Catherine and Barry say ‘I Do’ in beautifully warm winter ceremony
When Catherine Kelly and Barry McColgan look back upon their wedding photos, they are sure to relive all of the special moments of their Christmas-themed day.
From their 1930s-style wedding transport, to the Strathroy groom singing Catherine’s favourite song, ‘Grace’ at the end of the speeches, their wedding was filled with personal touches, emotional music and hints of the festive season.
Deep reds and vibrant greens amassed St Mary’s Chapel, Loughmacrory – the bride’s birthplace – where they wed on December 16, 2017 in a traditional service concelebrated by Fr Thomas Mallon, Fr Sean O’Neill, Fr Daniel McFall and Fr Joe McVeigh.
The pair’s wedding venue, The Great Northern Hotel, Bundoran in County Donegal was also carefully chosen. Not only was it the place that Barry spent most of his childhood family holidays, but it was also located close to Cliffoney – the place where Catherine’s beloved grandmother grew up.
“My granny actually met my granda Tom in Bundoran, too in the 1950s, so to have our reception there had an extra special meaning to us,” Catherine described. Furthermore, it proved picturesque for photos, with the Atlantic Ocean surrounding the hotel and the Ben Bulben Mountain imposing in the distance. “And the inside of the hotel was homely, with warm fires and lots of beautiful Christmas decorations,” Catherine said.
Catherine, a Sinn Féin MLA for West Tyrone, first met Barry, West Tyrone Sinn Féin Constituency Manager, through a mutual friend at the beginning of November 2009. They clicked straight away, and began dating within the month. “I love how Barry has the same passions as me – travelling, food, politics… and climbing mountains,” Catherine, who has lived in Omagh for seven years, smiled.
Together for more than six years, it was during Barry’s birthday dinner in Grant’s Restaurant, Omagh – the place where they had enjoyed their very first date – that their lives changed forever with an unexpected proposal. The date was July 16, 2016. “We were in the middle of our main course in Grant’s, when Barry produced a wee red box with a beautiful engagement ring inside,” Catherine reflected. “I couldn’t finish the meal, but I finished the Prosecco.”
Catherine’s engagement ring was a ‘Forever Diamond’ of stunning white gold. “I was really surprised and even more shocked when I realised Barry had chosen the ring himself and it actually fitted me perfectly,” Catherine said. “It was a wonderful feeling, and the ring had the perfect size of diamond for my small hands – I loved it.”
Giving themselves 18 months to plan for their wedding day, the pair successfully booked their venue within a month. But the politicians weren’t expecting one, let alone two, elections along the way. “While we both have experience in organising events which helped, we were also very busy fighting two unforeseen elections in the middle of it, and I also became an MLA, so it was an eventful time,” Catherine recalled. “However we knew we wanted to keep our wedding traditional.
From the clothes, to the cars, to the venue, we wanted a traditional and vintage theme. Our main focus was on the wedding Mass and a good venue.” She added, “People loved our table plan too. It was a map of Ireland, with everyone’s table assigned to one of the 32 counties, but because of our numbers we had to enlist a few off-shore islands too. Also most people go for the traditional post box for wedding gifts, but we went for a ballot box.”
Catherine found her dream wedding dress in a place garnered in good family memories – McElhinneys, in Ballybofey. “I wanted to visit this shop as it was where my aunts had all purchased their wedding dresses,” she explained. “My earliest memories are of me trying on flower girl dresses while they chose their wedding dress.
“I had picked out seven dresses, but ‘the one’ was dress number five.” This gown was a sparkly, ivory number with three-quarter length lace sleeves and fish tail shape. The Loughmacrory native perfectly completed the look with a lace veil. Catherine continued, “I believe it was either my mum, Patricia or my sister in-law Kerry who picked the dress out as an option for me. It would not have been something I would’ve chosen but as soon as I tried it on, I fell in love.”
Happily, on the morning of her mid- December wedding day, Catherine felt both calm and excited – and the weather was on her side too. “I remembering looking forward to seeing Barry at the altar,” Catherine said. “Our wedding day was a dry and crisp day, with no rain surprisingly. “Daddy put the Child of Prague in the garden the night before so we think this may have had something to do with it.”
After being whisked away to the chapel with her father, Joey in a 1930’sstyle Imperial Landaulette – which made Catherine feel as if she was ‘stepping back in time’ – she was treated to a beautifully emotional ceremony filled with much-adored music.
“Our music was by Niamh McElduff, Maeve McElduff and Tony McElduff and they were fantastic,” she said. “They sang ‘The Cloud’s Veil’, ‘Oiche Chuin’, and ‘Bright Blue Rose’ among others. “All of which set the tone for an emotional and fabulous day. Barry also finished his speech at the reception by singing one of my favourite songs, ‘Grace’ to me.”
The 31-year-old concluded, “Our wedding was amazing. At the beginning it can be very hard to visualise everything coming together, but it does. “We wouldn’t change a thing about our day, only that it went too fast. However we enjoyed every second, and are looking forward to a healthy and happy married life together.”
• THE FINER DETAILS •
Wedding dress: McElhinneys, Ballybofey, with alterations by Margaret Houston, Dromore.
Hair stylist/salon: Laura Little Hairdressing (Hair on the Square, Omagh).
Make-up: Melissa Bolton – The Beauty Boutique.
Bridal Shoes: Dune Wedding Collection.
Head piece/ Veil: McElhinneys, Ballybofey.
Bridesmaid dresses: Belle Mariee Bridal Boutique, Omagh.
Groom’s/groomsmen’s suits: Dee Graham (tailor-made) and Debonair, Magherafelt.
Cake supplier: Claire Mee (Cake Clan, Mountfield).
Cake decorations: Four-tiers, with snowlike sugar and scattered Christmas berries and acorns.
Cake flavours: Chocolate orange; lemon; peanut butter; coffee and walnut.
Florist: Flowers by Orla, Greencastle.
Church: St Mary’s Chapel, Loughmacrory.
Transport: Glendale Limousines, Omagh.
Reception: The Great Northern Hotel, Bundoran.
Number of guests at reception: 400 guests.
DJ/band: The Drunken Lullabies (band) and Caolan McGinley (DJ).
First dance song: Mariah Carey’s ‘All I want for Christmas is You’.
Stay up dancing: Until 3am.
Photographer: PG Videos & Photography.
Videographer: PG Videos & Photography.
Other entertainment: Niamh, Maeve and Tony McElduff – chapel Music; Gerard Carroll – harpist at the drinks reception.
Honeymoon: Four weeks travelling around New York, Boston, New Orleans, Las Vegas, Chicago and New York again before flying home.