Wedding Traditions: The Bridal Party

Most brides and grooms enjoy the support of having their family and friends helping them prepare for their wedding day, and playing a key role in the proceedings. At most modern weddings the role of the best man is to arrange the stag, support the groom on the wedding day and to look after the wedding rings before the ceremony. Bridesmaids are usually a little more involved, often helping with the wedding arrangements as well as arranging the hen night and supporting the bride on the day of the wedding. These roles are very ancient and often have the most unusual back-stories.

Bridal Party Belfast Wedding

Would you believe that the initial role of bridesmaids and groomsmen was to serve as protection against jealous spirits that were out to get the bride and groom?

Brides, if you are feeling a little apprehensive about showing your bridesmaids the selection of dresses you have decided on, feel free to tell them that bridesmaids were traditionally dressed the same as the bride to confuse any lurking evil spirits into not knowing who the bride actually was. As fashion moved on the trend shifted to bridesmaids wearing white dresses with short veils to contrast with the overly decorated dresses and huge veils that was the fashion for the brides. It was not until many years later that commercial dyes started being imported from all around the world that the fashion trends switched to colourful dresses for the bridesmaids.

The Best Man & Groomsmen

A man who found a woman he wanted to marry often had to kidnap her especially if her family did not approve. This was a difficult task to accomplish alone so they would bring their friends with them and choose the best swordsman they knew, the “best man” to help them. In some early traditions, the groomsmen were called the Bride’s Knights, they would make sure the bride arrived safely to the church and then on to the groom’s house afterwards. The best man would also stand with the groom during the ceremony sword ready, to fight of evil spirits, ex boyfriends and family members who wanted to stop the wedding.

Groom and Best Man Tullylagan House Wedding
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The Maid of Honour & Bridesmaids

Eventually weddings started to become more of a planned event and the maid of honour role was created. A few days before the wedding a maid would attend the bride, her role was to prepare the bride for her wedding and to help get her dressed on the morning of the ceremony. This was an important role, as the bridesmaids would spend all of their time on the lead up to the wedding preparing the wedding feast.

Bridesmaids Ballyscullion Park Wedding
Bride and Bridesmaids Ballymac Lisburn

The Flower Girl

The history of flower girls dates back to ancient Rome. Young girls carrying baskets filled with herbs preceded the bride down the aisle were considered a significant symbol of prosperity and blessings to the ancient Romans. During the Medieval Era, flower girls were armed with garlic in the hope of discouraging any evil spirits from getting too close. As time passed, flower bearers dropped flower petals on the roadway from the bride’s home to the church during the wedding procession

Flower Girl Dunsilly Hotel Wedding
Flower Girls Lusty Beg Wedding

The Page Boy

The word ‘Page’ stems from the medieval term for a young male servant. Historically the role came from Western Europe and then spread to other parts of the world. Page Boys were young male wedding attendants who traditionally attended the bride and helped carry the bride’s train as she walked down the aisle, as the trend was for very long trains.

Page Boy Lusty Beg Wedding
Page Boys Lusty Beg Wedding





Belfast Engagement Session | Lady Dixon Park | Zoe & Michael

We recently ran a competition over on our Facebook business page with the prize being a free mini engagement session. The competition was won by Zoe and her fiancé, Michael.

We gave them the option of choosing any local location they preferred and they opted for Sir. Thomas and Lady Dixon park in Belfast. We have visited this particular park so often over the last few months for weddings, engagement shoots and other things that it has almost become a second home for us. This proved to be a good choice as with this being a mini session, we only had half the time we would normally allow. Using a location that we know well meant that we did not have to lose any time searching for the best areas to work in.

Zoe & Michael will be getting married in 2019 at Ballygally Castle and we have no doubt they will both have an amazing day. We hope that the time they spent with us will help them both with what to expect from their wedding photographer come the big day.

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Stormont Hotel Wedding | Sarah & Glenn

Sarah and Glenn got married on the 1st of September at Comber Methodist Church. After the ceremony, we made our way to Stormont Estate for photographs before heading across the road to the Stormont Hotel for the reception.

The whole day ran like clockwork and it really was the perfect day. This was especially impressive because Sarah and Glenn planned and organised their wedding while living in Dubai.

Before making our way to the ceremony, we met up with Sarah and her bridesmaids at her mum and dads home in Comber. As you would expect everyone was very excited about the day ahead but it was still a relaxed morning and we even had time to get the bubble machine out and play with the flower girls.

