Country House Celebration

Alyson and Phil's County Antrim wedding

How They Met

Photography by Janine Walker

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Doctor Alyson Hagan first met business manager Phil Hutchinson when she was at university in Belfast. In May 2005, a mutual friend suspected they would hit it off and set them up on a blind date. That friend was certainly right.

The Proposal

By November of their second year together, when the couple went for a special weekend in London, they had already discussed getting engaged. “We’d just returned to our hotel after a romantic stroll,” remembers Alyson. “Phil had arranged for our room to be decorated with masses of lit candles. He proposed as soon as we stepped into the room and closed the door. I said ‘yes’ straight away – I was swept off my feet by such a romantic gesture.”

The Wedding Dress

Alison wore an ivory Kate Sherford wedding dress in silk taffeta. The dress had a fitted bodice embellished with vintage lace and Swarovski crystals and a ruched waistline. A waterfall of Swarovski crystals flowed into the hem of the a-line skirt.

“I wore a full-length veil scattered with crystals by the same designer and a Swarovski crystal tiara by the Bridal Gallery, Ireland,” explains Alyson. “I make jewellery in my spare time so I hand-made my necklace and bracelet in the same crystals that featured on my dress. My ivory shoes were by Debut.”

The Bridal Party

Phil wore a grey morning suit from Parsons & Parsons in Belfast. An ivory waistcoat, shirt and cravat completed the ensemble.

Alyson’s chief bridesmaid wore a teal a-line dress with ruched waist and crystal embellishment from Angel Star. “My two nieces were flower girls,” says Alyson. “They wore dresses in the Kate Sherford taffeta that my bridal gown was made from, with Swarovski crystals and teal sashes to match my bridesmaid.”

The Wedding Flowers

“My bouquet was simple, but gorgeous,” says Alyson. “It was sweet avalanche roses in ivory with a subtle hint of pink to match the colour scheme of the wedding. Sweet avalanche featured in the venue flowers as well: in tall vases on the tables and intertwined in huge sheaves of corn in the lobby. Arrangements of ivory calla lilies on the top table and in the lobby provided the perfect complement.”

The Wedding Ceremony

“We married in St John’s Church in the charming seaside village of Portstewart on the north coast of Ireland,” tells Alyson. “This was so special as my family has always had a holiday home there; I’ve been going there for summers since I was small. The church is over 200 years old and so picturesque. It was decorated with sweet avalanche roses at the entrance and the altar. The end of each pew was decorated with an ivory taffeta bow and a single sweet avalanche rose.”

“The ceremony was a traditional Church of Ireland service and we both became quite teary during the vows. Afterwards, we sat on the ‘wedding thrones’ and watched as our loved ones came forward for Holy Communion. We couldn’t stop smiling – feeling totally elated.”

The Wedding Venue

“We chose Galgorm Resort & Spa, County Antrim, a converted 18th-century manor house, because I really wanted a country-house wedding,” Alyson says. “Our reception was held in the Great Hall, which is a separate building set apart from the rest of the hotel. Only our guests were allowed in the building and its beautiful grounds, which gave the venue a real feeling of exclusivity.”

The Wedding Theme

Alyson and Phil’s wedding theme was traditional with a contemporary twist, incorporating an ivory, teal and grey colour scheme with just a hint of pink in the flowers.

While the happy couple were having their photographs taken, the 120 wedding guests were given the chance to relax: strolling in Galgorm’s beautiful grounds, playing the couple’s wedding trivia quiz or visiting the sweetie corner, stacked with colour co-ordinated sweets.

The Wedding Cake

Alyson is lucky enough to have a mum who is a very talented baker. She whipped up a mountain of cupcakes decorated with ivory, teal and pink icing flowers, as well as a traditional three-tier fruitcake that was decorated with fresh sweet avalanche roses.

The Wedding Favours

“Each guest received a personalised favour,” explains Alyson. “The gentlemen received handmade fudge presented in ivory pouches, and ladies were given scented candles in individual glasses. Each favour was bound with a teal ribbon and decorated with a handmade tag with our names and the date of the wedding.”

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The Bride’s Top Tips

“The little things we did to personalise our wedding really helped to give an extra-special feel to the day in an inexpensive and fun way,” shares Alyson. “Things like the sweetie bar and quiz really helped the day to run smoothly, so no guests were left waiting around for us and we got lots of compliments on our organisational skills. Those touches really helped to break the ice too.”