Joanne weds the man who makes her feel super-human
As Joanne Milligan and Christopher Bradley gazed upon the waves on one particularly stormy summer’s day in Portrush, the Sion Mills man got down on one knee and their lives changed forever.
Just short of four years from this beautiful scene, the pair were wed at St Bestius Church in Killeter in a ceremony performed by Rev Peter Ferguson and Canon David Crooks on Friday, May 18, 2018.
Their wedding reception took place at Beech Hill Country House Hotel in Derry – a distinguished Georgian House steeped in history, crossed with a modern marquee and located on scenic grounds. Joanne, who is a technical director from Castlederg went to Omagh Academy with Chris, who is a tax adviser.
However their paths crossed again during a night out in Omagh a few years later, when they were both 21. “Chris asked me to go for dinner the next night and the rest is history,” Joanne said. “Our first date was a meal in Rue.”
It was on the date of their three year anniversary – on Friday, July 31, 2014 – that Chris suddenly proposed while the pair were enjoying a trip away to Portrush for a few days.
“We started our day with a tour of the Bushmills Whiskey factory, then called into Ballintoy Harbour,” Joanne recalled. “We always climb out on the rocks and watch the waves. On this particular occasion, it was quite a stormy day, and he suddenly got down on one knee and proposed.
“I was shocked but I was secretly relieved. “I had my suspicions that it might happen, and as the day progressed and it hadn’t happened yet, I started to feel a bit disappointed to the point where Chris thought there was something wrong with me and he nearly didn’t propose… Very ironic eh?!”
To Joanne’s delight, Chris presented her with a white gold cluster ring featuring a glittering square diamond in the centre – an antique design which she simply loved. “I don’t remember much from then onwards, until it started to pour with rain and we had to run back to car,” Joanne added. “We got drenched anyway! “We celebrated with a meal in the Ramore Wine Bar and drinks at the Harbour Bar “It wasn’t conventional but it was perfect!”
Joanne and David decided to wait two years before they began planning for their wedding day, followed by another two years of meticulous planning to ensure that their day included all the elements that they wanted. “I knew that I wanted something elegant, simple and chic,” Joanne said. “We wanted a wedding where all of our friends and family would feel relaxed and just have fun.”
When it came to wedding transport, there was only ever one style of vehicle that Joanne had in mind. “My grandad was a huge fan of vintage cars,” she explained. “He used to take us on Sunday drives when we were young and I loved them.
From the moment I started to plan the wedding I knew I wanted a vintage car. “So we chose a beautiful black and white Royale Windsor convertible for our bridal car, and an Ivory Daimler Limousine for the bridal party. “As our church was a 50 minute drive from our venue we got to make the most of our cars, and we enjoyed that bit of quiet time together to reflect on our day so far. “But we never wanted a super fancy wedding, so we went for a casual feel throughout with a touch of elegance.”
Happily Joanne found her perfect dress – a gorgeous scalloped lace gown by Ronald Joyce called ‘Ellie’ – in Logan’s Bridal. “I loved its fine delicate detail; the swish of the train, the sexy low-cut back, the classiness of it and most of all the way it glistened in the light like snow on a sunny winter’s day,” Joanne described.
When Joanne’s wedding day arrived, the sun nearly split the stones as the weather was so good – however the Castlederg woman described feeling ‘pretty stressed’. “I worked right up until two days before my wedding, and I do wish I could turn back time and enjoy the wedding build-up a bit more because it does go by so fast,” she said.
“I didn’t feel nervous until I sat in my seat for make-up that morning; until that point it all seemed very surreal. Thankfully my make-up artist is a good friend, and she did a good job of calming me.”
Joanne said that the most emotional part of her wedding was the ‘first look’. “Before the ceremony started, Chris and I stole a few minutes together in the church gardens, just us – for me this was my favourite part of the day!” she recalled.
“He was facing the fields behind, and I walked up behind him and tapped him on the shoulder. When he turned around his reaction was unforgettable; it was a priceless moment. “Chris makes me feel super-human. Any successes in my life are largely because Chris has been my constant cheerleader and my biggest fan.”
The 28-year-old concluded, “I would say that our wedding was perfect for us and exactly what we wanted. “There were certain elements that didn’t go exactly to plan but it really didn’t matter on the day, as I wouldn’t change a thing.”
• THE FINER DETAILS •
Wedding dress: Ronald Joyce from Logan’s Bridal.
Wedding band: Biz ‘n’ Pieces.
Hair stylist/salon: Amy Nest.
Make-up: Virginia Burns.
Bridal Shoes: Jimmy Coo.
Head piece/Veil: Logan’s Bridal.
Bridesmaid dresses: Perfect Day Bridal.
Groom’s/groomsmen’s suits: Tux & Tails, Dungannon.
Cake supplier: The Cake Parlour.
Cake design: Three-layered cake, with delicate icing flowers on top and a mix of intricate sugar ruffles and ivory sparkles, served at the end of the night with tea and coffee.
Cake flavours: Lemon drizzle; raspberry and white Chocolate; and salted caramel.
Florist: Pollock Flowers, Castlederg.
Church: St Bestius, Killeter.
Reverend/ Priest: Rev Peter Ferguson and Canon David Crooks.
Transport: Ideal Wedding Cars, Armagh.
Reception: Beech Hill Country House Hotel.
Number of guests at reception: 175.
DJ/band: Bitz ‘n’ Pieces.
First dance song: Van Morrison, ‘Into the Mystic’.
Photographer: Gem G Photography.
Videographer: Derg Media.
Other entertainment: Dale Thomas, comedy hypnotist.
Honeymoon: Las Vegas, Dallas and Cancun.