Set on the banks of the glistening River Glyde, Bellingham Castle is the opulent centrepiece of a 17-acre estate that includes a weir and a man-made river island. In the gateway to the Cooley mountains, this historic venue was the perfect venue for Rachel Birney's wedding to Walter McElroy on the 7th of October 2023. Captured by Anna G, this wedding day is dreamy, delicate and the perfect inspiration for a newly engaged couple!
Rachel & Walter met over nine years ago in the summer of 2014, Walter had been asked along by a mutual friend on a night out in their hometown of Enniskillen and the two soon hit it off. However, Walter then spent 6 weeks working on a farm in England, but this didn't stop them! The couple made it official once he returned home and they were joined at the hip from then on!
Both Rachel and Walter have very chilled personalities and he went about the proposal in the same way! He had collected the engagement ring on a Friday and planned to ask her over the weekend. The two went for Sunday lunch in Viscounts in Dungannon, which was a firm favourite of the two, but he had no set plans after that. Rachel had asked him if he had ever been to the Giant’s Causeway and he said he hadn't but let's take a drive there! So they made their way to Portrush (& it rained the whole way!) and when they got there it was closed! So the two went for a walk on Portrush Strand instead and that's when he asked her! "I honestly had no clue and was over the moon. He designed the ring himself and blew me away, I couldn't have picked better myself!"
Rachel didn't make any major changes leading up to the wedding, she stuck to a pretty simple skincare routine and ensured she used X Lash eyelash serum! She did however tone down her hair from being very blonde to a more lived-in blonde and she was so happy she did.
Rachel found it quite difficult to pick her wedding dress, she went to five places before making my decision! She was so anxious that she would make the wrong decision. She went to Serendipity Bridal Boutique in Fivemiletown, the assistant recommended that she try one specific Suzanne Neville dress and once Rachel had it on she said it was the one! Both Rachel and her mum knew it too once they both saw it on. Rachel made another appointment so she could bring her two sisters along and they also agreed that it was perfect!
For the groom's suit, the two went to Graham's menswear in Enniskillen. The assistant Richard knew exactly what they wanted and made everything an easy process. Rachel has always loved the idea of a black velvet blazer however Walter wasn't just as keen! But once he tried it on, he agreed that it would be perfect. They decided on a simple black tux for the groomsmen and fathers.
Rachel had both of her sisters as bridesmaids. She had wanted to go for satin bridesmaid dresses but found it difficult to find bridal shops stocking the same. After some online sleuthing, she found Petticoat Lane in Hillsborough and they had a big selection. They ended up choosing two Dress Code dresses as her sisters have very different styles and Rachel wanted them both to feel confident in their dress. They went with the same forest green dress with different necklines. They turned out to be just perfect and they both received a lot of compliments!
Rachel & Walter miraculously got fabulous weather for October and it felt like a summer's day! This meant they were able to have their ceremony outside within the beautiful gardens of Bellingham Castle. "This was our favourite part, we couldn't have wanted it any better! We were able to plan our whole ceremony ourselves and the amazing Sandra Losty made it happen! It was very relaxed and both Walter and I felt at ease during it thanks to Sandra. "
The pair only viewed two venues and both knew they loved Bellingham Castle the minute they got there. They have such an impressive entrance and it really sets the scene for the venue! The staff were so friendly and went out of their way to answer any questions Rachel & Walter had and they knew they could trust them to help them plan their wedding. They especially loved the beautiful grounds around the Castle. Walter is from a farm located along the lough and being able to have a venue with both outdoor grounds and a river was a dream!
Rachel & Walter decided to not book a band and go with a DJ for the full reception. They booked DJ Magiggs and he was amazing, the dance floor never emptied from the moment he started! Rachel found him on Instagram after seeing many photos/videos of him at weddings and knew he would be a great choice. They also booked Natalia Sax who joined the DJ later on in the night and she was just brilliant. Everyone raved about how good she was and she kept the crowd going!
About the best decision, Rachel said, "There are too many best decisions to pick one!! Our photographer Anna G was simply out of this world. The few sneak peeks we have seen have blown us away and we cannot wait to see the rest! She captured our day so perfectly. We also think both DJ Magiggs and Natalia Sax were just as great, we have them to thank for our incredible wedding reception, our guests loved them both! I have to give a special mention to my incredible sister Lauren who created our invitations and all our wedding stationary, I would have been lost without her and she was able to bring my ideas to life and it all came together perfectly!"
About the worst decision, Rachel said, "We honestly cannot think of a bad decision, everything and each vendor was just as we dreamed of. Our wedding couldn't have been any better in our eyes!"