Reflections Photography | The Heritage Hotel, Portlaoise

The Heritage Hotel, Portlaoise

February 07, 2013  •  1 Comment

So now that I am enjoying the calm before the storm I thought it was time to fill you in a some more weddings I covered in 2012. Today I am going to write about a wedding I shot last October for a fantastic couple, Yvonne Tynan and Sean Culleton. (Now aka Mr & Mrs Culleton :-))

Yvonne first contacted me early last year on the back of a Facebook promotion I was running in conjunction with the launching of my latest wedding album at the time. After swapping a few messages on Facebook we arranged to meet up so that the three of us could sit down and just  have a general natter about their wedding day requirements and let them see the range of albums and packages available. I set up a slide show so that they could get a good sense of my style of shooting while Yvonne plied me with tea and biscuits, probably just to keep me quiet for five minutes! :-). Sean and Yvonne have been together now for over ten years. In fact they chose their wedding date in October because it was exactly ten years to the day since they first met! They have four beautiful kids who all had their roles to play on the wedding day. But before that, as part of the package Sean and Yvonne had booked an engagement shoot with me. They decided to make the most of the opportunity and we ended up having a great couple of hours doing a family photoshoot with plenty of photos of each of the kids individually as well as group shots. I think poor Sean is still hanging canvasses on every wall in the house even now!

One of the things I enjoyed most about this wedding was the real sense of family and community that Yvonne and Sean built their wedding day around. The church was in Ballyfin, just outside Portlaoise, which was Seans parish church and of course with The Heritage Hotel being in the heart of Portlaoise itself, by the end of the night the massive room was just heaving with neighbours and friends all enjoying a fantastic local couple's wedding day.

When I arrived at Yvonnes parent's house I was greeted by a full house of family all preparing for the day ahead, from toddlers to grandparents. There was a buzz and excitement in the air that is unique to wedding days. I will never tire of this buzz if I cover a thousand weddings. The bride herself was calmness personified as she helped everyone else with all the last minute details and preparations. Yvonne looked stunning in a gorgeous gown that exuded grace and elegance in a dignified understated way. The dress was a throwback to a more classical time and images of Grace Kelly and Jackie Kennedy would not be far from anyones mind when seeing this stunning bride.

Having got all the shots we wanted with the bride it was then time for me to get to the church to get shots of the groom and guests arriving as well as capture all the details; the church flowers, the leaflets and of course the style on show. Being late October the autumnal colours were at their radiant best in the sunshine providing the perfect backdrop for photos, and Sean couldnt have been more relaxed if he was kicking back on his couch with the slippers on watching his beloved Man Utd. The result (of the photos, not the match) was lovely natural images as Sean and his two boys, Rory and Jack, enjoyed chatting with everyone as they awaited for the brides arrival.

Enivitably the whispers started to circulate that the bride was on her way. (Who knows this information?? Do they have a GPS strapped to the bride's ankle, tracking her every move??) Everyone hurried into the church in anticpation of Yvonnes arrival and that special hush, which again I find unique to weddings fell across the church.  The beautiful old Mercedes pulled up outside the church, carrying a beaming proud father and for the first and only time during the day, his nervous bride daughter. 




Last minute adjustments and make up checks were carried out as a couple of late comers scurried past us into the church and the bridesmaids and flower girls and page boys all took their places and the excitement and anticpation levels rose again by another couple of notches. Once Yvonne was ready she instructed me to indicate to the musicians to start the music and on their que then the children started the walk up the aisle.

And so the ceremony was underway. Sean looked in awe as he turned to see his stunning bride for the first time. It was a beautiful moment as all the family met together for the first time that day. Smiles, tears and laughter filled the church and this set the tone for the day ahead. The ceremony itself was lovely; simple, unpretentious, romantic. Little Jack did his best to steal the show on a couple of occassions as he never strayed far from his daddy's side and even got involved in a game of chicken with the priest as he explored the workings of the 3 piece bell that sat on the alter steps at the perfect height for little hands. The girls completed their readings flawlessly and Rory looked every bit the little man as he sat behind his daddy throughout the ceremony.

