Who said you can’t have a beach wedding at home? Kirsty and Joao created a dreamy ceremony which also happened to be the first wedding on Tyrella Beach here in Northern Ireland.
HOW THEY MET
It’s true what they say about finding the one when you least expect it – Kirsty and Joao of Tandragee first met back in 2013 when they were both working as carers in separate facilities and Joao was randomly assigned to cover Kirsty’s shift.
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“It’s actually quite a funny story,” Kirsty laughs. “It’s not the most romantic setting – we met in a nursing home when Joao had come to cover one of my shifts. We were both working in different nursing homes at the time, so it’s just a pure coincidence but I feel like it was meant to be!”
Little did they know this was the start of their 8-year journey together in which they would go through many ups and downs, but in the end come out stronger and closer than ever.
“We met around the time I had applied to study nursing at university in England, so we’ve since done 4 years long distance,” Kirsty says. “We’ve been through so much together – not long after I graduated and came home, I was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2018.
“I’m happy to say I am all clear and healthy now, but Joao has been my rock through everything! We also had a recent miscarriage with our first son Jaden, which was really tough but it’s definitely made us stronger.
“We’re still grieving, but we are so happy to be blessed with our little boy, Orlando, who just turned one and will always know about his big brother.”
Kirsty and Joao move to the beat of their own drum and ditched the traditional proposal for a good old fashion chat about their next chapter.
“We’re not very traditional and we have this rule which applied to our wedding as well – ‘our day, our way,’” Kirsty shares.
“We like some traditions, but we’ve been living together for a couple of years now and we kind of have this thing where we make big decisions whilst sitting on the sofa,” she laughs.
“One night we were just sitting on the sofa around the end of 2019 and I just turned to Joao and said ‘do you know what, shall we just get married?’, so it was quite spur of the moment, but it just felt right!”
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THE PLANNING PROCESS
After getting engaged in 2019, it was two years before they finally got their dream beach wedding on the 2nd June 2021 which looked a little different from that they originally envisioned.
“We were supposed to get married in Portugal last year where Joao is from, but we postponed because I had a miscarriage and then when Covid hit we knew it wasn’t going to be possible anyway,” Kirsty explains.
“So we postponed until this year and were meant to get married on 21st June, but then come October time, things were just getting too stressful so thar’s when we started thinking of having a wedding here.”
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Kirsty and Joao weren’t letting go of their beach wedding dream without a fight and after a lengthy planning process, they finally pulled off a relaxed and beautiful ceremony which also made history as the first ever wedding on Tyrella Beach!
“I think people thought we were crazy because the weather here in Northern Ireland can be so unpredictable, but we thought rain, hail or shine we’re getting married on the beach! We’re so happy we went ahead with it, and it turned out even more beautiful than we imagined,” Kirsty says.
Although they had originally planned for a bigger destination wedding, Kirsty and Joao went for a more intimate celebration this time around with just 26 of their closest friends and family.
“In a way we think Covid has kind of steered us to where we were meant to be,” Kirsty reminisces. “It was just a dream and felt so lovely and personal. We can also go visit anytime and relive all those special memories and bring Orlando and maybe even future children if we’re blessed with more.”
DREAM WEDDING SUPPLIERS
Kirsty and Joao’s wedding was the perfect combination of subtle and stylish. After their chilled ceremony, they took advantage of the beautiful beach surroundings and their guests enjoyed snacks and coffee from the Fancy Fox food cart.
“The Fancy Fox is from a café in Newscastle and it was a really nice touch on the day while we enjoyed our time on the beach,” Kirsty says.
“We also had a little dance on the beach as well with our band, Fairly Local, who performed there and were amazing. We weren’t allowed to have live music indoors, so I was able to get my first dance with my dad on the beach and it was such a lovely atmosphere.”
“We then headed to Hillyard house in Castlewellan which was amazing. This was actually their first wedding as well – it’s a guest house which was recently renovated and it was beautiful. The staff were so helpful and friendly.
“Cormac the manager helped us through the entire process and did his best to bring our vision to life. The chef, Simon, was also amazing and together we created a barbeque buffet menu with a Brazilian twist which had a lot of dishes that are enjoyed in Portugal too, and everyone loved it!”
