Leanne & Connor’s Breathtaking Beach Wedding

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If you are looking for an elegant beach wedding by the waters edge, you have to check out this real-life wedding!

Nothing beats saying, ‘I Do’, against a cool coastal backdrop! Leanne Hanna and Connor Morgan tied the knot at the Shandon Hotel & Spa in County Donegal earlier this year. If you are wanting your big day to look as though it’s a destination wedding, you have to have a nosey at this beach wedding!

How did you both first meet?

We first met as sailing instructors at Killowen Outdoor education centre in 2011 – teaching kids to sail every summer. Connor found it quite difficult to flirt as my mother, big brother and sister were all in close proximity. He made the first move by teaching me how to improve my sailing. As we were so young when we met, (aged 14) after the summer sessions, our parents didn’t let us see one another until the weekends during school. We would always find loopholes around this to see one another during the week. Such as training together at the gym, going for cycles and walks!

Tell us about the proposal!

Connor’s idea was to go on holiday disguised as a birthday trip for him (April 2022). Connor had packed the ring into his suitcase and we travelled to the Amalfi Coast. I unpacked the entire suitcase and the only compartment untouched was where the ring box. Connor thought the whole surprise was ruined, however I didn’t even know there was a hidden compartment!

On the 3rd day of the holiday, we wanted to explore more of the coastline. We took a trip to the romantic island of Capri. Sitting on the beach enjoying the beautiful scenery, it seemed like the perfect place. Connor was acting slightly strange and nervous (he never gets nervous). He had the ring in his hand and propped up his phone to video the whole thing. A group of children ran across and started to play right where we were, ruining the whole atmosphere. Connor quickly hid the ring and we took the last ferry back to Positano. When we arrived in Positano we found a bench under a tree overlooking the aquamarine waters. It was the most romantic spot I had ever witnessed. Turning around, I saw Connor on one knee with an aquamarine ring. It was the same colour as the water – this was the perfect moment.

We went back to our hotel room to celebrate, where the hotel offered us champagne room service. All I was craving was a cup of tea. We sat out on our balcony with a blanket, a pot of tea, listening to the waves crash below and the stars above.

When did you start planning your wedding?

We took some time to soak in the engagement celebrations, before starting the wedding planning. In August 2022 we both wanted to have a beach style wedding, as we met and got engaged at the beach. Connor’s family have been living in Donegal for many summers close to the golden beaches around Marble Hill. Therefore, it was the perfect place for our beach wedding and convenient for everyone. We had no experience planning events, yet still decided to plan the entire wedding ourselves.

I had already built a wedding book for many years. The dream was a Donegal, beach wedding with every last detail from colour schemes to decor and guest list. This simplified our planning process as half the work was done. Connor was a tremendous help as a groom! He wanted to be involved in the majority of aspects of the wedding. We used social media, wedding fairs and friends recommendations to source all of our vendors.

Tell us about your wedding suppliers?

We chose the Shandon Hotel & Spa in Donegal for our venue as it is just beautiful. We just loved the scenery, the facilities and the location. Connor has been going to the Shandon Hotel since 3 years old and it has been a part of his life and his families for many years. We wanted somewhere that could accommodate both the ceremony and reception. Joy and her team supported us throughout every step of the planning, working with vendors and the preparations. Our guests praised the professionalism of Joy and her team afterwards and everything ran smoothly and on time.

For our cake, our family friend works at the Rosehip Cafe in Banbridge. We asked them if they could make our wedding cake. Within a week we had a consultation and enjoyed tasting multiple incredible flavoured cakes. We ended up going for a three tier cake, with Lemon (base), Coffee (Middle) and Carrot Cake (Top). We wanted to go a bit different for the flavours to your typical fruit or chocolate cake and people really enjoyed the refreshing change. The vision was to have a white icing with blue ocean waves to showcase the beach theme of the wedding.

It was a no-brainer to use Aoibheann (Aoibheann Walsh Mua) and her team for hair and make-up as every website or magazine suggested them for a Donegal wedding and they did not disappoint! Aoibheann brought the energy in the morning getting us all ready and our make up and hair lasted really well by the end of the evening. We even had a lot of wind on the beach taking photos and they didn’t move an inch. You couldn’t ask for a better team to get you ready for your big day.

What about your music on the day?

For our music, we chose We Love Sax, Keltic Kaos and Debs fitz Music. Having been to previous weddings with a Saxophone player we knew this would be something we would love for our day. We Love Sax were perfect for our reception outside on the terrace, and the weather was perfect. Really felt like we brought Ibiza to Donegal, and our guests said it completely set the mood for the rest of the day.

