Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
Belfast Live
Belfast Live
Nadia Breen

Inside My Wedding: Couple's 'fairytale' big day at Slieve Russell Hotel

A NI couple have shared a look inside their 'fairytale' wedding day at Slieve Russell Hotel.

43-year-old Elaine Leonard McCrory from Belfast and wife 34-year-old Nikki from Ballymena got married on May 13, 2023, in Co Cavan.

In our weekly feature Inside My Wedding, couples are delving into their big day to share some top tips.

Read more: Inside My Wedding: Co Down couple's big day was 'a dream come true'

Here is what Elaine and Nikki said about their special day!

The happy couple (Rushlight Media)

Tell us all about your wedding day!

We really did have the most fairytale wedding. Our day was filled with so much love, laughter, and tears – of joy! We both felt tremendous excitement from the get-go, we didn’t feel any nerves. Seeing all our family and friends together in one place to witness our marriage was one of the best moments of our lives. Plus, we had the bonus of a ‘wonder day’ – the sun shone throughout which was important as our ceremony took place outside and we had a drone capturing all of the action.

We had a humanist ceremony which was just perfect with a celebrant who couldn’t have been more perfect for us. We also observed the tradition of sleeping apart on the night before our wedding. Nikki stayed in an adjoining room with her family and I did the same. That meant, the first time we saw each other would be as we arrived at the ceremony.

Elaine (Rushlight Media)

How did you begin planning?

We started planning just before the first lockdown hit – March 2020 - and had been lucky enough to have already viewed a few venues across Northern and Southern Ireland. In the end we chose the stunning Slieve Russell and decided on the date - 13th May 2023.

We did our best to turn lockdown into a positive and saved hard as we planned our big day. That meant our weekends away, four or five times a year, were knocked on the head. We started an excel spreadsheet with all our targets in it and projected costs which was an eye opener and helped focus our minds. Lockdown also gave us the time to look at various vendors we wanted there on our wedding day, get quotes, and decide on who we felt best fitted. That meant the run up to the big day was stress free.

Nikki (Rushlight Media)

Tell us all about your venue.

Choosing the venue in the end wasn’t as stressful as we thought it might be. We knew what our budget was so that helped us whittle down our list. To be honest, we felt the Slieve Russell would have been cost prohibitive but in the end the excellent wedding planner worked with us and made everything we wanted happen and within our budget.

The Slieve Russell is a beautiful hotel inside and out. It underwent a refurb just before our wedding and the wedding room was stunning. We’d stayed a number of times before and we liked the staff and the relaxed atmosphere. What really clinched it for us both though was the beautifully landscaped gardens. We always wanted an outdoor wedding ceremony – a brave decision when you live in Ireland - and the Slieve Russell has some great options.

In the end, we got married in the stunning ‘secret garden’ area and it didn’t disappoint.

Elaine, Nikki, and bridesmaids (Rushlight Media)

Tell us all about your wedding dresses and the shopping experience!

We were both worried about the process of finding a wedding dress as we are not particularly girly girls and rarely wore dresses. However, we had all the support we needed which made the journey an absolute dream. My brother, Michael, was with me every step of the way as my mum passed away in 2019. And Nikki’s mum, Karen, could not have done more for her in helping find ‘the one’.

Nikki went to three different stores before heading to Ballymena (Galgorm, her hometown) where she chose the perfect dress in a place called Ivory Grace. I was taken to lots of shops by my excited big brother who had me in a minimum of 35 dresses. In the end, I choose my perfect dress in Reflections Bridal shop in Lisburn. Mum was on my mind a lot during dress shopping and on that day her favourite song came on the radio on our way to the appointment - Dancing Queen by Abba - which I took as a sign.

Wedding party (Rushlight Media)

Then when seated in the Reflections waiting area, I noticed a little ray of light was shining through one of the windows illuminating a dress which I knew instantly was ‘the one’ – I like to think that was mum’s way of being part of my wedding day.

When people saw our dresses they thought we had discussed them beforehand as they perfectly complimented each other but we worked very hard to ensure we didn’t let anything slip. We wanted our dresses to be a surprise and we are so glad we did that.

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

It would have to be all the interactions and messages from friends and family offering support, saying things like "we can’t wait to celebrate with you". We had a joint hen night in the River Rooms who looked after our every whim – we had Drag Bingo, shower-oke, a ride on the Belfast Beer Bike, and a hilarious life drawing class – the laughter never stopped.

Elaine and Nikki (Rushlight Media)

You understand at moments like these just how special your friends and family are. We also loved the process of choosing our honeymoon which after much deliberation ended up being a week in Las Vegas and a week in Mexico. We had the time of our lives!

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

We would both say seeing each other for the first time in our wedding dresses. Nikki arrived first, accompanied by her daddy, Paul. And then I arrived with my daddy, Michael. As we had kept our dresses a secret, we both couldn’t wait to see each other. When I saw Nikki for the first time, I was completely blown away; in fact my heart could have burst with love, joy and admiration. She looked amazing.

As soon as Nikki saw me, she started to cry and when she gathered herself, she said she had never seen me look so beautiful.

Newlyweds (Rushlight Media)

My brother-in-law, David, was our flower boy and he did an incredible job passing out flower petals and rainbow flags. The song he arrived to was the Macarena and he had the whole crowd whooping, dancing and laughing which was a great way to ramp up the fun just before we arrived.

When Nikki and I were seated at the top table, we were so emotional to see all of our friends and family happy and enjoying themselves. Having my two nieces, Caitlin and Eireann, there made us immensely proud.

The newlyweds and their guests (Rushlight Media)

What would you tell other couples to plan first & what are your top tips?

I would say look at the wedding forums, someone had shared a spreadsheet with all the details you need to consider. We used one of these and it really did help us ensure we didn’t miss anything. Go to lots of wedding fairs and get ideas. You also need to set a budget and stick to it.

We also found that speaking to other couples who had got married to be useful and our hotel gave us lots of info on local suppliers. And it’s important to enjoy the process and not sweat the small stuff.

What were the hardest parts to plan?

We found looking for a photo booth was the hardest thing to source, but we did have time on our side. Just plan as early as you can. This also gave us a chance to complete all the necessary paperwork as we got married in southern Ireland.

What was your theme?

Our theme was eat, drink, and party! The only complaint we received from guests was that they ate and drank way too much.

Cutting the cake (Rushlight Media)

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

We both wouldn’t have done anything different in terms of our day. There were things that we worried about; weather, people showing up, vendors doing a good job. This all took care of itself on the day.

And of course, I’d love to have had my mummy there but she made herself known to me in hundreds of different little ways, like mummies do.

Do you want to tell us all about your wedding day? Email for your chance to be featured.

Sign up to our Be lifestyle newsletter for all the latest showbiz, fashion, beauty, family features and more.

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.