Covid-19 certainly had an impact on Oonagh and Ryan’s 2020 but, as we’re about to find out, it didn’t mean their downscaled wedding at the amazing Le Petit Château in Otterburn, Northumberland was any less perfect.
With the bride and groom both working as doctors in the NHS – Ryan as a GP who had also been helping out by seeing Covid patients at home or in the Covid Hubs, and Oonagh, a trainee eye surgeon redeployed to cover the Covid wards during the first peak of the pandemic – it seemed inevitable that their wedding would be negatively affected too.
The months leading up to the wedding were certainly very stressful for our couple, both with work and the uncertainties about whether restrictions would allow their big day to proceed. They considered postponing a few times but, in the end, decided they wanted to be married regardless. Love triumphs again!
Oonagh still got her dream dress, her dream venue and married her dream man, and with a guestlist reduced from 140 to 30, they were still able to look on the bright side and made the most of it, going all out with a more elaborate five course wedding breakfast instead. Sometimes wedding planning is all about rolling with the punches!
Oonagh says: We got engaged at Bamburgh Castle in Northumberland in December 2018. We had decided to go on a nice walk with our dog, Leo, but when we arrived in Bamburgh it was quite grey and rainy. We were walking along the beach when finally the sun came out when we were right in front of the castle and I thought we should get a picture, while I was fumbling with my phone Ryan got down on one knee and popped the question.
There were lots of happy tears, Ryan had a wet and sandy knee, and we had one very happy pup who wasn’t quite sure what all the excitement was about.
We spent the rest of the day letting our family and friends know the exciting news. Although my parents were sailing from the Azores to the Canary Islands at the time, without any phone or internet signal, and ended up being the last to find out!
We got married on the 26th of September 2020. We chose this date as it was nearly 10 years to the day from when we first met at university.
We got married at Le Petit Chateau in Otterburn, Northumberland. We had both the ceremony and reception there. We fell in love with the venue as soon as we first saw pictures of it. The ceremony room, gardens and atmosphere of the whole place was so beautiful. We felt that nowhere else we looked at could possibly compare. We also loved the fact that it is pet friendly which meant our beloved dog could join us for our special day.
We wanted to stick with neutral colours as much as possible for our colour scheme; we felt that green hues would be a nice nod to our Irish backgrounds, and the white and earthy tones would all look lovely against the amazing backdrop of Le Petit Chateau
My dress was the Joni style by Parisian designer Rime Arodaky. I got it from The White Gallery Boutique back in Ireland. I saw this dress online initially and was glad to find such a great boutique close to home who sold Rime Arodaky’s collection. I loved how fun the top part of the dress was, the Swiss dot detail of the sheer fabric and dramatic flared cuffs were perfectly balanced out against the clean cut skirt.
Ryan wore a tuxedo. His dress shirt and trousers were from Moss Bros, and the dark green velvet jacket was from John Lewis. Both were expertly tailored by Alberto’s of Gosforth. His bow-tie was black velvet from DQT and shoes from Ted Baker.
The groomsmen wore black tuxedos, also purchased from Moss Brothers, with dark green bow ties from DQT to complement the green of the bridesmaids and Ryan’s tuxedo jacket.
The bridesmaids wore dark green camisole tops with separate skirts by The OWN Studio. We loved the minimalist sleek silhouette of their outfits and luxury feel of the material. This alongside the brand’s sustainable fashion ethos for making rewearable pieces, made them a great choice for our bridesmaids.
They were also were able to have facemasks made to match using the excess material following their alterations.
Our hair and make up was done by Lisa and Aimee from Lisa Jones Hair and Makeup. They helped make the morning of the wedding really fun, and they ensured everyone left looking stunning.
We all stayed at the venue the night before. Le Petit Chateau’s L’Appartement was perfect for the girls, while Ryan and the groomsmen shared rooms in the William de Percy Inn. It meant the bridal party and families could enjoy a meal together the night before, and that we wouldn’t have to stress about transport on the day of the wedding.
Our photographers were Chris and Shazia from Chocolate Chip Photography. They were amazing from start to finish. We booked them originally not long after we got engaged, when we were planning a 140 guest wedding and thought we would need two photographers to capture the day. When we downsized due to the pandemic, we realised that two photographers might be overkill for so few guests. They were really accommodating by changing to provide both photos and videography for the day. We hadn’t originally planned to have a video but now we’re so glad that we did.
Flowers and decorations were provided by Amy from Muscari Events. She made the most gorgeous bouquets of dried grass, flowers and foliage. The mantelpiece above the fireplace for the ceremony had a striking pampas grass arrangement, which was able to be transferred to the top table for the reception. The tables were dressed with cactuses, pampas grass, terrariums with potted succulents – all on a nude cheesecloth table runner.
