Maureen & Liam’s graceful and classic Thornbury Castle wedding, with Martin Dabek Photography
As we head into the weekend I have one more breathtakingly beautiful wedding to share with you. Gorgeous couple Maureen & Liam tied the knot at Thornbury Castle in an elegant, sophisticated and joyful celebration with their closest family and friends.
This is such a fabulous wedding, with some truly special personal touches and brilliant recommendations for exceptional wedding suppliers. All images are by super talented Thornbury Castle Wedding Photographer Martin Dabek, one of our favourite contributors and members of the blog. Martin gets a glowing review from the happy couple, which was heartwarming to read. Huge thanks (and happy anniversary, if a day or so late!) to lovely Maureen and Liam. Have a fabulous weekend, everyone!
Wedding photographer’s website
How did you choose your photographer?
We reviewed a number of photographers, but it came down to the connection we felt with Martin. Speaking with him felt like speaking with a friend, and it was clear that he shared our understanding that the candid moments between friends and loved ones were the most meaningful usually. He also had a gorgeous catalogue of work that had us feeling intrigued and eager to work with him.
Were you pleased with your wedding photographer? Do tell… we love a brilliant review!
We felt so confident with Martin Dabek that he would provide the portraits from the day that you’d expect, but also be able to capture the unstructured moments that make up the best memories. As we hope you can see from his photos, he absolutely delivered. He made sure we had fun with the photos when doing portraits, and was completely unobtrusive in the reception. We couldn’t believe the quality and breadth of photos he delivered, and would absolutely hire him again given the opportunity.
Tell us about your venue – what made this place special for you?
Liam and I are both avid lovers of history, and are both transplants to the UK – Liam from Ireland and myself from the US. We love the wealth of preserved history in the UK, the intact castles in particular. When looking for a venue, Liam found Thornbury Castle and surprised me with it as a prospective venue. When we visited, we were greeted by an 18th century German suit of armour, an exterior flush with wisteria, and gardens begging for a ceremony. After short consideration, we were sure it was the perfect place for us to get married.
Charlotte Rhodes, the wedding coordinator provided by Thornbury Castle was an exceptional help. We would love to draw attention to the extra effort she put in to making our celebration a success. We would not have been able to pull off the day were it not for Charlotte and her commitment to excellent service.
Did you love wearing your outfits? How was the dress / suit shopping experience?
We adored our wedding outfits. My family and friends are mostly in the US and spread fairly far out, so when I had the chance to go wedding dress shopping with my mother and sisters at Flair in Boston it was especially meaningful. I had a clear idea of the simple, modern, elegant look I wanted, and less than 45 minutes into the first appointment had chosen my dress (which was picked out by one of my sisters for me to try on).
Liam found Dyfed Menswear, the suiting company his wedding attire came from, at Thornbury Castle’s wedding fair. We were able to go together and despite his stature (he’s a rather tall man at 6’5″), they had many options that he was able to try. When he tried on the suit he wore for our wedding, there was no comparison to the other options. We were able to dress the groomsmen and my bridesman from Dyfed as well, which left them all looking especially dapper (in my admittedly biased opinion)
As cake lovers here at English Wedding we’d LOVE to know who made your cake, and how delicious it was?
We are savoury rather than sweet people, so opted for an unconventional cake. We contracted with The Cheese Shop located in Bradford on Avon for a 4 tier cheese-cake. Christophe, the owner, has a clear passion for well crafted cheese and was able to recommend a great selection of cheeses for the “cake” and accents with helpful tips on how to arrange them by density so the layers wouldn’t collapse in on themselves. We were able to arrange a selection of chocolates, meringues, chutney, olives, and crackers to be served at the dessert station with his help as well. Liam and I happily lived off of those leftovers for weeks following the wedding.
Tell us about any special personal touches, or creative projects you made yourselves
When planning our wedding favours, we wanted to leave our guests with something useful but personal. I have a great love of coasters (not an exaggeration), and Liam has amazing skill at digital design – so we decided to blend aspects of our respective families’ coats of arms for personalised coasters. The Sheehan family crest has an olive branch, and the Anderson family crest has an oak tree. So for our favours, we used a local craftsman, Steve Waterton of Clear Cut Creation out of Wokingham, to produce coasters that doubled as name cards with our guests’ names under an oak and olive tree standing together. We use ours regularly at home, and the image of the smaller olive tree under the tall oak feels apropos.
Liam also worked closely with the ceremony musician, Damian Clarke, who played the dulcimer for us. We asked him to learn For the Dancing and the Dreaming, a song we originally heard in How to Train Your Dragon 2, and he delivered the most beautiful, personal music to walk down the aisle to that we could have hoped for.
Did you personalise your vows or have any wedding readings? What were they?
We worked closely with Ailsa Grindlay of I Do You Do We Do to use our vows to tell our story. She gave us a framework to understand the ceremony and wrote beautiful portions of it, while allowing us to collaborate with her and contribute portions in our own words too. Working with Ailsa, right through the ceremony, was one of the best experiences of our wedding. We can’t imagine having had any other celebrant.
What was your first dance song? Why did you choose it?
Our first dance song was Meet Me by the Water by Rachel Yamagata. I’d been searching for the right song for us, playing through my Spotify catalogue hoping for inspiration when I stumbled onto this one. The tempo felt right, but then I plugged into the lyrics and it told our story beautifully. Liam tends to hear the melody over the lyrics, so when I played it for him that night I pulled up the lyrics first and then put the song on. We tried a dance to it, and decided fairly quickly. Our band, Fake Plastic Chairs, actually learned the song to play it live for our first dance, and we ended up loving their version better than the original. It was a gift.
Favourite wedding suppliers
Hair & Make-up: http://www.bristolbridalhairandmakeup.com/about/4590226722
Ceremony Music: http://www.damianclarke.co.uk/
Bridal Boutique: https://flairbridesmaid.com/