Your Big Day

Real Wedding: Anne-Marie and Cillian tie the knot in elegant Tankardstown House

Anne-Marie and Cillian from Dublin met in Tanzania in 2010, while they were teaching computer studies to children.

Their first contact was when Anne-Marie was showing Cillian how to wire a computer network in one of the schools, however it took Cillian another five weeks to work up the courage to ask her out.

Cillian popped the question on Anne-Marie's birthday in December '15, while they were away in Marrakesh.

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They tied the knot in August this year in a ceremony in Holy Cross Church in Dundrum, after which they held their reception in Tankardstown House in Slane.

Their photos were by Amber Baruch Photography.

The Engagement

"We went to Marrakesh for Anne-Marie’s birthday in December 2015. We arrived to the riad that we were staying in quite late. After a light dinner we ordered a bottle of wine and went to the rooftop for some stargazing."

Under the stars, Cillian handed Anne-Marie her birthday card with the big question written inside, to which she, of course, said yes!

The Style

The couple wanted a church wedding and the reception in a stately home. They tied the knot in Anne-Marie's local church in Dundrum.

When it came to the reception venue, they wanted somewhere that didn't need any decoration.

"It was important to us to find a venue that’s beautiful in its own right and didn’t need any additional décor on the day. We really wanted to enjoy the planning process and not get stressed over the small details. We wanted to keep everything classically elegant. Tankardstown House is a wonderful place of understated elegance, so suited us perfectly."

The Planning

Using wedding planning as an excuse to spend some quality time with friends and family, the couple saw the positive side of having so much to do before the big day. Anne-Marie was happy she got to try on a lot of really beautiful dresses, while Cillian said he was delighted to have discovered the amazing service of Louis Copeland and hot towel shaves!

"Choosing the reception venue brought us to a lot of cool places.

"Something we really enjoyed was spending time with our friends and family. There were quite a few celebrations in the run up to the wedding and every task that was done with the groomsmen or bridesmaids was always an excuse to have some quality time together, most of which took place with a Prosecco or beer in hand."

The Wedding Theme

While the couple were eager to share their love of travel with their guests on the day, they felt the theme would have clashed with their traditional style. However it was important for them that Tanzania - "the place where it all began" - was represented on the day.

Anne-Marie’s brother-in-law had the great idea of name the tables with Swahili numbers and their friend Martin styled the table number cards with a beautiful silhouette of the Serengeti.

"One of our favourite things to do when we travel is visit the local wildlife. One of our most amazing experiences was visiting an elephant sanctuary in Sri Lanka. We put elephants on the top table to remind us of that time and of all the adventures we have promised to keep having together.

"Our friend Martin also made us little laser cut hearts with our initials cut in. our bridal party thread satin ribbon through them and Tankardstown house placed them on each guest’s place setting. It was really nice because after dinner a lot of people tied the ribbon around their wrists! It gave a surprising festival feel late into the night."

The Dress

Anne-Marie found her Margaret Moreland wedding dress in the first shop she went to, however as her sister had booked a few bridal shops to visit, they continued shopping to be certain it was 'the one'.

"I am head over heels in love with my dress. Everything about it is and was beautiful. I love the designer Margaret Moreland. All her dresses are so elegant and timeless."

Anne-Marie's bridemaids’ dresses were by Dessy and were bought in Wedding World.

The Suits

"I was lucky enough to get a made to measure suit from Louis Copeland," said Cillian.

"Having tried many excellent places with fantastic off the rack suits, I couldn’t find any that properly fit. It also gave me the opportunity to get a fantastic colour and style. I wanted something vibrant and fun, a special suit that is truly unique."

They grromsmen's suits came from Protocol on Dawson Street. "They were really easy to deal with," added Cillian, "they got all the measurements spot on and had great communication." 

The Stand-out Moments

"The ceremony was our favourite part of the day. Anne-Marie’s uncle Philip is a deacon and was able to be our solemniser which made the ceremony really personal and very emotional. It was his first time performing a wedding ceremony and we wouldn’t change a thing. It was perfect! He gave a really personal homily and it meant so much to have him perform such a significant role on our wedding day. His and Anne-Marie’s aunty’s marriage is so full of love that we knew we would be in good hands with him."

