Hen Parties London

London – A Very Civilised Hen Destination

If you read my 2015 wedding trend predictions, you may have spotted that hen and stag parties abroad are going to be more prominent. There are so many great deals out there and the world really is your oyster!

I recently took a trip to London and have a few ideas for those interested in not going too far afield.

London isn’t the cheapest place in the world but there are ways of keeping costs down or at least if you cant keep the cost down, there is so much value for money over there. I’ve given some recommendations where budget isn’t an issue BUT you can easily take the ideas and research the same concepts in different locations.

Here is just an idea or two that i have for a fantastic hen……I wish one of my friends would get engaged so I can plan this one! Just need to do a bit of saving!

Im not going to give tips on flights and hotels as these are easily sourced, i’m going to focus on my activities!

Britney / Beyonce Dance Class: There is a brilliant dance company called Seen On Screen and they do tailored dance classes for Britney, Beyonce, Kylie etc. You get to learn the moves from these artists as well as learning how to be them. I did the Britney class and it was AMAZING! You are working out which earns you the right to stuff your face later. We did a routine to ‘Outrageous’, ‘Toxic’ and ‘Boom Boom’. The teacher was an absolute pro and made the routines very easy to learn. Check out Seen On Screen here for their classes and locations. It was £20 per person.

Afternoon Tea: This is a real indulgence activity but oh so worth it. I visited the OXO Tower in South Bank and let me set the scene. You are on the top floor of the tower overlooking the Thames, boas going by, sun shining and sitting in the outdoor Brasserie. I opted for the Chocolate and Moet afternoon tea……..I know, I know but it was ridiculously gorgeous. Its not a traditional afternoon tea and definitely more art nouveau! We got a beautiful cocktail in a jam jar at the end plus a gift bag of luxury truffles to take away. There are cheaper options in more Boho parts of London or alternatively if you love the traditional afternoon like The Shelbourne and Westbury – you’ll love Claridge’s, The Dorchester or The Ritz.

West End Show: I went to Les Miserables this time….third row from the front…….I was blown away. I even cried at the end of the show, the performance was so powerful. If you the hen is a musical lover, there really is no better place to go…..well NYC is an option too. Wicked is also brilliant but The Lion King is up there with the best. A few years ago a group of us went to Chicago the musical and again it was a fantastic night out. Tickets for West End shows can vary but I would recommend asking the hotel that you are staying in for best deals as a lot of hotels have relationships with promoters and can get you a good deal.

Shopping: Sterling is pretty bad at the moment so this may not be top of your agenda but you have to at least visit some of the main guys such as Harrods and of course the Top Shop super store. There are so many pieces that you cant get here in Ireland so if you are looking for something different this is the perfect place to stop by.

Sightseeing: The bus tour is really the best option, you will be brought to every main tourist attraction, you can hop on and off and pick the best parts that you want to see.

Made in Chelsea: If you want to be Millie or Lucy for the day, you can simply get yourself on over to Chelsea and visit the many bars, cafes ad restaurants featured in the show The Blue Bird Cafe is the most popular and the food comes highly recommended….you never know, if you are lucky you might get a selfie with Spencer or Jamie!

Night Life: Most of the main night clubs are in SOHO and keep your eye on G.A.Y line up as they always get in top celebs to perform, Kylie is known to  pop in every now and then!

For more information on London, go to VisitLondon.com

Getting Married in Northern Ireland

afternoon tea galgorm

Afternoon Tea

I was recently invited to a wedding event in Galgorm Resort & Spa. Galgorm is located in Antrim and to be honest it wasn’t a location that was on my radar. When I thought of weddings up North I had 2 things that made me hesitant which included the change of currency and distance. After this visit both hesitations are not an issue anymore.

Here are my top ten reasons why you should take a look at Galgorm Resort & Spa as a potential venue for your wedding

  1. Venue: This venue is 4 star but it honestly feels 5 star. From the moment we drove up the avenue to setting my eyes on this simply stunning venue, I was blown away. There are 3 rooms where you can host your wedding which means that there are plenty of options to suit your needs. The décor is beautiful. The words opulent, contemporary, luxurious, rich and luscious spring to mind when I think of the rooms. 
  2. Planning: There are 5 wedding planners….YES 5 Wedding Planners which means that you get a proper service. In most venues there is 1 and they are doing so many other jobs. 
  3. sara farrell galgorm hotel

    Me at Galgorm Hotel

    Packages: You can make your own package to suit your budget or there are some brilliant all inclusive packages that have everything included – car, cake, band and flowers…the works!

