‘We had a beautiful big day without the frills

It can be easy to get lost in the pressure of planning your big day. Caoimhe Young discovers one Irish influencer’s top tips on how to have a fab wedding on a budget while staying true to you
Sarah and Sean on their wedding day

Sarah and Sean on their wedding day

Sarah stopping for a pint in The Whiskey Palace

Sarah stopping for a pint in The Whiskey Palace

Sarah crossing Dublin’s Ha’penny Bridge

Sarah crossing Dublin’s Ha’penny Bridge

Sunday World

As soon as Sarah Hanrahan got engaged to Sean, her boyfriend of 14 years, in December 2020, she knew exactly how she wanted her dream wedding — but she also knew there were ways she could achieve it without the hefty price tag.

Dubliner Sarah (35), who has accumulated over 19k followers on TikTok by sharing her favourite spots and experiences that Ireland has to offer, reveals how she planned her dream wedding on a budget.

Describing her wedding style as “modern city chic”, she wanted to make sure her vision was incorporated during the planning process, from start to finish.

Sarah crossing Dublin’s Ha’penny Bridge

Sarah crossing Dublin’s Ha’penny Bridge

“Sean and I were both on the same page around what we wanted, a modern city wedding with a focus on good food and good fun” says Sarah, who runs fashion and lifestyle blog I Come Undone.“I knew I didn’t want a big fussy ballgown-style dress and I also knew I wanted subtle ‘80s elements. So I kept the dress simple, adding a nod to the ‘80s with the puff shoulder, subtle polka dot and oversized dinner bow.”

Born and raised in the capital, Sarah knew she wanted to keep her wedding close to home, especially after developing a strong passion for exploring the city’s culture — which has been a major driving force for her content creation.

“I grew up in Dublin. We moved a lot, so I lived in seven different houses around the city during my childhood. We loved the idea of a city wedding and also the practicality of allowing people to come into town for a day out and then go home — no added pressure of booking accommodation.”

“I loved the idea of overlooking the Ha’penny Bridge for our wedding. What could be more quintessentially Dublin than that? So we chose the outdoor space above The Woollen Mills to allow for that.

“For the reception, I had it in my head that I really wanted to do toasties and pints instead of the more traditional drinks and canapés, so The Whiskey Palace was the perfect backdrop for that, a great size for a small wedding reception and it meant people could order what they want [and] get fresh pints. Plus, who doesn’t love a toastie?” she laughs. “Then The Winding Stair was chosen as they’re a sister restaurant to The Woollen Mills and the food is absolutely beautiful there.”

Being able to prioritise whilst on a budget meant that Sarah was able to have everything she loved on her special day.

“We thought about what really mattered to us and what didn’t. We decided that transport and a cake weren’t important to us so we had dessert with dinner and got taxis to the venue instead.

Sarah stopping for a pint in The Whiskey Palace

Sarah stopping for a pint in The Whiskey Palace

“I didn’t feel that things like designer shoes or fancy embroidered robes for the morning were important, so I didn’t do them either. Lots of little extras that have become the norm, I didn’t include them.

“Ultimately what saved us money was simply saying no to what we didn’t actually want,” she explains.

“Most of our budget went on great food and wine, as well as a photographer. I had followed our photographer on social media for years and adored her moody take on weddings, a lot of wedding photography tends to be quite blown out and ethereal. I knew if I went with anyone but Ivana Patarcic I would be disappointed.

“By keeping our numbers small we were able to rent The Winding Stair restaurant for our wedding, meaning we had a full menu to offer guests. Plus one of my bridesmaids, Cathal, is a sommelier so he did the wine list, which was brilliant.”

Sarah was also able to cut costs by making use of the talented friends and family she had around her.

“It felt even more personal to us to have our close friends involved in our day and to have Sean’s uncle as our celebrant. For vendors, if we needed to cut costs we reduced elements of their service. For example, we didn’t get a wedding album printed for us by the photographer and we pulled back on some of the gorgeous decor options that our event planner offered.”

Even though Sarah didn’t know what to expect when planning her big day with an intimate guest list of 38, she was able to create a truly memorable celebration while keeping true to herself.

“I honestly never imagined my wedding until the day we got engaged. Over time, Sean talked about wanting to get married but I just didn’t think we’d ever bite the bullet until he got down on one knee!

“We had a beautiful day and it was very true to us — we wanted to get a small number of loved ones together for a great day out. Something we did that was very close to our hearts was using dehydrated roses from my late grandparents’ garden as confetti on the day, which was an extremely beautiful touch.”

So what is Sarah’s biggest piece of advice? “Don’t bother with any of the endless extras — the list is endless and it all adds up. We had the budget to spend more on what did matter to us.”

Sarah spoke to Magazine+ in association with luxury diamond jewellers Austin & Blake

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