Monday, 30 December 2013

V is for Venue


It has always been Catherine’s Dream to get married at the Sacred Heart Church in Omagh, as she put it “I’ve chosen the church now you choose the reception.”

When considering the reception venue there are a few points that one must always be mindful of.

Distance

Availability

Atmosphere

History

Facilities

Price

The first venue we considered was the Greenvale in Cookstown. 


The Hotel in situated just outside of the town, the wedding mass to the reception would only be around 35 miles this is totally inside the range we were hoping for. Any further and we wouldn’t feel comfortable asking our guests to make the journey. The Greenvale for being in a large town like Cookstown feels quite remote; a good distance from the main road, the large car park and all the greenery gives the sense of peace and quiet like a country house hotel. Another plus of the Greenvale was their price; they are very competitive (a full brochure can be found on their website). The Greenvale seems like the perfect place for us.

However as I mentioned there are more things to consider. For me it was automatically taking off the table, my sister had used the Greenvale as her wedding reception (it was a beautiful day and the staff and facilities were second to none) also within 3 years I had been a guest to another 2 family weddings played host by the Greenvale. For me I had seen all they had to offer and considering that I will be inviting guests that have been to the same weddings a change of scenery is required. On top of this Catherine has forever associated the Greenvale with her memories of her time in the Tyrone Rose of Tralee, and so in an effort to conserve those wonderful memories for her the search for the perfect venue continues...


The next venue on our list was the Glenavon hotel Cookstown, this hotel is situated opposite the Greenvale hotel so the distance again is not an issue.


 The Glenavon is a huge hotel meaning they could easily hold the number of guests we have in mind. They have several function rooms and the interior design of the hotel is very striking, it always puts me in mind of the decor of the fancy part of the titanic. The major negative to the Glenavon as a reception venue is the price. It would stand at almost double the cost per person of most other venues for their standard package. I personally couldn’t imagine how the extra cost would stack up against what we would be getting from the venue. Since most of our ideas for the day would be quirky and will require more effort on our behalf. This would be perfect of a lot of others but not for me or my Geeky Bride to be.

The next post will be in the New Year... 2014 and Catherine will continue with more...

Thursday, 26 December 2013

Special time of year!

We want to wish you all a very Merry Christmas, and hope you are all with those you love, eating an excessive amount of food, and just chilling out!


This is a quick blog, talking about our very special time of year, and just how we chose our wedding date! 


So as we had mentioned in the fist blog, James and I met on the 29th of October, also James's birthday is on the 22nd of October. We had planned to be on a cruise at the beginning of October in 2014 as mum is not only celebrating her 50th on the 7th but it will also be her and dad's 30th wedding anniversary on the 13th! 

So as you can see October is a massive month for us. We ha always agreed that if we ever did get engaged, we'd want to have it all done in a year. We also knew we wanted a Thursday wedding as we plan to have a massive party that people will probably need at least 2 days to recover from!

We've gone through all the dates, discussed all the pro and cons, looked at the availability of the locations we wanted. 

So far everything seems to be Fitting together! We'll be showing you a few of the places we visited in our serch for the perfect venue!

So the big date is...
The 16th October 2014 (just 9 and a half months!!!!)

Monday, 23 December 2013

The Three Musketeers...


Catherine has gone in to detail about her bridesmaids, now it’s time to introduce you to the Groomsmen.
I had decided on my groomsmen pretty quickly, they were all the oblivious choice. I went for my two best mates and Catherine’s brother.
The first Groomsman and also the best man is Jason Harker.


On the Monday Catherine and I returned from Paris as the newly engaged couple at the party in my home house, Jason was dropping hints like crazy.
Asking subtle questions like “so... have you thought of anyone for the wedding party?” (With a cheeky grin)
To which I replied “Yes...”
Jason now on the edge of his seat;
“...Catherine has her girls all picked out”
It was my intention to leave him dangling on the line a little longer.
Jason and I have been mates for years. He is the father of my God Daughter Ella (Flower Girl) and my Sisters boyfriend. He is the type of guy that is always smiling and can very quickly put you in a good mood. I know that he will be able to perform his duties well. I know I am going to have to make up a full list of things for him to do as he will want to be involved with everything. Jason became part of the Muldoon family so much so that while I was in America he took my place on the family holidays.