And so with vows said, rings exchanged and register books signed, the new Mr and Mrs Culleton made their way out of the church surrounded by their young family and with their friends in tow. After being mobbed outside by well wishers offering congratulations and blessings it was then time for the happy couple to move on to the next part of the day. As the guests made their way to the magnificent Heritage Hotel in the town Sean and Yvonne and the kids made a detour and headed back to Seans Parents home just a mile down the road from the church. The weather was beautiful and sunny but it being late October there was also a bit of a chill in the air and the first priority when the wedding party got back to the house was to get a bit of a warm up and get a bite to eat as it already had been quite a long day at this point. And what better way to kill two birds with one stone than to tuck into a hearty bowl of homemade soup and soda bread? It certainly made for a great photo opportunity as the bride sat at the kitchen table in all her splendour enjoying her soup and sandwich! This was also to be the venue for the formal group shots along with Sean and Yvonne's own photoshoot. The garden itself was immacculately kept and the old out houses and buildings on the land made for perfect backdrops and photo opportunities. A set of swings and a slide made for a fantastic family photograph and made a welcome change from the typical set up which often looks like a football team defending a free kick as the players bulid a wall!


Wedding photographer. Drogheda.BM-599 And so with everyone fed and watered and all photos in the bag it was time to join up with the rest of the guests at The Heritage. This hotel really is a fine wedding venue. Great central location with ample parking and easily accessible for those local who dont want to bring the car. The front exterior of the hotel offers an imposing grandness and this is offset by the impossibly friendly staff that were on hand to greet us on our arrival. Banquet Manager Nichola looked after Yvonne and Sean from the minute they arrived at the hotel and no request was too much for her. The bar was warm and inviting and indeed was been enjoyed wholeheartedly by the guests as they tucked into canapes, tea, coffee and champagne. The well lit spacious front lobby was the perfect location for the entire group shot and again the staff were a great help in assisting me in rounding everyone up for this photo. At 5:45 the bell was sounded calling the guests to dinner, bang on schedule. The staff were well organised and professional and contributed significantly to the success of the day.

As the guests entered the function room the air was filled with gasps and ooohs and aahhs such was the decorative splendor in the room. The top table was dressed immacculately and the attention to detail was clear to see. Every glass, every piece of cutlery was sparkling and the layout was impeccable. No less attention to detail was paid to the guests' tables and the seating plan was well displayed and easy to follow. The service could not be faulted with a constant flow of wine and drink on hand. The meal; Oh my God, the meal. Absolutely gorgeous! I just had the main course and went for the turkey and ham option. The meat was so tender and the vegetables were cooked to perfection. I didnt have the starters or the desserts but from all accounts the feedback I got was very positive. During the meal a giant screen showed images on a slideshow from the happy couple's engagement shoot earlier in the year and made an excellent backdrop to further enhance the occassion. Nichola was on hand throughout to ensure that everything ran smoothly and we slipped seamlessly into the speeches at the end of the meal. One of the highlights of the day was the announcement from Mummy and Daddy that for their honeymoon the entire family were going to Disneyland, Paris! The excitement from the kids was just unreal!

Following on from the meal and speeches the room was quickly rearranged to set up the band and dancing area, and again the staff managed to do all this without barely disturbing any of the guests. The new Mr and Mrs Culleton took to the floor shortly after nine pm for their first dance and the floor was never empty again for the rest of the night.

I really enjoyed this wedding. Yvonne and Sean are a lovely couple and are just so dedicated to their children. The family atmosphere was prevelant throughout the day and the choice of venue for the photoshoot added another level to the personal touch that made the occassion even more special. The staff and management at The Heritage should be very proud of their service and I look forward to returning there again soon someday. Now if I can just get Sean's mother to rent out her garden for photoshoots....  




Yvonne Culleton.(non-registered)
What a fantastic description of our special day thank you so much Barry. We are getting this article printed out and framed we just love it! And we thank you so much for the work you done that day aswell you were on the ball at every photo opportunity and the end results were amazing, we would highly recommend you to anyone.
Thanks Again,
Yvonne and Sean Culleton.
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