Lisa Thompson had the surprise of her life when her boyfriend of six years, Graeme Stitt, produced an engagement ring from under a rock during a tour of the Grand Canyon! The 36-year-old mortgage manager from Lurgan said a resounding ‘yes’ to Graeme, 37, an aircraft fitter from Dundonald. The couple had their first date – a meal and a game of crazy golf – on August 5th 2011. Graeme turned up with a single rose (‘it was so cute’), and the date went so well they added a walk and tea before Graeme saw Lisa off at the station for the last train home.
Lisa had always said she was never getting married. But in September 2017 the couple holidayed in Las Vegas and took a Grand Canyon helicopter tour. “Graeme literally didn’t speak a word in the helicopter. I thought he may have been travel sick,” said Lisa. “When the helicopter landed Graeme took off and I saw him down at the ground dusting a bit of rock and ran up to see what he had found.
“Graeme turned round on one knee with a ring in a box. It was as if someone put the pause button on real life as I scooted along the rocks and shouting ‘What!!’ Of course the answer was a yes.” Back at the helicopter, the pilot had a bottle of champagne ready!
Graeme had been planning the proposal for a year and had chosen the ring three months earlier – a square channel setting with pave set diamond band in white gold from Joseph Rea, Belfast.
Lisa was nervous about choosing a dress. “All the dresses I had seen in magazines and online looked stunning on the models but would look horrendous on me,” she said. Encouraged by friends, she headed to a sale at Angel Star Bridal & Eveningwear, Lisburn Road, Belfast, in search of inspiration. “Upstairs was literally a dress heaven, beautiful bright cream and white everywhere,” Lisa said. “My bridal party and the lady made me feel at ease and when I tried on the fourth dress I just smiled and started prancing about in it. It felt comfortable and when I looked in the mirror it didn’t look ridiculous. It was like a second skin and I just said this is my dress!” Lisa’s matrons of honour, friends Naomi Gibson and Kristina Davidson, her bridesmaid Chloe Wilkinson, a friend, and her flower girl Ellie-Mae Gibson wore dresses from JJs House.
The gents were attired in outfits from Balmoral Men’s Dress, Belfast, and the party was made up of best man Darren Gillespie (cousin); groomsman Stephen Campbell (friend); usher Ron Stitt (brother); and junior ushers Zachary Thompson and Lewis McCarroll (nephews); father-of-the-bride William Thompson and father-of-the-groom Ronnie Stitt.
The couple got inspiration when planning their day at different Wedding Fairs. “It was fun trying out all the different cars, foods, photo booths etc,” Lisa said. Selecting the people for their wedding party was the most stressful part of the planning, as they struggled with balancing the budget and not leaving people out. The couple married on October 4 2018 at The Linen Room at the Dunadry Hotel, which also hosted the reception. They had 119 guests for the day, and 40 more who joined them for the evening.
Their colours were silver grey and navy blue. The room in which the ceremony took place had a row of blossom trees at each side of the aisle and the register table had a canopy of giant blossom trees. These were then used as centre pieces in the grand ballroom and as a canopy over the cake table. The cake also had blossom icing flowers drifting down the sides. “When I see blossom trees flower they remind me of fun times coming,” Lisa said.
The day went seamlessly. “Literally everyone had a ball and has their own story of the day and hearing this made all the planning and rushing about worthwhile,” Lisa said.Their first dance was to Richard Marx & Donna Lewis – ‘At the Beginning.’
The couple didn’t quite stick to budget, as Lisa had chosen some special features unknown to Graeme. There was a ‘Just Married’ sign, and a sparkling dance floor, the blossom trees, a candy cart, a photo booth and a singing waiter!
They laugh as the remember the flower girl ‘clumping and clunking’ down the aisle in her high shoes, prompting chuckles from the guests, and the two seven-year-old ushers screaming ‘Yuk’ when the time came to kiss the bride!
For Lisa the highlight of the day was the arrival of the flowers. “I just smiled as this was the first time I felt present in all the run-up to the wedding day,” she said. Graeme’s highlight was the minute his bride said ‘I do’, as well as seeing all the family and friends chatting and getting to know each other.
If they were to do it all again, Lisa and Graeme say they would take a few moments to breathe on the run up to the wedding ‘to just sit and chat about the day, the activities, the special acts and what they mean to each of you and what they will bring to your day.’
They advise other couples planning a wedding to keep things simple to ensure they don’t end up with wedding apathy when the day comes. “Focus on what you both want, write a list and then highlight two or three must haves and scrap the rest,” said Lisa.
Lisa and Graeme honeymooned at The Moon Palace, Cancun, Mexico
WEDDING SUPPLIERS INFO
Reception location: https://www.dunadry.com
Wedding Dress from: Angel Star Bridal & Eveningwear
Groomswear from: Balmoral Men’s Dress Hire
Make-up by: Pure At 54
Flowers by: Gabrielle’s Flowers
Room Décor by: Fairytales Wedding & Events Specialists
Rings from: Joseph Rea
Cake by: The Wee Cake Shop
Stationery by: As You Wish Weddings & Events
Transport from: David Andrews Wedding Cars
Photography by: Image 31 Photography
Videography by: CD Media Productions
Entertainment by: Starling Entertainments