  4. Service: I’m one of those people that can’t go to a restaurant without finding some fault. It drives my friends and family mad. The good news here is that I couldn’t find a stone unturned. All of the staff were so friendly, helpful and well trained. 
  5. Food: There are four dining options for general guests. I tried the Bar and the Italian Restaurant. Both are in what looks like a little village within the grounds. The food was sumptuous. There was plenty of variety. I also tried some of the wedding food and it was pretty good. There is a dedicated wedding chef team so everything is prepared to the highest of standards. Each ballroom has its own kitchen with team. Not to mention, they have won AA Rosette’s.
  6. Setting: It’s set on 163 acres of park lands. My favourite part is the river. You have so many options for your pictures. There are loads of nooks and crannies as well as a few mini waterfalls. 
  7. waterfall galgorm

    The Waterfall

    Your Guests: This is really a treat for guests. The rooms are so well furnished. When you stay you get free access to the Spa which includes usage of the outdoor thermal pool and hot tub. There are also aromatherapy steam rooms. The ladies can enjoy treatments before the wedding too. 

  8. Location: As mentioned before, it took less than 2 hours to get there. From Dublin you go straight out the M1 to Belfast and then it is a short distance from Belfast. There is an airport nearby so if you have guests flying in it is handy.
  9. Cost: When I compared the prices to other four stars here and also applied the exchange rate, the price was pretty much the same as some four and five star hotels. The only thing is that you get so much more value in the price with the amount of extras in the packages.
  10. Renaissance Suite

    Renaissance Suite

    Weddings are their core business: They are so focused on weddings in this hotel. Every single aspect of this venue centres on how it can add value to their wedding business. The restrooms have been designed taking in to account the needs of the female guests by adding full dressing room tables and large mirrors. In each ballroom the backdrop behind the top table is a mini waterfall which means that there is a stunning scene behind the bride and groom at all times! There is a bar in each ballroom so that guests don’t have to leave and the one thing I particularly love is that they don’t use normal banqueting chairs for guests dining.They have proper arm chairs and they look fabulous in the room. Their all-inclusive wedding packages take the stress out of having to book everything. The team are unbelievably particular and have hand-picked the best local suppliers to include in their packages. You literally won’t have to lift a finger!

I would highly recommend checking out this venue if you are looking for something a little bit special and different.

Visit http://www.galgorm.com/ 

Here are some extra pictures from my trip!

Lounge

Lounge

Lounge Bar

Lounge Bar – Imported Prohibition Bar from Chicago!

wedding entrance galgorm

Wedding Entrance

civil ceremony galgorm

Civil Ceremony

candy cart galgorm

Candy Cart

galgorm civil ceremony

Civil Ceremony

flowers galgorm

Pretty Flowers!

wedding tables galgorm

Wedding Centrepieces

four seasons suite galgorm

Four Seasons Suite

galgorm river

Stunning Scenery

wedding car galgorm

Phantom Wedding Car

galgorm

Stunning Contemporary Decor

galgorm river

Relaxing River Views

bedroom galgorm

Bedroom

galgorm outdoor pool

Outdoor Thermal Pool

galgorm

Beautiful Manicured Lawns

galgorm spa

Spa Pool

mulberry garden galgorm

Mulberry Garden

Wedding Make Tips – Laura Gaughran Make Up Artist

wedding make up artist

Mad Hatters Photo Shoot Make Up

I recently met Laura on a photo shoot for Timeless Bridal Wear and she was the make-up artist. This particular shoot was very challenging as there were 8 scenes and they were all different looks that had to be right for the camera.

I was very impressed with what she produced and also wished I had the time to get my make-up done by her on the day!

In saying that, I managed to pick her brain while she was working away. I’m always looking for the beauty must haves in the market and she was the perfect person to assist.

She has a wealth of knowledge! You know the way you assume all make-up artists were born with perfect skin? Well Laura showed me that you have to make the effort with your skin to get it to a gorgeous level. She had her fair share of skin drama, mainly influenced by her lifestyle and as soon as she made the changes her skin improved. She had acne and many breakouts which she treated with medication but this was only going to be as effective as her life style. She quickly started to drink more water (yes I know everyone bangs on about this one but it works!), got good sleep, cut out the junk food; in particular the greasy stuff and just got fit. It is so hard to change your lifestyle but the rewards are so much better. Even myself, I had a weekend away last week and drank and ate like a pig and this week my skin is showing the signs!

I asked Laura about the products that work for clearing up skin, as I recently moved to from Dermologica to Image (read my recent blog – results are amazing) and she felt that once you have a good regime you won’t have to buy expensive stuff. She uses a Garnier cleanser, no toner and a Chanel serum.  For me I use an Image cleanser, Dermologica toner and image moisturiser. As she said, it doesn’t matter what you use once your regime and lifestyle is in good nick!

