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Inside My Wedding: Bangor couple’s beautiful, intimate and relaxed big day

A North Down couple have shared a look into their beautiful and intimate wedding day.

Elaine (43) from Belfast and Paul Totten (43) from Bangor got married in October 2021 at Bangor Town Hall before an evening reception at The Bryansburn Inn.

In Be’s weekly feature Inside My Wedding, couples are delving into their special day to give bride and grooms-to-be some top tips

The pair met online when Paul messaged Elaine on a dating app in July 2014, later selling both of their houses and moving into their dream home in November 2020, before getting engaged in January 2021.

Paul said: “[After a failed Amsterdam trip due to Covid] I called Elaine into the living room where I was on bent knee and I had a temporary ring to propose as I wanted her to pick the ring she wanted. I asked her to marry me and she told me to p*** off and get up.

“It took some convincing to assure Elaine I was serious. She did say yes when she realized I was serious. We celebrated by opening a bottle of champagne.”

The bridal party

Elaine added: “Paul called me down and he was on bent knee but I thought his knee was sore and asked him if he was ok.

“It took me a minute to realize what was happening. I was overjoyed as after seven years together, I did not think it was ever going to happen!”

Elaine has told us all about their big day.

Tell us all about your wedding day!

We have three daughters, Kelly, Laura and Louise and we decided right after the proposal to phone Bangor Town Hall and get the next available weekend date they had and get married. That was the plan anyway but they were not accepting wedding bookings under these circumstances and they told us that the next available dates they were allowed to book weddings (due to Covid) was October 2021.

Elaine and Paul with their daughters

We then booked our wedding for Saturday October 23rd as midterm [as I work in education] was the following week, meaning we could have a mini moon.

We wanted a very relaxed day with less tradition and more fun.

I had four bridesmaids – Martina (my lifelong best friend) was my maid of honor (this was a promise I made to her over 20 years ago) and our three daughters Kelly, Laura and Louise were bridesmaids. Paul had gone to his parent’s home the night before the wedding and all four of my bridesmaids stayed with me.

Removing tradition, I did not want a hen night so we went for dinner at Jamaica Inn in Bangor the night before the wedding and had some champagne – which turned out to be a mini hen night. I woke up at 3.20am after three hours sleep and Paul texted me straight away. We text for hours that morning whilst everyone else slept.

My bridal breakfast arrived at 7am followed by our hairdresser (Ciara Hamilton) and makeup artist (Stacey Latimar). My dad came around midday and excitement grew. Angela from Angels Wedding Cars was our fantastic transport. We were so happy to get John Garrity to do the ceremony music and he was amazing.

Elaine and her father

We got married in Bangor Town Hall as the building is beautiful. Afterwards we went to Groomsport Beach for photos. We took a detour back to our house to get pictures of us with the dog and then went to the reception to greet our guests. Our reception was held at The Bryansburn Inn in Bangor. That evening we hired the entertainment room, and our room décor was by Inspired Memories. We had a prosecco bar and a photo wall as we wanted a fun party atmosphere. The band was Just Sayin and they were fantastic. The floor was filled. Later on DJ Colin Patterson had props and games for the party atmosphere. The night was finished at 1.30am and we were ready for bed.

How did you begin planning your wedding? What did you start with?

We love a good party and it was going to be a party with a wedding vibe. Once we had a date, we knew what we did not want and what we did want. We did not want a hotel wedding as we wanted a less formal atmosphere, we wanted less formal photographs and we wanted to have a small wedding with people that we love and are closest too. We definitely did not want a conventional wedding.

How did you decide on your venues?

Bangor Town Hall is somewhere we walk the dog all the time. Both of us love the history of old buildings and knew straight away that we wanted to get married there.

Next was the reception venue. We chose The Bryansburn Inn due to its great food, great staff and ambience. You are treated as a friend when you enter. We had 40 guests for the day part with a four course meal and a choice of three starters, three mains and three desserts, with an open bar. That evening we turned it into a party with an additional 25 guests.

The ceremony

I decided on my photographer early on as I wanted someone to fit our relaxed vibe and I wanted relaxed photos. After much research, we choose Katrina Coulter Photography. We absolutely do not regret this as we have been inundated on social media about our photographs.

Our flowers were stunning! We chose Johnston Florists in Bangor. We asked them for an explosion of autumn colors and told them to choose what they thought best. The flowers were stunning. As my mum is deceased, I got a locket inscribed with ‘walk with me today mummy’ on it and it was tied to my bridal bouquet.

