From first meeting as 17-year-olds to their romantic engagement in Paris, this was a love story that was always meant to be.
The 25-year-olds are colleagues at iON digital marketing agency in Belfast and both working and living together has proved to be an ideal arrangement for the young newlyweds. “It’s really good,” says Yolanda, “and since it’s the first job for both of us, we don’t know anything different.
The love of tradition meant that Yolanda didn’t hesitate to take Matt’s surname too. “When I was younger I always said I’d go double-barrelled, but Porter-Cooper sounded wrong,” she laughs, “so I’m now Yolanda Cooper.”
The couple’s eight-year courtship took them through university at Queen’s and, with Yolanda’s background as a bridal model, she knew she had the dress of her dreams as soon as she tried it on. “I’m not into faff, so I wanted a timeless wedding, keeping the hair and flowers elegant and not having anything OTT.”
The dress: With her experience as a catwalk model at bridal shows, Yolanda thought she knew the ideal dress for her. “I’ve worn every type of gown from fishtail to a full-skirt princess style, so I thought I knew what I wanted and over the years I’ve ruled out a lot of different styles. I love the type of dress Kate Moss wore at her wedding, but it wouldn’t suit me. As I looked at ‘the’ dress I thought it was a bit fussy but as soon as I tried it on I knew it was the one. Your wedding day is the only day you can wear such a fabulous dress and I knew I wanted the drama of the lower half of the gown.”
Yolanda’s ivory dress was by Maggie Sottero, famous for her intricate detailing and hand sewn embellishments, from Pronuptia. A stunning gown, it featured lace panelling, gems and pearl embellishment, a split and netting, flowing out from below the hips. Finishing the look was a magnificent full train. “I didn’t realise how big the train was until the day itself.” Her headpiece was borrowed from a friend – the ‘something borrowed’ part of the ceremony. Yolanda kept her jewellery classic, with a gorgeous bracelet and ear-rings from Debenhams.
Bridesmaids: “Neither Matt nor I have sisters so it was great to have my friends Laura Moore and Zara McMullan as bridesmaids. Working in marketing and sales I got to know a business called Twobirds Bridesmaid in London’s Notting Hill, but I’d had the idea for the dress in my head before I even knew it existed.” Twobirds offer one dress, but it can be worn in 15 different ways, inspired by Norma Kamali 1970s ‘Infinity’ or convertible dress. Made from a luxurious silk jersey blend, the dress is classically stylish and versatile. “Laura and Zara wore their dresses, in a pale silvery-lilac colour, in two different ways and also wore them one way for the ceremony and a different way for the reception.” Their statement cuff bracelets in two different styles came from Mimco, Victoria Square, Belfast.
Groom: The men hired their suits from the appropriately-named Groom in Banbridge. Matt wore a charcoal grey suit from Groom’s contemporary collection, with pewter button details and a silver paisley pattern tie. The men in the party all wore the same suit, complemented by a pale lilac tie.
Cake and flowers: A four-tiered cake decorated with fresh flowers from Denise Ward, Belfast, added to the traditional theme of the wedding. “I wanted the day to be elegant, with traditional cars and a cake,” says Yolanda. “My flowers were from Alexandra Florist on Belfast’s York Road, the same place my mum had got her wedding flowers 27 years before. I chose a big hand-tied bouquet of creamy/peach Vendella roses, very simple and elegant, as I didn’t want to detract attention away from the dresses. The bridesmaids had Vendellas mixed with pink Old Dutch country roses, which had a lot of significance for me as I was born in Holland.”
The highlights: “The dresses!” says Yolanda, without hesitation. “I loved my gown so much I would have worn it again the next day. The dress would be my absolute highlight of the day, and my second favourite things were my bridesmaids’ dresses. I also loved seeing the photos afterwards, and the wedding video was fantastic, I’d recommend getting a wedding video done as I’ve watched mine three or four times now and cried every time.”
Bride & Groom: Yolanda Porter & Matt Cooper
Bride’s Parents: Thomas & JoAnne Porter
Groom’s Parents: John & Olga Cooper
Bridesmaids: Laura Moore, Zara McMullan
Best Man: Richard Lyle and Robert Moore
Groomsmen: Andrew Cooper and Daryl Porter
Bride’s gown: Maggie Sottero from Pronuptia, Belfast
Bridesmaids’ dresses: Twobirds Bridesmaid, London
Mother of the bride outfit: John Charles from Blush Bridal, Belfast.
Mens’ suit hire: Groom, Banbridge
Reception: Merchant Hotel, Belfast.
Photography: Matt Symons Photography www.mattsymons.com
Cake: Denise Ward, Belfast
Flowers: Alexandra Florist, Belfast
Wedding bands: Gardiners, Belfast
Hair: Connor Kerr at Hedonist Hair, Belfast
Make-up: Corrine MacLean