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Donna and Daniel enjoy emotional wedding day with family and friends

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Love, unity and family – and a little bit of GAA rivalry – were the themes of Donna Hood and Daniel Clifford’s very special summer’s wedding day.

Under the watchful eyes of beloved children, Aidan and Alannah, the pair were wed at the Hillgrove Hotel, Monaghan on August 18, 2018. Featuring many personal elements which ensured a day that the newlyweds will forever remember, their emotional sand service was conducted by Pat Mangan of Spiritual Ceremonies at the Hillgrove Hotel.

Indeed during the ceremony, Donna’s son, Aidan recited an emotional reading while Daniel’s cousin, Robb impressively wrote a personalised reading for the newlyweds and flowing water from Howth in Dublin and the River Mourne was used to bless the wedding rings.

Electric clouds were enjoyed by Donna, daughter of Alan and Pat Gilchrist, and Daniel, son of Daniel and Mary Clifford, on their summer wedding day.

Additionally Donna’s daughter Alannah, Donna’s niece Lily Rose and Daniel’s goddaughter Kellie Anne all said the Prayers of the Faithful in great spirit. The wedding ceremony was also held at the beautiful Hillgrove Hotel – a venue perfectly accessible for both families, as Daniel is from Coolock in Dublin and Donna is from Newtownstewart, Tyrone. The pair were also keen to point out that its relaxed atmosphere and staff’s astute attention to detail won their hearts immediately.

Donna, a classroom assistant/ student, explained that she first spoke to Daniel, a healthcare assistant, in 2009 over Bebo, and they quickly became friends. However it was an unfortunate circumstance which brought them together in real life.

“In February 2009, my best friend’s mother-in-law was seriously ill in hospital in Dublin, and she asked me to go with her one day for company,” Donna described. I was talking to Daniel about this, and it transpired that the hospital her mother-in-law was in, was the same place that Daniel worked.”

As such, the pair arranged to meet up for coffee on the day that Donna went down, February 24, 2009. “We ended up spending most of the day together, and I knew then that we would be more than just friends,” Donna added. “Daniel is very loving, caring and supportive and always puts the needs of myself and my children before his own.”

After the couple had been together for approximately three years, they began to discuss marriage and search for that perfect engagement ring for Donna. That being said, Donna was completely unprepared when Daniel surprised her with a truly romantic proposal on October 2011.

“He had told me a story about how they had a patient who worked for Lily O’Briens chocolate,” Donna recalled. “I never thought anymore about it, until he returned from work one night and handed me a large box of Lily O’Briens chocolates. “I assumed that the patient had given them to him, and he was re-gifting them onto me. But when I opened them, the chocolates spelled out ‘will you marry me’ and the ring was in the centre of the box.”

The ladies are all smiles as the new Mrs Donna Clifford celebrates her special day. Alongside the gorgeous bride is chief bridesmaid, Alannah Hood, along with bridesmaids Lynn Devine and Laura Clarke and flower girl, Molly McBrearty.

Shocked, speechless but very happy, Donna soon realised that the special ring was the one she had liked from a past shopping trip. It featured a sparkling large diamond in the middle, with smaller ones trickling down each side – all enhanced by its gorgeous 18 carat gold band.

The pair were engaged for more than two years before they started thinking about wedding planning, and it was only in January 2015 that they chose August 2018 as their wedding date. “We wanted our wedding to be special to us,” Donna reflected. “We opted for traditional elements, but personalised to our personalities and characteristics. I also knew that I wanted the bridesmaids to be wearing some shade of green.”

Describing herself as a ‘plus-size bride’, Donna said that she was very nervous about wedding dress shopping – however her experience was an amazing one and she fell in love with the very first dress that she tried on. Attending a ‘curvy brides showcase’ in Perfect Day Bridal in Lurgan, it was an ivory lace and chiffon gown decorated with sparkles cascading across the bodice that caught her eye.

What’s more, the gown flaunted waist detail, a stylish v-shape at the front and back, and its plain skirt was beautifully feminine. “The girls that worked at Perfect Day, along with two of my bridesmaids, were amazing,” Donna said. “They listened to my opinions and selected many amazing dresses for me. But after much deliberation, I decided on the gorgeous first dress.”

Flower girl Molly McBrearty holds a delicate bouquet of pale roses.

On the morning of her big day, Donna recalled feeling very relaxed – something which she attributes to having all the girls with her because they provided a sense of comfort and normality. “I had seen Daniel the night before at the hotel along with many of our family members and friends,” Donna said. “The fact that everyone was so happy made me happy.”

Whisked away to the wedding reception in a sophisticated White Chrysler Limousine provided by Glendale Limousines, the pair smiled the entire way through their special sand service. “This involved different coloured containers of sand being poured into one vessel to symbolise unity and family,” Donna explained.

“This was carried out by myself, Daniel and my son and daughter, Aidan and Alannah. Although not during the service, one of the most emotional moments for me was when my daddy, Alan got up with the band and sang ‘I Loved Her First’.

“There was not a dry eye in the place, and it was a very special moment for me. Our wedding was perfect from start-to-finish,” the 42-year-old concluded. “We were surrounded by love and fun throughout the whole day which is all we wanted.”

Newlyweds Donna and Daniel Clifford, alongside chief bridesmaid, Alannah Hood; best man, Luke Clifford; bridesmaid, Lynn Devine; junior bridesmaid, Laura Clarke; flower girl, Molly McBrearty and groomsmen, Stephen Miller and Aidan Hood.

• THE FINER DETAILS •

Wedding dress: Perfect Day, Lurgan.
Wedding ring: Fields, Dublin.
Hair stylist/salon: Scizzorhands, Newtownstewart.
Make-up: Staci’s Beauty Bar, Strabane.
Bridesmaid dresses: Perfect Day, Lurgan.
Groom’s/groomsmen’s suits: Suits You, Dublin.
Cake supplier: Yummy Mummy Cakes.
Cake decorations: Three-tier, ivory and aqua cake to match bridesmaid’s dresses.
Cake flavours: Lemon, chocolate and carrot cake.
Florist: The Brides Bouquet (online) and Hughes Florist, Monaghan.
Officiant: Pat Mangan of Spiritual Ceremonies at the Hillgrove Hotel.
Transport: Glendale Limousines, Omagh.
Reception: Hillgrove Hotel, Leisure and Spa, Monaghan.
Number of guests at reception: 130.
DJ/band: Atmosphere.
First dance song: ‘Bless The Broken Roads’ by Rascal Flatts.
Photographer: Northern Sky Photography.
Videographer: Milltown Digital.
Other entertainment: Sharon Carroll Harpist (ceremony and champagne reception); Sam Maguire
Cup (organised by father-of groom); Oh Snap Photobooth.
Honeymoon: Visited Dublin, Orlando and enjoyed Western Caribbean cruise onboard Oasis of the Seas, stopping in St Maarten, Puerto Rico and Haiti.