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Distance Makes The Heart Grow Fonder


Zoë & Niall’s Real Life Wedding

Lissanoure Castle, 28th September 2019


Zoë and Niall first met back in September 2015, after Zoë returned home from travelling that summer.  ‘One of my close friends had moved into a house with three guys in Belfast and we all went out to celebrate her birthday,’ recalls Zoë. ‘I had been single for a while and, naturally, I fancied all three of them! Niall was tall, dark and handsome, kind and very funny; how could I resist?’

‘A few weeks later we all planned to head up cave hill for a walk, but everyone else cancelled, except for myself and Niall. We got to know each other over brunch and he offered to take me on our first proper date after I finished my university exams a few weeks later. I think we both knew we were meant to be together quite early on. I headed off to Canada again for the summer and we missed each other way too much. When we were reunited a few months later we both knew we didn’t want to be apart ever again.‘


Niall has not-so-subtly asked Zoë her ring size when she was studying in England, so she had an inkling something was coming, she just didn’t know when. ‘I landed back in Belfast where my Dad was supposed to be picking me up. It was the run up to Christmas so there was a church choir singing Christmas carols, welcoming people home for Christmas. I’m a sucker for festive cheer, so I looked over, and who did I find standing in the middle of the choir? Niall, he was singing his heart out, I really started to freak out as I was not expecting an extravagant proposal, the thought of it made me so nervous! I was half expecting my family to pop up somewhere with a big sign saying ‘will you marry me? But, thankfully, the only surprise was that Niall was just collecting me from the airport instead of my Dad. Phew!’

A smart decoy from Niall…but the next day he had something very special planned. ‘We went on one of our walks down the towpath in Belfast, one of the first walks we had ever been on three years before. He had always said to me, you can’t propose to a girl without fairy lights, so wrapped around ‘our tree’ were hundreds of twinkling fairy lights. He got down on one knee and asked me to marry him, we didn’t cry but we just couldn’t stop smiling. Niall then handed me the sweetest letter to read, telling me all the reasons he wanted me to be his wife. We had the best time going straight to see our families and share the news!’


With no specific theme in mind, Zoë and Niall had complete creative freedom when it came to décor and planning. ‘We wanted everything to be very relaxed, from the quaint and intimate ceremony to the welcoming space at Lissanoure for everyone to sit and chat. We just wanted everyone to have the best day.’

Zoë and her sisters are known for their creative talents, so planned on doing the decorating themselves. ‘Having worked in the industry as a florist (Posy & Tie Floral Design) for a couple of years, I have seen so many stunning weddings and vendors, so I had a rough idea of what I wanted for my big day. I couldn’t imagine someone else making my bouquet, so I worked with my lovely florist friend Lindsey (Velvet Peonies) to create the florals for the day. In the end I decided to stick with flowers that I just really loved, rather than following certain trends. We put together a wooden arch for the front of the church ceremony, which was later moved to be positioned behind the cake table. We also decorated tall floral pillars outside the church, using huge amazing deep red hydrangeas from my mother-in- law’s garden! They were perfect. We also made up floral table centres using cream clay vases from Søstrene Green, filled with flowers that had featured throughout the day. My favourite floral feature of the day had to be our bouquets- they were exactly what I imagined!’

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‘We put together the table plan ourselves by hanging a 5ft mirror frame from a copper stand, with pages of each table plan attached and some greenery tied on to the copper frame. We named our tables after our favourite restaurants from throughout our relationship; it was a really nice personal detail. The dinner room in Lissanoure is so quaint and has a real vintage feel to it, with old ceramic vases and jars on the window sills, so we knew we didn’t need to add much at all.’

Shortly after sending out their invitations, Zoë got chatting to a really talented girl on Instagram called Anna who runs Heart & Soul Design. ‘Anna designs beautiful wedding stationary including cake toppers and welcome signs. We ordered our orders of service from Anna and she produced exactly what we wanted – a simple design with some greenery leaves across the front cover of the booklet. They tied in really well with our relaxed feel for our day, we loved them.’


