I was so blown away by Alise + Conor’s movie-like love story. It’s an epic reminder of how powerful love is and how quickly it can work its magic. Giant thanks to Paula O’Hara who shared this wedding with us!
In July of 2010, my best friend and I decided to go traveling through Europe together. The first country on our trip was Ireland. On our last night there, naturally, we decided to go to a pub. Within minutes, I locked eyes with a handsome guy across the room and he came over to talk to me. I was instantly smitten with Conor’s accent and good looks. I never thought I would see him again, as my friend and I flew to London the next day. A few days later, to my surprise, he sent me a Facebook message. My friend and I continued on our journey, visiting England, France, Italy, and Spain, while Conor and I sent messages back and forth to one another. We returned to Ireland on the last leg of our adventure to fly home a few days later. I spent those last remaining days with Conor. We knew we had something pretty incredible, but we also knew the probability of us actually working out was pretty slim. We made promises to Skype and email each other any chance we got until we saw one another again.
So, as you probably guessed, things worked out! We Skyped and emailed each other any chance we got, and I flew back to Belfast in October for two weeks. Those two weeks were definitely the major turning point in our little love story. We fell crazy in love with each other. We would find any way to make the distance between us work.
I was to fly out from Atlanta to Belfast on December 26, 2010. There were snowstorms all along the East Coast and my flight was cancelled. I was so sad. Conor was adamant, though, that I get on the next flight. He called the airlines and rebooked another flight for me. I arrived in Belfast the next evening, luggage lost and exhausted from my trip. When we got back to his apartment, Conor wanted me to open my Christmas presents. Even though we had only been together for five months, he had written “our story” since the night we met. At the end, it said how he felt for me, and that he had to ask me a question that could change our lives forever. When I looked up with tear-filled eyes, he was down on one knee, asking me to spend the rest of my life with him. We choose to wait a while to get married as we had experienced such a whirlwind romance with one another. We flew back and forth every couple of months for over a year and finally tied the knot in April of this year. We chose to get married in Atlanta, because that’s where I’m from and also because I just moved to Ireland! Our wedding was a combination of happy beginnings and heartbreaking goodbyes — very emotional in many ways to say the least. It’s been an amazing experience, one that I only ever thought happened in films and fairy tales.
Did you write your own vows? We choose to compose our vows from many different vows we saw online, just picking and choosing what we liked here and there. Our vows sounded like the ones that have been used for centuries, though. We liked that the idea of reciting the same vows that many amazing couples have said to one another throughout the years, the same ones our parents and grandparents said to one another.
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? 1 Corinthians: “Love is patient” and the Apache Marriage Blessing.
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding. Our ceremony was a very traditional ceremony. I walked down the aisle to “Bridal March” by Wagner. We had two solos, “Ave Maria” and “The Prayer.” After we said our “I do’s,” we walked back up the aisle to “The Wedding March.” Our first dance was to “No Other Love” by Chuck Prophet. We wanted something different and original that not many people had heard of.
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? (From the bride) The most memorable thing for me was Conor’s speech. Those words were the sweetest thing I’ve ever heard in my life and he saying how he felt in front of our dearest family and friends was just surreal and so moving. (From the groom) After wondering all your life what the woman you are going to marry will look like walking down the aisle, seeing Alise was amazing. After all of those months of being apart, it was very surreal to finally see it coming true.
Describe your wedding flowers: I will be the first to tell you that if I was a picky bridezilla on any level, it was with the flowers! I knew exactly which ones I wanted and what colors. I spent months trolling wedding blogs for floral inspiration. Let’s face it, when else do you get to spend that much money on flowers? I wanted a very soft color palette and a dreamy, wildflower look for the table centerpieces. I choose anemones, peonies, dahlias, succulents, garden roses, David Austen roses, heather, lavender, Queen Anne’s lace, dusty miller, scabiosa pods, and seeded eucalyptus, just to name a few.
Alise + Conor’s tagged favors rank among my favorite details from this wedding! Mini + witty = love!
A few of our favorite details were the jam jar favors I handmade with my dad and sweet grandma. My grandma was not able to attend the wedding due to her health, so making those had very special meaning as well as stemming family tradition. The table settings were also a favorite. We handmade the woodland ornament place card settings, and strung together the lavender with ribbon, as well as printed the thank you cards in the napkins.
I have a feel we’re going to have a group swoon-fest over A + C’s chair decor! Lush pink ribbon and wreath initials aside, you can do no wrong with some Johnny Cash embroidery.
