Part 3 - The Adventure Begins
After quite a hectic month of planning our wedding and the family party that would follow, we finally had our bags packed and were ready to get going!
I like to leave my in-flight reading somewhat up to chance, so I always wait and pick out a book once I get to the airport... after trying on all the vintage dresses at Cabaret, this book about the lives lived by vintage clothing seemed totally perfect! (The main story of the book was not bad, but the stories told by the dresses were fantastic and made it worth the read)
We spent 7 hours in Gatwick airport waiting for our flight to Belfast from London, so you will notice there are no pictures here of us after our arrival in Northern Ireland ;) Our first stop after picking up the rental car was to go to Tesco (the best grocery store in the world, greatly missed by British ex-pats) and then we headed straight to Norman's sister and brother-in-law's place. Elaine and Joe had been kind enough to offer us a home base for our time in Northern Ireland, and we couldn't have felt more welcome in their beautiful home in Greyabbey :)
We got there around 9 o'clock at night, so it wasn't until the next morning that I took these pictures..
One of the best things about having a dog (which we don't, but Joe & Elaine do - his name is Yogi) is that they need to go for walks. We really enjoyed joining Elaine taking Yogi down this lovely route to the shoreline.. I think since Norman had been gone from the country for almost a year and a half, he was really noticing all the rock walls and ivy that the locals tend to take for granted - so beautiful :)
My lovely husband (-to-be, at this point) frequently claims to not be "romantically inclined", but as you can see he scratched our initials and the date into this rock wall the day before our wedding (followed by a kiss "X") Aww...
Elaine took this one of us (and Yogi in the background) outside one of the shops in their village. You may notice we are wearing many layers more than when we left Toronto two days earlier - Northern Ireland in May is not exactly warm (but is of course still lovely!)
Believe it or not, on our way walking back home through the village we passed a little fruit and flower shop. The little old man who ran the shop was out front, and came to say hello to us (as strangers tend to do in Northern Ireland - it's really lovely) and Elaine told him that we were visiting from Canada and would be getting married the next day. After congratulating us and telling us a story about his wife (to whom he had been married for many years) he starting singing - in the middle of the street - "Love is in the Air". It was totally magical. As we passed the village sweet shop, the owner also came to greet us. When she found out we were to be married the next day, she rushed back into her shop and filled a bag with chocolate hearts covered in silver foil with the words "Just Married" on the front, for which she refused payment. We were both really touched and felt like we were floating around in a little bubble of good wishes and happy thoughts, which was incredibly nice when we were so far from home :) For those of you who've never been to Northern Ireland (and especially if the word "Belfast" brings to mind only stories of terrorism and bombings), I have to say that it's full of the warmest and friendliest people I've ever met anywhere :) and I'm very happy to have such a good excuse to go back to visit often!
Now - time to get down to wedding business! I had brought a portable steamer before leaving, which did a great job. I have to say that considering how many hours she spent folded in half and squished into my suitcase, my wedding dress was in fantastic shape - just needed a bit of a touch-up with the steamer (Elaine also took this picture..)
I really love my dress, and it and Elaine & Joe's house seemed to be made for each other..
My mom and sister had found this purse for me years ago at a place called Vintage Bride in Mirvish Village in Toronto - it's made of ostrich feathers. I added the ribbon handles and trim and the little purple flower with leaves just to give it a bit of colour..
Since none of my family was going to be joining us for the Irish end of our celebrations, it was really nice to have a little bit of them with me :)
I always tell my brides that weddings bring amazing surprises and generosity from those around you, but even I was amazed and a bit overwhelmed by the kindness of Norman's cousin Joanne - she made beautiful bouquets for both Elaine and I to carry during our ceremony at city hall. I had never even met her until we picked up the bouquets from her the day before the wedding, so it was incredibly special and really made me feel welcomed into the family even more :)
Having had only one day to settle in (and try to get adjusted to the time difference!) and finalize everything, we still managed to take a quick trip into the city center to scout out City Hall. Back in April when Norman had booked our date with them, they had sent us a brochure about other locations owned by the city council where you could also get married - including Belfast Castle.
Now ladies, especially those of you who live in countries without castles on every street corner, you will understand that it was an effort of great restraint for me upon hearing this news to be casual about asking how my lovely groom would feel about maybe getting married at the Castle instead of at City Hall. To his credit, even though he had already planned everything for City Hall, he did very calmly agree to call them and see if the Castle was available. Which it wasn't. The point is, I was fighting back the urge to feel like my fairytale wedding could possibly have been slightly more perfect...until I saw Belfast City Hall. It's a stunner. It's actually way more beautiful than the Castle is, since the Castle on the inside looks a lot more like a conference centre than a castle.
Here's a little sneak peak of the domed ceiling above the lobby..
..so you can just imagine what the rest looks like! (Actually, you won't have to imagine for long, because the next part of our story will be The Ceremony :) Stay tuned...)
xoxo Jessica & Norman
Photography: Jessica Lin, except where noted
Dress: Cabaret Vintage, Toronto