After the ceremony instead of the usual wedding cars Sarah and Glenn were whisked away from the church in the back of a fire engine. We met up with them again along with the bridal party at Stormont Estate. If you are getting married at the Stormont Hotel, the estate is an excellent choice as a location for your photographs both because of how close it is to the hotel and because of the nice backdrop, it offers.

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Belfast Castle Wedding | Ciara & Robert

Ciara and Robert got married on the 28th of August at Belfast Castle. The Castle is located at the bottom of Cave Hill Country Park in north Belfast. It is best known locally for the wonderful views of Belfast it offers and has been a popular wedding venue for many years.

On the morning of the wedding, we first met up with Ciara at her Mums and Dad’s home in Newry. It was a quiet and relaxed morning and we really loved the vintage bus they had arranged to take Ciara, her family and her bridesmaids to Belfast Castle. We thought it was a nice touch to have everyone travel down to Belfast together as a family.

The ceremony itself was lovely, with a brilliant registrar who helped make it a really relaxed and fun atmosphere. After the ceremony, we managed to get some quick photographs of Ciara and Robert before the heavy rain came. This included a few using a prism to bend the light entering the lens which gives a unique look that we really like.

The speeches from this wedding were all brilliant, possibly the best we have heard. Ciara’s face was a picture when her maid of honour started to read excerpts from her childhood journal during her speech. Instead of a traditional bestman's speech, Robert’s brothers roasted him instead, and it was hilarious. 

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Win a free Engagement Session

It has been over 6 months since the last time we offered a giveaway of this type. As with previous competitions, you can enter via our Facebook page. For further details including terms and conditions press the button below.  We are accepting entries up until midnight on the 29th of September.

Belfast Engagement Photography

What is an engagement session?

Engagement photography is simply a portrait session for you and your fiancé. Sometimes couples decide on an engagement session for a specific reason. For example, many choose an image from the session to use on a signing frame for their wedding, for save the date cards or wedding invitations. It is also an excellent opportunity to have some professional photos of the two of you together to remember this special time in your lives.

Engagement Photography Belfast

How does the session work?

First, you need to choose a location and a time that is going to work for you. Come the day of the actual shoot instead of walking from place to place and going through a set of posed shots we like to walk, stop, and shoot along the way with the aim being to capture real moments between you in a natural and unforced way. We will give you some direction to help get the most from the session but we will start with simple things like asking you to walk towards us, talking to each other, sharing jokes etc. This is exactly how we work when it comes to photographing a wedding as well, so the session will give you a good idea of what to expect when it comes to your wedding day.

Engagement Photos Northern Ireland

How do you pick a location for your engagement shoot?

You may already have a place in mind, somewhere that is important to you both as a couple. It is always a more meaningful session when the clients have a connection to the place we are working in. However if you need us to offer some suggestions, we are always happy to help.

When is the best time to have the session?

The best time of day for this type of session is early morning or late afternoon. This is because the sun can cause harsh shadows when it is high in the sky. In terms of weekend availability we do not shoot engagement sessions on Saturday’s as it is our busiest day of the week, but we do have some Sunday availability.

What should we wear for our engagement shoot?

The most important thing to bear in mind is that you need to feel comfortable so keep those big heels at home ladies as we tend to walk around a lot. Don’t match up your outfits, it isn’t a good look. Avoid clothes with overly complicated designs, complicated patterns or large graphics and logos.

N.I Engagement Photography

Can we bring our kids, what about our pets?

If you want to bring along your children or a pet, yes we can include them in your session. However, we would suggest that is not always a good idea. If you decide to bring your children or your pet along you will also need to bring along someone else to look after them and it will be much more difficult for you to relax and enjoy the session. We also discourage the use of props. We want your session to be about you as a couple and props like signs etc. take away from that and won’t add anything meaningful.

We hate having our photograph taken. Can you help?

We have photographed hundreds of couples at least 99% of them have said the same thing so don’t worry that is completely normal. We will help by not asking you to do anything that makes you feel uncomfortable. We will not be as asking you to go through hundreds of awkward poses. We will use our experience to put you at ease and help you along. We have never photographed an engagement session that wasn’t a huge amount of fun.

Fun Couple Photos




Tullylagan Country House Hotel Wedding | Leanne & Richard

Leanne & Richy got married at Tullylagan Country House Hotel in Cookstown on the 31st of July. Unfortunately, this awesome couple did not get the weather they deserved but that did not stop them from enjoying the day with their family and friends.

