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Sorry ladies… this one is for the men! So you’ve chosen that all important ring and you’re ready to get down on one knee, but you have no idea how to actually do in the lead up to it… Don’t panic! We’ve put together our top tips for making that once in a lifetime romantic gesture a truly unforgettable moment.

So just over a year ago, I proposed to my lovely fiancee, Margaret. Although I’m involved in so many weddings each year, it wasn’t until it came to my turn to propose that I realised that I needed a plan and I wanted it to be phenomenal! With that in mind, I got my thinking cap on and gave Margaret a day to remember. To help all you men in your guest to popping the question, I’ve put together some handy tips to ensure it’s a proposal to remember!Screenshot 2015-05-11 at 21.05.35

1) Choose a sentimental location

There is nothing more romantic than a shared location that has sentiment to you both. Whether it’s visiting the scene of your first date or the place where you shared your first kiss, going back to that location as the setting for your perfect proposal signifies that your relationship has come full circle and this place will become even more special to you both.

2) Recreate a scene from a favourite movie

An iconic scene from a favourite film can serve as the perfect inspiration for a proposal. If her favourite movie is Pretty Woman… bingo! Think of Richard Gere pulling up in a white limo with a bouquet of flowers in hand! Whatever her choice of movie, there’s sure to be a romantic scene that’s easily imitated and the perfect way to win her heart.

3) Whisk her away

Paris isn’t called the city of love for no reason! If it has always been her desire to visit the iconic city, whisk her away and make it a trip to remember.

4) Book out a screen at the cinema

This one is easily done and oh so romantic! Contact your local cinema about privately hiring a screen. Then, put together your very own movie, complete with montages of video clips and collages of photos of times spent together. It’s the perfect way to surprise her (and most definitely a preferred alternative to watching an action film!).Derry-Engagement-Photography-8

5) Fill a day with all her favourite things

Write a list of all her favourite things and activities she enjoys and plan your proposal around it. A day brimming with all of her favourite things will make it truly memorable and a romantic proposal at the end will be the icing on the cake.

6) Set up a treasure hunt Send your unsuspecting fiance-to-be on a treasure hunt that ends with your proposal. Start with a clue at home (a handwritten note or text message) that leads to a tour of places with sentimental value. You can even involve family and friends to hand out clues along the way.

7) Get crafty

Planning a proposal doesn’t have to cost the earth! Putting a great deal of thought and paying attention to detail can result in the most romantic proposal. Fill a room with photo memories from your relationship; hang them from balloons or cover the walls with them for a jaw-dropping surprise. Or, tie ribbon from one spot in your home to another. Attach little notes recalling perfect moments in your relationship along the way. Wait for your partner at the end of the ribbon with the ring in hand.

8) Pull out all the stops

If you’re all about the big romantic gesture, it’s time to pull out all the stops! We’re talking hiring musicians, helicopter rides and dozens upon dozens of roses… the sky is the limit and you’re sure to win her over and sweep her off her feet. With a little bit of planning, I pulled off a pretty cool proposal (if I say so myself!). Check it out here.

9) Seek the help of a professional

If you’re really stuck for inspiration, it’s time to call in the professionals. There are a great deal of expert event planners available in Northern Ireland who can lend a helping hand in creating the proposal of your dreams! There are also so many fantastic hotels here with wonderful staff who can help organise your perfect proposal.

10) Hire a photographer

It is definitely a moment you will both want to remember forever and capturing the memory on camera is the perfect way to look back on this time. Why not consider hiring a photographer to unobtrusively capture your proposal? You can even arrange an engagement photo shoot following the proposal which is the perfect romantic gesture. If this is something you’re interested in, I’d love to hear from you! Email me at: donal@donaldoherty.comScreenshot 2015-05-11 at 20.52.48

INSPIRING PROPOSALS

When I was planning my proposal I turned to YouTube for inspiration – here are some of my favourite proposals to inspire you!

With all eyes on the bride, it’s no surprise that she’ll want to look and feel a million dollars… cue hair and make-up! Bridal hair and make-up specialists know all the tricks of the trade and possess the skills to transform your look, ensuring you feel incredible as you walk down the aisle. Today, I caught up with Margaret Johnston from Honey Hair and Beauty (who also happens to be my fiancée) who shares some welcome advice for all you brides-to-be to help you in your quest to look fabulous for your big day.