Lissanoure Castle was the first venue Zoë and Niall visited; they had spotted beautiful pictures from previous weddings there, so went to explore the space for themselves. ‘We fell in love immediately, the two venues we saw after didn’t compare! One of Lissanoure’s wedding co-ordinators, Clodagh, met us and showed us around, she was a great help,’ explains Niall.

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‘We fell in love with the intimate dinner room, the big fireplaces and the vintage mix-matched furniture. The large courtyard outside was perfect for outdoor drinks and photos. Moira was our official wedding co-ordinator and she couldn’t have been more helpful, everything was so easy and everyone at the venue was so helpful and kind throughout our entire experience.’


Zoë had a very open mind when it came to wedding dress shopping. ‘I knew deep down that my style was plain and classic. I visited the team at Petticoat Lane after hearing great reviews from clients. I ended up falling in love with an ivory, silk crepe dress with long sleeves and a low open back designed by Sassi Holford. The girls at Petticoat Lane were so helpful and created such a relaxed experience for us, I recommend their store to friends all the time.’

The search for bridesmaids’ dresses was a little trickier. ‘This was definitely one of the hardest parts of the planning process. We purchased the dresses online from H&M, and after some alterations they looked just as good as any bridal store dresses. The dresses were a very light sort of dusty sage green, with slightly ruffled short sleeves and a v-neckline. They suited each of my maids and complimented my dress perfectly.’

‘Niall and I went suit shopping together,’ Zoë laughs. ‘We both decided we wanted his to look slightly different to the rest of the boys. We purchased all the suits from Next. Niall wore a navy blue skinny fit suit and waistcoat with a faint check pattern. The boys wore plain navy suits with navy waistcoats, also from Next. We went for dark green ties – a bow tie for Niall and skinny ties for the best man, groomsmen and our Dads. It all tied in with the bridesmaids so nicely.’


The team at Lissanoure Castle recommended a fantastic catering company to this young couple; Caulfield & Dorrity Catering. ‘Their team were absolutely amazing from start to finish, offering wonderful tastings and being really flexible. We were really keen for a buffet so that people could have a lot of choice.’

‘My sister’s very talented friend Judith (@mrs.b.bakes) made our cake for us,’ recalls Zoë. ‘We had a three tier, semi naked cake decorated with a big burst of colourful fresh flowers designed on the front face of the cake. The flavours were lemon and elderflower, raspberry and coconut and finally classic Victoria sponge. It was so delicious!’


‘Rachel of Rachel McCulla Photography is a good friend of mine and I had the privilege of doing her wedding flowers a couple of years ago. I have always admired her photography and wanted to support her in her business. When she produced such beautiful engagement pictures for us a few months before the wedding I knew I had made the right choice of photographer. She was a joy to work with on the day, we love our wedding photographs.’

‘Our videographer Clodgah (Clodagh McAdams Videography) and I met just by chatting on Instagram as she was new to the industry and wanted some opportunities to make connections. She explained how she wanted to video a wedding and experiment to find her style. Clodagh absolutely blew us away! She was so relaxed and understated on the day, you would have barely known she was there. Clodagh is very talented at drone work and we were blown away when she sent us our wedding video.’


Niall’s favourite moment from the bid day was the ceremony in the charming church. ‘I loved it all, seeing Zoë for the first time, the worship music, all our family and friends there, it was special. I loved the photo shoot after the ceremony too, it really gave us time to let the fact we had just got married sink in, it was so much fun.’

As well as loving every second of the ceremony, Zoë has one stand out funny moment from the day. In the panic of the morning, she had forgotten to use the bathroom before starting out on her journey to the church. ‘It was so funny, halfway up the motorway I couldn’t hold it in any longer, so we had to stop at a pub. I arrived with my Dad holding my veil and train, apologising to everyone enjoying their lunch. They all wished me the best and complimented my dress; I’ll never forget their faces when they saw me. Our day was filled with so much love and laughter!’


Zoë & Niall’s Dream Wedding Team

Venue – Lissanoure Castle

Wedding Dress – Petticoat Lane, Hillsborough

Groomwear – Next

Flowers – Posy & Tie

Wedding Cake – @mrs.b.bakes

Catering – Caulfield & Dorrity Catering

Videography – Clodagh McAdams Videography

Photography – Rachel McCulla Photography

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