Sunday, March 24, 2013

Mairead & Niall - The Landmark Hotel

Mairead booked me to photograph her wedding more than two years ago, and I'd been looking forward to it ever since. I knew she'd make a beautiful bride, but I didn't realise she'd also have no less than five gorgeous bridesmaids. At times on Saturday it felt like a beauty pageant, and when it came to our little "America's Next Top Model" part of the day, they all worked the camera like professionals, not to mention Junior bridesmaid Amy. Nobody was going to outshine Mairead on her big day though. Hard to believe looking at the photos, that this glamourous gang form the spine of the Dromahair Ladies Football team, one of the top sides in Connacht.

Even with a big bridal party and all those people to get ready, Mairead's house was an oasis of calm. The only one getting a little hot under the collar was Baxter the terrier, who just wanted to be part of the action. Kelly & Victoria did a great job of keeping everyone moving along efficiently and the bridesmaids' beehive hairdos gave them the look of a Sixties girl group. Down at the Church, the boys were doing fine too. The last time I was in Dromahair Church there was several inches of snow on the ground. This time there was snow on the mountain tops, but at least the roads were clear and all the guests could make it.

After the ceremony, we abandoned a planned stop along the way as the weather wasn't kind to us, but after arriving at The Landmark, we got a break and made a dash for The Shannon. It was like herding mice, finding all 12 members of the bridal party amongst the 200+ guests and getting them out the door. Everytime we looked around, another one had gone missing, but we got there. Mairead & Niall were a big hit with the Hen Party group getting off Moon River, best man Sean generously inviting them to the wedding later that evening. He may have had an ulterior motive...

Niall from Complete Weddings was alongside me on video again - at this rate we'll be like an old married couple ourselves soon. Mairead's lovely halter-neck dress came from Simone's in Sligo, her cousin Victoria Warnock created the hairdos, Kelly O'Dowd and Celtic Chaos provided the music. Mairead & Niall were jetting off for some well-earned sunshine after the wedding, and with the week we've just had, I'm sure they'll be very glad they didn't honeymoon at home.

Blog Collage-Mairead & Niall

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Philippa & John - Park Hotel, Kiltimagh

Nobody who knows Philippa would describe her as shy & retiring, so it was entirely appropriate that her wedding dress would be bold and dramatic. It was made by Jane Cowood, who isn't so much a dressmaker as a costumiér and whose creations regularly grace the stages of London's West End. The dress consisted of five separate pieces - in gold, with gold & aubergine lace, once assembled, it looked as though it would be perfectly at home in the Versailles court of Louis XVI.

I'm more used to seeing Philippa in jodphurs at the Lough Gara Stables. We've been in a few horsey scrapes together. Before she met John, Philippa had two other loves in her life - her horse Jessie, and Minnie, her little Yorkie, and they were both on hand to be part of her big day, though neither of them made the church. There were plenty of people - this was a big wedding, with lots of familiar faces. In fact, two of the guests had been at Elaine & Stewart's wedding the day before, which can't have been good for their livers.

After the ceremony in Keash, it was off to The Park Hotel in Kiltimagh for the reception. We had a stop at Glore Mill Arts Centre for some photos, but the bitter wind meant we were running the risk of pneumonia, so it was quick. Only best man Michael lingered over his shots, determined to perfect his Blue Steel pose. It was tempting to swap the champagne reception for a hot whiskey, but by the time dinner came around the crowd was well warmed up. The speeches added to the craic and with Late Nite Radio in top form, the dancefloor was full til the early hours. Though I put the camera down for the night, I do have a series of pictures from outside the Resident's Bar that I think I could make some money from - the subjects would probably pay handsomely to have the files deleted. Maybe I'll make a separate blog post out of them...

Blog Collage Philippa & John

Elaine & Stewart - The Landmark Hotel

I started a recent post with the line "it never rains, but it pours" - at 4am on the morning of Elaine's wedding, it was pouring though not raining, as the water tank in the attic burst, sending water cascading through the ceiling into the room where her and the bridesmaids' dresses were hanging. Not the ideal preparation for the big day, but thankfully the dresses were rescued unscathed. The watery theme continued however, as rain fell pretty consistently throughout the day.

Nothing was going to dampen Elaine's spirit though, she's a livewire, and the morning preparations were punctuated by regular outbreaks of song. Elaine is a regular performer with the Boyle Musical Society. I wondered if that was how she'd met Stewart. Carrick & Boyle are more known for their rivalry than their love affairs, but these two actually met in the Landmark Hotel nightclub when Stewart's killer chat-up line was enough to convince Elaine he was the man for her. So it was appropriate that their wedding reception was held in The Landmark to bring things round full circle.

