Meet the Couple
Donal is from Ardagh, Country Longford and now lives in London. He is the Awards and Membership Director for a non-profit advertising and design association inspiring a community of creative thinkers by celebrating and stimulating the finest in design and advertising. He loves travel, art, and good wine.
Jon is originally from Southend-on-Sea, and moved to London over 14 years ago. He is the Senior Creative Manager for a Visual Merchandising Agency specialising in retail concepts, events and exhibition design. Jon loves reading, often setting himself goals to see how many books he can read each year, as well as all things musical, whether that’s playing the flute, piano, or saxophone, to catching a show in the west end.
How They Met
After a very busy work event Donal wanted to let his hair down and head out to a bar in Clapham Common. Jon was out celebrating a friend's birthday. Jon was dancing on the staged area and Donal saw him. They locked eyes and Donal headed over to chat.
Jon asked what Donal’s name was. Donal tried to tell him three or four times but because of his strong Irish accent (and the loud music), Jon couldn’t understand. Jon realised he was Irish (a winning factor in Jon’s opinion) and off they went to the bar to get to know each other.
A week later they arranged a date which was cancelled twice because Donal was away and his flight got cancelled, which meant he got to stay on holiday an extra few days. At this point Jon thought he was just making excuses and wasn’t keen for the date but after re-scheduling again they went to Dream Bags and Jaguar Shoes in East London.
This was the first date of many…followed by numerous gin and tonics, wine, and even holidays. Jon and Donal moved in with each other. It was one very wintery trip to Prague during which Donal and Jon said those magic words to each other.
During their 6 years of dating, Donal had said that he never wanted to get married, so one July day during a weekend away Jon was certainly taken by surprise when Donal proposed.
Upon arriving at their hotel Jon and Donal saw that a stunning outdoor garden wedding was just taking place. The bride looked lovely and before Jon could say anything Donal said "So glad we’re never doing that." Jon had given up arguing about it.
Prior to dinner Donal suggested they take a walk around the grounds of the Hotel, (which were immaculate) and as they both looked out over a huge field of daisies, he got down on one knee and proposed. Jon was a little speechless, and didn’t really know what to do. Donal remembers their dinner being rather quiet, as Jon was still in shock, but once the shock subsided (and Donal promised he wasn’t joking) they were both over the moon and couldn’t wait to start telling people.
Both Jon and Donal very quickly agreed that they wanted their wedding in Ireland, not only because Irish weddings always last longer than weddings in England, but because they both loved the country and knew there would be plenty of options to choose from. After researching venues online, Donal and Jon narrowed down their search and agreed to view five over one weekend. As they both live in London the trip was meticulously planned to ensure they managed to drive all the way from North of Dublin all the way down to just past Wicklow in search of the perfect venue.
Sadly, the five venues selected all looked a little different in person from the websites and photographs they had seen online. Both Donal and Jon work in industries where events and planning come second nature so they knew what they wanted and juts hadn’t seen it yet. After an exhausting day, Donal and Jon met with a friend for a well deserved drink.
He mentioned a venue they hadn’t come across before, Bellinter House. How they missed it, they couldn’t understand as it looked to be the perfect size and the perfect location for what they had in mind! Phone reception in Ireland isn’t great so they had to wait a couple of hours until they could take a look at the Bellinter properly online back at Donal’s parents house. They called and arranged to visit the venue on the way back to Dublin airport the next morning and as soon as they drove up the long drive way they knew it was perfect.
Following a recent renovation, the style matched Donal and Jon to a tea, modern yet classic, solid rich colours and gorgeous attention to detail. Meeting Barbara and Paul, who run the events and hotel, helped make their decision for them as they were both so lovely and totally understood what Donal and Jon wanted to achieve.
The number of rooms, the size, and the location were ideal for those who lived in Ireland and those guests who would be coming far and wide, and luckily the venue had their wedding date free.
Following, the wedding guests said that Bellinter House was the perfect setting for Donal and Jon, and the couple themselves wouldn’t have changed it for the world.
Donal and Jon thought long and hard about what to wear. There have been a rise in same-sex weddings, so research brought up numerous different styles and opinions. In the end, they decided on wearing similar black suits with slightly different accessories. Each matched their individual style. Donal wore a tie and Jon wore a bow tie. From the start, they knew they wanted their wedding party to be in black, so their six closest friends wore black dresses and black suits.
