The rain definitely played spoilsport when Mary and David O’Keeffe were married in St Finbarr’s Oratory, Gougane Barra nearly four decades ago. Despite exchanging vows in a church located in one of the most photogenic locations imaginable, you’d never guess it from their wedding album which is filled with indoor shots only.
But 37 years later, that was put to rights when their daughter Helen O’Keeffe and her bridegroom Mike Garside chose the very same scenic spot for their big day.
“Our photographer, Adrian O’Neill was exceptional,” said Helen. “Knowing my parents never got their outdoor photographs, Adrian set aside some time to take some pictures especially for them in front of the beautiful Gougane Barra backdrop. It was a small gesture that meant so much.”
Ballincollig native Helen and Mike, from Surrey, first met in 2011 in a bar in South London.
“The sparks were instant — we both have the same weird sense of humour, sense of adventure and slightly stubborn streak,” said Helen.
“Now, after eight years (including a year of long-distance — he lived in New York in 2013/14), several months of travel (including all over Europe, the US, Japan, New Zealand and Australia), a South London house and two cats later, we are married.”
Both keen globetrotters, they got engaged on a trip around the Balkans in May 2018.
“Mike waited until the third-last day to pop the question — on a clifftop overlooking the sea on the island of Lokrum, off the coast of Dubrovnik. It was incredibly romantic,” said Helen.
They were married by Fr Neil O’Donoghue recently and held their reception in Dillon’s Restaurant, Timoleague, in the first of two wedding celebrations — the second takes place in Castlemartyr Resort Hotel in August.
“Our wedding day was incredibly personal and special to us,” said Helen.
“We chose to get married in front of our nearest and dearest — only 11 people were present at the wedding service. My mother decorated the church, and my exceptionally talented siblings provided the music (helps to have professional musicians in the family). It was a family affair, with my sisters (Miriam and Clare O’Keeffe) and cousin (Trish O’Neill) as bridesmaids and Mike’s father Ian Garside stepping in as best man and ring bearer.”
Choosing Dillon’s Restaurant for the evening reception was one of the best decisions they made, added the couple.
“We were looking for an exclusive and intimate venue that would fit our 25 evening guests for drinks and dinner,” said the bride. “We were blown away by their care and attention — they treated us like royalty. We had so much fun celebrating with our loving (and slightly crazy!) families — the festivities went on well into the night!”
One mystery to be solved on the morning of the wedding was a case of missing bridal shoes.
“At one point, my shoes went missing — it turned out our photographer, had taken them to the lake to be photographed! Later that day, Mike’s father spoke of his bewilderment over breakfast at seeing a man running down to the lake holding a pair of high-heeled shoes!” said Helen.
The bride looked super-chic in a Karen Millen dress teamed with Evangeline shoes by by Sophia Webster. Her astilbe bouquet was by House of Flowers, Ballincollig. Mike sported a dapper jacket, trousers and shoes by Next, London.
“One of my best friends from New Zealand, Natalie, had arranged a bottle of champagne for me and Mike when we arrived at the restaurant. It was such a lovely surprise!” added Helen.
The bride and groom will take a break in the South of France in August and will set off on honeymoon to South Africa at the end of the year. “We’re both massive animal lovers, so can’t wait to do safari!” said Helen.
The newlyweds will reside near Wimbledon.