She went above and beyond when the corner of the seating chart was damaged on the journey to the venue, making a last minute arrangement to disguise the damage!
My sister and Maid of Honour, Amy, kindly made up hemp bags filled with wildflower seeds for our guests to scatter, to encourage more honeybee and butterfly friendly habitats.
The cake was made by The Great British Cupcakery. It was a three-tiered, semi-naked design with the addition of flowers and grass from Muscari Events for decoration. The flavours were lemon sponge with blueberry and elderflower with lemon frosting, a cookies and cream tier with crunchy Oreo frosting, and a lime sponge with passion fruit frosting. The cake went down very well with all the guests!
Le Petit Chateau offered a seven course tasting menu that we really wanted when we originally booked, however it wasn’t feasible for 140 guests as it would have taken all afternoon and evening to serve everyone! But when we downscaled our numbers, we were able to go with this option. Ryan was very happy that this was back on the table! We wanted to go all out so we had canapés of smoked salmon and horseradish cream with cucumber, warm bruschetta of mozzarella, sun blushed tomato & pesto, mini Yorkshire pudding with beef red wine jus and horseradish crème fresh and mini beef burger served with mini beers.
Our main menu included a taste bud tickler of hand-picked crab, lemon mayonnaise and melba toast, starters of a coarse country pork pate with local piccalilli and rustic baguette. Then a Limoncello, Prosecco and lemon sorbet followed by monkfish with sun-blushed tomato salsa. The main was a French style confit of duck leg with braised red cabbage and Paris mash and dessert was white chocolate and Baileys cheesecake, with a course of cheese and biscuits and chutneys to end. This was all washed down with two amazing wines; a Malbec from Chamuyo Estate, Mendoza and a Pinot Grigio from Montevento, Vento.
We had originally booked the incredible Emerald Thieves as our entertainment but sadly, due to the restrictions on numbers, we had to downsize to a single guitarist.
Fortunately the singer, Dan James McClew, stepped up with only a week and a half to go to the big day! He was brilliant and really helped make the atmosphere fun. He made it feel like a proper wedding party even though the guests had to stay in their social bubbles.
He was even kind enough to learn some classic Irish folk tunes last minute to keep the Irish contingent happy.
Obviously a lot of the originally invited guests were unable to make it in person. We still wanted them to be involved and so Ryan set up a livestream of the ceremony using his GoPro and Twitch.com so that they could tune in. It was very touching to see photos of friends and family watching from afar and celebrating with us with a glass of prosecco in the comfort of their own homes!
Our dog, Leo, was also an extra groomsman and took his role very seriously, he even got a tuxedo to match the other groomsmen.
One of my dearest friends, Gemma, is one half of the band Saint Sister and they were kind enough to let us use their cover of Eternal Flame for our first dance, which meant a lot to us.
We really wanted to thank the venue and all our fantastic suppliers for making sure the day went ahead safely and enjoyably.
The venue itself is so beautiful. The attention to detail that the team have put in to the food, drink, the gardens, the tables, the ceremony and ballroom is all incredible.
Even with all the uncertainties surrounding covid they made sure the day ran smoothly – we didn’t have to worry about anything on the day.
Despite all the restrictions that were in place, the day still felt so special
The wonderful Abi from Dogs Day Walking was on Leo duty, this meant that we could relax without having to worry about the dog running up to people or pinching anyone’s canapes!
All our suppliers were brilliant. I was blown away by Muscari Events’ flowers and styling for the room, she managed to make everything look better than I could have ever imagined. The cake too from GB Cupcakery looked spectacular and Aimee and Lisa made everyone look like their best selves! The Chocolate Chip Photography team, Chris and Shazia, were great at making Ryan and I feel so comfortable on camera, they slotted into the day perfectly.
And finally, Abi from Dogs Day Walking was great, making sure Leo had a long walk that morning so he wasn’t too overexcitable and then boarding him that night so we didn’t have to stress at all.
It is hard to pick just one part as the day was perfect from start to finish. It was so nice to just have all our closest friends and family together in one place after such a strange start to the year. I think the evening was a real highlight for us, as we hadn’t wanted to get our hopes up that things would feel like a normal wedding, so it was a real treat that the singer, Dan, was able to give the venue such a fantastic party atmosphere despite everyone having to stay distanced.
We didn’t book a honeymoon originally as we were worried about travel restrictions. However, since the Maldives has now been added to the list of safe countries by the UK government, we are now looking forward to our honeymoon there in January to celebrate at the Emerald Maldives Resort.
Don’t let Covid get you down! That’s the best advice! At the end of the day it’s about the marriage not the party. As someone who had always wanted a big wedding, I actually found that having had a significantly downscaled affair did not affect our enjoyment of the day at all. It still felt perfect.