Before that, the ceremony was enhanced by the Carrick Choir. This was my third time in the past year to have the pleasure of hearing them in full voice. The choir only performs at weddings for family members. If they performed more widely, I've no doubt they'd be booked every weekend. Our planned ramble through the town to the hotel was rained off, but the clouds parted long enough for me to take a stroll on the boardwalk with Elaine & Stewart before dinner. For the fourth wedding in a row, Niall Magahy was alongside me on video, Grainne from Enhance was on beauty & make-up, Emer from Grafters did hair, the colourful flowers were by Norma Duignan and Brian McDermott provided the music. I have to give a special mention to Sophie, who surely has a bright future as a model - the camera loves her as much as she loves it!

Blog Collage-Elaine & Stewart

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Linda & Micéal - Kilronan Castle

During the speeches I sometimes hear Grooms talking about how they lost their heart to their bride. Micéal went one better - as well as giving his heart to Linda, just a fortnight before the wedding, he sacrificed a different organ - his appendix. Not necessarily the ideal preparation for the big day and not as romantic as having his heart stolen away, but at least he was back on his feet and fighting fit for the wedding.

So I was back up the mountains in Ballinaglera, a beautiful part of the country, with sweeping views over Lough Allen. I'd photographed Linda's brother Declan's wedding last year, and was delighted to hear that he and Catriona are now preparing themselves for the patter of tiny feet. Maybe the little one will be serving as flower girl or pageboy for Francis's wedding in years to come. He was getting on so well with bridesmaid Mairead that it could be sooner than we think...

This was a big local wedding, with Linda & Micéal growing up only a couple of miles down the road from each other, so the Church was packed to the rafters. It was looking great and Fr Sean Mawn, reunited with his Parker pen that I'd slipped in my pocket last year, conducted a lovely intimate ceremony. Afterwards it was time for champagne and a stop at Lough Allen's banks before crossing the Roscommon border and arriving at Kilronan Castle. There was an important photocall for both the men's and women's Ballinaglera football teams. The ladies proudly sported their jerseays for their shot, but the lads were worried they'd mess up their hair and make up, so stayed in their suits. Michael Frayne captured everything on video, Concord provided the music, and best man Hugh, head chef in Carrick's Bush Hotel, deserves a special mention for not only delivering a fine speech, but also making a fabulous job on the cake. By now Linda & Micéal should be lounging on a beach in Mexico before they head for the bright light to take on the casinos in Vegas.

Linda & Micéal Blog Collage

Sarah & Seamus

Seamus was a worried man when he and Sarah came to see me a couple of weeks before their wedding. "I've ruined every photo I've ever been in", he said, "I can't smile", he said, "I always look weird" he said. Even as a man whose profession involves the study of Theology and Philosophy, it seemed he was having trouble resolving this internal conflict. So Sarah & I sat him down, calmed him down, and got down to work with a pre-wedding photoshoot, something I encourage all my couples to do. By the time we'd finished, Seamus seemed happier, and after seeing the results, began to realise that everything was going to be ok on the day.

Of course, there were no such worries from Sarah, who is a natural in front of the camera, and was looking radiant when I arrived to her home on the morning of the wedding. The only little anxiety in the house was from Mum Hilary, who was determined that everyone would be arriving to the Cathedral on time. Usually, it falls to the photographer to take responsibility for the schedule, so it was good to have someone else minding the minutes - I may take her to all my weddings. Sligo Cathedral is quite dark, but it is lovely and ornate, with plenty of space to move around in discreetly, so I always enjoy working there. It was given added touches with some beautiful decorations from Feehily Florists, who always do a fantastic job down to the finest details.

After the ceremony, we set off for Donegal. Due to the conditions, we abandoned a planned stop on the beach at Streedagh and headed straight for Lough Eske, stopping for a few minutes at the gate lodge by the lakeshore. There was a great buzz going in the hotel, with guests being entertained by jazzy pianist Liam Gannon and gathering round the sweet cart and cake stand. The red velvet buns were to die for. Before we knew it, it was time for dinner, and after Sarah & Seamus's grand entrance the party got going. Niall was alongside me on video for the day - Dejá Groove provided the music. There had been a lovely musical interlude earlier in the day too, from the girls of the Ursaline Schools' Choir who performed while Sarah & Seamus signed the register.

Blog Collage-Sarah & Seamus