After meeting at work events over the course of a year, Anne (38), communications manager with Barnardos Northern Ireland and Stephen (35), director of a Belfast-based PR company, were at a Christmas party in 2011 when they arranged a first date – to see a band play at The Black Box in the new year.
Stephen, from Cookstown, Co Tyrone, proposed on Anne's birthday last year in Copenhagen after she had already declared that it had been the best day ever. Her 1928 art nouveau engagement ring belonged to her late grandmother.
On July 30th, 2015, at Belfast City Hall, they were married in front of nine family members. Stephen's brother Gareth was best man and Anne's sister Charlotte was her bridesmaid. The bride's dress was from Beulah London and she walked down the aisle to The Beatles' Something in the Way She Moves.
The bridal party, which included Anne's father, Dr Andrew Dawson, and the groom's parents, Joe and Ann McGrath, then walked the short distance to James Street South Bar & Grill restaurant for the wedding breakfast. The newlyweds spent that night at The Merchant Hotel and the next day they went home where Stephen carried his new wife across the threshold.
“We wanted the ceremony to be immediate family only and it felt weird to ask everyone else to turn up for the evening party – it would have felt as if they had missed out the main part of the day,” said Anne.
Two days later, 75 guests were invited to join the bride, in the same dress, and groom at Lissan House, Co Tyrone.
On arrival, guests were taken with their glasses of Prosecco on a theatrical tour of the house and history of the original owners, the Staples family. The six-tier wedding cake was made by Anne’s colleagues at Dr B’s Kitchen in Belfast, a restaurant run by Barnardos to train young people with learning disabilities for a career in the hospitality industry.
Bon Appetit catering provided the "fork supper", music was by Bespoke Music Solutions ("we were able to provide our own playlist, their only rule was no country or cheesy music – a bit of a gamble for a wedding party in Co Tyrone") and the couple's first dance was to L.O.V.E. by Nat King Cole. After honeymooning in Italy, Anne and Stephen are back at home in Belfast with their dog Maisie.
Photographs: Michael Burch and Arthur Arnold