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Real wedding: Inside Lauren and Tom's 'simple and fun' Galway nuptials

'We laughed the whole day long and tore up the dancefloor all night'

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Lauren McGuinness from Dublin met Tom Clapham from Australia at a music festival in Melbourne.

Lauren was living in Sydney at the time, and lost her friends in the revelry of Australia Day. She spotted Tom in the crowd, who stood out not because of the bright orange hat on his bonnet, but because of the five beers he was somehow managing to hold between his two hands. Lauren helped him out by taking one of the beers for herself (!) and the pair got chatting.

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Lauren presumed she wouldn't see him again, and gave him the wrong number, only to bump into him the next night in a friends' apartment. The pair stayed in contact, managing a long distance relationship for nine months until Lauren moved to Melbourne to be closer to her eventual husband.

Tom popped the question on Lauren's birthday, when he managed to get her up for a 3am hike to Sydney Harbour Bridge. At the top of the bridge, a relaxed Tom got down on one knee and Lauren said 'yes'. It took them 90 minutes to get back down the bridge - a tough feat for Lauren who found it very difficult to maintain calm while trying to navigate her way back down!

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The couple tied the knot in Cloghan Castle, Galway, in June this year. They organised their music-filled nuptials from their home in Australia, which wasn't without its difficulties.

Their photos are by Brian Connolly Photography who also runs The Vintage Photo Company.

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The Dress

After visiting several bridal boutiques in Ireland, the US and Australia, Lauren eventually found her wedding dress in a shop in Melbourne. "I was a bit over it to be honest," says Lauren, "then one day I was casually passing by Always and Forever Bridal on Chapel street and decided to go in. I tried it on and just fell in love." Video-calling her parents from the shop, the bride-to-be got the 'approval' and knew it was 'the one'. While trying the dress on, Lauren also tried on a detachable overskirt/train, which she loved, but which was out of her price range. She searched online for something similar before finding a dress maker to create a detachable over skirt to suit her dress, which she wore on the day.

The Style

Tom searched Pinterest for a suit style he liked and decided to get his made while the couple were on holiday in Vietnam. "It was so easy and Tom got exactly what he was looking for," says Lauren. Lauren bought her bridesmaids dresses online at David's Bridal (which is based in the States) and the flower girl's gúna was purchased in M&S.

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The Ceremony

The couple had an independent ceremony carried out by Yvonne Cassidy at their venue in Loughrea, Co. Galway, which included their guests taking part in a big way.

Their bridal party 'warmed the rings' - which involved the rings being passed from person to person who imbue the rings with a wish or blessing - and the bride's mother said a poem as gaeilge, while the groom's mother followed with the poem in English.

Video of the Day

"We also had three guests from the bride's side and three guests from the groom's give us pieces of advice which had us in tears - laughing and crying! It was so special and personal. I just loved the ceremony."

The Venue

The couple wanted a castle venue that had accommodation on site and also gave them the option to have 'exclusive' use for the weekend. Lauren's mother helped the couple out by visiting some venues before they eventually decided on Cloghan Castle in Galway. They were handed the keys on Friday morning, and didn't have to hand them back until Monday afternoon - "so we were literally the king and queen of our very own castle for a weekend!"

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Two months before the big day Lauren made it home to Ireland to finish organizing. "We DIY’d our invitations, I created a website for RSVPs, the table names were all done by myself and my mother did all the floral arrangements as well," she says. "It was a simple wedding but it was so so much fun. We laughed the whole day long and tore up the dancefloor all night!"

The Food

Tom and Lauren hired local caterers Maggie May's to cater their wedding meal at Cloghan Castle. For starters they served deep fried brie and satay chicken, and had fish or beef for mains. "Neither of us are crazy about cake," Lauren explains, " but we adore cheese so we ordered a ‘cheese cake’ from SuperValu which included a brie, mexicana, smoked applewood, blue and goat's cheese wheel. It was so different and was a massive hit with our guests!"

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The Stand out moments 

For both the bride and groom, the stand-out moments of the day were tying the knot and the first dance - which was to Bill Withers' Just the two of us. Lauren also mentions she loved her father/daughter dance with her dad, which was to a song from Pulp Fiction - her and her dad's favourite! - Chuck Berry's ‘You never can Tell’.

The Advice

"Don’t worry about other people, organize a day that will make you happy" says Lauren. "It is all about you two so just enjoy every second. The day goes so quickly too so if you can steal a few minutes on your own together to enjoy a drink - I would highly recommend it."

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The Honeymoon

Tom and Lauren took the opportunity to enjoy the emerald isle while back in Ireland, and had a mini-moon along the west coast which took in Clifden and Westport. They plan to save for a honeymoon to the US or possibly South America next year.

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The VENDORS

Photographer: Brian Connolly Photography | Videographer: DIY | Celebrant: Yvonne Cassidy | Ceremony location: Cloghan Castle | Ceremony music:  Elaine Hogan harpist | Wedding dress: Always and Forever Bridal | Accessories: Hair piece was from ASOS| Engagement ring: Nick Haywood jewelry concierge, Sydney | Wedding ring: Nick Haywood jewelry concierge | Bridesmaids’ dresses: Davids Bridal | Grooms/groomsmen’s suits: Vietnam | Flowers: Marks and Spencer, bouquets and button holes by bride's mother | Decor: Denise from Hitched Events | Reception venue: Cloghan Castle | Hair and makeup: Klaudia Wodjala | Reception entertainment: Hot Topic


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