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Margaret, tell us about Honey Hair and Beauty. What services do you offer the bride to be?

We offer both hair and make-up for brides and her entire bridal party, making us a one-stop destination to ensure perfection on your wedding day. I always recommend brides visit the salon at least 6 weeks before the wedding day for a trial so that we can discuss what looks she prefers and ensure this is something which complements her gorgeous gown perfectly.

What hair style trends are proving popular with brides this year?

Timeless Hollywood glamour is proving a popular choice with brides this year, which looks stunning with vintage style embellished gowns. Expect to see lots of vintage waves and big curls – a look I love!

And what about bridesmaid hair trends? Is there still a tendency towards coordinated styles?

Yes, a lot of brides prefer their pretty maids to have matching hairstyles, shoes and accessories. I think this looks fabulous and is stunning in those all important wedding photographs.

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When it comes to hair accessories, what trends are you spotting?

Many brides are still choosing vintage inspired hair pieces, combined with pretty cathedral length veils.

Tell us about make-up. Are brides still leaning towards natural, simplistic make-up?

A lot of brides choose to opt for the natural look with minimal eye make-up and nude lips, however I am finding that more and more brides are becoming more daring, favouring a more dramatic look for their wedding day.

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As a bride-to-be yourself, what hair advice would you offer brides in the run up to their big day?

I always advise brides to have their hair coloured a week before the wedding and have a trim to get rid of those split ends. I wouldn’t recommend trying out a drastically new style or colour too close to the wedding. Keep hair drama to a minimum!

Tell us about the most unique wedding you have been involved in?

I have been so lucky to have been afforded the opportunity to work on photo shoots and weddings all around the world but one wedding in particular which always stands out in my mind was a wedding in Marbella were the couple asked me to attend as a guest. The bride changed her dress in the evening and I was tasked with creating a brand new hairstyle to match her dress, totally transforming her look!

What do you love most about working in the wedding industry?

I love the chance to meet so many new, friendly people who are super talented! I also love that each wedding I am involved in always brings new clients. Word of mouth is a powerful tool and the fact that people trust my skills for their wedding day is a wonderful feeling.

Screenshot 2015-05-04 at 19.56.00 Check out Honey Hair & Beauty’s website here.

Almost a year ago, I had the great honour of photographing Paula and Keith’s stunning wedding at Harvey’s Point, Co. Donegal. As they approach their first wedding anniversary, I caught up with Paula who shares the highlights of their big day as well as those all important finer details.

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Paula, how did you meet your husband Keith?

We met in 2005 on a university work placement year, while we were working for a company called CIE Tours based in Morristown, New Jersey. Over the year we got to know each other pretty well and became close friends, although we didn’t start dating until 2009.

How did he propose?

Keith proposed on October 12th 2011 when we went back to New York for the first time since we had lived in the states. It was my birthday a few days before we went and Keith told me he was using one day of the trip to spoil me for my birthday. He had re-created a day we spent together back in 2006 in New York. He took me to the same place we went to for lunch before heading to the top of Rockafellar Centre, followed by a trip to the same pub for a few drinks. We went back to the hotel and Keith told me he had a surprise for me. He had bought me a dress to wear to dinner that night. He had booked a restaurant called Top of the Tower, which is 48 stories into the Manhattan skyline. When we got back to the hotel Keith told me he had one more surprise for me and to close my eyes. When I opened them he was down on one knee and asked me to marry him.

When and where did you get married?

We got married on May 24th 2014 in St. Michael’s Church, Mulleek, Co. Fermanagh and held our reception at Harvey’s Point, Donegal.

What led to you choosing your wedding venue?

We visited and considered quite a few locations before choosing Harvey’s Point. When we went to their wedding fayre we both said that we knew this is where we wanted to have our reception. The location on the shore of Lough Eske is beautiful and we knew it was perfect for photographs. We also felt comfortable with the staff and knew that the décor, service and general vibe of Harvey’s Point was what we both wanted and knew that all of our guests would love it. We also had never been to a wedding there before and both liked the idea of it being a new and unique experience for us both in a location that neither us or our family had attended before.

