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Real Irish Wedding: Patrice Lavery and Joe McGurk

June 2012, Castle Ward, Strangford


Patrice-Lavery-and-Joe-McGurk

Real Irish Wedding, June 2012, Castle Ward, Strangford

Out on the town, dressed as a burlesque dancer, it’s hardly surprising that Patrice Lavery instantly caught the eye of Joe McGurk…

“It was probably more lust than love at first sight,” laughs Joe, “as Patrice was dressed as a Circus ring leader complete with top hat, wig, tails and whip for her friend’s hen party!”

After insisting on taking the burlesque beauty on a date, the pair had a whirlwind six weeks together before Joe moved to America for work. Despite attempting long distance with regular visits, the miles took their toll and Joe returned home to Patrice. Six months later, on Christmas day, Joe proposed.

Although, initially toying with the idea of getting married in Greece, Patrice and Joe dropped all notions of a destination wedding when they saw Castle Ward in Strangford.

“Castle Ward has it all basically,” Patrice explains. “We had the run of the whole place, using the Theatre for the wedding service and the Sunken Garden for our Champagne reception. We hired the marquee for our reception and also had the use of the courtyard all afternoon and evening.”

To complement her dream wedding venue, Patrice chose a period style, champagne lace wedding gown: “I knew instantly it would match in perfectly with Castle Ward – very Downtown Abbey as some guests said on the day.”

For their poignant civil ceremony, Patrice and Joe opted for two readings and a candle lighting ceremony. “We hired a string quartet for the service and they kindly agreed to learn the theme tune from our favourite movie – Up,” said Patrice.

Styling experts Look Crafty were charged with the dressing the reception venue in a modern vintage/garden party theme with special touches, such as individual table plans, displayed in pretty picture frames.

There were flipflops, so ladies could kick off their heels and a vintage sweetie cart. Joe’s cousin also made a wishing tree picture with stickers for guests to sign, in lieu of a traditional guest book. As well as musical entertainment, there was a photo booth and an artist drawing caricatures of all the guests.

For dinner, wedding guests dined on Chicken Ceaser salad, followed by medallion of beef with mash and market vegetables and chocolate and orange mousse to finish. Come the evening, a hog roast and crepe stall was set up in the courtyard.

“Joe and I actually hit the dancefloor too early as we couldn’t wait to get up and only found out afterwards we were dancing to the band’s sound checks,” laughs Patrice. “When they finally played our first dance, La Vie En Rose by Louie Armstrong, it was beautiful.

“In all, the whole day actually surpassed our expectations. The only concern was the weather as two days before the wedding there were puddles on the floor and leaks in the marquee but by some stroke of fate, everything dried up over night and the day was glorious sunshine!”

The little details

Reception: Castle Ward, Strangford, nationaltrust.org.uk

Venue styling: Look Crafty, lookcrafty.com

Wedding dress: Pronuptia, Belfast, pronuptiabelfast.com

Groomswear; Navy suits from Red in Carrickfergus, redgrooms.co.uk

Bridesmaid dress: From Dessy, dessy.com

Wedding flowers: Serenity Flowers in Lisburn

Wedding cars: A black and white Rolls Royce and Daimler from David Andrews, davidandrewsweddingcars.com

Entertainment: Lisaire string quartet for the ceremony and drinks reception and wedding band The Jukebox Jurors for the evening.

Wedding photography: Donal Doherty, donalddoherty.com