Bespoke blooms and golden pineapples
Walking the aisle in a stunning Vivienne Westwood gown, founder of CompareRetreats.com, Dervla Louli gives us a peek into her grand, fairytale wedding in Ireland.
A venue bursting with flowers, lush greens and, of course, golden pineapples, Dervla shares with us the intimate details of her big day from her first dance with her father to the friends who made it all possible.
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All love stories have to begin somewhere. How did you two meet?
I went over to London to celebrate New Year’s with one of my best friends Lucy and she brought me to a New Year’s Eve party that a friend of a friend was throwing. The friend of a friend happened to be Alister.
Where was your first date?
Our first proper date was at Café Gray. It’s also where we had our engagement dinner and civil ceremony.
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Can you tell us about the first time he said he loved you?
At Hong Kong airport when we had to say one of many goodbyes while we were doing long distance between London and Hong Kong.
Every bride has a proposal story. What’s yours?
At home, with our dog Clive and a bouquet of Ellermann Flowers. I was so happy he did it at home.
Tell us about the ring.
Alister worked with a jeweller called Alan of Windiam Jewellers in Hong Kong and designed a classic ring with a gold band and single solitaire with four prongs. He nailed it.
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What did you do for your hen parties?
In Ireland two great friends and bridesmaids, Lucy and Freya, organised the most epic weekend in Carlow with our boarding school girls. Freya is founder of The Proper Food Project and the best chef I know so the food all weekend was outrageously good. There was blow-up sumo wrestling, a murder mystery dinner party, paint balling and much more.
In Hong Kong, my very first close friend in Hong Kong Jessica organised a white and golden pineapple party, feast in Carbone followed by a silent disco in Salon 10 and more dancing in Dragon i. They were both absolutely hilarious and so much fun.
How did you go about planning your wedding?
I found our wedding venue, Kilshane House, by looking at Irish wedding photography blogs, I spotted one of my wedding dresses on Pinterest and I’m lucky that I already knew who I wanted to do my flowers, hair, makeup, photography invitations and videography from working in the wedding industry in Ireland for a little while. Atom Events came on board a few months before the wedding and were amazing at making sure everything went off without a hitch.
Who helped you create your perfect day?
Our wedding day was made possible by the help of a lot of good friends (and That Girls!). Tanya Bennett and Kalo Make Art did our invitations, table numbers and escort cards. Gemma Hayden Blest flew over from Hong Kong to do the flowers working with Irish florists – The French Touch. Michael Leong did hair and Michelle Field did make-up. The Bentley Boys performed all types of music over the weekend.
Atom Events made sure everything came together in the lead up and on the day. My mum made the six-tier cake which Gemma decorated with flowers. Nicola Lemmon flew over from Australia with Alexandra Cohen to do photography and Michael from Story of Eve was the videographer. We also had fashion illustrator, Jane Ryan drawing guests on the day.
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Tell us about the dresses.
My friend and former colleague Megan wrote the most comprehensive wedding dress shopping guide while we were working on the wedding section of Sassy in 2014, so I started by making my way through the list. I went into Audella Bridal, interviewed designer Inbal Dror while she was in town for a trunk show and fell in love with a dress that she sketched for me. Unfortunately it was too risqué to wear in a Catholic church so I had to pass on the beautiful design. I checked out Oscar de la Renta at Trinity Bridal and tried on the Zuhair Murad gown I had spotted on Pinterest with my mum at Designer Bridal Room. I ended up buying the Zuhair Murad dress as my second dress.
For the church I wanted something simple and classic. The Vivienne Westwood team at Davies Street in London designed a traditional cream satin cowl-necked gown with a full overskirt that was perfect. As a wedding gift they had Vivienne Westwood sign the inside of the dress which made the dress extra special.
Who helped you look and feel your best on your big day?
I worked with an excellent trainer, Dali who helped me get my nutrition and fitness in check, she wisely told me to stop over-exercising, slow down and sleep more. I did two sessions of personal training a week with her for the three months leading up to the wedding.
A week before the wedding I did the bridal pampering package at Four Season’s Spa and went to The Strand for nail and hair prep. Joyce at Bliss Spa at W Hong Kong gave me the ‘Youth as You Know It’ facial the day before I flew back to Ireland and I stopped off in London to collect my wedding dress and while there got a subtle tan from the InParlour team.
I was lucky to have two of the best hair and makeup artists in Ireland with us for the wedding weekend – Michael Leong (hair) and Michelle Field (makeup) who I had worked with previously in Ireland on shoots. We also had a team in from Callan and Co. for the bridal party and guests, which is a beauty haven in Dublin.
What was the wedding like?
It was full of flowers, food and fireworks – all the right ingredients for a fun party with friends and family.
The song for your first dance?
My Girl by The Temptations.
What’s the most valuable thing you learned while wedding planning?
Great food + non-stop music + abundant alcoholic beverages = fun wedding!
Any advice for brides-to-be?
I loved having a small civil ceremony in Hong Kong before our big wedding in Ireland. Lauren Roberts of Sweet Soirees organised a beautiful dinner at Café Gray full of flowers and golden pineapples from iDecorate for us with 10 special guests in attendance. Celebrate in the city you live in if you’re having a wedding in your home country or abroad.
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What do you remember most about the entire experience?
The day after our wedding we had brunch and a barbecue. The band played ‘It’s Amore’ which is my dad’s song and my dad and I had our father daughter dance which we had missed the night before. Nicola Lemmon caught us on camera hugging afterwards and it’s a moment I’ll never forget.
Is there anything you would have liked to do differently?
Not a thing – we had a blast before, during and after the wedding.
And that brings us naturally to your honeymoon. Where did you end up going?
Four Seasons Tented Camps in the Golden Triangle before the wedding and Capri for a few days afterwards.
If you had your wedding in Hong Kong, what would your dream venue be?
The museum of medical sciences.
Wedding photography by: Nicola Lemmon. Bridesmaids were wearing Monica Vinader jewellery, shoes by KOTUR.