Armed with a £10,000 budget and a mutual love of anything a little bit vintage, a little bit rock ‘n roll, Toni and Andy planned their February wedding over two iconic Belfast locations – Queen’s Film Theatre and Empire Music Hall.
“It was just so ‘us’”, Toni writes. “We picked what we liked and it all came together. In the end it was a little bit vintage, a little bit rock ‘n roll. True Romance, Elvis, beehives and mohawks! We were also inspired by old fashioned wedding photos; Dolly Parton’s wedding, Elvis and Priscilla’s, our grandparent’s…. in their photos I think you can see the love in and they’re just timeless.”
They really made the most of their cinema ceremony space by having popcorn for the guests and then screenings of True Romance and Grease afterwards! “Getting married in a film theatre was definitely the right choice for us”, she continued. “and it was so cosy, as well as a little bit offbeat. It was also nice to have a choice of two films. After the ceremony as we all got the chance to relax. It’s easy to have a unique wedding in Belfast as there’s so many special places to get married and brilliant vendors.”
“I wrote a song for Andrew (he didn’t know) and put it to clips of us through the years and clips of our favourite movies and music videos. This was played on the cinema screen before I walked down the aisle. My mum and dad walked me down the aisle and Dad walked me to Andy (I got too excited and ran down the aisle without him and had to go back!) I walked in to Anchor by Mindy Gledhill. We wrote our ceremony with our officiant so it was personal to us. We had as many people that we love as possible involved in the ceremony with readings and prayers. Our ceremony was filled with laughter and happy tears and the only person in the room we could see was each other. It was just pure love. We had a ring warming, where our bridal party held the rings and made a wish for us before we put them on which was a really nice moment to soak everything in. My two little cousins came up after the kiss to give us a rolling pin and a shoe (ornaments) which is a funny little tradition for good luck that was lovely as we got big hugs from two little princesses!”
They decided to keep the extra props and decor to a minimal for the reception, but with a venue as cool as the Empire Music Hall, they really didn’t feel the need for lots of extra ‘stuff’. However the bride’s wonderful mum went above and beyond doing almost all the DIY projects! “My mum was the real DIY queen, she did so much!” Toni said. “She made our little favours which were tiny jam jars filled with sweets, decorated our vases and got our little tree stumps made for the centrepieces. She decorated the rose trees for the altar, made a pic ‘n’ mix table AND altered my and the bridesmaid dresses. We are so grateful to her and our wedding wouldn’t have been half as beautiful without her magpie nature!”
The wedding highlights for Toni were all the moments of excitement, however it wasn’t without it’s stresses. She felt bouts of anxiety throughout the planning. She explains, “Specifically, I worried about my weight and if everyone around me was happy. I have an anxiety disorder, so we knew there would be moments that were hard for me no matter what we did. You’re putting yourself out there emotionally while wedding planning and it’s hard! But it’s made me more sure of myself and Andy was amazing the whole time. He’s my rock. And I can do hard things.”
“The only thing I’d change about our wedding is that I wouldn’t have worried so much! I also wouldn’t have worried about tidying the house before everyone came over! We tidied the house from top to bottom for the photos but within minutes of getting ready there was makeup and hairspray and food sitting on every surface haha. By the time our photographer arrived it was like a big girly meteor had hit our tiny house. It was chaos but in a good way!”
“Make your wedding a day that celebrates you as a couple”, she advises in conclusion. “Say no to anything that you feel you ‘should’ or ‘have’ to do but you don’t really want to. Don’t spend your whole day taking formal photos; soak it all up! Plan a really fun honeymoon, whatever that means to you. For us, it was Disneyland Paris! No matter what your wedding is like, you will feel so much love. We would’ve been just as happy with coke can pull rings instead of gold ones. Relax and enjoy every second of your day.”