My second Groomsman is Neil Dynes (Dinky).


We have both lived in our hometown most of our lives; however we didn’t become friends until we were both at university in Belfast. We were working the same weekend job beside each other and to relieve the boredom we played the game “think of a song with a girl’s name in it!” After a few weekends had past he invited me for a pint after work and since then we’ve been like an old married couple. We have had plenty of adventures and I played a part in throwing him a wild Penthouse Stag weekend in Liverpool.

There are plenty of ways to ask your potential groomsmen to be part of your wedding party. You can take each out for a meal, visit them at home separately and spend the evening chatting away with plans; you can even get it written on a balloon. I chose to ask the guys to the pub... So I texted them both, organised to meet at our local pub at 1 where I would ask them. I knew that they both knew what was going on but to act along they played dumb. I ordered 3 pints and we sat down. I said “I consider you two to be like Brothers to me (Side note I have 3 sisters no brothers), would you do me the honour of being my Groomsmen.” They both said of course and I said “Jason will you be my best man.” He was shocked and a little speechless. We ordered another round and they started to keep me going about how excited they were about the stag and their wild plans.

Last but not least my third groomsman is Damien Morris, Catherine’s brother.


Damien is a great guy altogether (note from Catherine - How Omagh does James sound here!). He is very welcoming and friendly, even if I am stealing his sister away. But the best thing about him is that he isn’t afraid to throw in a wee slag every now and again to keep me on my toes, which we can all laugh about. It wouldn’t feel right if Damien wasn’t by my side showing his support for me and his sister. I still feel honoured that he accepted my request to be my groomsman.


This is the last post before Christmas thank you all for reading and Catherine will be back by the end of the week with her next instalment.

Merry Christmas from,


James & Catherine

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Choosing my band of Merry Maids...

As soon as James proposed, and I had settled myself, I started thinking about planning the wedding. As we have said we were pretty on the ball, and have quite a bit organised already. Choosing Bridesmaids was probably one of my easier decisions to make as there are 3 very prominent ladies in my life that I consider my best friends.

First up is my gorgeous sister Ciara, my Maid of Honour/Chief Bridesmaid (does anyone know which we should be using? I have no idea!).
I am really lucky to have Ciara as not only my little sister but also my best friend. Growing up, Ciara was always the organised and brave one. She achieved amazing things because she always tried her hardest. I honestly wish I could have been more like Ciara when I was younger, and I made a conscious effort when I started my Masters to try to emulate her in some ways. It turned my prospects around incredibly and it's really down to her that I am now doing a job I love, am engaged to the man of my dreams and am able to be writing this blog right now!
Anyway, less of this mushy stuff and on to… well slightly more mushy stuff!
I had called Ciara on the day of the proposal to let her know we were engaged. I wanted to ask her straight away to be my Maid of Honour, but thought it would be better waiting to ask her in person. She would be home in 3 weeks and I could ask her then! I also decided I really wanted to girls to have a memento from me asking them, I started designing a little card for each of the girls to keep.

The front of the card - inside it said "Will your be my Bridesmaid?"

1 week passed from the proposal and I was finding it really hard not to ask her on the phone. I started panicking incase she either 1) didn't want to do it, or 2) she thought I didn't want her to do it because I hadn't asked her yet. 
Then I received a text from Ciara that nearly broke my heart - 

Ciara - " I had a dream I wasn't invited to your hen party.. just to let you know I was devastated"

I nearly dropped my phone! I waited one more week and then had to contact her. If I couldn't ask her in person I would do it by the next best thing, Skype!
I gave her a call (obviously after x factor!) and asked her straight out, there were tears and giggles and thankfully she said yes! James joined us on the call for a bit ( he even donned a red wig - as apparently "Us red heads need to stick together"). I should her the card over video chat and had a good old chin wag for nearly 2 hours!

