Bellingham Castle Wedding - Jill & Neil
Jill and Neil travelled all the way from San Francisco for their destination wedding at beautiful Bellingham Castle and what an amazing day it was! I loved how they brought details together to make it a special experience for all their guests and incorporated elements of San Francisco and Ireland into their day - have a read and a look at their fabulous wedding!
What was important to you when planning your wedding day?: Since we were planning our wedding from a distance (we live in San Francisco, and the wedding was in Co. Louth), it was very important to us to work with a venue that was very organised and would make things as easy as possible for us.
Tell us about some of the little details that made up your day.: We made an effort to make things as fun as possible for our guests, especially since almost half of them flew in from abroad for the wedding. Since this was a "destination wedding" for many of our friends (not only Jill's American Friends, but Neil also had many people travel from all over Europe, and even some from America and Australia), this wasn't just a single day for us, but there were a few 'mini-events' in the days before the wedding: Jill and her family stayed at Listoke House in Drogheda and had an Afternoon tea there with her friends the day before the wedding. We had a small party in Neil's Parents house 2 days before the wedding, and a welcome reception in Richmond Fort, beside the historic Millmount Fort in Drogheda, the night before the wedding for all of our overseas guests. We had "welcome bags" for all the overnight guests, which included Tayto Crisps, headach tablets (Advil for the Americans, Solpadeine for the Irish), chocolates, and bottles of beer, among other things. Since we wanted to add a personal touch to the afternoon welcome reception, we brought our faviourite beers all the way from San Francisco: Jill's favours "Local Honey" from Woods Brewery, and Neil's favourite "Pliny the Elder" from Russian River Brewing Company. Since almost half of the guest were foreign, we thought they'd especially enjoy some to have traditional Irish Music as part of the day, so we had Rapscallion play traditional Irish music during the afternoon reception.
What was your favourite part or parts of your day?: We loved the Ceremony, and the fact that we were able to make it so personal and create a ceremony that reflected our values. Our Solemniser, who oversaw a Humanist ceremony, Siobhan Walls, was amazing and definitely made the whole thing feel so natural for us.
We loved our time with Lynn and her husband doing our photo shoot after we arrived at Bellingham Castle: it was so nice to have that relaxed, intimate time alone together after the ceremony.
Jill expecially loved her time on the way to the ceremony in a vintage Rolls Royce car: Americans don't do things like this, so they felt like they were in a movie driving through the countryside in a fancy old car. We loved the end of the afternoon reception, where the afternoon band, Rapscallion, played a song for the bride and groom, "On the One Road" by the Wolfe Tones, and we had an unofficial first dance along with our son, Liam. We went straight from there to go outside for a group photo with all our guests, which was also so much fun. The dinner was amazing, and after the speeches we could actually relax and really enjoy it.
And, of course, the music and dancing at the end were great. We had just over 100 guests, but looking at the dance floor you'd think it was 200. It was wonderful to see everyone let loose and have so much fun. We also loved to see so many people continue the party until the late bar closed at 4am. American weddings normally finish at around 11pm, and it was really great to introduce all Jill's friends to the Irish way of celebrating.
Any funny or unexpected moments you want to share?: - We had some drama with the audio for the ceremony. We didn't have musicians for that part, but had a playlist. Even though we did sound checks in advance, some last minute technical difficulties meant that Jill had to wait outside the ceremony venue for about 20 minutes while some Neils's friends (Keith and Robert) stepped up to save the day. In the end, Keith and Robert spend the entire ceremony sitting on the floor behind the Speaker, carefully holding some cables in place, so that we would have the music we wanted during the ceremony. We also loved that our son Liam, who was almost 2 years old at the time, totally stole the show during the ceremony. His funniest moment was, right in front Jill and Neil in the middle of the ceremony, he lay on his back and stared at the ceiling, as if he was thinking "get me out of here. when is this going to be over"
What would your top tips be to any couples planning their wedding day?: To communicate with each other what's important and to stay true to what we truly want. And also to be open to suggestions/ideas/circumstance. For example, we knew we didn't want a traditional wedding cake but didn't really have any idea what we did want. When we met with Sarah from Custom Cakes in Drogheda, within 5 minutes we all came up with a great idea for a cake that was perfect for us: the 3 of us (Liam, Jill and Neil) on a San Francisco Cable car in our wedding suits . In the end, she did a fabulous job on the cake, and it turned out to be another great little personal touch.
Any particular advice for couples about the photography part of the day?: Be open to suggestions and direction from the Photographer, since they really know what they're doing. Even more importantly, enjoy that part of the day, since it's really the only part of the day that we got to be alone together for any period of time.
And when looking for a wedding photographer, make sure you look at their portfolio to see what type of photos they'll take. For us, we wanted someone who would not just do a great job of the typical portrait-style photos that most people expect, but we also wanted someone who would do a great job of documenting all of the other parts of the day, and capturing all the smaller moments of the day involving our guests. When we saw Lynn's portfolio, we knew she'd be perfect for what we wanted. Also, not all photographers stay until after the dinner and for the music and dancing: it's definitely worth having a photographer who wants to be there for this part of the day, when everyone let's loose and when the fun really starts!
Ceremony venue: Woodside Chapel, Castlebellingham
Reception venue: Bellingham Castle
Photography: Lynn Stanfield Photography
Celebrant: Siobhán Walls, from the Humanist Associate of Ireland.
Afternoon Reception: Rapscallion, from Drogheda
Wedding cars: http://www.vintageweddingcars.ie
Florist: Impulse Flowers, in Drogheda Town Centre
Make up artist: Leona Quinn
Hairdresser: Andrea Costello, Drogheda
Wedding dress: BHLDN (pronounced "Beholden") in Walnut Creek, California.
Suits: Neil bought his suit off the rack from Moss Bros, but had it altered in Tailor's Keep in San Francisco.
Invitations: We designed the invitations ourselves, using templates from the website Zola, which also managed all of the RSVPs online.
Cake: Custom Cakes, Drogheda.
Band/DJ: Whitewater did the band and the DJ.
Hi and welcome to my blog. I'm a photographer based in Northern Ireland and I specialise in weddings. Have a browse through the blog posts to see some gorgeous weddings from around Northern Ireland and Ireland and pick up some tips for planning your wedding too!