We met up with Leanne early morning to photograph her and her bridesmaids getting ready at the hotel, and then we had a quick walk around the hotel grounds with Richy and his groomsmen before going back to get ready for the ceremony. Seconds before Leanne started to make her way to the ceremony there was thunder, lightning and very heavy rain. After the ceremony, the rain stopped just long enough for us to grab some quick photographs of Leanne, Richy and the bridal party. After dinner, the rain stopped again for a little while, allowing us some time to grab a few family photographs.

Leanne & Richy did an amazing job of organising their wedding while both living in England, changing jobs and moving to Manchester. They incorporated some lovely personal touches into their wedding day including flowers made out of the pages of books for their table decorations and a table plan laid out on a bookcase. It was an emotional day too, especially when during his speech Richy talked about the time they have had to spend apart due to work commitments over the last few years. While we may not have had amazing weather, this was very much an amazing wedding.

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Ballyscullion Park Wedding | Rachael & Glenn

Rachael & Glenn got married on the 29th of July at Ballyscullion Park in Bellaghy. It was a truly beautiful day with a lovely couple and it is easy to see from the photographs why Ballyscullion Park has immediately become one of our favourite wedding venues.

We met up with Rachael and her bridesmaids at her Mum and Dad's home in Carrickfergus to photograph everyone getting ready. It was a nice and relaxed morning, we knew it would be having got to know Rachael a little better when we shot their engagement session at Crawfordsburn Country Park.

After arriving at Ballycullion we met up with a very excited Glenn. The weather in the morning had not been great, but just before we arrived the Sun came out which allowed Rachael & Glenn to have a beautiful outdoor wedding ceremony in Ballycullion’s Strawberry Garden. After the ceremony, the heavens opened and it absolutely poured down and everyone had to run for cover. Thankfully, it did not last long though and we were soon exploring the grounds around the venue.

Ballyscullion is a stunning wedding venue, an absolute dream to work in for a wedding photographer in Northern Ireland and the staff are very friendly and accommodating. The grounds offer many interesting places to use for photography, including a few areas that you can use when the weather is not ideal.

While the venue was amazing, the best part about this wedding was the couple themselves. Rachael and Glenn are childhood sweethearts and have already been together for a long time. There excitement for both their wedding and the love they have for each other was easy to see and was very infectious. Every single person that attended this wedding had huge smiles on their faces all day. We loved all the little details they had incorporated into their wedding day with our favourite being the story of our lives table plan.

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Lagan Valley Island Wedding | Shannon & Glenn

Shannon & Glenn got married on the 30th of June at Lagan Valley Island in Lisburn. We have been looking forward to spending the day with them for some time, as it has been a while since we have photographed a wedding in our hometown and these two are such a sweet couple.

The girls got ready in Shannon & Glenn’s home, a short two minute drive down the road for us. Shannon was a very organised bride so everything was timed perfectly and there wasn’t any of the usual last minute concerns about running late for the ceremony.

After the ceremony, we made our way over to Lisburn Castle Gardens. Steeped in history, the gardens have been used by wedding photographers in Lisburn for as long as anyone can remember and it is easy to see why.

The day went past all too quickly and it was no surprise when Shannon & Glenn stepped out to the country music classic Forever and Ever, Amen by Randy Travis for their first dance. Shannon is a huge country music fan and told us that slowly but surely, she is converting Glenn too.

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Engagement Photography Northern Ireland | Bangor Castle Walled Gardens | Brooke & James

We met up recently with Brooke & James to photograph their engagement session at the Walled Gardens in Bangor. They will be getting married in September 2018 at the Temple of the Winds in Mount Stewart with their reception being held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Belfast.

The Walled Gardens in Bangor are part of the grounds for Bangor Castle and it is a popular place for photographers and families alike. At this time of the year especially, it is full of colour and has a real summer vibe going on. The forest area surrounding the gardens also helps make it a good choice for an engagement session.

Brooke & James as you would expect are excited about their upcoming wedding and have nearly all of their arrangements made already. We are really looking forward to capturing their wedding day.

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Our top 10 first dance songs

Choosing a song for the first dance is different for every couple. For some couple’s it can be as easy as saying that is our song, job done. For others it can be much more difficult, especially if you have different tastes in music.

There are literally a million songs you could choose to use for your first dance, although some are definitely more popular than others. Just for fun, we have a standing bet between us on what our couples first dance song will be. (Laurene is currently winning this by a country mile.)