The week after proposal (so before Ciara) I asked Nuala - or Noodles as James always calls her. As the two of them had been in cahoots, she had sneakily planned a trip home. It was so amazing to see her and we got to go to the Christmas market and then chill out at home watching Doctor Who in our Polar bear onesies (James was obviously in his Batman onesie…)
Nuala is an incredible friend, who although I knew at school, I only really properly got to know a few years ago. I honestly don't know how I lived with out her. I don't think she realises just how amazing she is, and how lucky we all are to know her! I gave Nuala her card in our house and I am so glad she said yes as well.

That's my two London based Bridesmaids asked - the final of my Tremendous Trio is the amazing Cathy.
Cathy and I have been best friends since the first day of P1, Twenty three years ago! We have only had one falling out - in P2 and it lasted for 15 minutes. I am crazy lucky to have this girl in my life, we don't get to see each other as much as we'd like but we could have went 6 months without seeing each other and jump straight into our regular groove of chatting away! A few months ago we decided to make a real effort to meet up at least once a month. It's been fantastic! So I met with Cathy at the Christmas Market and handed her the card. Her response was "was there ever any doubt that I would say yes!". Again we got a little teary and had a big old hug outside of City hall. 

Whilst that was my three Senior Bridesmaids asked I had 2 more very special girlies to as as well! My gorgeous Goddaughter Fionnuala also received a card asking her to be my Junior Bridesmaid! And James's cutie of a Goddaughter Ella was also asked - although as she is only 8 months, her mummy Charlene had to respond for her! 

So that is my band of merry maids! Let the planning commence!
P.S. I am making it known now… no strippers!

Monday, 16 December 2013

It's only the beginning...

As Catherine mentioned in her last post thank you all for the gifts cards and well wishes. 
We are both very touched. 
Thank you. 


One of the first gifts we received as a engaged couple was from my family the Monday after we returned from Paris. A wee party and a Tardis engagement cake. It was the girls welcoming Catherine to the family. They are already all thick as thieves, so much so I don't remember the last time any of them called me on the iPhone but they never stop chatting away to Catherine. I have so been replaced.



 So is that it? 

 In the words of Danny Zuko “Of course not; it’s only the beginning.”

 One of the first things we did as a newly engaged couple is to start up a brand new tradition. we both love all things Christmas and so while we were in Disneyland we bought our first ever couple Christmas bubble.
This is a tradition we hope to repeat for many years to come until we have an amazing collection of unique special ornament for our Christmas tree in our home. Even though we disagree with the pros and cons of the real tree vs. the fake tree.

I have had the advantage of coming to terms with being engaged for 3 months longer than Catherine. She is only now getting over the initial shock of it all. Although I still catch her smiling and sneaking a longing glance at her engagement ring.

I will say that being referred to as “the fiancé” is odd sensation a mixture of pride, expectation and joy. It is difficult to put my finger on but anyone who has been a fiancé in the past you know what I mean and to any fiancés to be, just wait and see. I would describe Catherine and I as a very determined couple. Once we get the creative juices there is no stopping us. The only thing is that whatever Catherine wants I will strive to the best of my ability to make her dream a reality. We both think a mile a minute and we are possibly the only 2 people on earth who can keep up with each others train of thought. Right off the bat we had decided the colours. Spoilers. So as to keep some of the excitement for our guests I am obviously not going to divulge the colour scheme of the wedding, besides Catherine would kill me. Also I believe I have proved that I can keep a secret.

How to choose a colour 

There are a few things to consider when choosing your colour, all of which we did:
 Firstly and simply choose a colour that you both actually like.
 A colour that can be found in different materials, like ribbon, card or icing.
 Consider the season you are having the wedding in.
If you cant agree on a colour make a list of each of your favourites and eliminate the ones that you definatly don’t want at your wedding.
If you still cant decide, hedge your bets, short list 2 or 3 and leave it after a few days. You will gravitate to the right one.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Spreading the word..

Straight after the Proposal, my brain started flicking through all the things we had to do. 
I checked with James who knew, and began ringing around to let people know (dreading the next phone bill!). 
First up were my parents, I rang the home phone, still shaking - and yes a little bit teary- and my Brother, Damien, answered. 

