Long-time lovers Marie and John had a chilled and chic ceremony in Lough Erne Resort which all started with a Bond-style entrance!
Our wedding of the week couple from Maghera finally tied the knot after 15 years together and although they had a chilled and ceremony, there certainly wasn’t anything chill about that entrance!
Marie tells us how John came up with the idea to fly them into their wedding at Lough Erne Resort, which was also the day Maire lost her ‘helicopter virginity’…
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“I didn’t want to walk up the aisle myself, so John came up with the great idea of having a helicopter ride in and walking up the aisle together,” she says.
“Martin Duggan was the pilot who provided the helicopter and John and I have done some charity work for him raising funds for children with cancer, so he was happy to fly us into our wedding.
“It was a fabulous experience – in 20 minutes we had made an 1hr and 40-minute journey to the Lough Erne Resort. I was a helicopter virgin, so I’ve never even set foot in a helicopter before and this was something totally new for me!
“The views were unbelievable, and you could see everything! The funny thing is, I wasn’t even scared. Except for the weather as it was really wet and windy, but as soon as we landed it all cleared up.”
Marie and John met back in 2006 when their families knew they’d be perfect together, so sneakily set up the perfect meeting on a night out.
“We met at McKenna’s bar in Maghera, but what we didn’t know was that his sister and my sister teamed together with a little plan to set us up,” Marie laughs.
“We were both just going out for the night and were totally oblivious to what they were up to. John was in a band called The Crazy Folkers who were playing there and after he finished the only seat available was, of course, right beside me!
“I had heard of him before and knew he had been previously married and we’d both been through similar experiences, but I had no idea what he looked like! We were both so naïve that it was all set up but looking back now, we’re pretty thankful for it.”
After 15 years of amazing memories, John finally popped the question on 28th June 2020 with limited resources in a worldwide lockdown.
“It was as romantic as being over a steak dinner!” Marie laughs. “We were just having our dinner at home together and it was in the middle of lockdown so there wasn’t much we could do, and John made a lovely meal as it was my birthday the day before.
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“We are quite comfortable with each other by now, so we were just talking about life in general when he asked me right then and there! Even though we had been together forever, I was still surprised and said to him, ‘So when do you want to do this?’ and he replied ‘What are we waiting for?!’”
Marie and John wasted no time planning their dream day, getting married just a few months after the engagement on 10th October at Lough Erne Resort in Enniskillen.
“I was always wanted to get married in the Lough Erne Resort,” Marie shares. “It was a great venue, had amazing views and lovely food and staff, so it just ticked all the boxes.
“Hotels had just started opening again two days after John proposed, so we booked to stay and met with the general director Joanne who showed us around and I just knew this was the perfect place!” – Find out more about Lough Erne Resort HERE
But of course, planning a wedding during a global pandemic is never easy (thanks, Covid!), yet Marie and John managed to pull off a stylish and cosy ceremony to create their blended family with Marie’s daughters Aisling and Erin and John’s daughter Katie.
“We were originally supposed to have 50 guests, but only had 33 in the end as the country went into county lockdowns just two weeks before the wedding, so a lot of guests from the South couldn’t make it,” she says.
“Despite everything going on, we weren’t going to change our date. It was as simple as if it’s only us and our girls, we will do it – we didn’t need or want a big day. For us, it’s more about making that commitment that was important to us.
“We were also told we weren’t allowed live music due to restrictions, but it meant a lot to us that my daughter played the harp. I ended up emailing Michelle O’Neill explaining the situation and how it would be safe for her to play, and she actually got back to me that night to confirm we could go ahead!
“We were delighted and it made the day extra special because we have toured Ireland with her doing competitions and she’s just amazing.”
Marie went for autumnal flower arrangements with roses and lavender for her October wedding from Macknagh Blossoms in Maghera.
“I knew I wanted autumnal colours and one of my mother’s favourite colours was always purple,” Marie explains.
“She passed three years before the wedding and she always said John and I would get married, so I wanted to bring a little piece of her with me on the day.
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“They also included a little thistle on John’s suit, which I loved, and it matched in with the relaxed theme. The bouquet was also wrapped in fabric from the bottom of my wedding dress which was a really nice sparkly touch!”
Marie, being the proud owner of Romantique Bridal Boutique in Magherafelt, knows a thing or two about wedding dresses and decided on a sparkly and champagne Pronovias Atelie gown – find out more about Romantique Bridal HERE
“I knew what I wanted but because we were in the middle of lockdown, I couldn’t try anything on,” Maire says.
“I just had to go by a picture online and hope for the best! I knew what I didn’t want which is what every bride says when they come into my store – no strapless, no A-line and no white, and when this dress came, I just fell in love with it straight away!”
Marie’s daughter Aisling from AMC Nails & Beauty provided all the finishing touches to give her Mum’s wedding look that extra wow-factor.
John also looked smart beside his blushing bride in a navy and checked Remus Uomo suit from Tom Morrow in Cookstown.
Ciaran McGuckin from Carn Photo captured Marie and John’s day perfectly with an array of cute candids and natural moments.
“I’ve seen his work and I know I’m personally and I was able to say exactly what I wanted and didn’t want,” Marie says.
“Staged photos can be nice, but I didn’t want anything too posey and he captured real candid shots of us in the moment which we loved!
Looking back, Marie and John found it hard to choose just one favourite moment from their fabulous day, but they will never forget that grand entrance and being back with friends and family.
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“My favourite moment has to be the helicopter entrance,” Marie says. “I had never done anything like that before and I never thought little old me from the middle of the mountain would arrive in a helicopter to my wedding at Lough Erne!
“John has MS so we were isolated for a while and I think it was just really nice to be out chatting to friends and family we hadn’t seen for 18 months and feeling normal again.”
For all the brides-to-be out there trying to plan a wedding in the midst of a pandemic, Marie has some positive words of encouragement.
“The main thing to focus on is your fiancé and husband-to-be,” she says. “You have to remember this is all about you and him and it’s your day.
“We did exactly what we wanted and didn’t think about what this person or another person would like, and looking back now we wouldn’t have changed a thing.”
Marie and John are now enjoying married life together and have their heart set on their dream honeymoon to New Zealand which they are hoping to plan when restrictions allow.
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