With a dog in a bow tie, a homage to The Beatles and a ‘from country casual to Vogue glam’ dress code, the wedding of Sarah McGrath, 30, and Aaron Craig, 35, on 14 July 2012 at Brookhall Historical Farm, near
Lisburn, was never going to be boring.
The couple have been together since the Oasis concert at Slane in 2009, but their friends had been trying to match-make them for years before that, ever since the pair met when working in two different Belfast city centre fashion shops. Not even Sarah’s globetrotting adventure, when she took six months off to travel the world with a friend after less than a year of dating Aaron, could come between them. In fact, absence made the heart grow fonder and when Sarah and her friend reached the last destination on their trip, New York City, Aaron and his mate were there to meet them. Sarah didn’t know that Aaron had brought an engagement ring with him, so it was a total surprise when the Beatles fan proposed to Sarah at the John Lennon Memorial in Central Park. A shared passion for music and vintage clothes and a love of doing things differently distinguished this fabulous and fun wedding.
The dress: Sarah’s love of the 1960s drove her to search for an original vintage wedding dress. “I looked online and found the Vintage Wedding Dress Company in London,” says Sarah. “I knew what I wanted as I’m a bit of a tomboy really so I didn’t want frills or anything too ‘weddingy’.
I went over to London with my mum for their trunk sale and headed straight for the vintage section. I tried on a few original vintage dresses but nothing was perfect. Then the owner, Charlie Brear, showed me her Decades collection of gowns she makes based on original vintage designs. I knew I wanted lace and the ‘60s dress I bought was a rich cream colour, almost custardy. I also bought accessories there that day including crochet lace gloves and a dusky pink vintage shawl.”
Hair and make-up: Sarah called on the expertise of her friends to add vintage stylings to her hair and make-up. Hairdresser Corina Pearce created Sarah’s hair style, incorporating her veil from Petticoat Lane of Hillsborough. Corina also styled bridesmaid Nikki’s hair in a 1960s way with big loose curls. Sarah’s friend Laura Meginnis, who works for MAC cosmetics, did the make-up for the bridal party.
Bridesmaid: Sarah’s best friend Nikki Cash wore a sage green dress that was exactly the shade and shape that Sarah had in mind. “I was thinking of getting one handmade but then we decided that we’d try a day of shopping in town. The first shop we went into was Debenhams and the first dress we saw was from Coast and it was the perfect shade. I bought vintage broaches from The Mooch Room, one of my favourite online shops, and we layered those around the tie around Nikki’s waist.”
Groom: Aaron wanted a suit that he could keep forever and, like Sarah, he didn’t want to go down the traditional route, so he got a three-piece suit custom made by Magee at Bogart. “He was going for a country gent look, but modern, and he wanted a bow tie,” explains Sarah. “The tweed that the suit was made from has now been discontinued so that makes it even more special. We bought Aaron’s bow tie off the internet, but from the cuts that were leftover from the suit, I made a wee dicky bow for our dog Whiskey to wear on the day.”
Bouquet: A friend of Aaron’s mum, Carol McGarry, created the floral bouquets and displays for the wedding. “She does it as a hobby and I could not have wished for anything better,” says Sarah. “I wanted my flowers to look like I’d just walked through a field and picked them. My bouquet wasn’t to be matched to any of the colours in the outfits, so it was full of purples, oranges and lots of big white daisies, tied with a bit of straw. We got wee buckets and put them in the church and on tables at the reception and filled them with flowers and had displays of sunflowers too.”
Cake: Aaron’s mum, Olive, whose father was a cake-maker, created a display featuring a variety of cakes, including a large red velvet cake, a chocolate cake and a Madeira cake, displayed on a unique setting comprising of an old door, two barrels, tree stumps and wild flowers.
Reception: Both the wedding and the reception were held at Brookhall Historical Farm, in the village of Magheragall. “I was looking for quirky wedding venues,” says Sarah, “ and as soon as I saw it I thought, this is what I want.” The couple wed in the former 12th century stone church building within the grounds and held their reception in an barn beside it, with a five-course meal served by Jane’s Kitchen of Broughshane. Grace Cousins, from Belfast-based company Grace & Saviour, made the props, including the bunting and letters spelling out All You Need Is Love, attached to fishing net on a wall behind the top table. Aaron’s mum had booked an ice cream cart for day which went down a treat with guests. Afterwards the couple and their friends took over CoCo restaurant in Belfast city centre, where Aaron’s DJ brother, John, provided the beats.
Cars: The groom’s party travelled to the venue in an original 1967 VW campervan while Sarah and her dad arrived in style in a vintage classic Volkswagen Beetle, from Star Cars Hire of Larne.
The highlights: “I adored planning the wedding,” says Sarah “and I loved everything about the day. Daddy’s speech was great; in fact all the speeches were. I suppose walking down the aisle and seeing everybody was one of the other highlights. It rained the day before the wedding and the day after, but on the day the sun shone and it all turned out perfectly.”
Bride & Groom: Sarah McGrath and Aaron Craig
Bride’s Parents: Hugh McGrath and Carol McCrea
Groom’s Parents: Garth and Olive Craig
Bridesmaid: Nikki Cash
Vintage Wedding Dress Company/Charlie Brear, London.
Bridesmaid’s dress: Coast, Debenhams.
Mother of the bride outfit: Dolled Up Bridal Boutique, Lisburn Road, Belfast.
Groom’s suits: Custom made by Magee at Bogart, Belfast
Service and reception: Brookhall Historical Farm, Magheragall.
Photography and videography: Creative Flux Media, Belfast.
Honeymoon: Las Vegas followed by Cancun, Mexico.