Don’t you just love St Patrick’s Day?!
Free-flowing Guinness, parades all across the world, shamrocks on every hat, music in every pub. As a Northern Irish girl born and raised, I may be a little biassed. But St Patrick’s Day has got to be one of the best days of the year, right? Well now we have a whole new reason to love it. Because from this year onwards, it’ll also be the anniversary of Chris and Danielle’s Wool Tower wedding!
OK, so I’ll be honest, it was on St Patrick’s Day. But aside from the abundance of Guinness and the (almost) shamrock green bridesmaid dresses, it wasn’t a St Patrick’s Day themed wedding. But with Irish and Chinese wedding traditions bringing two cultures together, a couple who never stopped smiling and timelessly stunning styling throughout, it was still one hell of a wedding! And all at one of the most unique wedding venues in Northern Ireland. In all my years as a Northern Ireland wedding photographer, this was one of the most incredible weddings I’ve ever been to.
If you’re thinking about having a wedding in the Wool Tower at Raceview Mill, come take a look. This place has to be seen to be believed.
You can tell a lot about the day from the bridal prep…
I’ve always found I can tell a lot about a wedding day from the atmosphere when I arrive in the morning. Whether it’s super classy, relaxed or fun, that feeling seems to domino and echo throughout the whole day.
And as soon as I arrived at Danielle’s home on the morning of the wedding, I knew it was gonna be a great day! I mean, they were just so lovely! They were so happy, so friendly, so excited. Champagne was flowing, music was playing, and I was instantly made to feel like I was one of the girls. It was awesome.
Danielle got her dress from Pippa Bridal in Coleraine. With a deep-V neckline, sleek silhouette and intricate tulle-lace detailing, it was nothing short of breathtaking. She completed the timelessly stylish look with relaxed Hollywood waves, elegantly subtle makeup and a gorgeous bouquet of blush and toffee roses and eucalyptus.
When the assembled family and bridesmaids had finished swooning over her immaculate bridal look, she jumped into a white BMW and headed to the Wool Tower to get married.
The best way to have an easy, stress-free wedding day
You wanna know my best tip for a silky-smooth wedding day? Find a venue where you can have your ceremony and reception all under one roof.
Firstly, dropping the move from ceremony to reception instantly frees up a whole extra hour in your day. And you can have a lot of fun in an hour! It makes the day feel effortless and smooth, not broken up and awkward. And makes the whole experience a million times better for you and your guests.
And it makes the day look and feel more connected too. The setting and the styling are the same throughout, and the day isn’t broken into two halves. It’s not ‘marriage part of the day’ then ‘somewhere else for the party’. It’s ‘this whole day is one big celebration’. As far as I’m concerned, registered reception venues are the way forward.
And of all the registered wedding venues in Northern Ireland, I think The Wool Tower might be my new favourite. You’ve got the rustic historic charm of a 200 year-old mill. And the scenic beauty of acres of private countryside on the banks of the River Braid. It somehow manages to be spacious and intimate, scenic and industrial all in one go! And best of all, you can have your ceremony and reception all in one place!
Styling inspiration for your Wool Tower wedding
The Wool Tower’s ceremony room is an incredibly unique place to get married. With black iron pillars wrapped in fairy lights, polished stone floors and exposed brickwork ceilings, it blends warm, rustic charm with an achingly cool industrial aesthetic.
And Danielle and Chris’ styling suited the place perfectly. Flower jars of pampas grass lined the aisle. And a hexagonal arch stood behind the altar, decorated with a single spectacular firework of pampas grass. When you’ve got a venue with such an inherently strong look, it’s easy to go overboard with the styling and make it look messy. But these understated, subtly boho touches were the perfect complement to the aesthetic of the room.
Chris stood at the altar waiting for Danielle to arrive. And I honestly love those few pregnant minutes before the ceremony. The anticipation, the butterflies, the excited, quiet chatter of the guests. It’s magic. And as Danielle made her entrance in that spectacular dress, the chatter went silent and Chris broke out into an ear-to-ear grin.
A marriage of two people, two cultures and two families
The ceremony itself was like nothing I’ve ever seen before. It wasn’t just about two people coming together, it was about the joining of two families, and the marriage of two cultures. Danielle is of Chinese heritage, and Chris is Irish. And each of their cultures was represented in different traditions during the ceremony.
The Irish tradition was the ritual lighting of a Unity Candle during the ceremony. Chris and Danielle took one smaller candle each and lit the larger Unity Candle together, representing the two flames of separate families coming together as one.
The Chinese wedding tradition from Danielle’s side was the Chinese tea ceremony. Chris and Danielle served tea to family members with the traditional help of the bridesmaids and family. The serving itself is a sign of respect. And as the elders drink, it’s a symbol of the two families coming together, and their joint approval of the marriage.
One of the things I love about being a wedding photographer is that beneath all the pretty styling and the gorgeous venues, weddings are all about two people and their families joining together forever. And of all the ceremonies I’ve ever been to as a wedding photographer, none has captured this sentiment better than Chris and Danielle’s. It was romantic, touching, and completely unforgettable.
Wedding reception styling at the Wool Tower
If you’re having your reception dinner somewhere like the Wool Tower, with its vaulted ceilings and huge pine beams, you really only have two styling choices. You can either go boho and relaxed. Or you can do what Danielle and Chris did and turn it into an oasis of understated style! Nothing was too elaborate or ostentatious. But everything was perfectly considered.
I loved the striking monochrome stationery. And the welcome signs and table plan in sleek black and white, with touches of gold leaf. I adored the elegant two-tiered white buttercream cake with gold leaf and toffee roses. And the stripped back and sophisticated tablescape, with simple wooden board topped with ornate metal candlesticks wrapped in soft eucalyptus. As I looked around the reception room, everywhere I looked were timelessly stylish touches. And it elevated the already-beautiful setting to a whole new level.
Before their incredible food, some hilarious speeches and probably a few too many pints of Guinness, I snuck Chris and Danielle away for their couple’s portraits. After all, the sun sets early in March. And we had a deserted mill and acres of secluded countryside to explore.
We left the guests inside and headed out together into the blissfully quiet grounds. The noise from the reception completely died away. And there was nothing but the song of birds and the soft babble of the river. We strolled along tree-lined pathways, ran through wide open fields. And weaved our way through bare trees along the banks of the river. As much as I love weddings in Belfast city centre, the ability to leave your reception and be completely alone in nature is a huge advantage of countryside weddings.
After we’d had our fill of the grounds, we headed back to the venue to get all edgy and cool! Chris and Danielle walked hand-in-hand through the derelict rooms of the old mill, our footsteps echoing off the cold stone walls. It was a completely different atmosphere to the secluded grounds, but just as beautiful, and just as romantic.
If you’re having a Wool Tower wedding, I beg you, I implore you, make time for your couple’s portraits! This was definitely one of my favourite parts of the day. And as their first moments away from the attention of the crowds as husband and wife, I know it was Chris and Danielle’s too.
Party time in The Wool Tower!
The day ended with an epic party. The music of the awesome live band reverberated around the exposed brick walls of Wool Tower. We danced, we drank, we sang out loud. It was the perfect way to end the perfect day.
From the moment Danielle’s family arrived in the morning to get ready with her, all the way through to Danielle’s emotional father-daughter dance, the whole day was completely centred around family and friends. As a wedding photographer in Northern Ireland, I get to go to a lot of weddings. But the ones with love and family at their very heart are always my favourites.
If you’re looking for a NI wedding photographer and you love my work, I’d love to hear from you. Get in touch today and let’s chat and get to know each other.