Dee: "hello"
Me: "Damien? Guess what just happened?"
According to mum, at this point, Damien's face went pure white.
Dee: "What's wrong! What's Happened? Are you ok?"
Me: "Don't worry it's good news! James just proposed!"
Dee: "He did not!
Me: "He did!!!!"
Dee: "Did ya say yes?"
lots of laughing
Me: "Of course I did"
Dee: "Fair play to ye's, here's mum"

Mum: "Well?"
Me: "I can't believe you knew!"
lots more laughing.
Mum: "Its the hardest secret we've every had to keep"
Me: "How did Dad keep it to himself?"
Mum: "He has been staying away from you as much as possible, sure did you not notice how often he walked away from you?"

This continued on for a bit. Permission was given to spread the word to family. Next, I attempted to call my sister Ciara who lives in London but was in Dublin for the weekend. 

Ring Ciara's mobile - turned off
Ring Wayne's (Ciara's Boyfriend) mobile - turned off
Ring Ciara's mobile again, leave voicemail - Don't give anything away but let her know I have something to tell her and that it was good news so not to panic.

Then ring and text two of my best friends Cathy and Nuala. Somewhere in between all this James rings his family, Squeals of joy and surprise all round!

Unfortunately Disneyland Paris doesn't have 3g, so we had to wait until that evening to let the rest of the world know!

When we did though… well I have to admit I have never seen a reaction like it!




To all of our wonderful friends and family who have been so kind with their messages, cards and gifts, Thank you! 

Monday, 9 December 2013

The most magical place on Earth

From Catherine’s last post you got pretty much the whole picture. However it’s doesn’t portray the most stressed I’ve been in a long time. On the morning we leave for Paris. The Tardis and ring are safely tucked away in my suitcase wrapped in black cloth inside a satchel, inside the suitcase, im still paranoid Catherine is going to find it.

It’s an odd thing we both love the airport. We tend to get there at least 3 hours before any flight we go on. We love to relax and just watch the hustle and bustle going on around us, while smugly thinking “Muh ha ha we’ve loadsa time to waste” we are odd like that. Meant to be, I hear you scream.

The flight was grand and quick. The super organised Catherine sorts out our car with Uber. At this point it is good to point out that neither I nor Catherine have a French bone in our body. When we roll up to the hotel, I say in the thickest Northern Irish accent “BON JORE” – I have just used the only French I know and I start to wonder… maybe that “BON JORE” was so impressive the receptionist thinks I’m a local… No… the blank stare she got when she spoke was all the evidence she needed. Catherine to the rescue,  we manage to get our room key and book the shuttle bus for the next day.

November 16th 2013, Disney day, a very excited Catherine wakes up like its Christmas morning, I’m not far behind her. We make our way to the bus. Once again Catherine to the rescue… “James… Did you remember the tickets?” back to the room I go. I am not often like this, but there is a good reason. Months of planning were coming together and the time to pop the question loomed over me.

I had struggled to decide when I was going to pop the question. I had imagined asking Catherine during the Magic of Christmas show at night, under the moonlight and just before the fireworks. This wasn’t a good idea. Firstly there is a sea of people all around, its noisey so she wouldn’t be able to hear me ask and finally its dark, I would have been on my knee for 20 min before she would look away from the castle show. Besides I really couldn’t wait another 12 hours.

Alternatively you can get in to Disneyland as fast as you can before the crowds all pile in, go up the castle and propose. This was how I had intended to do it. As we made our way up Main Street USA and drew closer to the castle my jaw dropped, the morning Fog hadn’t lifted at all. It was almost a struggle to see the castle. This wouldn’t do.

As you have read previously I did proposed to the wonderful Catherine under Sleeping Beauty’s castle. The timing was perfect. The fog had just cleared the day was brighter and I had a cunning plan. The Check list… Girl – Check, Ring – Check, Second camera (Don’t trust anyone with your iPhone.) – Check, Location – Check.

As you can see from the picture before the question I have a anxious look on my face and I am rummaging around my scatchel desprerately trying to unzip the pocket that was keeping the ring secret and safe.

She said yes…. Then I proposed… she said yes again.
 

I felt amazing. The rush of Space Mountain 2 was nothing compared to this. It was a dream come true.