Our daughter Kelly is a keen baker and made our four tier all white wedding cake. We were overjoyed with it as her cakes are amazing.

A tribute to Elaine’s mum on her wedding flowers

Tell us all about your wedding dress, bridesmaid dresses and suits!

I wanted a dress that I had never seen a bride wearing before. After researching online, I knew I wanted sleeves as it was an October wedding, I knew I didn’t want lace and I knew I wanted a fitted low back dress. I also knew that time was against me. I started researching online and finally found a shop in Lisburn called Divinity Bridal that had my dream dress. I made contact with Shelly (highly recommend) and she offered virtual appointments. Shelly and I then had a meeting over zoom and she walked me round the dresses in the shop (online) and picked out dresses she thought I might like based on the information I gave her.

Shelly then delivered the dresses to my house and I tried them on and showed my bridesmaids and mother-in-law to be via zoom. I knew the dress I wanted before I tried it on but Shelly advised me to try others on first. It only reinforced the dress I wanted as I loved it the minute I seen it. The dress was called Livorno by Gaia Bridal which is a new Welsh designer and as it is UK designer, could guarantee my dress would be ready on time. I paid for the dress there and then. It was the first dress I tried on and it’s true when they say you know. I didn’t want to take it off and it made me feel amazing. I still love it and I have been contacted repeatedly on social media about my dress. It fit like a glove and felt spectacular on.

‘Dog of Honour’

Once I chose a colour, I asked all my bridesmaids to pick any dress they wanted in that color scheme as I wanted them all to originally wear different dresses. We started looking online and suggesting different dresses. We found an online designer, Jacqueline Louise Bridal, that had a really good range of colors of the multiway dress. It meant the bridesmaids were all wearing the same dress but in different ways. We got color samples and the original color changed from taupe to dove gray as we all preferred that color sample. Sizes were sent away and dresses were delivered. It was that easy and I have the best group of girls by my side.

Paul said: “I chose Focus Menswear as they are a local company with a great reputation. When I went to their shop in Newtownards, they went through colors of suits with me and I liked the blue/navy. I then chose the gray waistcoats to tie into the bridesmaid colour. It was an easy process due to the knowledge and expertise. The suits were hired. I chose my dad to be my best man which I thought was appropriate, as we are very close.”

The happy couple

What was the best part in the build up to your day?

The week before, restrictions were lifted for dancing at weddings. We were absolutely delighted as it turned out that it would be the first dancing that many people had since Covid began. Equally, meeting up with the friends and family that attended our wedding prior to this and seeing people for the first time in a very long time was fantastic, as we had friends and family travel from England and Ireland.

What was the best moment of your day and your other favorite parts?

Elaine: Walking up the aisle and seeing Paul. I was so happy to see him. I also remember our first dance and our three daughters, wedding party and parents surround us. I remember in that moment looking around and never feeling as happy as I did right there right then.

Elaine and Paul

We are two blended families as Paul raised Kelly as a single parent and I raised Laura and Louise as a single parent, so it really is two families coming together as one.

Paul: Seeing Elaine walk down the isle. She was absolutely stunning. Equally, I have to add we only decided to go ahead with speeches two days before the wedding and I was relieved when they were over with.

What would you tell other bride and grooms to plan first & what are your top tips?

Do the wedding you want, not the wedding that’s expected of you. We did and we loved it. Our friends and family we chose were at our wedding and we really did have the best day with no regrets.

What were the hardest parts to plan?

Everything went according to plan and very smoothly until we collected the wedding rings and Pauls didn’t fit. That was two weeks before the wedding so there was little we could do at that time. By the time the wedding came, the ring did fit.

Tell us all about the vibe of the wedding?

It was a party with a wedding. It was super relaxed, loads of great food, great alcohol and a party atmosphere. We had a prosecco bar, photo wall and pimp my prosecco. We had a shot bar and we provided all the guests with hangover kits which were needed the next day.

Wedding cake

Would you do anything different or wish there was anything you didn’t worry about?

No absolutely not – we picked our suppliers with care and suppliers who fitted our vibe and who we are.

We had so many compliments about our imitate wedding from all vendors and our friends and family said they wished they had smaller weddings, as everyone knew each other. We really did have the perfect party and wedding and we just wish we could do it all over again.

We had decided to travel to Mexico for a long honeymoon in July 2022 but I surprised Paul with a minimoon to Portugal after the wedding. It was lovely to relax for a few days after the wedding.

Do you want to tell us all about your wedding day? Email be@belfastlive.co.uk to be featured!

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