Stylish & Sustainable: Gabby & Mark’s Nature-Filled Outdoor Wedding

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Gabby and Mark said ‘I Do’ surrounded by nature for their ‘Part One’ Wedding!

Today’s real life couple are the perfect example that Covid doesn’t have to ruin your dream wedding plans, but can make them even better with a two-part wedding!

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After the pandemic got in the way of their dream Mexico venue, Gabby and Mark got creative and planned the perfect Scandanavian-esque outdoor wedding on 15th March in The Organic Centre in Country Leitrim. Check out all their dreamy details below…

HOW THEY MET

Gabriela Hernandez from Mexico and Mark Hurst from Ireland first started chatting online at the beginning of 2019, and it wasn’t long before they took the leap and met up!

“We had been talking on social media and had arranged to go on a first date,” Gabby says. “When I got ready, I messaged Mark in my taxi to let him know I was on the way. He then replied with a rather confused ‘on your way to where?’

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“I thought he was just kidding, but apparently we had arranged to meet on Friday, not Thursday! But he said he could be there in 30 minutes. I ended up telling my taxi driver the whole story. He was so lovely and just talked me round, saying ‘this is could be a story to tell your grandkids one day’.

“He was right, we had a very nice first date and I guess things went well from there. We had a few more dates and met Mark’s family around our fifth date. It was a very bold move on his side, but his ‘mi casa es su casa’ risk paid off. Being around him and his family felt so natural, and they all really made me feel like I belonged.”

THE PROPOSAL

So after 18 months of dating and travelling, Mark knew he found the one and proposed to Gabby after she moved over to his family home in County Fermanagh during the pandemic.

“We were together about 18 months before getting engaged,” Mark says. “At the start of 2020, Gabby was living in Dublin and I was in Lausanne, Switzerland. Gabby was over visiting me for the weekend just before the first lockdown occurred in March. We immediately decided to fly back as the situation was unfolding and arranged a family bubble at my family home in Killadeas.

“Gabby got on so well with my family during that lockdown period that it confirmed in my mind she would make the perfect life partner. At the end of lockdown, I took Gabby to Rossnowlagh beach, Donegal – a place that holds a lot of family sentiment for me. After her first surf in along the Wild Atlantic Way, we got engaged at a viewpoint overlooking the beach.”

THE PLANNING PROCESS

With their hearts set on a rustic venue in Mexico, planning was quite the challenge during a global pandemic. However, something was calling Gabby and Mark back to the Emerald Isle!

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Mark continues: “The original plan was to find a chic hacienda in Mexico, but given the volume of European guests and Gabby’s family having long wished to visit Ireland, plans shifted to the Emerald Isle. We were immediately enamored with Markree Castle and booked it for 15th March 2021.

“However, when restrictions were reduced to only six guests, we were forced into a major re-think. Rather than search for something comparable to the Markree Castle, we decided to look for something totally different. We liked the idea of the Scandanavian-esque outdoor weddings, but beach and forest weddings in Ireland proved very challenging.

“We studied the list of Registrar approved venues in Sligo and Leitrim, noticed The Organic Centre and sent my parents on a recce mission. The Organic Centre offered us a connection to nature and also provided shelter from the Irish weather! Plus, the bubble dome felt very apt for a pandemic wedding.”

DREAM WEDDING SUPPLIERS

With all of the amazing wedding suppliers out there, nothing means more than the help of family and friends during wedding planning – especially during a pandemic!

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Gabby says: “I guess our most important wedding supplier was Pam (Mark’s Mum). Her creativity and resourcefulness knows no bounds. Everything was closed in March, so it was very hard to organise things like decorations or even food. So we ended up making most of the things ourselves or sourcing locally.

“We got a delicious Pavalova from Lydia in Enniskillen – it’s my new favourite dessert which I only recently discovered during lockdown and is not common in Mexico) and a beautiful wedding cake from Kates Kakes in Dublin. The Organic Centre were absolutely amazing, they were very accommodating and helped us arrange the space exactly as we wanted it. 

Mark adds: “My mum planned and decorated the wedding bubble herself with an ivy curtain, vintage rug and lots of pot plants and tea light candles. We had a very special day in the gardens and are currently arranging our ‘Part 2’ wedding celebration at Markree Castle this December.”

CAPTURING THE DAY

Fergal McGrath Photography captured every heartfelt moment from Gabby and Mark’s dream day with an array of relaxed candids they will cherish forever.

“Our first impression of Fergal was as if he was a relative or family friend,” Mark says. “We immediately felt comfortable and relaxed in his presence and were able to just enjoy ourselves. His local knowledge and passion for his craft was very apparent. He went above and beyond the call of duty, at one point even standing in a stream in order to capture some timeless moments for us!”

WEDDING WARDROBE

Gabby and Mark kept things fresh and rustic for their ‘Part One’ wedding. Gabby looked effortless in a short chic dress from ASOS, with her other perfect wedding dress awaiting for their second celebration at Makree Castle.

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“I had my perfect wedding dress from Grace Loves Lace, but I bought it thinking of the Markree Castle wedding so I didn’t want to wear it for our civil ceremony. It was very challenging to find another wedding dress because everything was closed due to Covid.

“In contrast to my Markree Castle dress, I looked for something quite simple and bohemian. I ordered a bunch of wedding dresses from ASOS, until I found the one that made me feel like myself. It matched perfectly with our organic wedding theme, especially when when I changed from heels into my green Doctor Martins!

“I didn’t have bridesmaids but I had a fairy godmother in a way – my friend Valentina, let me wear her lovely fur coat from her Colombian grandmother. It fit perfectly and allowed me to rock the Viking look!”

Mark also looked sharp in an autumnal-coloured tweed suit and bow tie from Magee 1886.

FAVOURITE MOMENTS

With such a unique and special day, Gabby and Mark’s favourite moment of all was celebrating with family and friends from far and wide!

“My favourite moment was when we got to catch up with the people that couldn’t be there in person,” Gabby says. “We were only allowed four people at our ceremony. My parents and the rest of my family couldn’t travel from Mexico, so we had a Zoom call with all of them from around the world.

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“We just set up a phone on a tri-pod and went on with the ceremony. At the end of the day, it was lovely to watch the video and see all the friends and family that joined and their comments on the chat.

“It was so sweet to see people stopped their daily activities on a Monday lunchtime, get up early in Mexico and in the U.S, and even stay up late in Hong Kong! Some of them were even dressed up, cheering and sending good vibes and made for some unique memories!”

WEDDING ADVICE

For all the our brides and grooms-to-be out there planning during these crazy times, Gabby and Mark have some wise words of wedding advice.

“In unpredictable times such as these, I think it’s so important to keep a positive and open mind in order to meander any given situation towards a shared ideal destination,” Marks says. “Contingency planning is more important than ever. Just try to control what is within your power. You might get frustrated at times, but just remember the bigger picture and if plans go array, well it might make a good story to tell the grandkids!”

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