Set on an 80-acre estate comprising magnificent woods, courtyards, walled gardens and parkland, the illustrious Tankardstown House was the venue for machine operator, Sarah Grange's wedding to steel fixer Christopher Brennan on the 28th of September 2023. With photography from Elaine Barker, this is a celebration of love that you will be swooning over!
Having met when Sarah was 17 at a part-time job in the Blanchardstown Pennys, the two had been together for 14 years when Chris proposed. Sarah had wanted to get married for a long time, but they had other goals they wanted to achieve first. Sarah & Chris moved to Australia in 2015, and a big thing they wanted was an Australian residency. Once that milestone had been met Chris started to plan the proposal!
He had the ring made, a beautiful oval solitaire diamond with an emerald, which was a risky move as Sarah was always so sure of what she wanted, and that wasn’t it. But she loves the ring. The two had spoken for a long time about what kind of wedding they wanted etc, so she knew a proposal was coming but didn’t know when. Sarah got home from work one morning, and there was a letter stuck on the front door of the apartment. "When I saw it I didn’t know what to think, but when I started to read it I could hear our song playing, and then I knew. I opened the door and he was standing there surrounded by roses and candles and it was just the most emotional moment of my life. I had always thought I’d like something extravagant but at the same time, I always said I would want it to be just us. It was so special and perfect."
Sarah struggled a bit with her beauty journey, as she felt like she needed to do something different as it was her wedding day. She picked an amazing makeup artist and did a couple of trials, but never felt like herself. So she actually ended up doing her own makeup for the day! Our bride kept going back and forth on whether should she wear her hair up or have glam waves or something different, but it’s something she would never normally wear and it was important to her to feel like herself, so ended up wearing her hair down like she normally would. "I also love to have my nails red, and bridal-look nails aren’t my style, so I decided to stick with what I love." Her only beauty regret is she wishes she had carried a hairbrush. They had their photos done outside and her hair was messed up in some of the photos because of the wind. Her perfume for the day was Baccarat Rouge.
Sarah always had an image in her head of what her wedding dress would look like, so when it came to trying on dresses she knew straight away if it was a yes or no. "There was no indecision when it came to that. I tried on a LOT of dresses. Maybe around the 50 mark. When I eventually went to the boutique in which I bought my dress, I loved a couple of their dresses, but my one stood out for me." Sarah did alter the back of it but loved how glamorous it made her feel. It was a very structured dress with quite a large train, so she knew she wanted to change into something more comfortable for dancing. When Sarah changed her dress, all the formalities were over and it was party time!
Chris actually went to a Tailor in Sydney and together they designed his tuxedo and had it made. He knew what he wanted, and he was so happy with the end result. Sarah knew what he was having made, but he surprised her with the inside of his jacket. The lining was a collage of photos of the pair from over the years, and it was embroidered with the wedding date and “Only You” which is the name of their first dance song. They also have that engraved on the inside of the wedding bands!
Sarah's bridesmaids were three of her closest friends. The maid of honour Jen has been Sarah's best friend for over 17 years, and Claire is another of her closest friends of over 17 years. And Naomi who was Sarah and Chris’ housemate in Sydney is like family to the pair. It was important for both the bride and groom that she be a part of the wedding. "I knew I wanted autumnal colours for the wedding as that was probably my main reason for having a September wedding. I originally wanted velvet dresses but found it hard to get in a colour I loved. I had visited home earlier in the year and we all went to Folkster together to try dresses and thought the colour would work perfectly. All my girls are beautiful so they would have looked stunning no matter what they wore."
Sarah & Chris wanted to keep the ceremony as short and sweet as possible. Sarah was very nervous about that part and knew she wouldn’t feel the emotions as she would in private, as it would be too difficult to relax. "I laughed all the way down the aisle, as that’s what I do when I’m nervous. There are a lot of ugly laughing photos of me from the day! The first time I cried during the ceremony was when they mentioned my nanny. She should have been at the wedding but unfortunately, we lost her last year." When the officiant spoke about the pair's grandparents, a butterfly flew out in front of Sarah and circled the two for the ceremony. "I’m not a big believer in that type of thing, but I truly felt that was her." They had their own private vows in the gardens after the ceremony. It meant more to the couple to do that alone as they were both really emotional and it was a moment they won’t ever forget.
Sarah had followed Tankardstown House for years on Instagram, and the beautiful Orangery was the main reason she wanted to see it in person. "We went to view a few different venues, and Tankardstown just stood out. The grounds, the rooms, the staff, everything was just beautiful. Once we saw it in person we knew we wanted to be married there." The couple loved that the bar was within the room, and they had sitting rooms in the back for later in the night. They went in there when the DJ finished for a sing-song and some tayto sandwiches. The couple raved about the staff, saying they couldn’t have been more attentive and that nothing was too big an ask.
For the ceremony, Sarah & Chris had The Honeyvoom duo, and their friend Ann Marie sang with them. Much like with the venue, Sarah has followed the Honeyvoom Duo for quite a while on Instagram, and she and Chris used to sit on their balcony in Sydney listening to their covers. They put up a video playing Fisherman's Blues, and that was when the two knew they wanted them to play at their wedding. Sarah always hoped to have Ann Marie sing her down the aisle, "I remember the feeling I felt as I stood at the back of the room waiting to walk down the aisle and heard her begin to sing 'You’re Still the One' by Shania Twain, it gave me shivers." For the wedding band, the pair chose Springbreak 80s and were overjoyed with the decision. As soon as the first dance was over, they had the whole floor packed. They were so much fun, and every age group loved them. Several people asked about them after the wedding to either recommend or book themselves!
Regarding the best decision, "I would say my best decision was to have both a photographer and a videographer. I love to have photos and videos to look back on, and your wedding day is one of the most important days of your life and I wanted it well documented. I believe you get what you pay for, and Elaine is truly top class as you can see from the photos. She made it so easy and was a great craic to be around. Andrew Cummins was our videographer and you barely knew he was there, he captured moments that maybe would be forgotten if they weren’t recorded. I have watched our highlights video countless times already, and I am really looking forward to seeing the full video and speeches!"
Regarding the worst decision, "I don’t really feel like I made any bad decisions. I did have my heart set on an outdoor wedding, and had bought lots of stuff for outside, blankets and lanterns etc. so in hindsight maybe I shouldn’t have been so worried about that. The weather in the lead-up to the wedding wasn’t great, so we made the decision in the morning to have it inside. And it actually didn’t bother me in the slightest, so the time spent worrying about it was wasted."