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Describe your dress?

I always wanted a princess style dress and so choose a Ronald Joyce dress which was everything I wanted.

Tell us about your bridesmaid dresses.

Pink is my favourite colour and I choose the dresses to match the same style as my wedding dress with a high neckline and sparkle detailing.

What type of flowers did you choose and why?

Peonies are my favourite springtime flower so this is what I used for all the bouquets, keeping it simple with mine in pink and bridesmaids’ in white.

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What was the highlight of the day for you?

I find it hard to choose one highlight! For Keith the highlight of the day was walking out of the church to You’ll Never Walk Alone. It was at that moment that it really hit him that we were married and turning to face all of our family and friends and to see them clapping, smiling and congratulating us really made it feel special.

What do you love most about your wedding photographs?

That they aren’t like any other wedding photographs I had ever seen before. The photographs at dusk on the jetty are amazing. I have never seen photos like that before and Donal and Tom captured the contrast of day and night perfectly. I always felt that Donal was there to add to our day and not just to take photos or to make us pose or stand for photos in a way or at a time when we didn’t want to. When we show our wedding album to people they always comment on how our photos are unlike anyone else’s, on how the photos look amazing and how the quality and finish of the album is unlike any they have seen before.

What piece of advice would you offer other brides?

Treasure every moment.

Harvey

A full gallery of Paula & Keith’s wedding can be found by clicking here.

Brides… step away from your comfort zones! This season designers are breaking the rules as bridalwear goes beyond simple sheath dresses to offer inspired collections for the 21st century bride. Hey, even short dresses aren’t anything to write home about any more. Here, guest blogger Aideen McCanny rounds up her top 5 bridal gown trends for spring!

There’s never been a cooler time to be a bride! The spring 2015 runways were alive with an array of some truly inspirational designs. We’re talking gasp generating, awe-inspired creations here. Brace yourselves… things are about to get a little cray cray!

1) Caped crusaderCaped wedding dressLove the idea of something trailing behind you as you walk up the aisle but hate the thought of a veil? Cue the cape. Hello Solange Knowles! Whether you want to cover up or create some drama, capes are a fabulous alternative to conventional cover ups. From floor length blinged out versions to more subtle sheer lace options, don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it.

2) Pretty pastelsPastels namedA candy shop array of colours such as powder blue, parma violet, lemon sherbet and blush pink sashayed down many spring 2015 runways. Spring’s delicate colour palette has finally made its entrance into the wonderful world of wedding gowns and brides are welcoming it with open arms. If white just isn’t your colour, this is definitely the trend for you. Look to designers such as Vera Wang, Oscar de la Rental and Ian Stuart who expertly prove there are alternatives to white. Only one question remains… if the bride wears pink, what colour do her pretty maids wear?

3) Unlikely separates Rosa Clara namedReality TV star turned full time style icon Olivia Palermo upped the ante for her walk down the isle by donning what can only be described as a sweater-shorts-tulle skirt ensemble, designed by the fashionista’s favourite designer, Carolina Herrera. The celebrity’s choice has inspired a new trend as designers have taken on this game changing look and incorporated it into their spring collections. Perhaps a step too far from tradition for some brides, why not consider it for your second look of the day, or even for the day after the wedding?

4) Bringing sexy backLow back namedThankfully designers haven’t totally forgotten about those with a penchant for tradition. As your walk down the aisle is such a huge part of your wedding day, it’s no surprise that you’ll want to look just as good from the back as the front. For spring, it’s all about a seductive back. Think low cut with delicate detailing, than say, a big oversized bow. Illusion panels and peekaboo lace will help keep things a little modest. How low will you go?

5) Crop top wedding dressesCrop top namedIt was only a matter of time before this iconic street style trend made its way into the bridal circuit. The key is to keep that flash of flesh slim and high. Go for a voluminous high waisted tulle skirt and coordinated embellished crop top to nail this trend. For the more faint hearted, gowns with strategic cut outs are your new BFF! Which of these trends are you rockin’ on your big day?

Destination weddings can make for a truly wonderful affair! With more and more couples choosing to tie the knot abroad, speaking from personal experience, guest blogger Aideen McCanny shares her top 10 tips for saying “I do” abroad!

