As a wedding photographer and videographer in Northern Ireland, I've been privileged to capture countless love stories, but Lynsey and Andrew's wedding at The Dunadry Hotel in October 2022 was truly one for the books. Their journey started on a dating app, and from the moment I met them at Costa in Newtownabbey, I could tell their connection was something special. I could tell from chatting with them about their wedding plans that we would get on very well as they had a laid back nature and were full of craic.
Fast forward to their big day in October, and all the waiting was worth it. Lynsey and Andrew had booked our all-day photo and video package, which meant recruiting a photographer for the day. This was none other than the very talented Leigh Parke, at Leigh Parke Photography. As we both arrived at the stunning bridal cottage on the morning of the wedding, you could feel the excitement in the air. Lynsey's family welcomed us with open arms, treating us like family from the get-go, despite their initial nerves about having photographers around during bridal preparations. Annya from Annya Beauty and Lisa from Shine Hair Studio were busy working on makeup and hair. It was so lovely to meet them for the first time and I would definitely recommend them for their work and for friendly banter!
The bridal preparations were a laugh a minute. I try to keep things relaxed throughout the day, but especially during prep. We talked, laughed and kept nerves at bay. When Andrew and his brother arrived at the Dunadry, we popped over to the hotel reception to meet them. They both looked dapper in their suits from McQuillans Menswear in Portadown. We took the guys out into Dunadry’s beautiful gardens and captured some awesome shots of the two of them together near the iconic peace tree. Andrew, who is typically quiet, chatted away, and his nerves didn't seem to be getting the better of him.
As the morning flew by, Lynsey and her bridal party were ready. Lynsey looked stunning in her gown from Ivory and Grace Bridal Boutique in Ballymena. Her sister Trudy, who was also her bridesmaid, wore a flowing green dress from The Wedding Centre, while Lynsey's mother, Laverne, looked lovely in a dress from The Fashion House in Magherafelt. There were tears of joy as Lynsey’s dad entered the room to see Lynsey in her dress for the first time. I’m usually a soppy sod anyway, but this one really got me. The pure emotion on Lynsey’s dad’s face as he embraces her. After a few quick snaps, and plenty of tissues later, it was time to leave the bridal cottage and head into the main building of the Dunadry for the ceremony.
The ceremony, officiated by the charming Michael Conlon, took place in a section of The Dunadry Hotel beside the grand staircase. Every detail had been thoughtfully planned, and the decor was stunning. Rebecca Hall provided graceful music that filled the ceremony space with calm and expectation, setting the perfect mood for Lynsey and Andrew's ceremony.
Andrew patiently waited for his bride, and when Lynsey walked down the aisle with her dad on one arm and her beautiful bouquet from Sinead's Flowers in the other, Andrew's eyes filled with joy. Michael's ceremony was heartfelt and personalised, telling the story of how Lynsey and Andrew met and making the service all about them. There wasn't a dry eye in the room as they exchanged heartfelt vows.
After the ceremony, we ventured out to Dunadry's picturesque gardens once again for photos and videos of the newlyweds. Even with some brisk showers, the historic architecture and lush lawns provided a stunning backdrop for picture-perfect shots that were a pleasure to capture.
Food and drinks were served during the drinks reception in Dunadry's Copper Bar area. Guests chatted and caught up while Rebecca Hall's music set a relaxing tone for the afternoon. One of the highlights of the drinks reception for me was having my good pals from Brook Avenue there serving their infamous scoops from their vending cart. I always love it when I see Brook Avenue on the list of vendors at a wedding. Their ice cream is incredible and they’re always so lovely to chat with!
Later, after an electrifying entrance from the bride and groom into the Grand Ballroom to start the evening, Lynsey’s father, Andrew and Andrew’s brother-in-law took the stage for heartfelt speeches that had everyone laughing and crying. I was especially impressed with Andrew's brother-in-law, who stepped in at the last minute and delivered a hilarious speech.
But the real show-stopper came during dessert when a waiter accidentally tripped and fell in front of the top table. What seemed like a mishap turned into a delightful surprise as the waiter revealed himself as a singing waiter from Singers Secreto, serenading everyone with a rendition of the popular Italian opera song, "Funiculi Funicula." Laughter filled the room, and soon enough, guests were up on their feet, swinging napkins in the air and singing along.
