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An Evening in Florence

We’d like to do all we can to show our appreciation of our healthcare workers. Not only are they treating patients affected by an unfamiliar virus, but they have the extra challenges that come with being fully gowned, with face masks and visors, and caring for patients at a time when they’re isolated from loved ones.

As thank you to some soon-to-be brides who are contributing to the community and dealing with the heartache of postponed or modified wedding plans, we’re gifting them with a special piece to wear on their wedding day. Last month we shared Gillian’s story and today we’d like to spotlight the wonderful Maria, a Dublin nurse who has been relocated to the COVID-19 wards.

Challenges in the ward

Maria is normally based in the surgical wards looking after patients who are recovering from surgeries, but she has now been moved to an increasingly pressing area of treatment. “My usual routine had to change rapidly to care for COVID-19 patients,” says Maria. “In surgical nursing you generally expect the patient to make a good recovery and be discharged as long as there are no complications but on a medical ward, especially COVID-19 wards, it can be very different. You sometimes care for end-of-life patients, which can be quite upsetting especially knowing that their family cannot always be by their side. I used to work on a respiratory ward so thankfully I had some experience in this area to look after COVID-19 patients, but it is still a completely new side to nursing that we have never experienced before.”

Looking after COVID-19 patients is a new and unfamiliar territory and Maria says it’s important to be on the lookout for any changes in symptoms. “Like any respiratory illness, COVID-19 patients can get very sick very quickly so you have to be on alert at all times and pay attention to any little change in the patient’s symptoms.”

To help counteract the stresses at the hospital, Maria is keeping physically and mentally active. “Switching off from social media now and again and reading a book instead, has definitely brightened my mood,” says Maria. “I’m also doing a lot of online yoga classes that my cousin (@yogawithmaura) teaches. Getting out for walks and exercise make such a difference too.”

Love outside the hospital

The proposal to her fiancé Dave was completely unexpected; it began with a casual walk around their local park. “We watched the sunset and when I turned around Dave was down on one knee. I loved how natural it was, away from any crowds, where we could enjoy the moment ourselves,” says Maria.

Planning her upcoming wedding with Dave has given Maria something positive to look forward to. “Once I found my dress, I knew my theme was going to be quite classic and understated with a little bit of vintage thrown in.”

We’ve given Maria the antique silver FLEUR crown, featuring floral details and ivory pearls, to enhance her classic style. “I had been browsing for so long for the perfect headpiece and couldn’t find anything I was looking for,” says Maria. “I wanted something delicate with a vintage style to it, so once I found Tania Maras and saw how beautiful and intricate the designs were, I knew it was the perfect place for me.”

For our next ‘Weddings and Pandemics’ feature, we’ll introduce you to Claudia. She’s been doing lab work in Germany – studying the COVID-19 virus and finding ways to prevent its spreading. Claudia and her partner Andres also have a very sweet ‘meet cute’ story to share.

With Rachel’s love of all things vintage, she and her fiancé, James, spent months treasure hunting through charity shops and car boot sales to find special pieces for their wedding venue styling. Their months of rummaging were well worth the effort. They were married in a country barn in Wales, and filled the venue with their vintage candle holder finds, fairy lights and flowers, to achieve the perfect rustic, romantic, fairy tale theme.

This theme was also echoed in Rachel’s stunning bridal look. With her off the shoulder lace gown and flowing hair adorned with our regal FLEUR crown, she was a garden princess.

Classic styling

Rachel and James’ ceremony and reception took place at Pencoed House Estate, which is an old, family run barn in the South Wales countryside. The estate features manicured gardens contrasted with wild woodland, providing the perfect setting for their fairy tale wedding.

“I knew I wanted lots of flowers, and I based a lot of the theme around a flower called Protea (my absolute favourite),” says Rachel. “This was used on our invitations, incorporated in my bouquet and in the centre pieces on the tables,” says Rachel.

The rustic vibe was enhanced with the brass and cut glass candle holders the couple found at second hand stores, which they used at the ceremony and on the reception tables. The also used brown paper bags with a drawing printed on them, as favour bags.

“James got an illustration of us done for my birthday a few years ago and we love it so much we got it printed onto brown favour bags which we then used for Welsh cakes for all the guests.”

Music also played an important role in achieving a relaxed and intimate vibe.

“James and I hired an amazing band for the entire day who were special to us after watching the singer busk numerous times the years before we got married. He sang Crazy Love by Van Morrison which is a special song for my dad and I. He later sang our first dance song which was Times Like These by the Foo Fighters, the lyrics are so beautiful.”

Rachel's bridal look

Rachel was coveting an old Hollywood style but with a relaxed edge for her bridal look. She achieved this with a stunning off the shoulder gown, Hollywood waves and a gold crown.

“I wear a lot of Bardot dresses and jumpsuits and I knew this flattered my figure the most, so I knew exactly the shape I wanted before trying any dresses on,” says Rachel. “When we first got engaged my best friend bought me a bridal magazine and after flicking through it, I saw my dream dress! A gorgeous off the shoulder, embellished lace fish tail dress by Pronovias sister brand, St. Patrick. I searched the designer to see where they stocked it in my area. I found it in a bridal shop a short distance away. It was the very first dress I tried on and fell in love with it straight away.”

In keeping with the rustic, fairy tale mood of the day, our gold, vintage inspired FLEUR crown was the ultimate accessory for  pulling together this look.

“I found Tania on Instagram and fell in love with all the pieces. I actually found it difficult to chose which tiara to go for as I was torn between two others. I’ve always been a bit of princess growing up (haha) so I knew a tiara was definitely appropriate. Being a hairdresser I did a lot of research on how to wear my hair on the day – it was styled down in a Hollywood wave but still soft and natural as I wanted to feel special but very much still myself,” says Rachel.

“The advice I would give to any bride is to be your true, authentic self, wear what makes YOU feel amazing and don’t try to please anybody else.”

Best tips

Rachel’s tips to couples planning their wedding is to organise your time. Save time, plan your time and take your time to enjoy your special day. She also suggests not worrying about the small stuff.

“It looks great in a photograph but it’s not worth losing sleep over!” she says.

And most importantly…

“The best advice I would give is: take it all in. It’s so cliché and you hear it all the time but the day really does go by in a flash.”

Special Thanks to...