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1) Location, location, location

The destination of your wedding determines so many factors such as the mood of your big day, travel, time and budget. It should reflect your personality as a couple. My husband and I choose a rural village in the south of France. We held both our ceremony and reception in a rustic garden, complete with lashing of bunting, wild flowers and a vintage vibe. One of the comments shared by many of our guests was that our wedding was so us! Make sure your chosen venue speaks volumes of you as a couple.

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2) Timing is key

The best weather in foreign destinations often correlates with tourist season which means you’ll need to book the venue and reserve accommodation well in advance. Remember to send save the dates to guests as soon as the date is set. A destination wedding requires planning from your guests too. When we told our family and friends we were planning a destination wedding, we made the process as simple as possible by providing them with information on flights, any travel arrangements and accommodation details.

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3) Take a trip

If the venue is new to you, try to pay it a visit. Meeting staff, seeing the venue and working out logistics such as distance from the airport will help put your mind at ease. You can even book hair and make-up trials when you are there and arrange a consultation with your florist. We planned our wedding in just six months and so a visit to our venue wasn’t possible. In this case, ensure you get plenty of up-to-date photos, testimonials from other brides and grooms and set out exactly what you expect from your venue. Ensure each vendor draws up a contract outlying every detail including payment terms.

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4) Research local marriage requirements

The legality of tying the knot outside of the UK can be complicated. Many countries have residency requirements, such as 24 hours in Turkey. In our case, residency in France is 40 days which simply wasn’t possible for us. We were happy to take care of the legal side of things at home and still had a ceremony with all our family and friends in France.

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5) Hire a wedding planner

Language barrier and time zone differences can be an issue so you may need to place your trust in the hands of a wedding planner to take care of the finer details. The key here is communication… and Pinterest! I’m sure many of you brides don’t need me to tell you about the powers of Pinterest in planning your wedding! For me, I couldn’t have got married without it. I sent photos of exactly what I wanted for flowers, cake, decor and even hair and make-up so there were no unexpected surprises on the day!

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 6) Book a photographer you trust

No doubt you’ll want photos that truly capture the essence of your special day. Bringing your photographer with you is a great idea. You avoid the language barrier, can get to know each other before you go through doing a pre-wedding shoot and the process of selecting your images and your album is a lot more straightforward. If wedding photos are important to you, meet your photographer in advance. If this isn’t possible, ask tons of questions, look through examples of work and set up a Skype call. This is a great way to determine how you feel about your photographer. I offer this advice from experience. Unfortunately we didn’t meet our photographer until the evening before the wedding and there were instant personality conflicts, shall we say! A quick Skype call before booking would have showed this! Sure, we got some great shots but I feel that with a different photographer they could have been amazing! Also, if your photographer offers the option to create your wedding album, take it! We decided we’d do our own and needless to say nine months later we still haven’t.

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7) Forewarn your party

Before you ask your wedding party to fulfil certain duties, warn them of your decision to wed abroad. It won’t come as a shock and they’ll already have decided if they will be attending. Don’t be surprised or upset if not all of your family and friends can attend. Remember, it’s a big ask of people to travel abroad for a wedding.
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8) Dress the part

Factors including climate are a key part in determining what you and your guests will wear. Getting married on a beach might not be the ideal location to show off a heavily embellished tulle tired ballgown. I choose an elegant, flowing Grecian style Anoushka G gown, which kept me cool when the sun shone. Don’t be afraid to break the rules! My leading ladies wore short floral dresses paired with Vivienne Westwood shoes which maybe isn’t a look I would have chosen for a ceremony at home, but which was very fitting for our location. Also, don’t forget about the men! Three-piece black tuxs might not be ideal in the basking sun!

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9) Don’t invite to be polite

If the reason you are planning destination nuptials is because you want a small wedding, don’t feel pressured to invite hundreds of people out of politeness!

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10) Stay cool!

A lot of planning will be out of your control so keep a cool head at all times. Keep in constant contact with your vendors and be clear about what you want from the offset. This is the recipe for a truly memorable day!

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Photos of Jenny and Andy’s fab wedding at Almyra, Cyprus by Donal Doherty. View more images and a slideshow from the wedding here.

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