Top 10 First Dance Songs

Some couples choose their song because it has a special meaning to them, fits with the theme of their wedding or simply because their favourite singer sings it. However, you make your decision, if you have booked a band for your wedding always have a chat with them to make sure that it’s something they have sang before or is something they are happy to learn before your wedding.

Everyone will have their own personal favourites but this is our top 10.

10.  Israel Kamakawiwo'ole - Over The Rainbow


This song is perfect for a summer wedding, everyone has heard it before as it's been featured in many movies. 


9. Etta James, At Last


A true wedding classic, this one is a surefire crowd favourite.


8. Christina Perri - A Thousand Years


Halfway between a pop song and a full on power ballad, a thousand years is a good choice for those who want to get a bit more energetic on the dance floor.


7. Michael Bublé - Everything


Michael Bublé is not just for Christmas! This is another that is fast becoming a wedding classic, everyone loves Michael Bublé


6. Bruno Mars - Marry You


The perfect choice for those who want to get their wedding party involved in your fast dance.


5. Adele - Make You Feel My Love


While this song has been covered by many artists, Adele's version is far and away the most popular choice for those who want to use this song for their first dance.


4. Lonestar - Amazed


No list of first dance songs would be complete without including this, the ultimate wedding power ballad.


3. Charlene Soraia - Wherever You Will Go


Needs no explanation for it's inclusion in our list, a beautiful love song.


2. John Legend - All of Me


This was last year's big wedding song and remains a popular choice this year too.


1. Ed Sheeran - Thinking Out Loud


Far and away Ed Sheeran's, thinking out loud is the song we hear the most at weddings we have photographed. It is a popular choice for a reason!


Father Daughter Dance

After the first dance what's next? Many brides choose to share a dance with their Dad. These two songs are favourites of ours if you decide to share a dance with your Dad on your wedding day.

Bob Carlisle - Butterfly Kisses


There won't be a dry eye in the house if you decide to play this one!


Heartland - I loved her first


A country classic that needs no explanation.


When you take to the dancefloor for your first dance everyone will be watching, including us if you chosen to book Pure Photo N.I as your Northern Ireland wedding photographer. Whatever your song choice, the most important thing is that you have fun and enjoy it!

Engagement Photography Northern Ireland | Crawfordsburn Country Park | Rachael & Glenn

We recently spent the morning with Rachael & Glenn at Crawfordsburn Country Park in Bangor Co. Down for their engagement session. They are getting married at the end of July at the amazing Ballyscullion Park.

We have photographed a few portrait sessions at Crawfordsburn before, as well as visiting the park to walk our dogs and play with our kids, but this was the first time we have photographed an engagement session here. The park has a beach with views across Belfast Lough as well as a forest area and a small waterfall, a good choice of location for an engagement session.  The park is full of great places to wander around, we are sure you could do numerous sessions here and never run out of ideas and new places to shoot in.

As we walked around the park chatting about the guys wedding plans, it was easy for us to see how excited they are about their upcoming wedding and we are really looking forward to spending the day with them. Rachael & Glenn like us are very laid back and like to have a laugh, so we know there wedding will be really good fun.

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Belfast City Hall Wedding | Sofia & Ryan

Sofia & Ryan got married on the 15th of May at Belfast City Hall. When they booked us to photograph their wedding they explained that they wanted a low key, intimate wedding day surrounded by their family and closest friends and it was just perfect.

We started the morning with Sofia and her bridesmaids getting ready in the penthouse at the Fitzwilliam Hotel in Belfast. The penthouse has wonderful views over Belfast including the City Hall. It was a very relaxed morning, with a lot of laughs and no sign of any pre-wedding nerves.

Once the ladies were ready we headed off to Belfast City Hall for the ceremony and to meet up with Ryan and his groomsmen. Photographing a wedding at the City Hall in Belfast isn’t always easy due to the amount of people that tend to be around. Sofia and Ryan must have chosen a good time slot though as it was reasonably quiet and the tourist group that was in looking around left shortly after Sofia & Ryan’s ceremony.

After the ceremony we spent a little time with the guys in and around the City Hall before leaving for Kitch restaurant. Sofia & Ryan love Kitch and we can see why the food was awesome and the staff are really friendly. Ryan also asked Sofia to marry him in Kitch, so it was the perfect venue for their wedding meal.

