Assistant Vice President of Commercial Finance for L’Oreal USA Elaine O’Brien said ‘I do’ to Investment Banker Craig Liddiard in his native South Africa earlier this year.
Photography: Celeste from Aglow Photography
Craig and Elaine met in 2015 while both living in London. Elaine had moved to London for work in early 2014 while Craig, originally from South Africa, had been living there since 2005. They both lived in Fulham at the time and started dating during the summer. The couple's relationship was fun from the get-go! They spent all their time together and being from different worlds, it was great getting to know the other’s circles of friends. It wasn’t until a trip to South Africa together did Elaine & Craig begin to think that they may have found ‘the one’!
The couple moved to New York together in September 2016. Craig, who typically doesn’t make a big deal of his birthdays, had a very clear plan of his 35th birthday laid out. Elaine started to suspect something was up, but it wasn’t until the morning of the proposal that she was really suspicious! They were up at the crack of dawn for an early breakfast in the ‘Boathouse’ restaurant in Central Park. They had barely finished eating when Craig suggested that they take a rowboat out on the lake. It was a beautiful, sunny October day in the park and the setting was perfect. Craig popped the question with a gorgeous ring in the middle of the lake in Central Park; he said, ‘Do you want to make this the best day ever?’ to which Elaine quickly replied ‘Of course’ and put the ring on her finger so quickly for fear of it falling into the lake! The couple then walked around the park for hours on the phone to family and friends in Ireland and South Africa telling their excited loved ones the news. The early morning start was to ensure they would still get time to celebrate virtually with family in different time zones! That night, the couple had a beautiful dinner out with a group of good friends in the West Village in the City.
Craig & Elaine decided to marry outdoors in February which is the height of the summer in South Africa. Knowing that she would be contending with the heat, Elaine wanted something simple and elegant. She went to a number of wedding shops in New York City with friends, including Pronovias and Kleinfelds (home of ‘say yes to the dress’) but nothing was quite right. On an impromptu trip to New York, Elaine and her mum went to the ‘Lovely Bride’ in Tribeca where a friend had recently found her wedding dress. She found a very simple Sarah Seven gown which was very minimalistic and fit the bill.
They knew they wanted to get married in South Africa as it was the place they fell in love and adore to visit. Craig has so many family and friends still in South Africa and Elaine's family and friends were dying to visit. The couple visited a year before the wedding to pick the venue. They love the wine country area just outside Cape Town called Stellenbosch where Craig went to University and fell in love with Molenvliet on their first stay. It is a stunning wine farm with the ceremony area tucked in between the vines and a stunning backdrop of the Drakenstein Mountains.
Elaine's wedding dream had always been to walk down the aisle to Canon by Pachelbel with a string quartet playing. This was the number one item on the ‘Entertainment’ list for her! The quartet playing during the ceremony was so special and an incredible memory for the couple. They had a drinks reception after the ceremony where they had a guitarist/singer playing, Francois Haasbroek. For the reception the couple had DJ Chopper and her team. They did an amazing light show too which was incredible!
Elaine followed a SkinCeuticals skincare regime in the lead up to the wedding as it is one of the brands she works with and loves in L’Oreal. She was also getting regular facials in the Caudalie spa in New York City and trying to get some sun in the week they had in South Africa before the wedding (while desperately trying to avoid any patchy colour). They had a week of celebrations with their family in the lead up to the wedding so just trying to balance the wine to water ratio was an important task coming up to the big day! For her bridal scent, Elaine wore an Armani Prive scent called ‘Rose Alexandrie’. "It is such a beautiful light and elegant fragrance which worked perfectly for the outdoor, natural setting. I worked with this brand when I was in London and have been in love with this scent ever since."
"The best bridesmaids in the world!" Her sister, Aisling and cousin Karen were with Elaine throughout the whole engagement and wedding journey. "They’re the two most thoughtful, organised and fun friends in the world. They organised an amazing hen party in Dublin in the lead up to Christmas and were as intimately involved in every detail of the preparation as I was!" Karen, who recently got married in Portugal, was an expert in all things wedding planning and Aisling was the wedding week party planner. They were amazing and the whole experience would not have been the same without them!
The Best Decision
"Following our gut and getting married in South Africa. It was a huge decision for us as so many of our friends and family live in Ireland, the UK, the US etc. and we did not want anyone at all to feel under pressure to make such a huge trip. Overall, people were delighted with the choice and so many of our nearest and dearest came to celebrate with us for which we are eternally grateful! For those who couldn’t make it, it’s always an excuse to celebrate again!"
The Worst Decision
"We really don’t have any regrets about the day and thanks to our amazing wedding planner, Izandi, we didn’t have to make many decisions. As we were planning the wedding from New York, working with Izandi and her team in IDO4U meant she took all of the hard work out of planning. She would send us a list of everything that needed to be done, shortlist suppliers and give us her recommendation. We trusted her implicitly and as a result, she didn’t let us make any wedding blunders!"