Portrush in Northern Ireland was the location for Shawneen Allen and Mathew Meakle's wedding day which featured a traditional church ceremony
How did you meet?
We met through work. We work in the same complex.
Tell us about the proposal.
He proposed to me during the Christmas period of 2017. Mathew and I were out on one of our walks. It was a beautiful night with a big, bright full moon. He started to walk on ahead of me which I found just a tad strange as he’s the sort to walk beside you holding my hand or hugging me. Then I saw him rummaging for something. Mathew turned around and had a box, not a ring box just a box, and he handed it to me telling me to open it. I did and inside was a berry tart dessert.
I looked at him, puzzled. "Read what it says on the strawberry," he said. In chocolate writing on the strawberry read the words 'Will you marry me?'. I was shocked to say the least. Then he was standing there with a ring which I wasn’t expecting, but of course I said yes. We couldn't wait to go and tell our family and friends our good news. We started planning right away. We didn’t want a long engagement and decided to marry a year and a half later.
What was the theme for the day, and did you have a colour scheme?
We changed our minds a few times on colours but we went for pastel colours for the flowers in the end. Candlebras were used as centrepieces in the reception room and we had a Disney themed table plan with matching Disney table numbers. The top table had a Beauty and the Beast rose in a snow globe which everyone admired and Mathew and I had King and Queen thrones. Gems and mini red hearts were scattered on all tables.
What venue did you choose and why did you choose it?
We picked both the ceremony and reception venues because they were local to all our guests, plus the church we got married in is our family church. The ceremony venue was St. Patrick's Church, Portrush and the reception venue was The Magherabuoy House Hotel, Portrush.
When did you know when you’d found ‘the’ dress?
I'd tried on lots of dresses and they were all lovely but none of them were for me. It wasn’t until I went over to visit my sister for a few days in Poole, Dorset, that I found my dream dress unexpectedly. My sister Samamtha, my mum and I decided to go round the bridal shops to see what was on offer.
I spotted my dress in the first shop we went in and just had to put it on. When I did I knew it was the one because I didn't want to take it off. I bought my dress in Isobel's Bridal and Groom and it was by Maggie Sottero.
Who were the bridesmaids and what did they wear?
I had six bridesmaids and one flowergirl. My maid of honour was my sister, Sabrina Allen, and my bridesmaids were my other sister, Samantha Allen; my cousins, Cara Hunter, Camilla Carina Johnston and Layla Johnston; and my niece, Amy Allen-Hanson. My flowergirl was my cousin, Delilah Johnston. The bridesmaids' dresses were nude maxi dresses with a jewelled halter-neck.
What did the mother of the bride wear?
Where did you find your suits?
Tweedy Acheson, Coleraine.
Tell us about your floral arrangements.
Floral arrangements were done by Mark Allen of Ma Fleur Florist who is also a cousin of mine and Mathew's best man. The bridal party bouquets comprised David Austin roses and Delilah had a flower wand to match. The groom and groomsmen had matching roses pinned to their suits.
In the church we had flowers set outside the doors and as you came in we had a floral archway. Flowers all set up at the front of the altar. The mothers of both the bride and groom got matching pearl bracelets with a corsage to wear.
Often the aspect that makes a wedding original to the couple is the detail – tell us about the details of the day.
- Our favours were truffles and bubbles. We had the truffles in handmade ivory boxes with the word 'Love' printed on them in gold writing. The children loved the bubbles.
- We also had little loveheart chocolates wrapped in red foil sitting on all the tables as well.
- We got a wedding package with our DJ so as well as DJ entertainment and the Mr and Mrs game, we also had a three-hour photobooth which proved popular, candy cart, and LED Mr and Mrs letters that sat by the top table.
- We had a personalised postbox and an Instagram frame.
- We also displayed a chalkboard featuring all the dates from when we first met to when we fell in love.
How did you feel as you walked down the aisle?
Nervous to start, then excited. I had butterflies in my stomach.
How did you make the ceremony personal to you?
Everything about the ceremony was personal. The music that we played was loved by my late granny and grandad. I walked down the aisle to the song Ava Maria played by Il Divo and there wasn't a dry eye in the room.
At the altar we had laid out pictures of passed loved ones: my Granny and Grandad McAuley, Granny and Grandad Allen, Uncle Michael and Uncle James along with individual tea lights for each of them. We had The Lord's Prayer sung by Mario Lanza and when we signed the register to Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing by Connie Francis. We walked out as husband and wife to Love Affair's Everlasting Love.
What was your most memorable moment?
I had many: walking down the aisle, exchanging rings, releasing our doves, being announced as Mr and Mrs at the reception venue, our first dance, my father and daughter dance, and the cutting of our cake.
What was the most challenging aspect of planning this wedding?
Having everything planned and done in time.
What song did you choose for your first dance, and why?
Dan & Shay – From The Ground Up. Listen to the lyrics and you’ll know why. It just suited us perfectly.
Tell us about your wedding cake.
My aunt, Anna, baked our wedding cake. I’m always telling her she should have her own baking business. It was exactly how we pictured it to look. We had a three-tier wedding cake with white icing, red sugar roses coming down one side with matching red ribbons round each tier. The flavour was pink champagne and our topper featured the words: You'll Never Walk Alone. While we cut the cake we had that song playing.
Did you have a custom hashtag for social media? If so, what was it?
Where did you go on honeymoon?
We went to Santa Ponsa, Majorca for our honeymoon. We were away for a week. I’ve been there a few times but Mathew hadn't so it was great to show him around everywhere. We went immediately after the wedding and had an early morning flight the next day at 8am.
Do you have any advice for couples in the planning stages?
Just relax and try to enjoy every minute of it. You can't stress out about things that will happen. Just enjoy it and take it all in because it goes in a blink of an eye.
Steal their style:
Reception venue: Magherabuoy House Hotel
Photography: Mark Clements of Priority Photography
DJ: Trevor Moffett of TM Discos Events Specialist
Flowers: Mark Allen of Ma Fleur Florist
Transport: First Choice Limos
Doves: David Black of Angel Doves
Bridal hair: Millionhairz
Make-up: Tiffany Falkner MUA
Groomsmen hair: Nico's Barbers