Twenty Seventeen. Goodbye to the refreshing year of being inspired by couples who, when it came to planning their wedding, just did it their way.
It is with much admiration and respect that I applaud those who are brave enough to flip the bird to conventional ways that simply do not make sense to them as people.

I am truly inspired by those that I get to work with. Seeing different peoples attitudes, beliefs, values and generally their approach to life challenges me to think about how I do things myself, both on a personal and working level. These are the sorts of thoughts that are generally spinning in my mind, and very helpfully keeping me awake, in the times when I am journeying home from a wedding, in the wee hours, on a godforsaken mountain road somewhere. That and having my window down, some 80’s, gated reverb fuelled, music blasting and a greasy fast food delight on my lap that I will, almost certainly, regret eating the next morning. The calorific, rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle of being a wedding photographer.

Twenty Seventeen returned me to many places that I love to shoot. Orange Tree House being one of them for Ed & Ashley’s wedding in the Spring. For me, Orange Tree House is the quintessential charming wedding venue in Northern Ireland. It is just adorable. Hugging the shores of Strangford Lough, this converted 1820s stone church (need I say more?) is the cutest damn place around for a quaint, relaxed barn style wedding in Northern Ireland.

I also found myself back twice to Tullyveery House. In the Spring for Stuart & Kerry’s wedding and again in the Summer for Gary & Jill’s wedding. Tullyveery is a Georgian country house which sits on impressive private grounds overlooking some of the most beautiful countryside that County Down has to offer. It has a little bit of everything which is why I particularly like it as a wedding venue. Big trees, a beautiful walled garden, cobbled courtyard, barn style reception rooms and most importantly a short journey home for me…

Somewhere new that I found myself a couple of times in twenty seventeen was the historic country manor house of Gracehall. If you are looking for a jaw-dropping banquet hall for your wedding, this is a hidden gem. If I have never been to a venue before, I will try and get there before I shoot the wedding. I did this with Gracehall. A planned, ‘five minute head in the door’ look turned into an enjoyable, belly laugh filled, hour long chat with Susan (owner) about wedding venues in Northern Ireland and the approach that Gracehall takes. It only took about five minutes of chatting to Susan for me to realise that this was a venue I wanted to be at more. There are just some venues, and more importantly, venue owners, that force you not to take yourself (and your wedding) too seriously, and this is one of them. In my opinion, a great foundation on which to build your wedding day.

Other places to note, the somewhat legendary Larchfield Estate, somewhere I feel privileged to be able to call an ‘old faithful’ venue for me. It tends to be like that for wedding photographers, there will generally be a few venues that you will repeatedly find yourself back at, I love that Larchfield Estate is one of those for me.

I also found myself at the oldest golf club in Ireland this year, proud as punch in my golf buggy at Royal Belfast. I loved this unique venue choice which Chris & Lucy (two of the most relaxed people I have ever met) decided on for their wedding. The stunning exterior of the main house is absolutely beautiful, not to mention its prime location, perched on a Holywood hill overlooking the shores of Belfast Lough. It didn't come as a surprise to me that you would probably find it easier to spot a flying pig than get a golf membership here.

Finally, I will finish with this. At one of my last weddings in twenty seventeen, my mind was well and truly blown. On an absolutely baltic, deep snow covered day, Robert & Clare took the styling of their Winter wedding to another level. As soon as I saw Clare’s Jenny Packham wedding dress I knew I was in for a visual treat. When you mix an insanely creative couple, with one of Ireland’s stand out florists, Floral Earth, and, in a league of her own, wedding stylist, Grace & Saviour, you have a sensory cocktail which you can’t help but, figuratively speaking, be intoxicated by...and want to keep drinking! Whilst the snow was, more than slightly, disconcerting, we managed to, slip, slide & glide our way to the impressive Lissanoure Castle for some very quick, blanket wrapped, photographs before heading to the Clandeboye Lodge Hotel which had been transformed into a candlelit floral heaven, such a treat to finish off my twenty seventeen wedding season with.

Every wedding is a privilege and a pleasure to be a part of, thank you to every couple this year who had me as your photographer.

Goodbye twenty seventeen!

Esther x