"A few of our friends prepared “I Can’t Help Falling in Love with You” by Elvis and did a great performance of it after we signed the register. Then just before the procession out of the church, Anne-Marie’s brother in law had organized a surprise performance from Thurles Gospel Choir. It was modelled on the scene from Love Actually with a flash mob type of performance. Brass musicians popped up from within the crowd and the electric guitarist appeared in the gallery. They performed “All You Need is Love” by the Beatles and really set the fun tone for the rest of the day."

The Venue

"Tankardstown House offers unparalled service, has an excellent (and very deserved) reputation for its food and is an absolutely stunning venue. We knew fairly immediately that this was the place we were looking for. The décor in the house is refined and classic, but feels modern and fresh at the same time. The Orangerie where the meal and dancing takes place is one of a kind amongst the wedding venues in Ireland. "

The Flowers

The couple wanted to have pink roses with lots of greenery at the wedding however they said that when they looked at the flowers they wanted they were way above their budget.

"We heard from friends about Joseph Duffy and Sons flowers which are wholesale florists. They put together an absolutely stunning package for us at a much more reasonable budget. They don’t provide the same service as if you went to a florist, so it is more of a hassle. but we had the help of our friends to pick up the flowers in the morning and put them out in the church for us so it all came together well. We took the flowers from the church and used them in the dining hall in Tankardstown. We were absolutely delighted with the flowers and were even able to use them at our day after party in the Royal St George Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire."

The Speeches

"The speeches were extremely special for us. They were done after the meal and after a few drinks our guests we’re shy in contributing! Anne-Marie’s dad had the whole room in stitches laughing for the whole speech. By coincidence, our chosen wedding date was the same date as their wedding anniversary. Through tales and stories (some true, all embellished!) the room loved every minute."

"My brother prepared a beautiful recollection of our relationship and captured everything that we could have hoped for," said Cillian. "I was so proud to have him as my best man."

The Glitches

When it comes to changing anything about the day, the couple agree that they wouldn't change a thing, and said that even the things that didn't go exactly to plan were "fantastic". 

"The journey from the church to Tankardstown was longer than expected, but we still had a great time with singing along to a sappy playlist prepared by Anne-Marie’s brother-in-law and some prosecco! It also rained a little during the photos, but we broke out the umbrellas and true to form the groomsmen even danced around the walled garden doing a fine impromptu rendition of “Singing in the rain!”

"We got a bit delayed, so the speeches had to be moved from before the meal to after the meal. Everyone had had a few drinks by that stage and really got involved in the speeches."

The Advice

The couple's advice is to choose your suppliers early in advance. "For example, try out a few makeup artists if you don’t have one already, it can be a very stressful last-minute activity with a large impact on the day."

The Honeymoon

"We spent three weeks in Thailand eating a lot of thai food and we even got to visit and amazing elephant sanctuary called Elephant Nature Park outside Chiang Mai. Right in theme with our top table decorations."

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The Vendors

Photographer: Amber Baruch Photography | Videographer: Matthew Greer – Out of Mountain | Solmniser: Deacon Philip Carder | Celebrant: Fr. John | Ceremony location: Holy Cross Church, Dundrum | Ceremony music: Niamh McCormack and Patrice Keegan | Wedding dress: Margaret Moreland | Shoes: Dune | Accessories: Hierlooms | Engagement ring: Applebys | Wedding ring: Applebys | Bridesmaids’ dresses: Wedding world | Bridesmaid earrings: Emma by Jane | Groom's suit: Louis Copeland | Groomsmen suits: Protocol | Flowers: Joseph Duffy and sons | Decor: Dunnes Stores, Meadows and Byrne | Reception venue: Tankardstown House | Hair: Sharron Sykes | Makeup: Aoife O’Callaghan | Reception entertainment: Those Fire Guys, The Hit Machine, Afterparty