Bride Diaries: The Final Chapter


Lauren & Mark’s Real Life Wedding

Lough Eske Castle, Co. Donegal on 2nd May 2019


Lauren and Mark share a traditional high-school sweetheart love story. ‘We went to school together and first met when we were teenagers at just 14 after being introduced by mutual friends,’ recalls Lauren. ‘Mark made the first move, admitting that he would like to take me out before asking me to be his girlfriend on good old MSN messenger…those were the days! He did however, ask me out to my face the next day at school, and the rest is history!


After going on lots of little dates and adventures, we soon became inseparable and as cliché as it sounds, became best friends too. We carried on throughout our teenage years together and then onto university to complete our respective degrees, and even though we were still very young we knew that we were meant to be together as it was effortless, fun and we supported each other through anything.’


 To celebrate four years of hard work at university, this young couple booked a thrilling Christmas shopping trip to New York. ‘On a cool and crisp winter morning, (3rd Dec 2016) we took a trip to the iconic Central Park, where we spent the morning on a horse-and-carriage ride, taking in sights of the city from this magical setting,’ Lauren shares as she reminisces Mark’s utterly perfect proposal. Afterwards, we decided to walk a little and explore the park further, when we suddenly stumbled upon the iconic ‘Gapstow Bridge’ and Plaza Hotel – famed from the movie Home Alone.’

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‘Mark led me by the hand to the edge of the bridge’s stream and before I knew it, he was down on one knee asking me to marry him. He even arranged for a secret photographer to hide nearby and capture the precious moment. To top it all off, Mark had organised for us to have a festive ‘Nutcracker Afternoon Tea’ at the luxurious Ritz-Carlton Hotel overlooking Central Park to celebrate – an incredible experience we will never forget.’


Having worked with Ireland’s Wedding Journal for a few years, Lauren knew a thing or two about planning a wedding, and had a rough idea of what she wanted for their big day. ‘When it came to choosing our venue, there really was no competition to Lough Eske Castle.  This was the first wedding venue we went to view, as we arrived into the castle grounds, we were overwhelmed with a sense of excitement that this could be our venue, whilst also being in awe at the castle’s grandeur and beautiful lake-side setting. After being greeted by hotel staff with a warm Irish welcome and meeting our initial wedding co-ordinator Stephen to show us around the ballroom and discuss options, we knew that a castle would be perfect for our dream wedding – particularly as a self-confessed girly girl!’

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Lauren and Mark chose a local Donegal stationery company ‘Red Berry Print’ to design and create their stationery. ‘This was such a fun process, we met with our designer to discuss designs and after seeing one of the examples that was brought to our meeting we decided to go for a white and grey elegant style on textured card. We knew we wanted our initials on all of our stationery designs as we loved the opulent and classic look, and we worked with Hollie to create the most gorgeous whimsical and classic monogram to feature on our stationery designs.’



‘Having worked for a few years in the wedding and bridal industries (and of course, choosing dreamy inspirational shoots for Ireland’s Wedding Journal) I knew exactly the vibe and theme that would suit Mark and I, reflecting our personalities. We wanted everything to be relaxed, and of course, to have a lot of fun! We opted for a rustic-classic theme, which was elegant and feminine, but also with a Tuscan touch. Our colour palette was fresh green foliage and mainly crisp whites, and gold accessories with a hint of blush.’

Whilst visiting the Wedding Journal Show, Lauren and Mark got chatting to the fantastic team at Event Planners NI, they quickly booked them as their venue stylists. ‘We opted for their green hedge wall with floral trim with our initials in gold to use as our guest photo board, as well as their gold candelabras a gold trimmed plates to tie our theme together. We sent our Pinterest mood board to show the team for inspiration, and they pulled it off perfectly!’

