Longtime lovers Melissa and Barry left their busy London lives behind and moved back home to Ireland where they planned the most beautiful boho affair
HOW THEY MET
Melissa and Barry, from Stadbally in Co.Laois, first met back in 2010 on a night out in the town and it wasn’t long before sparks began to fly.
“It was around 11 years ago and his friend and my friend kind of set it up which ended up working out quite well!” Melissa says. “It was definitely a mutual attraction from the start – we hit it off straight away.
“We then started seeing each other more and over the next few months it blossomed quite quickly – we’ve been inseparable ever since!”
This perfect pair have been on quite the journey from working through long distance, moving to London and finally returning home to Portlaois where they’re now enjoying married life and have just welcomed their first baby boy, Ruin, into the world.
Melissa continues: “Barry moved abroad after a couple of years for work and we did long distance for about two years. I spent all my money on Ryanair and was on a plane to Nottingham to see him every other weekend! Then we both moved to London together 7 years ago.
“London was the best. Totally different to our lives here now and we were just living the dream socialising, meeting friends and enjoying city life! We always knew we wanted to move home at some point and when Covid came it just felt like the right time.”
Fast forward to May 2019 when Melissa and Barry went on a dream holiday to the Philippines – think stunning white sands, crystal clear waters, tropical sunsets…we all know what’s coming next!
“We were over on an island called Boracay and he took me to the beach one night where he proposed and it was really special!” Melissa shares.
“It probably wasn’t a surprise to anyone else, but I was not expecting it at all and was totally blown away – I had no makeup on and wasn’t dressed appropriately but looking back it was all very natural and just us.
“It was our last night there too, so it was a really nice way to end the holiday. We’re quite laidback and chill so Barry just pulled the ring out of his pocket and went down on one knee and of course I said yes straight away!”
Melissa and Barry planned the most beautiful boho wedding, getting married in Curraclone Church (which was the first wedding there in 80 years!) and a simple yet stylish reception in their parent’s garden, but of course the planning process wasn’t all smooth sailing.
“We were living in London and had planned a massive wedding for the 31st July and then Covid hit around March time and everything was put on hold,” Melissa explains.
“We spent about four months postponing everything and then we actually decided to move home in June, just six weeks before the wedding! When we came back, we still didn’t know if it was going to go ahead so we kind of framed the idea into a smaller, more intimate wedding.”
So after months of contemplation, Melissa and Barry decided to take the plunge and go ahead with their wedding on 31st July 2020 – with just 19 guests instead of their original plans for 180.
Melissa continues: “I couldn’t face another year of stress and wondering what was going to happen. It can be hard to think the day you’ve imagined your whole life having to be reshaped. But I truly believe everything happens for a reason, and sometimes it can turn out even better than you ever imagined!
“We never thought about having a small wedding, we just knew we wanted something a bit different – I still got absolutely everything I wanted from my day, just in a different way. We’re real home birds and my parents’ house and gardens are fabulous, and my dad has corn fields nearby as well the gorgeous Stradbally woods beside us.
“The Church is actually only used about once a month so there’s no electricity. It’s all wildflowers outside and very rustic and natural. I think they haven’t had a wedding there in over 80 years which made it even more special.
“Looking back, we got to spend so much time with our families and we felt really engaged in every moment. Even the set-up and preparations we mostly did ourselves and I loved being really hands-on and seeing it all come together!”
DREAM WEDDING SUPPLIERS
Melissa always envisoned a dreamy and different celebration and brought her vision to life, styling the ruined Church and her parents’ backyard with a little help from her dream wedding team.
“We got the marquee from Donohues Solutions which had clear sides so we could really like we were still outside. The lovely festoon lighting and draping were from Gorilla Design and the hanging floral centrepiece was from Kate Moylan Design.
“We hired the chair and uplighters from Select Hire and the table was from Cater Hire. My sister Rachel was also able to get us some garden props from her work, Verv Marketing.
“We also did the drinks ourselves, but the food was from a local chef, Imelda Tynan, who was absolutely fab! We had lovely breads, salad bowls and fresh foods which was perfect for the setting.”
