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Stephen McAleer & Michelle McCaul

Quirky day makes guests smile at Stephen and Michelle’s big day!

A quirky day full of surprises is the only way to describe the recent wedding of Michelle McCaul and Stephen McAleer. From Converse trainers for the priest to a vintage camper van for the groom – there was something to make the guests smile at every turn on this unique occasion.

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Stephen and Michelle tied the knot in front of family and friends on May 24th in the Sacred Heard Church in Omagh – the couple were lucky enough to even have a family member on the altar as the ceremony was celebrated by Stephen’s cousin Fr Ryan McAleer (complete with his Converse!).

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Although they both live only miles apart, Michelle is from Omagh and Stephen from Loughmacrory, it was while they were both studying in Belfast around 11 years ago that love blossomed.

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Having graduated from college Michelle and Stephen took off for a year travelling around the world together before finally settling in Omagh where Stephen works as a web designer with the North-West News Group and Michelle works at Drumagh Family Practice in Omagh Health Centre.

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Around two years ago Stephen surprised Michelle with an intimate proposal. Michelle returned home from work one Friday night to find the house covered in around 100 candles and Stephen down on one knee.

And Stephen explained, “I took her totally by surprise but she said yes on the spot”.

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The couple took time to enjoy the buzz of their engagement for a few months before getting started with the wedding plans.

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However when the planning began no detail was overlooked. Stephen explained, “We were in two minds whether to go abroad to get married or have a local wedding. Our first visit to see a wedding reception venue was at the Villa Rose Hotel in Donegal, we thought it was perfect for us and booked it. We wanted our day to be very personal to us, full of our own little details and try and offer our guests something a little different”.

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So with the hotel and the Sacred Heart Church booked attention turned to the outfits.

And Michelle explains she eventually ended up choosing a dress which wasn’t anything like she imagined, “I visited about three shops in the search for my dress. Of course everyone tells you when you go shopping for your dress that you will never go for what you imagined, which turned out to be true.

“I went shopping armed with pictures of dresses I saw in magazines but it turned out the style of dress I liked, a sleek fitted dress, just did not suit me. On my second visit to McElhinney’s with my mum I tried on the Florencia dress by Maggie Sottero and just absolutely loved it,” she continued.

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“It was a fitted A-line gown with a v-neckline and rich embellished lace, one shoulder was decorated with flowers. A further visit with my two bridesmaids confirmed it was definitely the dress for me”.

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And not to be outdone in the style stakes the groom also had a firm idea of what he wanted to wear on his special day, “I wanted a modern three piece suit but with a little hipster twist to make it more fun. We picked a charcoal grey suit and matching Converse shoes. We had a light blue skinny tie to match the bridesmaids colour and I had a blue tie with a funky pink pattern through it and of course handkerchiefs to match.”

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Suitably attired the wedding party was made up of Stephen’s older brothers Damien and Gavin who acted as bestmen, and his younger brother Martin as groomsmen. The bridesmaids were Michelle’s close friends Nicola Mimnagh and Melissa Ward and flower girl was Michelle’s little niece Ella McCaul.

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Although they didn’t deliberately set out to have any particular theme to their day a bit of a vintage theme and a colour scheme of light blue and pink developed.

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These colours were carried right throughout the wedding – from the suits, dresses, flowers, wedding stationery, the invites, order of service and table cards. Stephen did all of the design and artwork himself, which meant every part of the wedding, was very personal to the couple.

When the day arrived Stephen and Michelle’s personalities shone throughout.

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And in payback for her unexpected wedding proposal Michelle had a little surprise up her sleeve for her husband-to-be! Stephen explains, “We had hired a Daimler DS 420 Limousine, from Glendale Limousines, to take Michelle to the church and both of us to the reception. I thought I was getting a lift to the chapel with the bestmen but Michelle surprised me when a beautiful blue VW Camper van, owned by a friend Marc McDaid, arrived at the door to take me to the ceremony – it was the perfect start to the day.

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“We were a little worried about the weather as the days leading up to our day were a washout but thankfully the sun shone and set up the perfect day for us. The sunglasses were worn,” Stephen continued.

Both huge music fans Michelle and Stephen were particularly keen that the day would reflect their taste – and that included the church music, reception entrances and dinner background music. A lot of the music contained references to the couple’s favourite movies.

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Stephen explains, “At the ceremony we had the Lisaire String Quartet and they did the most amazing job, the music was just stunning. They also provided the music during our drinks reception which included a quirky little chalkboard jukebox where the guests could write up their requests whilst enjoying their flutes of Guinness and champagne.

“At the reception our band, Juice, did a great job. With so many people there it’s hard to play to everyone’s taste but they manage to keep everyone happy and the dance floor never emptied. During the rock set I managed to do a stage dive much to the surprise of the band,” he laughed.

And recalling their unique entrance at the reception Stephen continued, “One of the fun things we planned was our grand entrance were we played Also Sprach Zarathustra (2001 Space Odyssey opening theme) to get our guests attention and each of the wedding party made their entrance to their own theme song. Ours being Paul McCartney’s ‘Dance Tonight’.”

The vintage theme was obvious throughout the reception. Michelle’s sister-in-law Ciara helped with the décor and favours by making candles from some vintage china cups and making little pots of personalised jam for all the guests.

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The cake, by Rachel Doherty, was beautifully decorated in a quirky vintage style and Michelle and Stephen also hand-made their own little caketoppers just to add a personal touch.

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Looking back on their special day and the new Mr and Mrs McAleer explain “The day went brilliantly, we couldn’t have asked for better. We had a wonderful time celebrating with all our guests”.

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A honeymoon in Las Vegas at the famous Bellagio hotel followed by a luxury all-inclusive stay at Le Blanc Spa Resort in Cancun, Mexico meant a perfect end to the whole experience for Michelle and Stephen.

Wedding dress: Florencia dress by Maggie Sottero from McElhinney’s, Ballybofyey

Bridesmaid dresses: Dessy from Direct Dresses, Derry

Suits: SD Kells, Omagh

Reception: Villa Rose, Ballybofey

Shoes: Carino, Omagh

Flowers : Floral Temptations, Omagh

Cars: Glendale Limousines, Omagh

Hair and make-up: Casabella Omagh and Claire’s Hair Studio, Omagh

Photographs: Jude Browne Photography

Cake: Rachel Doherty, Omagh