Keltic Kaos were a recommendation from the Shandon, they had everyone on the dance floor all night which was one thing leanne was insistent on. If no one was on the dance floor she was prepared to start dragging people up there!

Deborah Fitzsimons sang our first dance song which was On Top Of The World by Imagine Dragons, we asked her to create a slow acoustic version. It was so personal as she was one of my bridesmaids but our guests couldn’t believe how beautiful her voice was!

Who captured your day?

Our photographers were Melissa Wright & Cindy Robinson.

Melissa was amazing! We had a pre wedding photoshoot and instantly felt like we had known her for years! She is such a fun and friendly person, not a single photo felt forced or staged which shows in the quality of her work. Some of our friends have booked her for their wedding after seeing the photos.

We had a second photographer on the day, Cindy, who was so friendly and captured some incredible shots of the groomsmen, and some magical moments such as the first kiss! We highly recommend either of them to confidently capture your wedding day.

What did you and the bridal party wear? 

My dress was the Allegra Dress by Justin Alexander, picked up from Elody Bridal, Newry. Elody bridal were so helpful helping me pick my dress.

The dress itself was a really lovely fit, having a tight corset meant I didn’t need to worry about pulling the dress up all night. It wasn’t heavy but had enough material to give a beautiful shape. Elody even made a veil with the lace to match the dress! My sister in Scotland is going to use for her wedding in October 2024 as her something borrowed.

For the evening, I really wanted a satin light dress as a second dress that didn’t cost a fortune. I got mine from Rat&Boa and will definitely be reusing the dress on our honeymoon.

For our bridesmaids, we always loved the gold or champagne coloured dresses, and when we saw this new online business come up with dresses they were perfect! We really wanted to do different necklines for the girls to make them more individual but also compliment their figure although still uniform, and boy, did these dresses deliver!

Connor’s suit was from Moss Bros in the French Collection. The Groomsmen’s suits were also Moss Bros. The whole theme of the wedding was beach/neutrals therefore it was important to me to have the men in a full neutral suit or black trousers and neutral jacket. To keep them more casual we had them wear open shirts with brown belts and shoes which kept it relaxed and summery.

Connor has always loved the idea of wearing a tux at his wedding, although this did not go with Leanne’s beach/neutral theme. So he decided to do a suit change after the meal for the first dance! The suit was from Marks & Spencers, called the ‘Tailored Fit Wool Rich Tuxedo Jacket’. This came out a month before the wedding!

What was your favourite part of the day?

Leanne’s: It has to be the dance performance! At the hen party in Liverpool we booked a dance class with the theme of Grease, as this as there is a video of leanne and her sisters dancing to Grease lighting when they were children on holiday in Spain. After the first dance all the bridesmaids got together and decided we should perform the dance route to everyone so it would be a surprise. Everyone loved it, and to this day we are all so surprised we actually remembered the steps!

Connor’s: A Bride having a ceremony dress and an evening dress is now quite common, however a groom has two suits I had never heard of! Therefore, I decided that if Leanne got to change, so would I. The white evening Tuxedo was a great fit and my favourite moment was one experience I’ll never get again… an entire room of 80 guests giving your outfit a round of applause. Great for the ego!

Any advice you can give?

Leanne had a wedding planner on a word document for years gathering different ideas, colours and Vendors all or 3 different types of weddings. So really do your research and don’t panic, we asked the shandon for advice on music as we were struggling to find bands in donegal. So getting venue recommendations for vendors they have previously worked with is so handy as you know they already have a great relationship and it helps the day run smoother.

DONT LEAVE IT ALL TO THE LAST MINUTE! We were moving back home from England a month before the wedding, and as a way to reduce cost Leanne made a lot of decor herself such as welcome signs, seating charts, name place cards etc as she couldn’t find anything online that was perfectly what she wanted. But this meant she had to do it all the week before the wedding as we didnt want to add our moving collection of stuff and risk it getting damaged.

The Dream Team

Photographer: Melissa Wright & Cindy Robinson

Wedding Venue: Shandon Hotel & Spa, Co. Donegal (Wedding Coordinator: Joy Evans)

Wedding Dress: Allegra Dress by Justin Alexander: Elody Bridal, Newry.

Evening Dress: Rat&Boa: Ophelia Dress

Wedding Suit: Moss Bros, French Connection: Neutral.

Evening Tux: Marks & Spencers: Tailored Fit Wool Rich Tuxedo Jacket

Groomsmen Suits: Moss Bros: Check Suit

Bridesmaid Dresses: Six Stories: Oyster Dress

Cake: Rosehip Cafe – Banbridge

Flowers: The Daisy Chain – Omagh

Makeup & Hair: Aoibheann Walsh Mua – Letterkenny

Music: We Love Sax, Keltic Kaos and Debs fitz Music

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