In my next blog with Laura, I will be giving you her top make up product tips.

Laura is an unbelievable wedding make up artist and if you would like to see her work check her out on Facebook.

Real Wedding – Anthony & Alan

Alan & Anthony

20th December 2014

P.S – scroll to the end for the wedding pics!

It all started with a brief encounter on the dance floor but thanks to Anthony’s amazing investigative skills, he was able to track Alan down and connect on Facebook, they were reunited and together ever since.
In July 2012, Alan was making his way to Dublin Airport to head on his annual venture to Belarus to The Burren Chernobyl Project. Anthony escorted him at silly o clock in the morning. All of sudden Alan starts going in to panic mode and uttered those fatale words: ‘I think I forgot my passport’ Nooooooooooooooo! In true Hollywood style, Alan swerves the car over to the side of the road in front of the canal. Alan jumps out of the car and instructs poor ‘half asleep’ Anthony to check the glove box. After rummaging through to no avail, Anthony turned to tell Alan ‘no joy’ only to find Alan down on one knee with a ring in hand asking him to marry him. Of course Anthony said yes!
They didn’t jump in to the planning straight away, they took their time to enjoy engaged life and after just over a year they got the ball rolling.

Anthony and Alan’s Steps:

  1. Drew up the guest list – you need your numbers before you start to think venue, budget etc.
  2. They created their Moposa account. They were able to manage to-do list and budget here.
  3. Picked their wedding party – They both had girls on each side of the bridal party as well as some gents.
  4. Suits picked – Anthony opted for black and Alan went for silver/grey (ooohhh suit you sirs!)
  5. Venue – They whittled their list down to 3 venues throughout Leinster. They visited Thomas Prior Hall in Ballsbridge first and it was pretty much love at To be objective, they visited a second one and were not blown away. What hooked the guys in was not only the convenience of Thomas Prior Halls location but Barbara (who I also had run my wedding!) just gave them the information and reassurance they needed. They knew that they were in good hands. They could also have their humanist ceremony their too.
  6. They booked their band – the fantastic Millennium who play tunes from the noughties.
  7. Throughout the planning they kept pictures of cool stuff they saw on Pinterest and Facebook for inspiration.!
  8. They sent out the save the date cards to their guests
  9. Booked their cake: The opted for 3 tiers with 3 flavours – carrot, chocolate and toffee. ‘Kate Made The Cake‘ was their supplier.
  10. Booked their photographer: They booked Livia Figueirdo.
  11. They booked their flowers: Their venue and ceremony flowers were with April Flowers but they got a white rose arch and lanterns from RKD Flowers.
  12. They got their bridal party suited and booted!
  13. Sorted out all of the boring legal stuff – three months’ notice to the state. Booked the humanist celebrant – Sally O’ Kelly.
  14. Met with ‘Bespoke Diamonds’  to pick their wedding bands
  15. Booked some special touches such as:

• Anita & David in their bridal party made the invitations.
• Tables were named after Penguin Classics with quotes from each book on each table.
• They booked Lovin Letters to have the words Love in bright lights!
• They had Photobooths.ie which went down a storm
The Candy Cart Company provided the Candy Cart
• Rather than a guest book, they opted for a Thumb Print Canvas.
• There were a few children at the wedding and they had some activity books and games to keep them busy.
• They put some special bits in the rest rooms for the guests.

 

They spread out all of their tasks so that they could give each stage the attention that it needed.
On the day they were both relaxed but excited. They opted for a 3pm ceremony which meant that they got amazing pictures at sunset. They had their speeches after the starter so that meant that those who were going to speak could enjoy their meal without feeling nervous.
There wasn’t a dry eye in the house after the speeches. By the time speeches and meal was over, Alan and Anthony couldn’t wait for their first dance. Rather than going for the lovey dovey slow dance they ripped up the dance floor with Black Eyed Peas – ‘I’ve got a feeling’.
They are going to be taking their Honeymoon this summer in Asia but they had a mini-moon in Stockholm after they got married.

Now some final top tips from Anthony & Alan:

1. Be as organised as you can for the wedding coordinator
2. Do a timeline with your photographer and specify in advance if there are particular shots you want.
3. Hang on to some reception food for the wee hours of the morning in the res bar
4. Take a moment alone on the day
5. Utilise your contacts – if you have friends that can bake – ask them to bake your cake!
6. Delegate to take the pressure off yourself
7. Allow plenty of time for outfit shopping
8. Also allow plenty of time to book a celebrant
9. Reserve some funds for unforeseen expenses

 

And Now For Some Pictures!