As the evening unfolded, Leigh and I made sure to capture some intimate shots of just the bride and groom. It's always a special moment when they can steal away for a few minutes and create epic shots for their photo album. We even had some time for some sparkler shots!
Lynsey and Andrew shared their first dance as husband and wife to "Whirlwind" by Sam Ryder, a truly magical moment that I was privileged to capture. And the father-daughter dance was equally touching as Lynsey and her dad shared heartwarming moments to "Daddy's Little Girl" by The Shires, adding an extra layer of emotion to the night.
The dance floor was alive with energy, thanks to the Smooth Criminals band and DJ Barney Barnes from Star Trax Disco. Guests danced the night away, creating memories that will last a lifetime.
As I reflect on this extraordinary day, I feel immensely grateful to have been there to capture Lynsey and Andrew's love story. It was a day filled with love, joy, and unforgettable moments that will be cherished forever. I wish them a lifetime of happiness together as they take on this new chapter in their lives.
Here’s what Lynsey and Andrew had to say about their experience of having Leigh and I at their wedding. (Taken from Google Reviews)
“Last January (2022) we posted a post on The Wedding help page on Facebook asking for a photographer and videographer, I had 100s of replies and there was only one that stood out for us! Jamie posted a video of some of his work, he had us hooked from the word go!!
Right from the first conversation until our wedding day Jamie was amazing, we also met up the 3 of us for a cuppa a few weeks before the wedding to plan everything, nothing was a bother for him.
On the day, Jamie and Leigh arrived early doors to see mum, my sis and I getting ready, mum and sis were not looking forward to that part at all, the 2 boys became like a part of the family and by the end of the day mum was their best friend.
We love our photos and media so so much, such a great memory for us to watch and keep forever.
Thank you Jamie for helping us (massively) to have the best day of our lives
Love Andrew and Lynsey”
Having recently tied the knot at the Dunadry Hotel myself back in September 2021, I can vouch for its beauty and charm as a wedding venue. The ornate decor, exceptional service, and stunning gardens make it a dream location for any couple or wedding photographer/videographer in Northern Ireland. The hotel has recently undergone renovations that have elevated its allure to new heights with added details, picturesque surroundings, numerous rooms for guests and proximity to the airport make it a perfect choice for couples seeking a unique and unforgettable wedding experience. Whether you're planning an intimate gathering or a grand celebration, Dunadry Hotel has the perfect spaces to suit your needs.
But it's not just the aesthetics that make The Dunadry Hotel stand out. The exceptional service and attention to detail provided by the dedicated staff, especially Malachy, ensure that your wedding day will be flawless from start to finish. Every aspect of your special day will be meticulously planned and executed, allowing you to relax and fully immerse yourself in the joy and love of the moment.
I cannot recommend the Dunadry Hotel enough for couples looking to tie the knot in Northern Ireland. It's a place where dreams come true and where unforgettable memories are made. If you're seeking a wedding venue that combines timeless elegance with modern luxury, the Dunadry Hotel is the perfect choice.
FULL LIST OF VENDORS
Photography - Steenson Film & Photography ( www.leighparkephotography.com Instagram - @leighparke)
Film - Steenson Film & Photography (www.steensonfps.com Instagram - @steensonfps)
Brook Avenue (www.brookavenue.co.uk Instagram - @brookavenue
Ceremony Music - Rebecca Hall (Instagram - @rebeccahallharpandvoice)
Bride’s Dress - Ivory Grace (www.ivorygracebridal.co.uk Instagram - @ivorygracebridalboutique_
Bridesmaid’s Dresses - The Wedding Centre (www.theweddingcentre.co.uk Instagram - @theweddingcentre1275)
Mother of the bride dress - The Fashion House (www.thefashionhouseni.co.uk Instagram - @thefashionhouseni)
Hair - Shine Hair Studio ( Instagram - @shine_hair_studio_)
Makeup - Annya Beauty
Flowers - Sineads Florist (www.sineadsflorist.com/ Instagram - @sineads_florist)
Suits - McQuillans Menswear (www.www.mcquillansmenswear.co.uk/)
Favours - Incredibly Made
Cake - Mary Hendron
DJ - DJ Barney Barnes - Star-Trax Disco (Instagram - @startraxdisco)
Band - Smooth Criminals