Donal and Jon had matching cufflinks and with their initials and wedding date engraved, all in rose gold to match their wedding bands. Donal had a rose gold tie pin engraved with their initials and Jon wore a pocket watch in his waistcoat.
As Bellinter’s style is so perfect, Donal and Jon didn’t need or want to go over the top with decoration. They organised flowers with a local florist who instantly knew the style and overall feel that they wanted during their first meeting to discuss which colours and types of flowers they wanted. Donal and Jon agreed to have simple bottles and jars dotted around the venue, large centre pieces on the ceremony table and fire places, and matching button holes and corsages for the wedding party. They also hired huge light up letters that spelt out PARTY to run along the inside of the reception room.
Jon had managed to source a number of candle holders in various shapes and sizes, as well as giant helium filled balloons which decorated the main reception room. The balloons were tied to a lantern on every table. Donal and Jon designed their own signage, including table plans, messages around the venue, and a monogram which was placed on windows and lanterns to bring everything together. Each table was named after Donal and Jon’s favourite venues, those they visited while they dated and even where they met.
Donal and Jon opted for a cake made of cheese which was displayed and cut directly after the wedding ceremony so that gusts could enjoy the cheese with canapés and crackers prior to the dinner.
They wanted the day to not only be a ceremony, but a party, an opportunity for their friends and loved ones to get together and celebrate love and happiness.
The day's entertainment was extra special, as Donal and Jon had requested certain songs to be performed at various times. Carron's singing during the ceremony was beautiful and perfect. They continued during the reception directly after the wedding which led us into the wedding party speeches nicely. Jon and Donal gave their speeches just before dessert.
During dinner, Donal and Jon asked a close friend to MC a table quiz which went down a storm and to finish off the evening, Anchor Men played the most outstanding set. Even now, over six month later, guests remind Donal and Jon how amazing the musicians all were.
Bellinter provided gorgeous food and once the band finished, midnight snacks were served which finished off the day perfectly. The day finished upstairs in the bar. Donal and Jon eventually called it a night around 4:30AM, along with a handful of guests. As Donal and Jon wanted everyone to have a great time, they opted for an open bar which certainly got the party started as soon as the band and DJ took to the stage.
Throughout the day, Jess from Honey and The Moon Photography managed to cleverly take pictures of both Donal and Jon getting ready, as well as perfect shots of the couple. One of the main reasons they chose Honey and The Moon was because friends of their’s had used them and their pictures were gorgeous and their style is not the usual traditional wedding style.
The final package of photographs were even better than Donal and Jon had imaged. They managed to capture the real essence of the day, the love and happiness of the ceremony, the fun and laughter of the reception, and the craziness of the dancing!
Donal and Jon aren’t religious so they opted for a Humanist ceremony. Following a meeting with their chosen celebrant Sally O’Kelly they knew straight away that Sally was the perfect fit for them. She talked them through the process and how best to decide upon the script for the ceremony.
Keeping it short, including special readings, music, and the inclusion of mothers of the grooms to light the unity candle and as witnesses made the ceremony that extra bit special.
Donal and Jon decided not to include their own written vows but instead used a slightly more traditional script, not only because otherwise they would have been too emotional to speak, but because they felt the traditional script suited their feelings towards marriage and each other.
Their three readings were all personal to them: The Velveteen Rabbit, The Owl and the Pussy Cat, and a poem written by Jon about how they both met and their time together thus far.
This was one of the first same-sex marriage ceremonies that a lot of the guests had been to and all of them loved how personal, inclusive and humorous it was. They all said how lovely it was to feel part of something so special.
HONEY AND THE MOON PHOTOGRAPHY
Hi! We’re Karolyn and Jess. We are wedding photographers based in Northern Ireland. We live in a little terrace house in Belfast, Northern Ireland with our dog Phoebe and her ever-increasing collection of toys babies. We recently got married so we know exactly how you feel! As people, we are mellow, go with the flow and are open minded to all humans and who/how ever they love. We’re a little geeky, a whole lot awkward and too polite for our own good. We adore colour and well-told stories – it’s probably why we love Wes Anderson movies so much! We also love the sea, coffee, craft beer, Mexican food and when we have the time we’re fond of wandering around museums (we even got engaged in one!). We believe that everyone deserves great photography on their wedding day and our intention is to document your wedding day it as it happens, filled with genuine emotion and feeling with as little meddling as possible.