How They Met
Laura Agnew and Andrew Johnston met in high school and it’s the classic love story of being friends first. It was easy to get to know one another as they were in the same class and had the same circle of friends. ‘It was a small group of six, and we spent our weekends hanging out too,’ comments Laura.
Three years later Andrew plucked up the courage to ask Laura out, she said yes, and the rest is history! She adds ‘being friends first was great because it was the basis of our relationship, we knew each other so well and he is still my best friend above anything else.’
Ever the romantic, Andrew proposed on Valentine’s Day at The Ulster Folk and Transport Museum. Laura admits she didn’t see it coming, ‘I thought we were finishing off a lovely weekend away and the day was perfect with blue skies and a chilly air.’ After a long walk, Laura was happy to be in the countryside section of the museum, as it felt like home. Andrew suggested they check out the interior of a little farm cottage.
On entering, a staff member closed the door behind them, which initially distracted Laura from the scattered candles and Andrew’s nervous look! ‘He got down on one knee in front of the roaring fire, and ‘yes’ was the only word that could leave my mouth with the shock!’ Laura adds. After a celebratory lunch the pair headed home to tell their families the exciting news.
The couple chose Riverdale Barn as their venue and developed a rustic theme as it gave reference to their country upbringing. Laura admits Riverdale was the perfect fit, with the converted barns, stone walls and wildlife around the lake. ‘It was everything I had ever dreamed of,’ she adds.
Opting out of a having wedding planner, Laura planned her own wedding with the help of her mum. ‘I love weddings and planning it with my mum was the most amazing experience. I loved every second of it!’
Laura and Andrew chose Leigh Parke Photography to capture their big day. They already knew of his work as he comes from the same area as the couple. They chose him because they wanted their wedding to be laid back and fun with a hint of non-traditional and Leigh was perfect for that. He made the couple feel at ease in the run up and on the day, and even went along with Laura’s idea of having photos with her pet sheep the morning of the wedding!
‘His photographs capture every minute of our wedding perfectly, ‘ the couple comment. ‘From the creatively posed pictures with amazing backdrops, to the candid shots where he caught the most natural of moments that are gone in the blink of an eye. And his wide angled, landscape pictures are just out of this world! I wanted someone who could do the formal as well as the natural, mixed with some stunning landscapes and Leigh was the perfect fit!’
What The Bride Wore And The Rest…
Laura very fortunately found her dress after the first one she tried on at her first boutique! However, she visited three other stores for peace of mind about her decision, but nothing compared to that first dress! The helpful team at Eden Bridal were on hand for advice and alterations and Laura couldn’t have been happier with her choice.
She remarks, ‘I really looked forward to every one of my appointments and was almost disappointed when I went to collect my dress as it meant that experience was over!’ Talking about the staff, she adds, ‘They made the experience so special for both my mum and me. I always felt like a true bride with them.’
Laura’s mum found the bridesmaids dresses online and ordered them once she had gotten the approval from Laura. The flower girl’s dress was bought from a high street store because Laura loved the floral fabric that matched the colour scheme. It was then taken to Alison-Jayne Couture, who took the original dress apart and created a gorgeous silhouette fit for a princess.
Admitting to having no knowledge about flowers, Laura was very fortunate to have a friend who is a florist! Laura told The Daisy Chain that she wanted her bouquet to be traditional but different. Together, they came up with a wide, deconstructed bouquet with rich colours to reflect the autumn season and would contrast perfectly against her white wedding dress. ‘Hannah also incorporated jewellery from my two grandmothers into the bouquet stalk, which was very special,’ Laura adds.
Not only did Hannah create beautiful bouquets, she also made a floral arch that stood at the entrance of the church and was later transferred behind the cake display at the Riverdale, offering a gorgeous backdrop.
Wanting to bring their farming background to their wedding, Laura searched Pinterest for ideas and came across table plans made out of wooden pallets. ‘My dad had more than a few of these lying about the farm! We got to work on restoring one, even building a stand so it could sit on its own.’
Laura chose different types of frames to suit her rustic theme before inserting typography to match the rest of the stationery and finalising the look by attaching a few flowers onto the wood.
Not letting the lack of space indoors deter her, Laura put her other piece of farming décor beside Riverdale’s little red tractor. After recycling an old tractor tyre, the girlfriend of Laura’s brother took to painting the garland from the stationery on it. Now sitting in Laura’s garden, she comments, ‘It made a lovely focal point outside the church and made a great welcome sign for our guests arriving at the reception.’
The name card holders were one of a kind as they came from trees on Laura and Andrew’s farm. A family friend cut them down to size, slicing them for the cards to fit in. ‘I think they were simple but set off the rustic theme very well.’
Following the theme of the day, Laura and Andrew chose an autumnal, rustic garland for their stationery. It ran throughout the invitations, table plans and even the little honey pot favours. ‘It was a joint effort with Andrew creating the initial idea of what the design and font would look like,’ Laura comments. Laura’s mum then helped to make the idea a reality.
The couple picked an outside caterer, Old Barn Catering, to feed their guests on the big day. They chose them because they do traditional food with a modern twist! ‘We wanted traditional because the Mourne area that we are from is famous for big hearty, homely meals – so we had to make sure people enjoyed their dinner!’ Andrew is a massive foodie, so the modern twist added that elegant touch to the meal – so Laura made sure the menu was his responsibility!
‘After our first tasting session with them we knew they were the ones!’ the couple comment. For starter there was potato and leek soup with mini wheaten loaves, then butter-roast chicken breast for the main paired with butternut squash purée, herb chicken lollipop, dauphinoise potato and thyme jus. To finish, guests enjoyed a duo of chocolate cappuccino cup and a baked meringue filled with strawberries and cream.
‘Many guests commented that the main course was the best they had ever had at a wedding, and I saw plenty of clean plates going back into the kitchen including ours! So I think we’d have to say that was a part that we really enjoyed,’ the couple comment.
The beautiful cake was produced by Laura’s neighbour, who is famous in the area for her cakes so Laura booked with her. ‘I wanted to have as many local people and businesses involved in our wedding as possible,’ Laura admits.
The cake was four-tiers and consisted of three different flavours; lemon, Victoria sponge and chocolate. Not wanting to overdo the decorating, the couple let the actual design on the icing to be the showstopper. However, they did add pine-cones around the cake to bring in the rustic theme and set it on a large wooden tree stump. The bottom tier was designed as roses, as it is the flower Andrew always buys Laura, while the other tiers brought in the colour scheme with soft rose gold and marbled burgundy, then white and rose gold lines at the top for something different.
Andrew: ‘My favourite moment would have to be our first trip as Mr and Mrs Johnston in our car on the way to Riverdale. It was great to just have an hour or so to ourselves after becoming husband and wife. We just chilled with some drinks and snacks and had the craic together and with our driver. It was brilliant!’
Laura: ‘Apart from marrying my best friend, I absolutely loved seeing all of our ideas and visions come together on the day. Walking into Riverdale with my husband and our families, and seeing everything looking so perfect was such an amazing moment because we knew our hard work had paid off and that it was all for us to enjoy and celebrate the start of our life together as Mr and Mrs!’