'I tell my couples to look at a wedding like a jigsaw; the closer we get to it, the more pieces are filled in and the easier it is to visualise the day itself'

by Rachel Cunningham
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Described as a “godsend” by photographer and filmmaker Alex Prager in a feature on her wedding in British Vogue, Martina O’Riordan knows a thing or two about saying “I do”. She spoke to Rachel Cunningham on the trends, tips and time alone that could make or break your big day.

 Ireland takes a while to catch on to trends which generally come from the US explains wedding fashion guru Martina O’Riordan.

“What I’m finding very popular at the moment is having a second wedding dress, to the point where now I’m almost assuming that everyone will be changing into another dress for their reception.”

The MartinaO founder is happy to report that colour is back across bouquets, bridesmaids dresses and beyond.


“For years the trend was white and green and now, thankfully, it’s becoming a lot more colourful.

“I think we’ll be seeing a knock-on effect from the Barbie movie when it comes to pink as well. I bet we’ll see more inclusion of brighter pinks next year because of Barbie.”

Couples have begun to break with the tradition of matching bridesmaids dresses, as the bridesmaids are being given more freedom to play within a colour palette.

“We’re not only seeing different colours but also varying patterns, styles and textiles. That’s very interesting, as it’s quite eye catching in the photographs.

“I’ll see bridesmaids in suits and silk, which might be shades of a colour or might not be. It’s exciting because it means that you’re doing something a little different that also looks great.

“Champagne towers have without question grown in popularity this year and I’m wondering whether that trend will continue unto next year. They aren’t very easy to pull-off but it makes a great photo. Things like that and the black and white photo have taken off.”

Despite being an event often steeped in tradition, it would appear that even weddings cannot escape the influence of social media.

“Something that I haven’t seen at any of my weddings yet but that’s cropped up over the last while is social media content creators,” Martina explained.

“On the wedding day, you’ll have your photographer and your videographer but also this separate vendor, the idea being that the couple can wake up the next morning and receive hundreds of behind the scenes photos and videos for content.

“I was quite surprised when I saw it first, I didn’t really know what it was, but as everything is going more digital for everything, it’s a trickledown from TikTok and Instagram and influencers.

“I think couples put so much into the day that they love to receive more. They’re so excited for the photos and the videos and want to relive the whole thing in the immediate few days, so it makes sense in that way.”


Aware that not everyone has the budget for a wedding planner, Martina has revealed the key advice to offers all of her clients.

“This is one of the most important days of your life, you’re bringing all of your loved ones together in the one space and have to feed and entertain them. Of course you’re going to be stressed out,” she said.

“I tell my couples to look at a wedding like a jigsaw; the closer we get to it, the more pieces are filled in and the easier it is to visualise the day itself.

“The first thing that couples need to think about is budget. That is crucial. Sitting down to make a budget is more important than anything else because it will give you an idea of the type of wedding you can actually have.

“There’s no point looking at Adare Manor if your budget can’t stretch that far.

“You both need to sit down and consider absolutely everything. I advise making a list of your ‘must-haves’, like the food, drinks and entertainment, and then the ‘nice-to-haves’, which might be a videographer or after dinner entertainment before your music starts.

“When it comes to your budget, your biggest expense is going to be your venue and the biggest driver of your venue is going to be how many guests you invite.

“So, the budget and the guestlist kind of go hand-in-hand. I see it a lot of couples, where one half wants to invite 300 people and the other wants to invite 50.

“It is stressful in those early days to actually figure out what you want, especially if you both have different thoughts about the day.

“As a planner, I am obsessed with spreadsheets and GoogleDocs and can’t recommend them enough, so that you can both work on the planning.

“People ask me all the time what the average cost of a wedding is but it can vary so much. If you were going on a weekend away, the price would be very different depending on whether you opted to stay in a two-star hotel or a five-star hotel.

“I think Weddings Online 2022 cited that the average wedding costs €29,800 but I would hate for people to start building their budget off that average because there’s may cost double that estimate.”

Carving out alone time

In the midst of the madness, it can be difficult for a couple to remember that their relationship and love is the reason for the entire gathering. Martina highlighted how important it is for a couple to find some time for themselves.

“A private first look with just the couple, where they get to see each other for the first time during the day, can be a great way to steal away some moments for yourselves.

“I did it with my husband and we found it to be a brilliant way to get rid of the pent up emotions and nerves and to take time to reflect on the fact that we’d made it to that point.

“The added advantage is that you can get some photos done at that point as well and you get that time together before the whole day actually kicks off.

“This can be a divisive issue, some people really don’t want to see each other before the ceremony. An alternative opportunity would be thirty minutes at the end of the drinks reception.

“Usually, as guests make their way in for dinner and begin giving their orders, I’ll send the couple away for a quiet drink and time for themselves before they are announced.”

(Possibly a separate piece beside her picture)

About Martina

The founder of MartinaO Weddings & Events, Martina O’Riordan spent over 20 years working in events and marketing in Ireland and Australia, before she decided to set up her own business.

“It’s a stressful job by nature; I’m doing my job if I’ve managed to alleviate the stress of a couple as much as I possibly can, but I love it,” said the wedding planner.

“I set up the business about seven years ago and about two years prior to that, it felt as if there was something missing.

“I love being creative and I love Hallmark movies. When I did a diploma in wedding and event planning while living in Sydney, I knew I wanted to set up my own business in weddings and I knew I only wanted to work in Ireland.

“A wonderful part of my job is planning destination weddings for people in Ireland, I love seeing people travelling here and experiencing Ireland.

“I get to figure out how we can showcase the best of the country and I love adding those Irish elements, whether it’s a céilí, or pulling a pint of Guinness or incorporating traditional Irish music.”

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