Side note - to the Spanish guy thank you for taking the photograph really captured the moment and it is still amazing to look at it and relive the feeling. Also we are sorry if you were planning to do the same yourself and we kind of stole the moment.

Well what can I say other than everything will fall into place if it’s meant to be. Since we shared to news with all our friends and family we have be regaled with the stories of their engagement proposals including:

My Mum and Dad – While sharing a Chip in the back of the car.

Catherine’s Mum and Dad – “Football comes first and the diner ready at 5”

Well that’s our tale, and we lived happy ever after… well except we have the whole planning of the Wedding to blog…


 

Friday, 6 December 2013

The One you've been waiting for...

Apologies for the delay on this one, but I was doing wedding related things last night, but thats for another post!

So in my last post I talked about James's big surprise Christmas trip! In the two weeks running up to our trip we managed to fit in a shopping trip to Belfast - Thankfully we were there before the major Christmas rush, there was only about 1000 people there! James was very keen to get himself a smart coat for the trip, so I couldn't go letting the team down! So we got ourselves some very lovely coats, hats, scarves and James got himself a very sensible thermal top. I reckoned I had so many long sleeved tops it would only be a waste of perfectly good Disney gift shopping money!
We did however get ourself a fabulous Betty Boop for the living room from Nutt's Corner!

I started packing basically straight away and must have repacked about 30 times in that two weeks! I thought I was incredibly organised!

We arrived at the airport in plenty of time to get ourselves a drink, charge my phone - I always manage to run out of battery no matter where we go, I am constantly on my phone, and just chill out. We arrived in Paris- on a super speedy flight - and realised we needed a way to get to our hotel. I had previously come across the fabulous Uber! I brought up the app on my phone and book an Uber Exec - I was able to watch on my phone as the White BMW (apparently a 5 series - had to ask James that) made its way to our terminal within 4 minutes! Off we flew to the humongous Raddison Blu hotel. As we arrived, we couldn't believe the size of it. We piled on in, got our key and made our way up to our room. After unpacking I realised I hadn't packed any of those numerous long-sleeved tops I had planned on bringing! I had a vest top to wear under my very pretty coat, with an expected temperature of 2 degrees. So to get over this terrible over sight we made our way downstairs and had dinner and a drink infront of the fire.

The next morning we got up early and headed in to the main spot! Luckily we got the first bus in from our hotel - only 10 minutes away from the park- and queued up to get in. We made our way around numerous rides - three of them breaking down whilst we were on them!


Mid morning we started making our way towards Fantasyland and were heading towards the Castle.

Catherine: "Can we go see the Dragon?"
James: "Nah, sure we will go and see it later."
Catherine: "ok"
James: "Sure we can head to Fantasyland… actually, will we get someone to take our picture here?"
Catherine: "Oh yeah! great idea!"
Random looking around for someone to talk our picture. Everyone is rushing to wherever they are going and none seems to be taking us on.
James: "awk sure lets head down to the Dragon"
I get a little over excited because I think I am getting my way…
Catherine: "Sure why not!"

As we make our way down there is this gorgeous little space.

James: "Sure we will get the whole castle in here if we get a photo here now"
Catherine: "Awesome!"
James grabs a random Spanish guy and asks him to take the picture. James hands over our camera and and comes back to me. I am a little bit annoyed because the guy is taking the photo landscape and is obviously not going to get the whole castle in.







Thankfully James was brave enough to say "Oh will you take another one?"
I was right in there: "oooo, can you make sure to get the whole castle in!"

So as turned face the camera, I try to put my arm around James, but he wasn't there. I turned towards him and there he is…

As I saw him kneeling there, I gasped and then…
"YES!!!! Yes, yes yes" <- this may seem familiar if you have read the blog before (apparently I am even more like my Dad than I thought!)
James continued kneeling there and waiting for me to hush. Eventually I did and he was able to to ask "so...Will you Marry me?". 

There in front of me was the love of my life, with the most perfect ring, in the perfect Tardis Ring box in the the most magical place on earth… Luckiest girl in the world or what?




James reckons he needs a whole post to give his side of the story. SO come back on Monday to get the whole story!

Monday, 2 December 2013

Just an old fashioned guy...

