerve-wracking but special becuase it was a total surprise to Paul.
What was the most challenging aspect of planning this wedding?
We had a very clear idea about the details, regarding how we wanted the venue to look. The vendors were great at bringing our ideas to life; the caterers created dishes inspired by the Harry Potter books and the florist helped tie the colour scheme together but it was hard to know if the concept could be fully realised and still remain tasteful.
What was the most important investment for you?
Definitely the food! We decided early on that this was a priority, as everyone always remembers if the food was good or not. We spent more money on it than originally planned, but we definitely feel it was worth it. It is the first meal you have as a couple, sharing the experience with all of your friends and family, so we felt it was important that we thoroughly enjoyed it.
What song did you choose for your first dance, and why?
We chose Hideaway by Kieza, which is not a typical first dance song at all. It was a song we both really loved when we first met and it meant we could begin with a slower, more romantic dance but then crack out our awful dance moves once the beat kicked in.
Did you have any evening entertainment?
We had a band and a DJ. I’m a teacher, so wanted to support my ex-students by hiring them to perform (they are absolutely amazing). We also had a DJ because we both love dance music, so needed a mix of both to suit our tastes.
Tell us about your wedding cake.
We had an ombre purple ruffled two-tiered cake. However, we got married on our daughter's second birthday so we also had a unicorn cake with glasses and the Harry Potter scar. I am gluten intolerant, as is a lot of my family, so we chose a traditional fruitcake, a gluten-free lemon drizzle and a Victoria sponge.
If you could go back and change anything, what would it be?
We would ask the caterers to save us some food. We had a buffet station for dessert and ended up missing out on most of it as we were so busy mingling with guests.
Did anything go wrong on the day?
No, our day ran smoothly and everyone stuck to the correct timings (I’m a stickler for time). I did have to go home early as my back was very sore as I've had several procedures on it. By 10pm the weight of the dress really took its toll; I wish I’d brought a change of outfit.
Did you have a custom hashtag for social media?
Paul is a Slytherin, so we used #slytherintomarriage to try and encourage people to share their photos.
Was there anything you wish you’d known before?
People always tell you how fast the day goes, and I didn’t believe it, but it’s really true. Essentially the day isn’t only for you - it’s a big party for your friends and family and you are an attraction at the event. We got stressed trying to go round making everyone else happy and forgot that we were supposed to be enjoying the day ourselves. So it’s important to take a breath, accept that you can’t have deep and meaningful talks with every guest, and just enjoy yourself.
Where did you go on honeymoon?
We actually had a ‘familymoon’ with our daughter before the wedding, as we couldn’t get time off together. We went to the Maldives and it was paradise. Amazing weather every day, great restaurants and unforgettable experiences.
Do you have any advice for couples in the planning stages?
Really stick to your planning timelines to minimise stress. There are lots of guides and timelines you can find online. Also, don’t be afraid to delegate. We found it a lot easier when we had people helping us out. We had help from friends and family for things like making my bouquet and putting the favours together and it made those details a lot more special on the day, remembering who had helped with what.
Steal their style:
Photography: Tamara Jay Photography
Venue: Eltham Palace
Band: Mr McIntosh
Flowers: Mimi Fleur
Catering: Moving Venue
DJ: Prelude Entertainment
Lighting and dancefloor: White Light Ltd
Photo booth: Hire Photobooth
Hair and make-up: Natasha Quinton
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