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Wedding Inside My Wedding: See inside couple's stunning big day at Cultra Manor

15:25  28 november  2021
15:25  28 november  2021 Source:   belfastlive.co.uk

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A Belfast couple have shared a look into their beautiful wedding day at Cultra Manor.

In Be 's weekly feature ' Inside My Wedding ', local couples are delving into their special day to give you some tips and ideas for your big day.

27-year-old Aoife Stevens from Belfast and husband David (37) from Bristol met when she joined the choir he conducted.

They got engaged at Mount Stewart on her birthday, May 18, 2019 and got married back in July.

Here is all about the couple's special day.

Tell us all about your wedding day!

Our wedding day was just a perfect day from start to finish. We got married on Saturday July 24, this year, right in the middle of that amazing summer heatwave and the weather was gorgeous! I was so relaxed getting ready and everything that morning went so smoothly.

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I usually have a reputation for being late for everything but everything got done on time and I even ended up arriving early to the ceremony - some of my guests had still to arrive! We were able to celebrate it with our immediate families and close friends and we consider ourselves extremely lucky to have been able to do so. The day was just full of love and happiness.

The couple had their reception at Cultra Manor © Brendan Gallagher The couple had their reception at Cultra Manor

How did you begin planning your wedding? What did you start with?

We started planning by looking into the bigger things first. Once we picked the date we wanted we immediately started looking at reception venues. From there we booked the photographer, the cars, the florist, dog chaperones (we couldn't imagine not having our dogs there!) and the church.

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Tell us about your venues and how you decided on them?

We chose St George's Church on the High Street in Belfast City Centre. As a musician working a lot in choral music, David had done some work there with the church choir and played the organ for their services and we always felt that it was a lovely, kind and welcoming environment. It was an easy decision to make.

For our reception venue we chose the Cultra Manor at the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum. We knew straight away we didn't really want a hotel and that we wanted something a bit different, so we started researching alternative venues and Cultra Manor came up. In their brochure it mentioned that the guests could spend time going around the museum.

The newlyweds with their dogs Xin and Ellie © Brendan Gallagher The newlyweds with their dogs Xin and Ellie

I have so many happy memories of visiting the museum as a child with my family and David and I visited together once on a date and we loved it, so we thought this would be a great idea to entertain the guests. It was the only venue we looked at, as soon as we saw it in person we knew it was exactly what we wanted. It was just the right size for us and gave a real relaxed but elegant vibe. One of the easiest decisions we ever made!

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Tell us all about your wedding dress, bridesmaid dresses & suits!

I am a very typical Disney princess loving girly girl and knew from I was a little girl that if I ever got married I wanted my dress to be something out of a fairytale! I did a little research online to check out bridal shops and came across The Bridal Company Northern Ireland. Lauren, the shop owner, picked out some dresses for me in each available silhouette and I tried them all on. I fell in love with the bottom half of the first dress I tried on and the top half of the second. Lucky for me both dresses were by the same designer and they actually put the two together to custom make a unique dress for me. One appointment was all it took!

Literally a dream dress that I am still in love with! I got my bridesmaid dresses from WED2B Belfast, I chose their light blue colour as I felt it was nice and light for the season and it matched really well with all the girls' skin and hair tones.

Aoife arriving at the altar © Brendan Gallagher Aoife arriving at the altar

The suits were from Next, again we wanted something that wouldn't be too heavy for the guys seeing as it would probably be very warm, so we went with a light grey colour.

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What was the best part in the build up to your day?

For us one of the most enjoyable moments in the build up to the wedding was introducing our families for the first time. David's family live in Bristol and with everyone's work schedules and then Covid, we never managed to get them all in a room together before. So David's family came over for the whole week and we all went out for dinner together and it was really lovely for them to finally meet.

What was the best moment of your day and your other favourite parts?

David and I both agree that the best part was when we turned to face each other as I arrived at the altar. As our eyes met we couldn't stop smiling and I remember feeling like everything around us almost didn't exist, like we were the only two people in the building.

For me another beautiful moment was the car journey to the church. My bridesmaids and I stayed in the Culloden Hotel the night before so we travelled along the Holywood Bypass direction to get into the city centre, the weather really was gorgeous, the driver put the car roof down and as we drove along I was able to see the sun shining over Belfast Lough and it was lovely to see.

The wedding party © Brendan Gallagher The wedding party

As a massive nature lover, that really set me up for the day! Another great moment was when David and I were in the car together after the ceremony on the way to the reception. We were travelling the same stretch of road and lots of other motorists were beeping and shouting congratulations from their cars, some pedestrians too! We thought it was so charming and funny!

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What would you tell other bride and grooms to plan first & what are your top tips?

We would tell other brides and grooms to book the big things like the venues, photographers, florist, band ect as soon as possible. We were quite surprised by how quickly these things can get booked up, so leave yourself plenty of time. When you're looking at wedding suppliers though, don't feel like you have to look at loads, if you look at too many it can become quite overwhelming and it can be harder to narrow it down.

Go with what feels right for you based on what you want as a couple. For brides in particular, a top tip would be to try on every shape of dress, be open to trying on styles you wouldn't normally wear - you'd be surprised how different something looks on you compared to the hanger.

Reception decor © Brendan Gallagher Reception decor

What were the hardest parts to plan? Did you come across any difficulties?

The hardest part to plan for us was managing the Covid restrictions around our guest numbers and table numbers.

Did you have a theme for the wedding?

We didn't really have a theme for the whole day. We had a Disney theme only for the dinner, we had each table named after a classic Disney movie. Each table consisted of a fish bowl shaped vase and my aunt and sister brought my ideas to life by decorating each vase with figurines and ornaments.

They looked amazing and everyone was talking about them! For everything else the vibe we wanted to create was that of a relaxing but classy summer day out. I think we managed to achieve that with our colour scheme and our choice of food and venue.

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Would you do anything different or wish there was anything you didn't worry about?

If we could have done anything differently I would have given myself an extra week to get some of the smaller tasks done like the table centres, names place cards and so on rather than cramming them into a few days.

The weeks before the big day can be quite busy and stressful.

The service © Brendan Gallagher The service

Did Covid affect your plans at all?

Yes, Covid had a massive impact on our wedding planning and made the build up quite a stressful experience. The date was always the same and we were adamant that we weren't going to change it because we had so much time. Then around April/May 2021 wedding restrictions were still quite strict.

At that stage we began to wonder if we should consider postponing it, although we both knew we didn't really want to have to do that so we decided we would wait a while longer to see if restrictions would ease. June came and restrictions were still quite difficult to understand.

The happy couple © Brendan Gallagher The happy couple

In the end it wasn't until two and a half weeks before our date that numbers were confirmed. This meant that our invitations went out without much notice and a lot of people weren't able to come as a result. Our original pre Covid maximum number was 150 and Covid restrictions reduced that down to 90.

Our personal guest list was 120 so we had some difficult decisions to make and in the end 62 were able to come. It's not what we wanted at all but our guests were so understanding and we got to have our immediate families and some of our closest friends - which we know was a lot more than other brides and grooms were able to have so we were grateful.

Do you want to tell us all about your wedding day? Email be@belfastlive.co.uk to be featured!

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