Lauren O’Connell met software engineer Iain Billett at a party in college. The pair were pals for years before feeling a romantic spark.

Lauren grew up in London but she spent most of her life in the Dun Laoghaire and Dalkey and Iain hails from Clontarf.

The blushing bride told us everything about her big day, from the engagement on the River Shannon to cheese instead of a cake.

Read more: Dublin bride’s special surprise for husband at the altar

Tell us a bit about the engagement

We got engaged a few months after Covid – we had a holiday to France booked which we had to cancel. Instead we rented a boat on the Shannon for a weekend which was fab. We moored in a small village on Lough Derg and he proposed to me that evening on the boat.

It was a pretty long engagement because of Covid. We weren’t in any rush to get married and we did want to have as many people as possible with us on the day. When we went to look at wedding venues in 2020 they had only a small number of dates left in 2021, so we chose a date in 2022 and fortunately we didn’t have to change it at all.

Lauren and Iain
(Image: Lauren O’Connell)

Tell us all about your wedding and venue

It was a small relaxed wedding in May of this year, we had about 75 people which was a perfect number for us.

The venue was a gorgeous Georgian house in Wicklow, called Trudder Lodge, which you could have for the whole weekend.

The venue was absolutely stunning – it has beautiful interiors and grounds so really didn’t need much in the way of decoration except flowers. Trudder provided lists of suggested suppliers but you could choose everything yourself which I really liked, it made it a completely unique experience.

We had a Humanist wedding ceremony in Trudder, outdoors in a small walled garden. We went with a summer wildflower style from Wallflower for the floral decorations, it was really bright and colorful and I loved it. Our DJ Cian O’Ciobhain was fabulous as well, it was a little bit different than the traditional wedding tunes.

Tell us about your wedding dress and bridesmaid dresses

I found that I liked a lot of individual parts of different dresses so I decided to have a dress made by Sarah Foy. I loved that experience, it was incredible to be able to design a dress from scratch and have it tailored perfectly. It was an ivory dress in organza with a V-neck in a mermaid style silhouette. The bridesmaid dresses were blue with yellow floral accents.

Lauren and her bridesmaids

Lauren and her bridesmaids
(Image: Lauren O’Connell)

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

I really enjoyed the final dress fittings and seeing the final touches. It was also lovely to be able to meet some of my partners extended family who I hadn’t met before as well as catch-up with some of my own extended family that I hadn’t seen in a long time.

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

I loved the ceremony itself and the dancing after dinner.

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What would you tell other brides to plan first and what are your top tips?

I think the things to sort out first would probably be the venue and the celebrant especially if you’re having a humanist wedding, they book out incredibly quickly.

Then it depends what the most key parts of your day are for you and your partner – if you have a particular photographer/band etc in mind book that quickly.

What were the hardest parts to plan? Did you come across any difficulties?

The table plan and script for the ceremony was quite difficult. Everything else was fine. The suppliers were all fabulous and so responsive and helpful.

Tell us all about your theme of your wedding? How was it different?

Relaxed, informal, summary is probably how I’d describe it. We had the ceremony outside – Thankfully the rain stayed away and we got a bit of sun. We had a ukulele band for the ceremony and drinks reception entertainment which was probably a little bit different.

We didn’t have a band after dinner but had an alternative wedding DJ instead which people loved, the setlist was a little different to what you might normally hear at a wedding and was very much tailored to us and our guests.

The bride doesn’t always give a speech but I’m delighted I did, it was important to me to let my husband, friends and family know how important they are to me. Oh – and we had cheese instead of a wedding cake.

Taking cheesecake to the next level

Taking cheesecake to the next level
(Image: Lauren O’Connell)

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

I left it quite late to book hair and makeup although the girls I got ultimately (Cara Cameron and Lara Ford) were amazing.

I probably would have asked the team in Trudder more questions in the run up to it, they have done it all before so there was nothing that came up that they hadn’t got sorted or had a solution for.

Lauren and Iain

Lauren and Iain
(Image: Lauren O’Connell)

SaveMyDay.ie was launched in 2021 by Dublin based couple Ian Menzies and Shell Holden to showcase unique, amazing and alternative Irish venues available to hire for weddings.

The online platform connects couples with ceremony and party venues that are the right fit for them – whatever their style, their guest size and their budget.

Read more: Dublin nurse who met love of her life on Copper’s dancefloor ties the knot

Read more: Wedding goes ahead after father of the bride passes away day before ceremony

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