Ending the year with a bang! I’m a self-confessed girly-girl, so when these pictures of Shan and Gary’s special day hit my desk, I got rather excited – it certainly left a lasting impression.
The level of detail left me in awe, so be sure to scroll to the very end because it’s what dreams are made of! Everything from their guest book idea to Shan’s dance with her daddy made me shed a tear.
On August 7th the stunning pair married and celebrated at The Culloden Estate & Spa, where Shan’s parents also held their reception in 1983. The bride didn’t stop smiling all day and Andrea from Angel Photography captured each sentimental gesture.
Both Teachers, Shan moved to Liverpool in 2006 for university and they met in 2011 at the school in Oldham where they work now.
“When we originally met we were both in relationships and so nothing happened romantically between us for over a year (even though I did think he was pretty beautiful at the time). Our classrooms were next to each other so we saw a lot of each other during the week. In 2012 our school moved site and so myself and Gary saw each other less often. My relationship had ended by this stage as had Gary’s but neither of us knew.”
“We were part of an after school rock climbing club and this seemed to be the only time we saw each other. I started to realise that I really liked Gary but as I said I wasn’t aware that he was now single and so never pursued anything.”
“We began emailing each other, over silly things really, but I would use any excuse to contact him! After swapping numbers, from there moved pretty quickly and the old saying ‘when you know, you know’ is absolutely right.”
“For my birthday in September 2013 Gary surprised me with a trip to Venice. We stayed at the most beautiful boutique hotel called Corte Di Gabriela, a few minutes walk from St. Mark’s Square and the Rialto Bridge. On our final day Gary asked me where I wanted to go for dinner. Following an amazing meal Gary suggested we walk alongside the river towards St. Mark’s Square and whilst walking pointed out a building on the other side of the river he said he thought was the Hilton and he asked me did I want to go over for a drink (this is where his plan nearly failed). At this point I said no because it meant getting a water taxi which is actually a boat and I’d just had a bottle of Prosecco so was worried about the waves. The ticket machine also wasn’t working so I was mid strop saying that ‘that’s a sign’ and ‘what if we miss that last taxi back’ and ‘what if the Hilton doesn’t let us in’ just as a water taxi pulled up.”
“When we got off Gary took me by the hand and said ‘come on cheer up’. We walked into the Hilton and Gary said to the receptionist ‘Hi, I have a reservation of the rooftop bar’. I looked at him in shock and then started laughing saying why had he not just told me (I was still oblivious). Whilst on the outdoor terrace of the bar I stood and admired the view of Venice from a height. Gary went in to order drinks and another waiter moved some other guests that were at the other end of the terrace inside (again, I had no idea). We toasted each other and Gary began getting sentimental, saying some really beautiful things, next thing I know he is down on one knee and ring box open. I broke down in tears screaming yes and flinging myself around his neck. It was perfect. I don’t even remember the water taxi back – I think I could have possibly floated across that river. We still laugh at the fact that his plan to propose was almost ruined by me being stroppy and how he almost had to just propose there and then or think on his feet!”
Shan wore a breath-taking gown with a sweetheart neckline, beautifully embroidered with thick lace and detail. She looked picture perfect as it hugged her waist and flowed into a swoon-worthy long fishtail. “It was cut asymmetrical from the bust which made it flow lovely and it had sections of lace that sat out from the dress – some at my hip on one side and around my knee on the other side – it was different and I loved it – I still do.”
“The most important part for me was our ceremony. My uncle who is a priest married us and the vestments he wore were the ones he had married my parents in. The whole ceremony was emotional and my daddy cried the whole way up the aisle. I actually had to say to him at the entrance ‘come on, keep it together’. When I saw Gary, knowing that when we walked out he would be my husband, my heart was home. It was magical.”
“The Culloden Estate & Spa was where my mummy and daddy had their wedding reception in 1983 and so the moment we chose it, it was special. The grounds, the views, the rooms – everything is so utterly stunning and breath-taking. I brought our Florist team over from Manchester – Red Floral Architecture and they are just magic workers. Every detail was perfect and our guests were wowed, as were myself and Gary.”
“Our photographer Andrea at Angel Photography was so easy to work with. During the ceremony and other parts of the reception you hardly knew she was there and during our photo taking part of the day she was so efficient. Everyone had said that the photos take forever but with Andrea it seemed to flow flawlessly and it was over before we knew it. She was also proactive in getting us to think about what photos we wanted before the day so that on the day she knew who to grab and when – this made is so less stressful for us and she just did her job and as the day goes so quickly I would have missed loads had she not been so prepared.”
The sheer detail throughout the day left me absolutely blown away. No stone was left unturned and it gave us the difficult task of whittling down the images in the office – each picture was better than the last! Shan told us all the secrets behind their décor inspiration.
“In my head, I called it French Vintage. I wanted pinks, peaches, nudes, golds, hundreds of candles and mountains of flowers. I wanted our wedding to be a little different and I was determined to make even the smallest details leave the biggest impressions on our guests.”
“Our flower girls wore personalised white Dr Marten boots. We dressed the groomsmen different from Gary – he wore a waistcoat and they wore braces.”
“On arrival at The Culloden Estate & Spa, our guests were greeted with a Bellini or Guinness, both served in champagne flutes – the Guinness looked like tuxedos. Each of our tables was also dressed differently – even I didn’t know exactly what they would look like as I left that up to Mat at Red Floral.”
“For our name cards I used corks that we had collected over the past few years and cut a slice out of the top. I inserted a hear shape piece of card and then wrote our guests names on them. Majority of the corks had a message that related to when we drank the bottles and the dates. For example, I saved the cork from the bottle when Gary proposed; he even had the cork from the bottle when he made his communion. I did however ask people not to judge if they found more than a few with the same date on – sometimes one bottle just isn’t enough!”
“I also had a dance with my daddy following my first dance with Gary. It was very emotional and symbolic and Gary almost handed me back to my daddy – in contrast to my daddy handing me to Gary at the altar. It was like saying that I was still my daddy’s girl. We danced to a Nancy Sinatra song called ‘For my dad’. Another idea I had was instead of a guestbook, I bought a large white canvas and loads of markers. I asked guests to either draw or write a message which meant we could hang it in our home rather than have a guest book we rarely looked at.”
A huge thank you to Shan & Gary for telling us all about their fairytale wedding and to Andrea from Angel Photography Northern Ireland for sharing this collection of images from the day. You can see more of her work at www.angelni.com