When we got engaged and planned our wedding in three months

artificial wedding flowers belfast

Hello, Sharon here! As you may or may not know, I’ve been working in the wedding industry and running Innocent Chaos for 15 years this year. I’m a wedding florist based in Belfast Northern Ireland, specialising in luxury artificial flowers and wedding bouquets. To find out more about what we do, click here.

Having helped to plan thousands of weddings, when the time came to finally plan our big day, I knew the perfect team to contact.

Now, before I dive into our wedding day, all the details and complete vendor list, let me set the scene and tell you a bit more about our engagement first. 

luxury faux flowers wedding

In August 2021, my other half Gary and I, drove our little flowery van all the way to the Lake District for a well needed holiday after a busy year of weddings and COVID-19 restrictions. What a whirlwind of a year!

Little did I know that this holiday would become one I would never forget. Gary had smuggled a special little surprise in his coat pocket.  

We spent a gorgeous sunny week in a really nice hotel in Lake Windermere and were completely blown away by the stunning views. One morning, we decided to take ourselves out onto the lake early, in our own little boat, called the ‘Magda’. It was out in that little boat that Gary got down on one knee (may I add, he almost capsized the boat during the proposal!) 

Every girl dreams of the moment she gets engaged but you are never quite sure when or how it will happen. My moment came and it was just the perfect memory shared between the both of us. And, my engagement ring was EXACTLY what I had imagined. Well done, Gary! 

After I said yes (obviously I did, he’s a good spud) we spent the next week touring around the stunning Lake District and chatted about all things weddings and what was important to both of us for the big day. We both agreed that we didn’t want a long engagement and that a Winter Wedding would be the dream.

wedding at the rabbit hotel

So, after a couple of glasses of celebratory champagne, obviously very necessary, we decided to be completely bonkers and reach out to a few of our favourite vendors and chance our arm to see if they had any December 2021 dates left. (Bear in mind that it was currently the beginning of September 2021)

We were so excited when Abby from The Loft at The Rabbit Hotel in Templepatrick, got back to us with a few dates available in December. We both had admired The Rabbit Hotel, but hadn’t visited yet, as they had been going through a major revamp. So when we saw the 17th of December was free we both agreed that it would be the perfect wedding date!  

luxury faux flower package

Now for the exciting part, getting to plan our big day! 

For most people when they get engaged, they enjoy the buzz and excitement of the news and celebrate with family & friends. Then wait a little while to mull over ideas of their dream wedding, but having 15 years of experience in the Northern Ireland wedding industry and a couple of bonkers thirty somethings, we decided to just crack on and plan our big day in record time! And oh boy, did we have a lot of work ahead of us. But if you know me, I love a challenge and this was a fun one. 

So we came home from the Lake District full of excitement and so many ideas. We arranged to meet with the lovely Abby from The Rabbit Hotel, the week after we got back home.

I initially visited the Loft with my bridesmaid Jemma to scope the place out, as we had previous night outs in the venue when it was the Templeton Hotel before. In fact, I later found out that my parents had their first date there. How romantic!

Once I was set on the venue, I brought my new fiancé Gary, (now my husband, saying that still gives me goosebumps!) there to give him the hard sell, which to be honest wasn’t difficult at all as he loved the venue as much as I did.

We secured Friday the 17th of December and then got cracking on with the million things to do in three very short months. I have to admit, most people thought that we were crazy but we just couldn’t wait to get married!

The loft at the rabbit hotel

Gary and I both discussed what was important for each of us in a wedding and we agreed that having all of our friends and family around us, having a big party rather than a formal wedding was much more ‘us’. Therefore, the chilled vibe at the Loft, Templepatrick fell hand in hand with our vision for our special day. 

Also, we wanted to include fellow small businesses and vendors in Northern Ireland that I have either worked with or followed, as we both love to support other creators and local businesses.

Ok so the venue was sorted, the next thing was to find the perfect wedding dress that would make me feel amazing on the day. I contacted a few of my favourite bridal shops and luckily, I found my dream ‘Eva Lendel’ dress in the first shop I visited which was Forever Bridal Boutique. Check out their website here

I have known Leondra and the girls there for many years and felt in safe hands knowing that my dress could be ordered in our time frame. 

Next was our photographer. This was a trickier one. I have worked with so many incredibly talented photographers in my business, Innocent Chaos, over the years, I was pushed to pick just one! 

Gary and I decided after lots of discussions, that we would be better to choose a photographer that I hadn’t worked with on any of our business shoots so that I didn’t feel like I was in ‘work mode’. 

Queue the talented Sarah from Sun and Beau. I have admired Sarah’s work on Instagram (insta handle: @sunandbeau) and when she came back to say that she had availability on our date, well we were just over the moon! It was like it was meant to be. 

Next up was to find the perfect person to Marry us! When Abby at the loft met us and chatted about our views on wedding ceremonies, she highly recommended Pastor James Clarke (@pastorjtclarke on instagram) from Carrick community Church. I gave James a call and we met up a few weeks later. We loved his relaxed , fun vibe and both felt completely at ease with him. So happy days, he was available for our date!

After that, it was time to sort out hair and makeup. I have worked with so many talented artists over the years, but have built a special bond with Clare from Vintage Rocks (@vintagerockshair on instagram) and Stacey from S.A.K.Makeup, so as soon as they both came back to say that they could glam up myself and my bridesmaids, then that was the perfect dream team! 

Lynette Murray from Studio A114, is also a close personal friend of ours so she kindly looked after our hair prep before the big day!

So then we were on a roll. Next up was the entertainment. I absolutely love the Instagram account of Emily Rose, as she has the voice of an angel. Also, I loved watching The Just Adam Band and all their crazy antics at the Quirky Weddings fair over the years, so again that was an easy one to tick off our vendor list. 

Then came my headpiece. When I’m in the Innocent Chaos studio, I make all sorts of pretty floral headpieces so I decided that I wanted something a little more glam for our ‘fancy Christmas party’ theme. So the talented Debbie from Deborah K Designs was top of my list. 

Debbie and I have become great friends over the years and love to support each other and our girl boss empires! Debbie designed a one off custom headpiece especially for me and I think you will agree, it was absolutely stunning! She also redesigned a beautiful necklace that my late Nana gave me, into a bracelet. This just meant the world to me and being able to wear this on the big day was really special. 

The rest of the planning, all surprisingly happened very easily as vendors bent over backwards to fit us into their already full 2021 diaries. Like many wedding vendors, the impact of COVID-19 had them booked up for years in advance, so we were very grateful to them for fitting us in. 

The weeks running up to the wedding were jam packed with dress fittings, hen/stag parties, designing our own stationary, making all of our own flowers, choosing songs, sorting out all of the finer details and working with the lovely Melanie from Mood Events to help us with the room styling. 

It was the busiest, craziest but the most fun few weeks, and as a team we got there!  Everyone helped out and our wonderful parents along with the amazing team at the Loft, at The Rabbit Hotel, ran about making sure we had all the support in the world.

So our big day came on Friday 17th December and it went so quickly! But on reflection, I would not change a thing about it. Both of our families have sadly lost a few special people over the last couple of years, so we just wanted our big day to be a celebration of family and life. 

Planning a wedding in just three months was a whirlwind, but such an exciting and fun journey! Everyone needed a big pick me up after a tiresome 2020-2021, so all our guests were super excited to finally dress up, party, dance, eat and celebrate.

Our wedding was just amazing and a day I’ll treasure forever. Now to spam you all with a mountain of our favourite wedding photos! 

rabbit hotel wedding