Emma Doyle, 27 from South Dublin, got engaged to her husband Conor in 2021 on Christmas Eve on the top of Sorrento Park, Dalkey.
When she began planning her wedding, she had a clear vision– to create a dreamy, classic ambience without breaking the bank.
Describing her wedding style as simple and traditional, Emma wanted to reflect this on her special day as much as possible, so she wanted to find a timeless venue that was steeped in rich history.
“I would describe my wedding style as classic, simple, and a bit traditional. I tried not to follow too many new trends and go with what I hope will always be 'classic'. I'm drawn to old country houses and castles with beautiful gardens as venues, and I love it when a venue has some history behind it.”
“I wanted the venue itself to have the most impact, rather than the decorations and flowers. We did have beautiful flowers, but we kept them simple and wanted them to enhance the 1880s Italianate style of Balyna House rather than cover it up. We placed the flowers in urns and on top of the beautiful fireplaces, as well as scattering them around the tables at our reception, still allowing the beauty of the venue to speak for itself.”
“It was incredible to see all of the things we had curated come together on the day. I remember walking down the aisle and just feeling so happy and overwhelmed at how full the room felt with all of our guests in it and how stunning the flowers and everything looked.”
When choosing her perfect dress, Emma discovered that, after going into the shop and trying on a variety of dresses, she preferred a different style than what she originally thought she would wear on her wedding day when she was younger.
“I had looked at dresses on Pinterest before I went dress shopping; however, I didn't have anything in particular in mind, so I knew it was definitely time to see what was available in store for me to try. I went to a wedding dress pop-up shop in Kildare Village just to get an idea of what I would like. I tried a few different styles that I liked, but I definitely knew from even just looking around that I preferred a simple, lace bodycon style on me, and the first dress I tried actually turned out to be my wedding dress! I thought when I was younger that I would go for a grand, voluminous skirt, but when I tried this style on, it didn't feel right.”
The planning process of a wedding can be particularly stressful, but Emma really enjoyed the process and started planning just a few weeks after she got engaged.
“I really enjoyed a lot of the planning process, and I was so excited that me and my husband Conor started just a few weeks after we got engaged. We started with venues, searching them online, and then decided on a handful to view, which we did every weekend until we found the perfect one—I loved it!”
“We went through waves of planning, booking a few things, taking a break for a while, and then getting back on the bandwagon again, which was much more enjoyable than doing anything all at once. If I were to give any advice to those who are planning their wedding, finding your venue is the best place to start, and the rest can pretty much just be researched and booked online.”
Emma was able to create an unforgettable day without a hefty price tag by using her resourcefulness and creativity to cut costs.
“We definitely saved money by doing some things ourselves. I got a designer (Pronovias) wedding dress for more than half the price by buying the previous year's stock from 'Brides do Good’ pop-up shop at Kildare Village. I also got my bridesmaid dresses in the Asos Black Friday sale, and I took up the dresses myself so I didn’t have to pay for a seamstress to do so. Our maid of honour made our wedding cake and biscuits for us, which can be very expensive usually, so we were so lucky to know someone who could help us with this.”
By shopping around, Emma and her husband Conor managed to make some great savings across her decor, taking on her DIY skills to create something unique and personalised for her special day.
“One of the things that we made ourselves was our welcome sign. We bought a big mirror from a home store called Woodies, bought markers and stencils from Amazon, and started writing it ourselves. We also used an online printing service called Vistaprint to make all our invitations, menus, personalised scratch cards, and we even ordered envelopes from there and made our own wax seals for the invitations, getting the wax from Amazon. It all ended up looking so nice and expensive!”
Even while staying on budget, Emma didn’t feel like she missed out on anything, cleverly noting the rough costs of everything before she even started the planning process so she could ensure she prioritised everything she wanted to make her day perfect.
“There actually wasn't anything we had to miss out on. We looked into the rough costs of most things online and made a budget before we even started planning, so most of it was quite accurate. We then saved what we needed every month. We added on some extra things in the last few weeks of planning, knowing we just needed to save a bit more for them. The string quartet was the main thing we added towards the end. We knew we wanted a string quartet since the start of planning, but It was last on the budget as it wasn't absolutely necessary but was a gorgeous addition to the day. They played at our ceremony and drinks reception.”
“We definitely allocated most of our budget to the venue and the entertainment throughout the day. The venue package included all of the food for our guests and some of the drinks too, so our entertainment was very important to us. The string quartet, band, and DJ all added so much to the atmosphere and brought so much fun and good vibes to the day. We really just wanted our guests (and us!) to have a really fun day.”
Her biggest tip?
“Don't be afraid to give things a go yourself and look into cheaper alternatives. We shopped around a lot for everything, which enabled us to find some good savings, so I would say go all in and email as many as you can for a quote for everything so you have a rough estimate of pricing! We found photographers and videographers varied a lot in price, in particular, but both of ours were on the lower price range but were both really good. Just make sure to look at reviews and portfolios to see if they are the best fit for what you want to achieve on your special day.”
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