What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? Most of my details had Southern or Irish ties to them. I wore my mother’s veil and my great-grandmother’s brooch on my sash at the reception. All the tablecloths were lace with burlap table runners. We served sweet tea at every guest’s place setting. All of the antique pieces we used were passed down from my grandmother, aunt, and mom. We had old mason jars everywhere. The jam was homemade using my grandmother’s recipe that’s been passed down from her grandmother. We served mashed potatoes, had old milk bottles and The Varsity peach pies, Krispy Kreme donuts, as well as old Coke bottles.
In what month did you get married? April
How many guests attended your wedding? 150
Tell us about finding your wedding dress: I didn’t know what style I wanted and decided to be very open minded. I knew I wanted to wear my mother’s veil so the stipulation was that the dress had to look good with the veil. I tried on probably more than 50 dresses! I finally went into Sweet Elegance Bridal in Decatur, Georgia and I found three dresses there that I couldn’t choose from. I flip-flopped back and forth between those for a couple of days and finally choose “the one.” I loved it because it was classy, timeless, all lace, and had a cathedral train!
Did you decide to do a “first look”? We decided against a first look, just because we’re traditional like that.
Describe your wedding cake or dessert: We opted to save money and have a dessert station instead of a huge wedding cake. We still had a small, amazing wedding cake, but we also had The Varsity peach pies, Marlow’s Tavern apple pies, Oreos, chocolate chip cookies, Krispy Kreme donuts, shamrock-shaped shortbread, mini cheesecakes and different chocolates. Our cake was amazingly delicious. One layer was a coconut Funfetti cake, the second layer was a chocolate cake with raspberry filling, and the third layer was vanilla lemon cake with fresh strawberries as the filling. All had a vanilla almond buttercream icing.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? As with many couples, we were on a tight budget and I have very expensive taste. My mom always told me, “You have champagne taste on a beer budget.” She’s so right! I decided to take on every DIY element I could get my hands on! I definitely put myself under a lot of stress with that, so I enlisted the help of my very talented and dearest friends to help me out. Our wedding was truly a labor of love and it wouldn’t have turned out so beautifully without the help of all our family and friends! Also, my husband-to-be living over 3,000 miles away made for a stressful situation in itself. He was an amazing help, though.
What range did your wedding budget fall into? $10,000-$25,000
What is the one thing you are most happy you splurged on? Definitely the photography! We wanted images that were going to be timeless. I knew I wanted our engagement shoot in Ireland and once I laid eyes on Paula O’Hara Photography, I fell in love with her work. She puts her heart and soul into everything she photographs and strives with every shoot to tell the couple’s story. After she shot our stunning engagement photographs in the Irish countryside, I tried so hard to find a photographer in Atlanta that would compliment those. I couldn’t find one in our budget and it was actually cheaper to fly Paula over. She agreed to shoot her first international wedding for us, and made us such a happy couple by taking that leap! She’s a dream to work with, very non intrusive, and makes you feel at ease in front of the camera. The way she captured our wedding day is remarkable — the aesthetics, the personal documentary style, the details, the emotion, and all the in-between moments. We couldn’t be happier with our photographs!
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? If I could offer any advice to brides to be, it would be to think about what’s really important to you. Many times throughout our engagement and planning, we wanted to call it off and just elope because it all became very overwhelming. Now, we are so happy we didn’t. Being surrounded with all those people who love you both so much and are so happy for you is an amazing feeling and a very special experience! Your wedding day only happens once and is a reflection of you both as a couple, so make it as personal as you want. Don’t stress over the things that are out of your control. As much as you try to plan out your special day, it never goes exactly according to plan, but it will still be beautiful and perfect. On the day of, try to steal a few minutes with your groom to walk around and see everything you’ve been pouring yourself into actually come to fruition. Also, BE PRESENT. That was the best advice I got before my wedding day and I’m so happy I listened. Take in every moment, detail, emotion and all of the love that is surrounding you both. It will fly by and you’re only left with those sweet memories! (And awesome pictures, if you’re lucky!)
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you looking forward to in the future? Since I recently moved to Belfast, we’ve just been enjoying our newlywed life together. It’s wonderful knowing we don’t have to get on a plane to leave one another and that we can just relax and enjoy doing the simple everyday things together. Since the wedding, I’ve become a budding wedding stylist. I’m trying to bring creative, fresh ideas to the brides-to-be on this side of the Atlantic! I’m also trying to start a wedding blog for Northern Ireland as there is definitely a market for one! We weren’t able to afford a honeymoon because of all of our wedding costs, flights, shipping, and visa expenses, so we’re saving up for that and hopefully will be able to go by next year around our first anniversary.