Flowers played a huge role in this couple’s day, from the textured and rustic arrangements sitting in the church including a crescent arch at the church door, to the aisle lined in fresh foliage and candles! ‘At our venue, we had the most incredible arrangements, including alternating tall gold stands and low gold urns with fresh flowers at guest tables, and a garland of Italian-inspired foliage on our top table. My favourite flowers are quicksand roses, with the golden blush tones, these were the perfect accompaniment to our fresh white look to add a subtle hint of colour,’ adds Lauren.


 Having previously worked in a bridal boutique, Lauren was was nervous to start shopping for her dress, as she had a precise vision in mind. ‘After trying three local stores and to no avail, I popped into Marie Therese Bridal in Coleraine, and there it was, my dream wedding dress. Lauren chose a stunning Riki Dalal Couture gown with 3D floral appliqué, plunge neckline, fitted skirt and luxurious layers of lace. ‘I immediately fell in love with it, and the helpful bridal consultant Kerry helped me finish my bridal look with a cathedral length raw-edge veil. I was pleasantly surprised that I found my dress a lot sooner than I expected!’

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Lauren found her beautiful blush bridesmaids dresses from the high-street label TFNC. ‘We were so impressed with the quality of the dresses with their high-street prices, I’m so glad the girls loved them.’

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Meanwhile Mark ventured into Belfast city centre to visit the award-winning Moss Bros for his kit out his groomswear. ‘They had a great range of sharp, well-fitted black tuxedos which is exactly the look I wanted to go for,’ recalls mark. ‘I think it looks classic, timeless and sophisticated, we all looked great.’


The menu Lauren and Mark chose was a huge talking point on the day, with everyone commenting on how amazing the food wine and service was from the Lough Eske Castle team. From a delicious to honey-roasted ham vol-au-vent for starter to a traditional turkey and ham roast dinner, everyone was raving about it. Mark particularly loved his roast vine tomato and bell pepper soup, as it was specifically requested for him. ‘We loved every bite, we continued the celebrations the following day with a mouth-watering BBQ in the castle’s grounds.’

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After spotting Lough Erne Cakes in Instagram, Lauren fell in love with their beautiful designs and flavours. ‘We knew we wanted a simple and elegant cake, so we opted for a three-tier buttercream cake with gold leaf detail and finished with fresh flowers to tie in our theme. Our bottom layer was red velvet (Mark’s choice), followed by a raspberry Victoria sponge in the middle and finished with a top Malteaser layer which was my choice. We also got 100 mini cupcakes to use as wedding favours for our guests.’


‘Having admired their work online, we knew that Peter Carvill would be the perfect photographer to capture our special day. We wanted photographs that were natural, relaxed, classic and elegant, something that Peter specialises in! Having met Peter on an editorial shoot, I was so impressed with his professionalism and attention to detail that I knew we had to book him for our wedding! Once we met with Peter as a couple, he was such a gent and really put us at ease about getting our photographs on the wedding day. Looking back on our album now we think he captured our day perfectly!’

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Mark and Lauren chose River Flow Films to edit their wedding film, a local company from Derry/Londonderry having followed their work online. ‘We loved their professionalism, natural style and how they effortlessly captured the essence of each individual couple in their previous work. We love our video of the day, and would highly recommend this team to other couples planning.


Mark’s highlight from the day was seeing Lauren for the first time; ‘seeing my soon-to-be wife in her beautiful wedding dress was a moment I’ll never forget.’

And just like best friends, their answers are almost identical, Lauren shares how walking up the aisle was so special. ‘It was such an emotional moment, I’m so thankful my Dad was by my side as we walked towards Mark, it meant so much to both of us, it was magical.’


Lauren & Mark’s Dream Wedding Team

 Venue – Lough Eske Castle, Donegal

 Wedding Dress – Marie Therese Bridal, Coleraine

Groomswear – Moss Bros, Belfast

Flowers – Floral Earth, Belfast

Stationery – Red Berry Print

Wedding Cake – Lough Erne Cakes, Fermanagh

Photography – Peter Carvill Photography

Videography – River Flow Films

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