Sofia & Ryan chose to enjoy the rest of their evening at one of Belfast’s most iconic live music venue’s, The Belfast Empire Music Hall. The building was once a church so has its own unique atmosphere. Everyone had a really good night as you can see from the photographs.

Throughout the ceremony, the portraits, the speeches and the party it was an absolute pleasure to photograph their day and be made to feel so welcome by their family and friends. Congratulations guys! Again thank you for choosing Pure Photo N.I to be your  wedding photographers in Belfast.

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Win a free honeymoon with the BBC

How would you like to win a free honeymoon courtesy of the BBC?

Are you up for some fun challenges on your wedding day for a chance to win some awesome prizes?

The BBC are looking for engaged couples to take part in a brand new Saturday night entertainment show with a current working title of “Wedding Day Winners”. Each show will see two couples face off during their wedding day. Before the couple’s say “I do” their family and friends will be asked to complete a series of challenges to win amazing prizes on their behalf. Then each couple will go head to head to win the star prize of a luxurious honeymoon. 

win a free honeymoon


  • You must both be 18 years of age or over.
  • You must both be a permanent resident of the United Kingdom and currently living in the United Kingdom, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man.
  • You must not be currently or previously been employed by Panda Television, the BBC or subsidiary companies.

Entries close on the 31st of July. Just click on the button below to fill in the online application for your chance to win a free honeymoon courtesy of the BBC.

Best of luck with your entry! We would love to see one of the couples who has chosen us as there wedding photographer in Belfast win a free honeymoon.


N.I Engagement Session | Antrim Castle Gardens | Deborah & Kyle

We recently spent the morning with Deborah & Kyle for their engagement session at Antrim Castle Gardens. Deborah & Kyle will be getting married in December at the Leighinmohr House Hotel in Ballymena. We are really looking forward to being a part of their big day.

The guys are planning on using the gardens during their wedding day for their bridal party photographs so their engagement session gave us a good chance to have a proper look around. We have been here before but our previous visit was a short one and we hadn’t realised just how big an area this is!

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Wedding Insurance, Do you need it?

As professional wedding photographers in Northern Ireland insurance is a must have expense for us and we have comprehensive insurance for both public liability and for our equipment.

Northern Ireland wedding insurance policy

Have you thought about insurance to protect your investment in your wedding though?

When we meet with couples about their wedding they often ask us about our insurance but when we ask them if they have purchased insurance for their wedding many have not been aware that the option is available.

As everyone who has ever been involved in a wedding knows costs can be high so protecting that investment is something that you might want to consider.

wedding insurance northern ireland bride and groom

You should always check the small print but most wedding insurance companies will offer insurance against:

  • Venue cancellations or your venue going bust
  • A wedding vendor letting you down
  • You having to cancel because key people can’t make your wedding due to an accident or illness.
  • Wedding rings being stolen
  • Personal liability

Insurance can be bought 2 years in advance

If you decide to buy insurance for your wedding your insurance cover will start from the day you buy it which means that you would be covered, if for example you or a close family member developed a serious illness 6 months before your wedding and wouldn't be able to attend.

Cost of wedding insurance

Like any insurance policy the cost is based on the value of what is being covered but insurance can start from as little as around £50 depending on the level of cover you decide to choose.

The most common wedding insurance claims include:

  • Wedding dress damage
  • Losing the wedding rings
  • Wedding cars fails to turn up
  • The wedding being cancelled as the venue was double booked
  • Public liability and property damage
  • Stolen or lost wedding presents
  • Suppliers going bust
lost wedding rings northern ireland

Should you buy wedding insurance?

Wedding insurance is an additional expense and it depends on your own circumstances.  If you are  strongly considering wedding insurance talk to a financial advisor or your insurance company and make sure you understand what is on offer.  Websites like money super market etc. are always useful to get a few quotes. Always ask lots of questions about what may or may not be covered as well and read the fine print very carefully.

Belfast Engagement Session | Lady Dixons | Shari & Brendan

We recently met up with Shari & Brendan for their engagement session at Sir. Thomas & Lady Dixon Park in Belfast. Shari & Brendan will be getting married next September at Belfast Castle.

We have photographed quite a few engagement sessions at Lady Dixons, as well as family portrait sessions and a few weddings. We also visit the park ourselves regularly, so it’s somewhere we know quite well and the park is one of our favourite places. Shari & Brendan were really good fun to spend time with and we are sure they will have an amazing wedding day.

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