A timeless destination wedding
08 Nov 2021
Niamh McKee and Sean Quinn tied the knot with an intimate gathering in Italy
Photography: JHales Fotografia
How did you meet?
Sean and I first met at school during our A-levels. He was the year above; I was 16 and he was 17. While he maintains we locked eyes across the school canteen, I was totally oblivious as to who he was for a year until we finally chatted through a mutual friend. We eventually went out on a date and the rest is history. Although we became official soon after, he never officially informed his parents, who thought for months he was my maths tutor.
Tell us about the proposal
A few years later, Sean proposed in Powerscourt Hotel Resort & Spa in Ireland on 16th May 2018. It was an absolute dream proposal; he had the suite set up with 200 photos of us hung around the room, my name spelled out in rose petals, and tea lights leading the way to a bottle of champagne and a bunch of my favourite flowers.
He was so afraid that I would become suspicious that he even got us lost on purpose on the drive to the hotel. He got down on one knee and had a beautiful speech prepared. We went ring shopping in Dublin the next day, where we found the perfect engagement ring at Appleby Jewellers on Grafton Street.
How was your wedding affected by Covid-19?
Our original date of 25th September 2020 had to be pushed back to 9th September 2021. It was a tough decision to make but we're so glad we did. Thankfully, we hadn't much prepared for our original date that couldn't be changed so it wasn't too difficult to rearrange it all.
What was the theme for the day, and did you have a colour scheme?
My wedding theme was simply classic and timeless, with large white roses, lots of greenery, and gold accents.
What venue did you choose and why did you choose it?
Our wedding was in Italy, on the Amalfi Coast. We never intended to have a destination wedding but, as fate would have it, we were under pressure to find a venue and set a date and happened to be going to Sorrento the following month. We fell in love with the relaxed atmosphere and incredible views and decided to book our venue there and then. It was the stunning Villa Antiche Mura in Sorrento. As we wanted a Catholic ceremony, the nearest church was in the nearby town of Positano.
How did you know you’d found ‘the’ dress?
I struggled to find the perfect dress and probably visited 20 different shops. The vision I had was for a dress with texture but no lace or cut-outs, and very little embellishment. At long last, I found 'the one' in Serendipity Bridal Boutique, Fivemiletown. It was a fitted gown with the most beautiful textured fabric and just a hint of sparkle along the neckline. My mum actually spotted the dress as soon as we walked in, and the bridal assistant had already gone to get my size in the sample based off my description of the ideal dress - it was fate. My gown was the Racimo style by Pronovias.
Who were the bridesmaids and what did they wear?
I had asked my sister and two best friends to be my bridesmaids but due to Covid regulations, my friends were unable to make the trip to Italy so we had one bridesmaid. She wore a one-shoulder olive green satin gown.
What did the mother of the bride wear?
My mum wore a cream and gold chiffon dress with a headpiece from Millinery by Diane Lee.
Where did you find your suits?
The men wore navy tuxedos from Remus Uomo which were bought from Bogart Menswear in Belfast.
Often the aspect that makes a wedding original to the couple is the detail – tell us about the details of the day
Our flowers were by the fabulous PosaFlora, who were local to the church. They knew exactly what I was going for and made the most stunning bouquets and displays for the altar, along with a white carpet and corsages for the mums.
With just 40 guests, it was difficult to create a table plan that would accommodate everyone and not feel sparse. So instead, I planned one big square table with a garland of white roses and lots of candles. I've never liked a top table at weddings so this worked perfectly for us.
As soon as I had my dress sorted, the next stop was the hat. Nearby to the dress shop was Diane Lee, a milliner who I met the previous year at a wedding fair. I visited Diane to explain the hat I had in mind. Since the wedding was in Italy, the weather was sure to be hot and sunny so a hat was the perfect accessory to keep me cool all day. Diane took my idea and just ran with it.
We both have a love of bows and she designed the most stunning sun hat with a big bow and veil on the back. I couldn't wait to wear it.
I'm lucky to have a very talented sister who works in the film and television costume industry. She designed and made me a beautiful robe for getting ready the morning of the wedding. She used a lace fabric with sequins for some sparkle and ostrich feathers to trim the elegant sleeves. It made me feel like a movie star myself.
How did you feel as you walked down the aisle?
I smiled the whole way down the aisle. Once I saw Sean at the altar, there was a definite sense of relief that it was finally happening, and all the stress was over.
How did you make the ceremony personal to you?
We met our priest just two days before the wedding so we expected it to be a standard ceremony but Father Andrew made it so personal to us and even had the guests clapping and singing, and shouting out our names. He was a laugh a minute and really made our ceremony one to remember.
What was your most memorable moment?
One of our favourite parts of the day was the privacy of our own boat which transported us back to the reception. It even had a 'Just Married' sign on the back which was a lovely touch.
What was the most challenging aspect of planning this wedding?
Without a doubt, it was the logistics. On the day of the wedding, we transported our guests to and from the ceremony and reception via boat which was complicated to arrange but really added to the excitement of the day. Sorrento and Positano are such different places so we were glad everyone got to see both. A big shout out to my husband for taking the wheel on this part.
What song did you choose for your first dance, and why?
We actually forgot to choose a first dance song. My sister-in-law suggested the song two days before the wedding and we listened to it the following day in our hotel room. It was an acoustic version of Alicia Key’s No One – the lyrics were perfect for us.
Tell us about your wedding cake.
Our wedding cake was part of the evening entertainment as we opted for a live cooking show. It was a traditional Italian wedding cake called Millefoglie which is layers of cream and pastry topped with fruit. Everyone was amazed by the display and the cake was delicious; our guests are still talking about it.
Did anything go wrong on the day?
Everything went perfectly. We still can’t quite believe we managed to have our dream day, all things considered. We were so lucky that 40 of our very nearest and dearest could travel to Italy for us. This was a big commitment from everyone due to the constantly changing travel restrictions and test requirements. Everyone made it there and back safely, which we are so thankful for.
The food was outstanding; Michele and his team went out of their way to cater to everyone. All in all, our big day went off without a hitch and couldn't have been more perfect. It was truly magical and the best day of our lives yet.
Was there anything you wish you’d known before?
We wish we had known to bring our witnesses to our first meeting with the priest. He forgot to inform us that we all needed to do confession before the wedding so we had to bring them all back with us the following day.
Where did you go on honeymoon?
We made the trip to Capri the next day which I suppose you could say was a mini-moon. We enjoyed spending the day there with our families and they all loved walking around the island.
We have yet to book our honeymoon since it was cancelled due to Covid, but we still fully intend to get to the Maldives in 2022.
Do you have any advice for couples in the planning stages?
100% book a videographer. We debated this for a while but we are so glad to have the video to look back on.