For dessert, Kirsty and Joao indulged in their wedding cake by Landa Knox at NI Cake Design in Carrickfergus – which was two tiers chocolate and Chambord, one tier coconut and passionfruit and the last tier, vanilla and strawberry.
Opting for a pale pink and natural colour scheme, Kirsty and Joao went for a mixture of peonies, protea/sugarbushes, roses and bunnytails from Vintage Voilet Floral Boutique in Armagh. They also had a pampas grass floral arch made by Ballyardle Bespoke Events.
Souzi Bailey at Design Lab also created beach-inspired stationary. “We didn’t really do invitations, but Souzi made us a little paddleboard in the sand with the plans for the day which we loved. She also made our easel board and lovely tags to attach to our napkins and cutlery with a little thank you note.”
CAPTURING THE DAY
Capturing Kirsty and Joao’s dream day was Sasha Treanor Photography and Tommy and James from Shutter and Light Wedding Videography.
“Sasha is amazing – she had taken the photographs from one of my friends’ weddings when I was a bridesmaid and I remember watching her on the day and just thought she was the best,” Kirsty says.
“Her work is so creative, and she made us feel really comfortable and captured our day perfectly. We also took Orlando’s baby photographs and she is great at getting natural candid photos, so it was a no brainer we had to have her for our wedding too.
“Sasha also recommended us to Tommy and James from Shutter & Light who did our wedding video as she worked with them before. They’re such great guys and we really love their style.
“Usually at weddings I’d feel cautious of someone taking videos, but on the day, we didn’t even notice they were there. They were so good at blending into the background and doing their thing, and they and Sasha were the dream team.”
Kirsty looked like a dream in a beautiful blush Stella York gown from The Wild Rose Boutique in Newry, which had never left her mind since she tried it on years prior to the day.
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“This dress has a little history as well,” Kirsty explains. “I tried it on years ago when I was pregnant with Jaden and I thought it was beautiful, but I went on to other shops to keep looking.
“Then when Covid came about, shops were closing and we had postponed our date as well, so I went back the following year and to my surprise the dress was still there! This time around, I was pregnant with Orlando when I tried it on again and I just knew it was the one.”
Kirsty had one bridesmaid and one maid of honour who both wore dusky pink dresses from Rosie’s Closet in Newry.
“My colour scheme was originally supposed to be blue, but when I saw those dusky pink bridesmaid dresses from Rosie’s Closet, I just loved the colour and thought it looked lovely for a beach wedding.”
Joao and the best man looked sharp in a slim fitted navy Caravelli suit from Tux and Tails in Dungannon. Little Orlando and the page boys also looked handsome in their matching jackets from Tux and Tails and pink shorts from River Island.
With such a magical and sentimental day, Kirsty and Joao shared so many special moments that they’ll cherish forever.
“Looking back now, we definitely did ‘our day our way’ and didn’t follow a lot of the usual wedding traditions,” Kirsty reminisces.
“We are so glad we went ahead with our beach wedding here in Northern Ireland and there are so many special moments we’ll never forget.
“I remember grabbing my dad’s hand and walking down the beach on the day and all I could see was Joao – everything else just fell away and my vision was pinpointed on him and he was crying by the time I got up there. It was just so emotional and we were both so happy it was finally happening.
“We also wrote our own vows which was another really special moment. We had them both in English and Portuguese and as Joao is from Portugal his Portuguese was amazing, but mine on the other hand, not so much,” Kirsty laughs. “But I tried my best and Joao helped me through it and I know it meant a lot to him and his family.
“For us, the ceremony was the big thing. Normally at weddings I can’t wait to get to the reception, but we really loved the ceremony on the beach – it was so peaceful and just perfect for us.
Joao adds: “My favourite moment has to be when I saw Kirsty for the first time walking down the aisle. She looked so beautiful in her wedding dress and it was very emotional for both of us.
“Then reading our vows together was also very special. Another favourite moment would be our first dance together on the beach as husband and wife – it was amazing.”
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