We just love the story of how today’s real wedding couple first met, their super sweet engagement story, and the joyful news of the next big adventure in their lives! Pregnant bride Finola married her beau Conal in June this year, at Loughcrew House, in Oldcastle, Co. Meath. Planning a COVID-safe, surprise micro wedding while expecting may not have been the day the couple originally envisioned, but it turned out even more magical than they could have imagined! Surrounded by just 10 of their nearest and dearest, their gorgeous 14-month-old son Charlie, and their special guest of honour, their wedding day is an inspirational one for any of our readers who may be expecting and also planning a wedding right now.
Bride Fiona is originally from Cavan, and groom Conal from Tyrone. The couple’s love story begins in January 2019 after they both swiped right on Tinder! Fiona fills us in, “In January 2019, the stars aligned, and we swiped right. We met a few days later in Izakaya, Georges St., Dublin. We knew from the moment we met that we’d found ‘the one’. I remember telling an old couple in the bar that he was the man I was going to marry. I don’t know how or why, but it felt like we’d known each other in a past life. Meeting each other felt like our souls coming home. It all moved at lightening speed after that! We were pregnant with twins a few months later, and sadly, although we lost those babies, we fell even more madly in love. Fast forward to 2021, and we have a beautiful one-year-old boy and another baby on board, due in October.”
While the proposal might not have been a traditional one, it’s incredibly romantic! Fiona tells us, “We like dancing to the beat of our own drum, so in alternative fashion, we only technically got engaged three weeks before the wedding when we decided to go ahead with our big day. We’ve known from very early days that we’d get married, it was just a question of when. We were in Howth for a swim and doing the Howth Cliff walk when the ring magically appeared and ended up on my finger for the first time! It’s a special place for us and has a lot of big life memories – like when I first announced we were pregnant, and where we first said I love you!”
Due to pandemic restrictions, as well as the news of their new arrival, the couple weren’t sure if their wedding would go ahead. “Not long after we booked our wedding, we discovered we were expecting our second baby, which we were very excited about. We weren’t sure whether or not the wedding would go ahead and we were happy to wait and see and make a decision closer to the time. We only told our friends and family the week before that we were getting married. It was so much fun telling people we were engaged and getting married the following week! It was lovely to be able to share some good news and spread the joy after months of universal doom and gloom! They loved the intimate element and appreciated the stress-free build up to our wedding day (apart from having to find an outfit in less than a week, of course!). In the end, we had three weeks to pull it all together, which was intense but totally worth it. The suits and the dress were all organised 10 – 14 days beforehand. Thanks to very helpful and empathetic staff at De Stafford Bridal and Menswear Suits, we were able to find our dream outfits and have them altered accordingly with days to spare! It really did all come together. We definitely have plans to have a big party for extended friends and family at some point in the future, when the time is right.”
The bridal party walked through Loughcrew’s enchanting gardens ruins on their way to the ceremony.
The couple held their ceremony at the ruined St Oliver Plunkett’s family church, which is part of the Loughcrew House Estate, and their celebrant was Dara Molloy, a Celtic druid monk.
The couple tell us that the ceremony was the highlight of their day made extra special by their celebrant and a unique ceremony ritual. “The cacao ceremony facilitated by my bridesmaid Nicola Murphy was particularly special. Cacao is a natural, heart-opening medicine and plays an important part of our daily life. It was so beautiful to have our small wedding circle participate in a mini ceremony to open our wedding. Also, Dara Molloy, our solemniser, was truly inspiring. A Celtic druid monk from the Aran Islands, his presence and wisdom commanded attention and awe. Our parents, who are all in their 70s and were meeting for the first time at our ceremony, loved his style and genuine, meaningful words. It was such a special way for them to all come together, and experience a non-traditional ceremony rooted in spirituality and nature.”
Leading up the wedding, the couple made their own wedding rings with Tiffany Budd Goldsmith, a memory they fondly look back on. “Using my Grandmother’s 90-year-old wedding ring, we resized the original into my wedding ring. Tiffany also custom made my engagement ring with gold that was left over from my grandmother’s ring. It was a very special and unique experience in her beautiful, tranquil cottage in Sligo.”
Describing the vibe of the day, the couple tell us “the whole wedding was like a dream, and more than we could have hoped for.” They add, “on the day, we were blessed by the elements, held in sacred ceremony with Mama Cacao, and surrounded by the breathtaking beauty of Loughcrew. We could hear the birds singing and the leaves rustling in the ruins of the church, and with the help of Dara, it all felt incredibly sacred. We were 20 weeks pregnant on our wedding day, which was so special for us. Baby was kicking away the whole way through our ceremony! Thanks to the gorgeous Loughcrew House, our little reception was full of rustic and bohemian vibes.”
Finola’s gorgeous gown is the Ober dress from the White One Collection by Pronovias, which she sourced at De Stafford Bridal in Dublin. She completed her bridal look with the Freya bridal hairband by KYNA from Stash.ie. We love how happy and relaxed (and radiant!) she looks.
The couple have got only great things to say about their venue, Loughcrew House. “It was the perfect spot, as being outdoors and in nature was a priority for us, especially when it came to things like our ceremony and our first dance. I grew up nearby and came here as a kid to play. It’s so diverse and caters for so many different types of events. We initially had planned to have our baby’s naming ceremony here but this was cancelled a few times due to lockdowns, etc. It’s the type of place we hope to have many more celebrations as our family grows.”
Supporting Finola and Conal in the planning and on-the-day coordination was wedding coordinator, Emily, onsite florist Mags, and the rest of the team at Loughcrew House. “Emily was fantastic in helping to pull all the last-minute details together. She even drove me to the church, as that was one small detail we had forgotten!” Finola says.
After the nuptials, the newlyweds had their first dance as a married couple outside and enjoyed a toast with their guests.
Covid restrictions meant the wedding party was a close family affair, an incredibly special one.
A delicious gourmet seven-course meal was served by Natasha Mann Catering which Finola says “was spectacular”. She adds, “As it turns out, it was our first meal out with friends this year, as restrictions had just been lifted the day before!”
Finola & Conal offer these words of wedded wisdom to engaged couples, “remember to breathe and trust that it will all work out in the end. Sometimes a mini disaster is a blessing in disguise!”
Can you believe Finola made their wedding cake? What a talented bride! She tells us, “I make celebration cakes in my spare time so I was excited to be able to make my own wedding cake, which was made the day before and assembled the morning of the wedding. I decided to go with a rustic naked cake, which was perfect for the style of our day.”
After the wedding, they newlyweds (and baby Charlie and bump!) headed off on a staycation honeymoon to Co. Kerry. “We spent our honeymoon in Dingle straight after our wedding with Charlie, which was great because we got to spend a whole week enjoying unreal food with amazing people for the first time in nearly a year! We spent a couple of nights in an isolated Airbnb called the Atlantic Bay Rest, nestled in Dingle Peninsula, which had outdoor seeweed baths overlooking your own private beach. That was pretty cool!”
We want to thank today’s couple Finola and Conal for giving us a sneak peek into their magical day, and also, many congratulations on the wonderful baby news! Thanks also to Pawel Benbenca Photography for sharing this joyful wedding with us.