Primary School Teacher Catríona Loftus married Doctor Darren Cowzer in the exquisite Borgo di Tragliata in Italy last summer.
Photography: Claudia and Luca Rossini
Catríona & Darren met briefly at a party in 2008 and again properly at the beginning of 2009. By April that year, they were officially an item. It turned out that they only lived down the road from each-other so Darren had started to hang out with the lads Catríona had grown up with, which made it very convenient for socialising together. The couple decided to travel the world together for six months in 2010 while Darren had a semester off college and before Catríona properly settled into her career at Sutton Park School. It was the best decision they ever made, and it cemented them as a couple and team.
The couple were together a long time before Darren plucked up the courage to ask Catríona to marry him. In December 2016, Darren planned for the couple to head down the country to spend the weekend with his relatives. He made it so believable and Catríona was not expecting what was ahead. It was the weekend of the Toy Show so Catríona put on her big woolly jumper and got into the car. Of course, they didn’t end up with family, and instead, he drove through the gates of Hayfield Manor in Cork. The whole place was like a Christmas wonderland and he had packed Catríona’s best dresses and heels in the boot of the car. He proposed with a beautiful rose gold solitaire while she was still in her woolly jumper and when she said ‘yes’ he handed Catríona an itinerary for the weekend. He had lined up everything from a couple’s massage to afternoon tea to a seven-course meal. It was so magical, and the couple didn’t tell anyone until they arrived home on Sunday night (except Catríona’s dad whom Darren had previously asked). The bride would definitely recommend keeping your engagement secret for a few days to just enjoy the bubble of excitement together.
Catríona’s dress was made by an Irish designer called Dawn Fitzgerald, she bought it in a sample sale in The Suite in Dublin. Catríona made the mistake of looking at too many dresses, so by the time she tried this one on she was totally confused. The more shops Catríona visited, the more undecisive she became. Her sister Sinéad convinced her to buy this one and she was so glad she did. “I loved it on the day and felt really comfortable and not too hot. Silk was actually perfect for the heat as it’s a natural fabric so was breathable and didn’t crease.” The dress was altered in Sew Creative in Donnybrook and the bride could not recommend Nicole highly enough. She ensured the dress fit perfectly and added the lace detail and finesse.
The couple had been visiting venues in Ireland and had no real ambition to get married abroad until they stumbled across an online video of Borgo di Tragliata. Catríona & Darren had recently said that the only place other than Ireland they would think about getting married would be Italy, as Darren’s dad was half Italian, so Darren has always had a strong connection to the country. The second Catríona saw the video of Borgo di Tragliata she knew they were going to get married there. It had everything they desired to make an abroad wedding doable; church on-site, close to the airport, room for all of our guests to stay at the venue. Catríona first met Cristina Masini, who runs the venue, at the Bride of the Year Show in the RDS and after speaking to her they quickly confirmed their date and booked the initial visit there. “I’ll never forget the giddiness of that first visit over, the venue was even more perfect than we imagined!” Its set on a farm and vineyard and the Borgo itself dates back to the 6th century so has a really special ancient Roman countryside feel. During the planning stages, Cristina was fantastic and hooked the couple up with all of their suppliers. The food, drinks and care the couple received was outstanding. Nothing was a problem and they were so on the ball and organised to ensure all ran smoothly. It was honestly the best three days of Catríona & Darren’s lives and was like a fairytale.
At the welcome BBQ the night before the wedding, the couple had a band called The Italian Wedding Band. They began by serenading the bride and then continued to play brilliant tunes into the night. Everyone was up dancing and Catríona was hoping the wedding band would live up to them the following night. Their wedding band was called The Gloves. They were brilliant and really made the night. Not only were they extremely talented musicians, but they were also hilarious craic and got down on the dancefloor and organised dance-offs and entertainment the whole night. They began by collecting the guests from their dinner tables in a Congo procession and led them into the converted barn dancefloor. They played until 4 am and at about 2 am they did a costume change into The Village People and interacted with the guests up on the stage and down on the dancefloor non-stop. Nobody wanted to go to bed! At the Pizza Party on the third night, the couple had a singer called Sal who was great to get the party started again. Following him, the guests continued the sing-song (led by the couple’s friend Peter Weldon) into the wee hours and it was another unforgettable night.
Catríona’s main beauty prep was gym classes in TonedFit gym, Howth. The trainers were all on the wedding countdown with her, so they definitely motivated her to work that bit harder in a fun and exciting way. She also had some Image facials done by Holly in Renaissance, Howth and used their products to get her skin into the best shape possible. Catríona also got a half set of false lashes done in Elysian Brows which were lovely, especially around the pools by day. Other than that, she just maximized laying out in the good weather before the wedding as Catríona really didn’t want to wear fake tan in the heat (this even involved some outdoor lessons and extended break times with the kids in school!)
Catríona’s wedding sent was Jo Malone, Peony and Blush Suede. She had never worn this perfume before the wedding and now when it’s sprayed it takes her back to her wedding day.
Catríona’s bridesmaids were her two sisters, Sinéad and Róisín, her sister in law, Orla B and her best friend Orla. They made the build-up to the wedding and indeed the wedding day so special. There were so many thoughtful touches and careful anticipation of problems that Catríona was shielded from because of these girls. She loved the morning of the wedding as it was so relaxed and fun being pampered with her girls and mum. They are incredibly kind, selfless and generous in every way and Catríona will be forever grateful to each of them. Her first niece Ruby Mae was there too (inside Orla B at the time!) but its lovely knowing she was part of the girl gang already.
The Best Decision
“Picking our wedding venue and going for it! We don’t regret a single thing and feel so lucky and grateful at how perfectly it all worked out there. We are also so happy we chose to get a videographer as our wedding video is such a special memory of the day and I’ve already watched it countless times!”
The Worst Decision
“Going to too many dress shops. If I was doing the whole thing again I would probably limit myself to visiting three or four of the more renowned dress shops, rather than random ones I didn’t research at all to see if I even liked their styles.”