A rural escape enclosed by breathtaking landscapes, decorated with cobbled courtyards and adorned with charming walled gardens; Larchfield Estate was the venue for Melanie's wedding to Andrew Hanna on the 27th of October 2023 in the stunning 19th Century Barn. Captured by Francis Meaney, if you're dreaming of an autumnal Boho wedding, this should be at the top of your Pinterest board!

Andrew completely caught Melanie by surprise as he tied in collecting their new cockapoo puppy Maple with the proposal. The pair were away in Enniskillen for a few nights before collecting the pup on Wednesday 15th September. Andrew had informed both sets of parents of the plan to propose as soon as they arrived home that day. He enlisted the help of both mums to decorate the house with signs, balloons, fairy lights, confetti, prosecco and petals. When Melanie & Andrew collected Maple, he went straight through the living room and called Melanie in, he was on one knee in the room. 

Having quite sensitive skin, it was important for Melanie to think ahead about the beauty regime. She had done a bit of research into different skin treatments and contacted Orla from the Mealough Skin Clinic, who advised her to receive a lite refresh peel 2 weeks before the wedding. "This was great and made my skin smooth on the day, making make-up application very easy." To keep in tune with the Autumn theme, she had little pumpkins added to her manicure! "I have known for a long time that I wanted a boho braid for the big day, so I made sure to keep my hair long." She found it quite tricky to try and find an autumnal scent which would suit the theme of the wedding until she stumbled across Jo Malone’s scent (Scarlet Poppy). "I couldn’t get it out of my head, so I knew it was the one. It is floral, but also rich and warm which was perfect for the day."

Melanie never envisioned herself in something fitted, she knew she wanted lots of detail, an A-line silhouette and a Boho style. Having done her research into the different styles of dresses in a range of shops, Melanie was able to quickly narrow down the list of shops she wanted to visit. "I had been to a few shops, but when I arrived at Jill Jones Bridal, Ballyclare, I knew this was the place where I would find my dress. I loved all of the dresses that she had in stock." She went with a couple of dresses in mind and one stood out. It had quite a bold print, but the group fell in love with it, making it a total no-brainer.  "I wanted to put my own stamp on the dress, so I asked for more material as I intended to add sleeves. The dressmaker was able to make my vision become a reality, adding sleeves which were detachable. This meant I could take them off for the evening, which I absolutely loved. To top the look off, I added a sparkling veil as who doesn’t love a bit of glitter?"

Andrew had been a groomsman at a few weddings before and therefore had been to a couple of suit fittings. The pair tried one or two shops, but Andrew was always drawn to Freddie Hatchet and the range of suits that they had on offer. "We definitely wanted a tweed material with some Autumn colours and Freddie Hatchet had exactly what we were hoping for. Once we saw Andrew in the suit, we knew it was perfect. The orange tie was also lovely and felt quite unique." The idea to differentiate Andrew from his groomsman by wearing a different suit jacket was brilliant and worked extremely well on the day. "Freddie Hatchet made things very easy with fittings and took care of everything in advance of the big day- we were delighted with the way the guys looked!" Melanie had purchased gold personalised cufflinks as a gift for Andrew so they made sure to include gold cufflinks for all of the boys to keep everybody consistent. 

Melanie had four bridesmaids and a junior bridesmaid; her sister Laura took the role of maid of honour, her niece Anna was a junior bridesmaid, and her remaining bridesmaids were longtime friends, Adrienne, Sian and Hannah. "I always imagined my bridesmaids wearing a burnt orange colour, but the more I thought about this, the more concerned I was that the dresses may clash with the flowers. Therefore, I opted for a Champagne colour, which I knew would tie in perfectly with not only my dress and the flowers, but also with the groomsmen’s suits." Melanie stumbled across the Six Stories website online where you can order different dresses in the same material, which was perfect, as she wanted a bit of variety in the style of the bridesmaid dresses. "The girls loved their dresses and everyone looked absolutely beautiful. I couldn’t be happier with my choice."

The ceremony was a perfect blend, of tears, laughter and incredible memories with the Ulster String Quartet playing throughout." When I arrived, I was told how nervous Andrew was- I was exactly the same in the car driving up to the venue with my Dad. The string quartet played Hoppipola by Sigur Ros to queue my entry and it was just amazing. Once I reached the top of the aisle, everything became easier knowing I had Andrew beside me. When our minister asked the best man for the rings, he had to act as if he had lost them, going red with embarrassment. Right on queue, Maple (our ring bearer) entered and was walked up the aisle in a white collar with the rings attached. The collective ‘Aww’ that came from our guests was a highlight for us all and would probably be our favourite part of the ceremony."

The couple visited a number of different wedding venues across Northern Ireland, but at the start, had a few non-negotiables to frame their day. "We wanted to be the only wedding on the day, at a location not too far from Belfast and somewhere with plenty of accommodation for wedding guests to stay." The standout venue from minute one was Larchfield Estate. One of the most well-renowned, beautiful and rustic wedding venues in Northern Ireland, and it was exactly what Melanie imagined her wedding day to be like. At this time of year, it was the most amazing colour and wowed their socks off and their guests alike. "I think our favourite part about the venue was the fact that there was a logical order to things. Different spaces were utilised at different parts of the day, such as the courtyard which was used when our guests did a sparkler tunnel for us. There was the bar area which was attached to the main function room, as well as a small side room where we placed a photobooth. The layout of this venue was perfect, as everybody felt very close together the whole day, but there was space and other areas to explore as well, meaning it was far from being boring. The staff were top-notch, extremely competent and adhered to all our needs, including assisting with set up and taking a lot of pressure off us in the run-up to the day."

For the reception, Melanie and Andrew hired The Promise having heard them play at previous weddings. "We both know the lead singer as well, and it made things so simple in the run-up, knowing that he would be so easy to reach out to. We chose them because they were a band & DJ in one, keeping things straightforward." They worked with the couple to figure out how they wanted to split the time (between live music and a DJ set). Everybody raved about the band and DJ afterwards and they kept everybody entertained and on the dance floor all night, including Melanie!

About the best decision, Melanie had to say, "Choosing to go with Larchfield as our venue despite the additional work that comes with a venue like this. With so many options, so much space and so much potential, we really had the ability to make this our own special day. We had the chance to put our own stamp on everything, which was so memorable and enjoyable. With an October wedding, there are countless designs and props such as pumpkins and Autumn leaves, which we were able to make the most of. Larchfield really enabled us to make what we had imagined come to life, and more! It really was the best day of our lives and everything we had hoped for. The added bonus of being able to have our dog Maple walk down the aisle and stay for photos was incredible, as she is such a huge part of our lives."

About the worst decision, Melanie had to say, "We have thought long and hard for a ‘worst decision’, but we honestly wouldn’t look back at anything with regret. Everything we decided to do was well thought out and considered from the outset of our wedding planning adventure and we (including our parents) thoroughly enjoyed the process. If we were to be picky, a decision which we spent far too much time on was our table plan and even the walk-in music before dinner. I would personally recommend to anybody getting married to avoid getting bogged down in the small details, as they are not the important thing, and your guests will not notice a small detail that has not gone 100% to plan. In fact, these things may even add to the day as a whole. We really embraced the entire day which made our day even more amazing!"

- Gráinne