To add to Melissa’s rustic and bohemian theme, she went for a mix of wild and dried flowers from The Flower Witch in Portlaois – which she now has hanging in her home as keepsakes!
“My mam said there’s this girl Emily Lawlor nearby who’s started a business and she’d be right up your street, so I was thinking ‘what could this be?” Melissa laughs.
“When I went to check her out, I was blown away! Emily grows a lot of her produce and everything was so beautiful and natural which is exactly what I like. Even that morning, she was out picking things for my bouquet and adding pheasant feathers and bits of corn and barley.
“It was really interesting and intricate. I was also able to keep all the flowers and dry them out so they’re now hanging around my house as decorations. My mam and aunt have lots of flowers in the garden which we got use in the rest of the arrangements as well.”
Melissa also went for a stunning red velvet naked cake covered in flowers by Kelly Lou Cakes in Portlaois.
CAPTURING THE DAY
Niamh from the Photography Hub and Kevin from Little Bear Films were the dream team, capturing Melissa and Barry’s perfect day with an array of beautiful candid moments to cherish forever.
“I really loved the light in Niamh’s images and how natural and relaxed her style is. I didn’t want anything too posed and she captured us candidly in the moment and she was just amazing to deal on the day!” Melissa says.
“With Kevin, I was just so impressed with what they came up with and what I had seen online from the Little Bear Films. Their style was so relaxed and seemed to really capture the emotion and the day itself. He and Niamh had also worked together before and were the perfect team!”
Is someone playing Fleetwood Mac? Well, that’s the soundtrack we think of when it comes to Melissa’s bohemian Rue De Seine ‘Adelia Lune’ gown from Wild Reflections in Norwich.
“Bohemian is the perfect way to describe it! That’s my style to a T and I’m very relaxed so I didn’t want anything too formal,” Melissa says.
“I wanted something with details like the fringing and embroidery. It was very kind of Stevie Nicks, Fleetwood Mac inspired, and was really comfortable too which was a big plus!
“I was actually looking for something off the shoulder but when I tried it on, I just fell in love with all the detailing especially the back and sleeves! Then I added my accessories to really make it my own.
“I usually choose a lot of accessories so it was hard to narrow it down – I wore a veil to the church and then afterwards I put on my hat from Lack of Colour. I am definitely a hat person!
“My husband also gifted me the Converse which were custom-made with our date and the rose gold eyelets. I changed into them on the evening and during the day I wore a gold pair of heels I jazzed up with some pearls – later on my sister actually saw that Jimmy Choo came out with shoes just like them!”
Barry also looked sharp wearing chinos from M&S, a blazer from River Island and a waistcoat from Eamon Bracken Menswear, Portarlington. His groomsmen wore a mix of M&S and Diffney Menswear. Melissa also went for neutral pink and purple bridesmaid dresses from Asos.
Having had such a special and sentimental wedding, Melissa and Barry found it hard to choose just one favourite moment from their day.
“Barry said before that one of his favourite moments was in the woods getting our photos taken, or watching me getting my photos taken, more like!” Melissa laughs. “We were just having so much fun soaking up the day and it was really relaxed.
“My dad’s friend also drove us down in a vintage Model T car and we had such a fun time. It was only a short journey back to the house, but it was so exciting and nice to have a minute to ourselves.
“Outside the church my aunties and uncles also brought some scones and champagne and we had mini reception outside before we went back to my parents which was really sweet.
“My granny was also in hospital at the time, and she was told she only had three days to live but was adamant we went ahead with our date, so we made sure to stop by and see her. It’s now been over a year and she’s here with us and thriving again!”
For all the brides-to-be out there trying to plan their day in the middle of a global pandemic, Melissa has some positive words of encouragement.
“I would say just go for it – you will regret it if you don’t and it can turn out even more special than you could have ever imagined,” she says.
“You need to remember that a wedding is just one day and it may not look exactly like you thought, but it can still be everything and more. The most important thing for us was having our closest people there and we were so ready to start our new chapter.
“Looking back now, we’re so in love with our day and wouldn’t change a thing. People have suggested maybe having a bigger party next year, but I don’t think we will. It was just perfect as it was.”
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