 

Wedding Shoes

Tip Top Shoes

The Bridal Party

The Bridal Party

Thomas Prior Hall

Thomas Prior Hall

Candy Cart for Weddings

Candy Cart

Thumb Print Canvas Weddings

Thumb Print Canvas

Wedding Guest Collage

Wedding Guest Collage

Wedding Acessories

Special Touches

Civil Ceremony Thomas Prior Hall

Civil Ceremony @ Thomas Prior Hall

Wedding Unity Candle

Unity Candle

Wedding Lovin Letters

Lovin Letters

Wedding Table Decorations

Penguin Classic Quotes

Kate Made the Cake Wedding

Cutting the Cake

Penguin Classics Wedding Table Plan

Penguin Classics Wedding Table Plan

Fitness – Zumba

One of my New Year’s resolutions was to get fit and I have to admit it hasn’t been easy. I created a routine of treadmill, bike, cross trainer etc and to be honest I was losing the will the live trying to stay enthusiastic. Without the enthusiasm I wasn’t even breaking a sweat.

One Saturday morning i noticed that a Zumba class was just about to start when I arrived in the gym. I took one look at the treadmill and just had to walk away and went straight up to this class that I knew nothing about.

From the minute I walked in I was hooked and got really giddy. If you love shaking your tail feather, you will love this.
As soon as the music starts you are drawn in. In a whole hour I didn’t look for the time once.


I’ve tried so many types of classes and they are just pure torture. I can’t wait to get out and then make up a million excuses so that I don’t have to go back. With this I was chomping at the bit to go back.

Im a member of Westpoint Gym in Blanchardstown and in my membership I get access to all classes. Im now doing Zumba three times a week and would love to do more! What great value! The instructor in the Gym is Zumba Geoff and I have to say, he is brilliant. The routines and music are catchy. If you’re a fan of JLo, Pit Bull, Cheryl infused with Latino spirit you will not be disappointed!

If you can’t get to the gym Zumba Geoff has classes outside if the gym and I would highly recommend going. If you are thinking about getting fit in time for your wedding, this is a great place to start!
You sweat like a beast without even realising and the whole time you are just smiling.
If you are interested in starting Zumba, make sure to check out Zumba Geoff or Zumba Ireland.

2015 Wedding Trends

I recently published a series of blogs with WeddingDates.ie. There are 3 blogs in the series and i talk about what i see as being hot to trot in 2015 for weddings.

Part 1 talks about dresses and styles that appear to be dominating the bridal catwalks. I also touch on what ive seen in terms of price and quality now that we are post recession.

Part 2 discusses the role that DIY weddings will play as well as the movement back to luxurious venues whilst also trying to be original and quirky. I also look at 2 very prominent styles – the 20’s and Boho!

Finally Part 3 wraps up by looking at the increasing cost of a wedding and how people will fund their weddings.

Its definitely worth a read as you may find some interesting nuggets!

Skin Care Tip

Image Skin Care Range at Havana IFSC

Image Skin Care Range at Havana IFSC

In the lead up to my wedding I had a few facials and they were all a month to 2 weeks before the big day. On the last one I remember the beautician really scrubbing hard around my chin and at the time I felt it was a little hot but hey beauty is pain.
Morning of wedding…..you guessed it…..a MASSIVE yolk appeared on my chin and thank god I booked a brilliant make up artist, Lida Hertel, as she certainly worked her magic and covered it all up.
Like any spot, I assumed it would go. I was very very wrong!
I studied Beauty Therapy and am a fully qualified make up artist so I would be pretty aware of my skin and how to get rid of spots.
This outbreak would not move, in fact it got worse and spread up my face and actually turned in to an acne.
I tried everything. I would be a massive campaigner for dermalogica and even that couldn’t help. I left it alone, it got worse, I used creams, it got worse….basically it was not going anywhere.
Then, a Havana skin clinic opened up across the road from where I work so I went in to see if they could shed any light.
AND….they did.

They gave me testers from the Image range. One was Ageless Facial Cleanser, then a Vital C moisturiser and a separate Vital C Hydrating Masque.
I also got the tinted moisturiser and a serum – both very good.
I started using it in mid October and by Christmas all of the spots had gone. I still have some blemishes under the skin but this was a massive improvement.

I’ve ended up buying some the pieces I tested and to be fair, they’re not cheap but not too far off Dermalogica.

They do a lot of those skin treatments there in Havana and I would highly recommend paying them a visit if you want to get your skin looking amazing for big day. If you decide to buy Image products make sure that there is a qualified person there to bring you through the right options for you.