A few weeks before the early Christmas present mentioned in Catherine’s last post. Events started to gather pace.


October 14th - 33 days to go. I go pick up the ring. Very fun to do. I have to admit that there is a certain swagger that comes along with it. The best way to describe it is that it felt right. However there was something that just wouldn't do... The ring box! Yes it was pretty and yes it showed off the ring nicely but it just wasn’t me or Catherine. I would expect more from me, so Catherine would get more than she expects.


I had been toying with the idea to incorporate us into the design of the ring box. I finally settled on the plan. TARDIS ring box. It was just a matter of making one. There are a few places online that you will find a TARDIS ring box. I say a few there is only one place, etsy.com

http://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/129417091/miniature-doctor-who-tardis-engagement?utm_source=google&utm_medium=product_listing_promoted_en_gb&utm_campaign=weddings_low

Now it is handmade and from America so this will take time. Something I did not have... So I decided to give it a go myself. The clock was running out I had less than 30 days to go, but I had managed to load on another project.

I settled on a TARDIS replica model about the size of my hand.
First step saw TARDIS in half to check if it was indeed hallow and able to hold a ring (It was)
Step 2 Admire handy work of being able to saw a TARDIS in half…
Step 3 PANIC!!! How do I keep this closed?
Step 4 Calm down, using a jewellery box hinge and latch I had created a TARDIS Box. Lastly finish off with black felt and place inside a ring holder and WOLLA.






















It was perfect. My thing I loved most about the box and that I knew Catherine would love is that i attached an augmented reality image to it. This means whenever our phone camera hovers over the TARDIS an image will appear of LEGO me proposing (with the ring) to LEGO Catherine in front of the TARIS and LEGO Doctor and Amy. I geeked out over this like mad!!! A simple app from the app store – Aurasma, but how cool. I knew it wouldn’t be part of the proposal but a nice idea to talk about and to remind her of the moment. The LEGO us was a present from Catherine to me when she went to Liverpool to visit Nuala.


All that was left to do was the small matter of getting her fathers’ permission. I am quite the old school hopeless romantic in some ways and it is only right like the gentlemen of old to obtain the fathers blessing. Liam is a great guy, friendly funny and enthusiastic. Catherine’s entire family has always been very welcoming and has always treated me as an extension of their own family.
October 29th – 18 days to go. Catherine is away for business to an event in Dublin for the night. (side note: Our anniversary) it was time to talk to Liam... I had spent the day thinking of what I would say to him. But I settled on telling myself “the words will come to you”. Armed with this self assured mantra I jumped in the car and headed for Omagh. I was so relaxed just chilling out cruising alone listening to the radio not a care in the world, not worried about what was to come.
7 minutes later – 12 miles from Catherine’s home house. Like a ton of bricks all at once NERVES!!! The voice in the back of my head says “you’re not seriously going to roll up to the house and have nothing to say!!! You are going to stand there with your mouth open and nothing will come out.” As soon as I had shook the nervous feeling I was there. Time to speak from the heart....
Knock knock,
James – “hello Liam...”
Liam – “hellllloooo James, come on in. Rosemarie is down in the front there”
James – “Well Liam I am here to speak to you....”
(Liam stand up, looks me square in the eye.)
...
(I motion to speak)
James – “I...”
Liam – “Before you say anything... YES!!!! Yes, yes yes”
(Courses of laughter)
(It must have been written all over my face)
James – (smiling wildly) “Just to make this official... I request your permission, for your daughters hand in marriage”
Liam – (smiling more) “yes well of course”
(More laughter)
It is at this point we both catch Rosemarie out the corner of our eye. Tearing up and smiling the happiest smile. We have a cup of tea and speak for a while as I catch them up on my plans. Not long to go. Both Liam and Rosemarie are sworn to secrecy. “Just two word... Adidas predators” a joke as last my last birthday Liam had let slip what Catherine had got me.

It was done; I got her fathers’ permission and now just had to ask Catherine…



Note from Catherine:
So folks we are nearly there! This Thursday, we will be doing a special post on the proposal itself! We will be giving both our experiences and a look over the reaction from our friends and family on Facebook and Twitter. 
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