The couple met ten years ago, while both in college at Waterford Institute of Technology. "We had mutual friends. Michael introduced himself with his strong country accent in the WIT library and I fell for him straight away!"
After an eight-year relationship - with five of those years being long-distance, Michael popped the question. "On my 30th birthday he surprised me with a visit home from London. He got down on one knee, gave a long speech and had made me a photo book full of special moments over my 30 years. I don’t remember a word he said but I remember it was a magical moment."
"He had a weekend planned that I was completely blown away by. We went to the lovely and very talented Tadgh O’Flynn Jewellers in Nenagh, Co Tipperary to choose my ring. We celebrated with a surprise 30th/engagement party with all our friends and families that night. It was a whirlwind weekend."
The wedding planning started a few months after the proposal. Michael was living in the UK and Sandra says it was hard to choose a venue without him. "The first time I visited the Step House Hotel I completely fell in love with it. I couldn’t wait for Michael to come home and see it. As soon as he did, he felt the same. It was the perfect venue for us."
Sandra and Michael had always loved the idea of a New Years Eve wedding, so it was an added bonus that the date was available. "We then made sure the local church was available and all of a sudden the date was set and it all got very real."
"The Step House Hotel was simply amazing. We visited a couple of times before the wedding and every time felt so relaxed. We had a magical wedding day thanks to Angela, the wedding coordinator, and manager Niall. The staff are second to none and couldn’t do enough for us and for our guests to make us feel welcome. The food was exquisite, it exceeded our expectations and everybody was complimenting it."
Sandra's dress was a Maggie Sottero bridal gown, which she bought from B-Couture in Arklow, Co Wicklow. "The bridesmaids’ dresses were bought in Julien Boutique in Dublin with adjustments by my very talented mum, who also made our beautiful wedding cake."
Sandra says they had typical December weather and floods to contend with. "But by the time we left for the church, the sun came out and stayed for the rest of the day; we were blessed for our pictures. The brilliant Nick O’Keeffe was our photographer and Brendan Joyce from Barrow Vision Studios was our videographer. We had great fun with them both - we forgot the cameras were there most of the time. Borris is a stunning village and the gardens of the Step House Hotel were perfect for pictures too."
To add personal touches, all the tables were named as New Years' resolutions. "We had miniature bottles of Tullamore Dew (because it’s Michael's hometown) and homemade chocolate biscuit cake for each guest. We hand-made all the wedding invites, favours, table numbers and place names; it was nice to see all our hard work come together on the day."
For future brides, Sandra says to enjoy every minute of it, try to be organised so that you can relax and take it all in on the run up to the day. "It goes by so fast, it’s important to enjoy the planning as much as the day itself. My mum, bridesmaids and I made an occasion out of all the wedding tasks. Everything we did was followed by lunch and some wine. I have so many memories that I will cherish. I think it’s important to take ten minutes on your own with your new hubby to savour the moment and have a glass of bubbles together and take it all in."
"We had a magical day. We rang in 2016 as husband and wife dancing the night away to Sway Social Band with our nearest and dearest."
Vendors: Venue: Step House Hotel | Photographer: Nick O'Keeffe Photography | Videographer: Barrow Vision Studios | Dress: Maggie Sottero from B-Couture | Bridesmaid dresses: Julien Boutique | Suits: Guys Clothing | Ring: Tadgh O’Flynn Jewellers | Flowers: Lamber de Bie | Hair : Leanne Nolan, vow2wow | Make up: Karen Maher Make Up | Band/DJ: Sway Social Band | Reception music: Paul Skelton