2nd Oct 2017

Grainne & Sean

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The Big Question

We were travelling around Japan last April when Sean proposed. One day we were hiking through bamboo groves, we had climbed high in to the hills so we stopped to take a rest and admire the view overlooking Arashiyama. As I was taking a photo of the scenery I looked to my right and to my surprise Sean wasn’t standing there anymore - he was down on one knee holding out a box with my engagement ring! Turned out he had carried it around in his back pack for two weeks! I was so shocked I couldn’t stop saying ‘oh my god’ and had to sit down to catch my breath. I don’t think I even said yes initially!

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After 9 years together I knew we would get engaged but he caught me totally off guard. Sean hadn’t told anyone that he was planning to propose so we were bursting to let his family know, the time difference between Japan and the UK meant that we had to keep it all to ourselves until the next day!

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Shop 'Til You Drop

After looking online at wedding dresses, I had a clear idea of what I wanted - a long-sleeved, V neck dress with a slim-fitted skirt. I went to several bridal shops looking for one like this but also kept an open mind and tried on other styles too. Nothing was ‘WOWing’ me and I was worried I just didn’t suit wedding dresses. Until I went to White Mischief Bridal in Henfield, Sussex. Their boutique was beautiful and they had so many gorgeous dresses.

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In amongst the boho, slim-line dresses I picked out, for a bit of fun I tried on a dress with a full skirt and an open lace back. As soon as I put it on I knew I loved it, I’d never seen anything like it anywhere and it couldn’t have been more perfect for our wedding venue. My bridal appointment was only meant to be 30 minutes but I ended up walking around in it for an hour and a half! I just couldn’t bring myself to take it off! I begrudgingly gave the dress back and left the shop to sleep on it before I returned a few days later with my brother who amazingly bought it for me.

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The Perfect Day

We got married at Villa Catalina, an 18th-Century Spanish mansion in rural Barcelona, in front of 85 of our dearest friends and family. We rented out the mansion and stayed there for the weekend with 30 of our wedding party. Villa Catalina is a private estate so we had several wedding suppliers come together on the day to create an alfresco Mediterranean wedding. All credit to our creative wedding planner Jess, founder of Happy Endings Barcelona, who managed to bring to life a piece of magic more stunning than we could ever have imagined.

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On the morning of the wedding my five bridesmaids and I enjoyed a leisurely breakfast on the terrace and got ready in our bridal quarters on the third floor of the house. My beautiful bridesmaid and one of my oldest friends, Aoibheann, was responsible for my hair and make-up so I was lucky enough to rest in the knowledge that she would do a great job.

The wedding ceremony was held on the sun-dappled terrace within the grounds of the house. I tried my best to maintain my composure as I prepared to walk down the aisle with my brother, Owen, but as soon as I saw Sean (crying) and our family and friends (also crying) I couldn’t help but shed a few happy tears! Our celebrant, James, did an amazing job at making our ceremony unique and intimate, sharing some entertaining anecdotes about us before the readings and exchange of vows.

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After we said ‘I do’, our guests made their way down to the garden below for cocktails and canapés in the sunshine while Sean and I went off to grab a moment together and take some photos in the grounds. The local wedding caterers served up a variety of delicious treats including local cheeses, hams and hot and cold appetisers, accompanied by Catalonian cava and local wines.

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The alfresco feast continued upstairs on the terrace as our guests took their seats at banquet tables for the wedding breakfast. My Maid of Honour opened up the speeches as we tucked in to tapas, followed by salads and paella as Sean spoke, with the best man coming last but by no means least!

After cutting the cake and bouquet throw (you’re next Maid of Honour!), the bottomless bar opened and the party began. As the sun set, we had our first dance under a dreamy canopy of twinkling lights while our guests lit up the dance floor with sparklers. One of the ushers almost literally lit up the dancefloor as he passed around the sparklers but luckily managed to avert a disaster!!
With no curfew or noise constraints and an accommodating DJ, we partied in to the not so early hours of the next morning.

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Wise Words

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Don’t feel pressured to follow conventional traditions if you don’t want to, it’s your day so make sure it’s exactly what you and your fiancé want. A wedding is made by the people, not the process.

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When choosing a wedding venue, have a think about what’s most important to you. We wanted everything to be in one place and for people to stay over for the weekend without rules on timings and noise so we hired a private house.

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Finally, trust the professionals, they know what they’re doing so don’t let yourself fret about logistics or suppliers. If you can, hire a wedding planner, especially on the day itself.

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Photographer: Sara Frost
Dress: Monique
Location: Villa Catalina
Stockist: White Mischief Bridal
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