It could be said that Newcastle upon Tyne couple Mark and Lynsey Harbottle truly bucked the traditional wedding trend when they planned their wedding for 20th October last year. From a bubble filled bus collection from the airport for English guests featuring prosecco and beer aplenty, to a special flash mob performance and an enchanted Harry Potter style themed reception at Dufferin Hall, it’s safe to say that they fulfilled their hope of having an “element of surprise at every stage” for their guests.
Lynsey, originally from Northern Ireland, moved to Newcastle Upon Tyne and first met Mark in 2008 through their work in the charitable sector. They started dating just over a year later. Unveiling the inspiration behind the Harry Potter themed reception, Lynsey notes that whilst their downtime mainly consisted of a good crime drama, a nice bottle of red and some tasty food, Mark also held a great love of Harry Potter. “It took him many years before he convinced me to read the books and watch the films – it was only the year before we got married that I was hooked!” mentions Lynsey.
When describing the search for their dream reception venue, Lynsey understandably refers to it as a “tense 48 hours.” In the midst of their planning for the big day, the couple set aside a weekend to travel to Ireland to commence the grand search, which entailed a whopping 12 viewings over just two days. With the desire to tie down the perfect location, the couple were also aiming to link the wedding day close to another very special date for them – the 24th of October, when they both coincidentally share their birthday.
When all hope was nearly lost, Mark and Lynsey visited their eleventh viewing and found Dufferin Hall, and with that, the search was over. “We loved the room as soon as we stepped down the stairs. We were given the freedom to dress the room exactly how we wanted, arrange the furniture as we pleased, and organise the catering with a company of our choice. All of these things allowed us to make the wedding exactly how we wanted it.”
The special day got off to a relaxing start with Lynsey making the final preparations at her parents’ house in Raffrey, whilst Mark stayed at the Fitzwilliam hotel in Belfast. At St Mary’s Church in Kilmood, Mark and Lynsey’s guests got their first surprise of the day - a flash mob performance from the Belfast Community Gospel Choir when Lynsey reached the top of the aisle with her dad. “On reflection, I probably should have told my poor Dad that I had arranged this as he looked horrified when the choir started singing out of the blue. I think he thought someone was ruining my big day,” says Lynsey.
Following the ceremony, Mark and Lynsey’s wedding party moved to The Poacher’s Pocket in Lisbane, a regular spot for Lynsey’s Dad and where Lynsey and her older sister worked when they were younger. The Poacher’s Pocket gave Lynsey the perfect opportunity to share her home life and love for Northern Ireland’s finest produce with the guests, who enjoyed excellent hospitality from the team, as well as live music from the pub’s regular band, Full As A Sheugh.
The next, and final stop for the guests was Dufferin Coaching Inn & Hall. With the help of Sarah and the team at Stag’s Head, Dufferin Hall was transformed in to its very own Great Hall, with every fine detail considered. From twinkling soft fairy lights, tailored Hogwarts letters for the guests, potion cabinets, and themed place settings, Mark, Lynsey, and their guests were truly immersed into the magical world of Harry Potter. Guests were then treated to an exceptional meal from Yellow Door and partied in to the wee hours to Motown rock and roll band, The 45s, who Mark and Lynsey brought specially over from Bristol.
Lynsey fondly recalls her favourite part of the day as the moment she and Mark arrived at Dufferin before the guests and had the opportunity to reflect on the day. “I always thought it was cliché that every bride tells you that it was the best day of their life. It is. It’s so overwhelming and full of love from start to finish. All your favourite people in the one place, partying – what’s not to love?”
Reflecting on her experience in organising the final details at Dufferin Hall, Lynsey says, “Leontine made us feel so relaxed and made everything quite easy. Shortly before the wedding we were passed over to Nina who coordinated the last-minute logistics and plans. Nina is just wonderful! Nothing was a problem or effort and she always answered my calls. She was great at arranging timings with our external suppliers and was also there on the night behind the bar which was an added bonus.”
The team at Dufferin Coaching Inn & Hall would like to wish Mark and Lynsey a wonderful future together and look forward to welcoming them back to Killyleagh any time!
Minster & Ceremony Location: Minister Stanley Gamble, St Mary’s Church in Kilmood
Photographer: Honey and the Moon Photography
Pre- reception venue: The Poacher’s Pocket
Caterer: Yellow Door
Décor: Stag’s Head
Band: The 45s