A simple, timeless wedding in Northern Ireland

28 Oct 2021

Emma Gillespie and Brian Quinn finally had the day of their dreams, after rescheduling their wedding date four times

How did you meet?

We met in our hometown of Pomeroy County Tyrone, way back in 2008. I was 15, Brian was 17. It was raining and I remember he stopped and asked me if I wanted his hoodie. I actually knew his brother before this and when I saw Brian, I knew who he was. From then on, we were the best of friends for almost four years, and eventually Brian plucked up the courage to ask me out. One pizza and a cinema date later we were ‘official’ on June 9, 2012.

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Tell us about the proposal.

On December 25, 2017 I got the best present under the tree – a little blue Tiffany bag, which I thought was a necklace. Safe to say my heart skipped a beat when I saw the stunning engagement ring. I was that busy crying, jumping and shouting with excitement I forgot to say yes, but I think we both knew the answer. It was certainly a Christmas I will not forget.

We are not people for an extravagant engagement and think it’s so nice and special for it to be intimate. Between Brian and I, it was the perfect engagement. We love the privacy to have the memories of that day between ourselves.

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How was your wedding affected by Covid-19?

We actually had to change our date four times and our venue, due to the pandemic. Our original guest list was also more than 300 so we cut this down, which we felt awful about but people understood due to the circumstances.

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What was the theme for the day, and did you have a colour scheme?

I knew I always wanted a simple, timeless, and classy wedding. Therefore, you could say I had a theme in mind. It was all very minimal but I have an eye for detail and that helped me with the finer details of the day.

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What venue did you choose and why did you choose it?

Both of us were so happy with every aspect of the day, we were nervous about changing venues from the south of Ireland to the north, but we took the risk and it was the best decision we made. We got married at the Church of the Immaculate Conception, Altmore and held our reception at Tullyglass House Hotel.

The hotel was amazing, and the staff really went above and beyond for us. Nothing was a problem, the proprietor, Gus, is made for the job – he really went out of his way for us. Therefore, the change of venue turned out better than we could have ever imagined.

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How did you know you’d found ‘the’ dress? 

I visited two dress shops. I went with all of my bridal party to one shop, then only myself and my mother to the one where I found my dream gown. It was perfect, and it's definitely better to go with a smaller entourage.

As soon as I saw the gown hanging up, I was obsessed. I tried it on first then tried on gowns after but even my bridal consultant knew how happy I looked in my dress, which was the Ronald Joyce 'Tai' gown (style 18202). My parents bought me my gown on the day I found it, which so happened to be my birthday. It was from McElhinneys Bridal Rooms in Ballybofey, Co. Donegal. I loved the elegance of it, how it fell and how the little details made it so eye-catching. The feel of the material along with the neckline and low back really made me feel beautiful, which isn't something I often feel.

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Who were the bridesmaids and what did they wear?

My bridesmaids were my two sisters, Jacinta and Joanne; my best friend, Elaine, who I also work with as a nurse; and my niece, Leah. I knew I wanted them to wear something bespoke as I never could see a style I liked.

I've always loved the tailored style and for this reason, I got a top and trousers made for them by the amazingly talented Janet Courtney. The top was a replica of a Zara top I had and I loved it. It was made with champagne silk and the high waisted, tailored trousers were made in an ivory crepe material. The girls looked amazing.

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What did the mother of the bride wear?

My mum wore an ivory and champagne dress from Queen Bee Boutique in Northern Ireland. She also wore a handmade pillbox hat with bow to complement the dress, made by Millinery by Diane who is also based in Northern Ireland. 

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What did you choose for the suits?

We always knew we wanted the classic black and white style and for these we went to Freddie Hatchett in Belfast. All the men and the page boy looked very dapper. 

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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 created by Sinead Goodwin, a local florist who did an amazing job. I always loved the idea of long stem roses and this is what I went for to complement my style of dress. For the girls I wanted green foliage and the flowers just made their outfits pop. The flower girls had rose crowns made by Sinead and gypsophila bouquets.

For the favours, we made a donation to TinyLife Charity as I work as a neonatal nurse. We also opted for a caraicaturist on the day, and it was just great fun.

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How did you feel as you walked down the aisle?

I wasn’t nervous at all, I was more happy than anything. I loved seeing Brian at the top of the aisle, and he even shed a tear which got me going. It made me realise how lucky I was and how lucky we were to be able to have our day at long last. That, and the fact we were able to share a day with those we had not seen in so long due to Covid restrictions; seeing people laugh and have fun was unbelievable.

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How did you make the ceremony personal to you?

Our celebrant made our ceremony so special, as he knows both families very well and this just made it more intimate. He is also great craic, so there was a laugh a minute. All readings were made by family members, including our nephews and nieces.

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What was the most challenging aspect of planning this wedding?

The most challenging aspect would have to be the date changes and venue changes due to the restrictions. I honestly loved planning the wedding, and apart from the pandemic changing plans, I was quite calm and organised. My bridesmaids could not believe how well I was dealing with it all. I knew the main goal was to marry my best friend, so all the planning was worth it.

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What was the most important investment for you?

We both would agree the most important investment was our menu, which we tailored with the chefs at our venue to ensure everyone had the best food. It was superb.

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What song did you choose for your first dance, and why?

We chose Always Remember Us This Way by Noelle Johnston. We love this song as it reminds us that no matter what happens in life, we can always look back on all our good days and remember how happy we were and how perfect life is together.

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Did you have any evening entertainment?

We had a local singer who provided fantastic music to keep the mood going. We also had an amazing team of Irish dancers who came in and wowed the crowd.

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Tell us about your wedding cake.

Our wedding cake was a three-tier ivory cake finished with our initials in gold and florals provided by the florist. It was so yummy.

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Where did you go on honeymoon?

We had originally planned a South African safari and a trip to the Maldives, however with Covid we really didn’t want to travel so we decided to stay home. We travelled around Ireland, and it was just amazing. We had beautiful weather and we loved visiting counties we had never been to before.

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Do you have any advice for couples in the planning stages?

My main tips for other brides-to-be would be the following:

  • Limit the amount of people you take with you when wedding dress shopping.
  • Grab hold of every opportunity to do something wedding related, whether it be going for a cocktail to talk about themes with your bridesmaids, or to take a day out shopping for anything for the big day. It goes by so quickly and these are the things you will miss.
  • I would also say, relax. I was not nervous or uptight at all.
  • I found it overwhelming at one stage of the day, so we took ourselves off to a room to just sit down and breathe for five minutes. We chose to travel separately from the bridal party and I found this the only time we actually got to be by ourselves and talk about the ceremony. We really enjoyed this part.

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Steal their style:

Photography: Hannah McKernan
Videoography: Blank Canvas Cinematic 
Venue: Tullyglass House Hotel
Venue styling: EP Design Ltd
Dress: Tai by Ronald Joyce, from McElhinneys Bridal Rooms 
Bridesmaids' outfit: Janet Courtney Design NI
Hair: Mairead Quinn Hair 
Make-up: SJJ Makeup Artist
Groom's outfit: Freddie Hatchett
Flowers: Flowers By Arrangement NI
Cake: Claire Holland
Stationery: Two Little Words Design Studio

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