THIS time last year, Badon woman Kelly O’Callaghan-Gaughan was in the throes of organising her dream winter wedding to hubbie Conor O’Callaghan, in West Cork It wasn’t until she returned from her honeymoon in January, that Kelly learned that one of her dear friends, who had been a guest at her wedding, had been diagnosed with cancer and passed away.
Now, less than 12 months since her big day, Kelly, who happens to be a professional weddings and events planner by trade, is in the throes of organising one of Cork’s biggest ever wedding dress sales, in aid of the Irish Cancer Society.
“I got married last December and we came home from our three week honeymoon in January to find out that our friend had passed away,” said Kelly.
“No one knew that he had been ill. He was quite elderly but we found out later that he had been sick for some time and had been diagnosed with cancer. He was very private and so is his family but after the funeral, I felt I really wanted to do something to honour him and to raise funds for the Irish Cancer Society and to raise awareness of the support they offer to families affected by cancer, which is nearly every family in the country.” Kelly admitted that as an events professional, she’s always coming up with novel event ideas, but she says she literally “went to bed one night and dreamt about” hosting a cut price wedding dress sale in aid of charity.elderly but we found out later that he had been sick for some time and had been diagnosed with cancer. He was very private and so is his family but after the funeral, I felt I really wanted to do something to honour him and to raise funds for the Irish Cancer Society and to raise awareness of the support they offer to families affected by cancer, which is nearly every family in the country.” Kelly admitted that as an events professional, she’s always coming up with novel event ideas, but she says she literally “went to bed one night and dreamt about” hosting a cut price wedding dress sale in aid of charity.cut price wedding dress sale in aid of charity.
“I had been over to Wed-to-Be, which is a fantastic wedding dress sale event in the UK, which is where I got my own wedding dress and that’s probably what inspired the budget dress concept.
“All the dresses are €500 or less but the event still has amazing customer service and a really special feel to it and that’s something I wanted to recreate in Cork. So I started planning and contacting people, looking for a suitable venue and as many good quality dresses as I could find and I’ve been travelling all over Ireland collecting them and bringing them back to Cork.
“It’s been really hard work pulling it all together but I’ve loved every minute of it and I can’t wait to see the brides-to-be trying on the dresses and hopefully finding the dress of their dreams,” she said.
Kelly has titled the event which takes place in the Clayton Hotel on Lapp’s Quay in the city on Saturday October 28th and Sunday October 29th, The Ever After Bridal Sale. She has gathered more than 120 never worn designer wedding dresses, bridesmaids dresses and veils from bridal shops and donations and they will be on sale, priced from €50 - €500.
“We’ve only got three pre-loved dresses on sale, the rest are all dresses that have never been worn and most still have their original price tags on. So far we’ve got 120 wedding dresses, 85 bridesmaids dresses and a few flowergirl dresses, veils and accessories.That includes about 30 ‘destination wedding’ dresses, which are light, airy dresses suited to warm climates and they’re all priced under €150.
“We just received 20 wedding dresses from DAWG, the Cork Dog Action Welfare Group, who were planning a wedding dress sale of their own that fell through, so we’ll have a separate section for them at the event and all the proceeds raised from those dress sales will go to them.” Kelly, who knows all about the cost of organising an Irish wedding, said she advocates saving cash on big expenses like bridal dresses, so that couples have more budget to spend on things like the honeymoon or wedding menu.
“Personally, I think people spend crazy money on wedding dresses when they don’t have to. It’s one thing that you can save on and spend the money elsewhere without compromising on how you’re going to look. I spent €500 on my wedding dress and I loved it. It was a mermaid style sample dress from Viva Bride that I found at Wed-to-Be. I was really happy with it and I’m not ready to sell it just yet, I want to hold on to it for a while, but we’ve got lots of other fantastic dresses on offer at the sale.” Kelly said The Ever After Bridal Sale, which takes place across the entire top floor of the Clayton Hotel, will be like a massive pop-up bridal shop and dresses will be available for brides to try on a first come first served basis. Having bought her own wedding dress at a similar event, the event organiser advises brides to come along “with an open mind” and to try on dresses that they don’t necessarily think might suit them.
“There’ll be lots of wedding suppliers there to meet and we’ll be having a prosecco reception, raffles, spot prizes, goody bags for the first 50 people and a catwalk show at 2pm, so there’ll be a really good buzz in the room.2pm, so there’ll be a really good buzz in the room.
“There will be 10 changing rooms, so brides will have privacy to try dresses on but I would strongly recommend for brides to come with an open mind. Don’t go in with a fixed idea about what you want because the dresses always look different when you try them on. Some look amazing on the hanger and then look terrible on - depending on your shape and height - while others might not look great on the hanger but could be the perfect dress for you. It’s all about finding the dress that suits.
“We’ve got dresses by designers including Enzoanie, Mori Lee, Alfred Angelo and Justin Alexander, to name a few, and we’re colour coding the price tags so that brides can easily see what price range they’re in. It’ll be like a big treasure hunt on the day for the brides!” The dresses on display during the catwalk show will be modelled by Kelly’s family and friends and she said that a friend from Bandon, Anthony Duffy, had pledged to dress up as a bride and walk down the catwalk if she raises over €1,000 on the first day of the sale.
“We’re hoping to raise at least €2,000 for the Irish Cancer Society but fingers crossed, we’ll raise more than that. I’d like to see the money going towards patient care, cancer research and family support. Every family has been affected by cancer. My husband’s family has been deeply affected by it and I lost my grandfather to cancer as well as my good friend who was like a grandfather figure to me, so it’s something that is really close to my heart but it’s nice to be able to do something fun for a worthwhile cause. Every bride deserves their dream dress and we’re saying why pay more for it when you can pay less!!” And when it comes to the wedding day itself, Kelly advises brides to plan well in advance.
“My own wedding was really hectic because it’s a busy time of year anyway and as a wedding planner, I was organising other people’s weddings as well. I had another wedding in the same venue the day before my own wedding so I was in the function room from 3am until 6am the morning wedding, transforming the room and decking out out the hall! We had a winter wonderland theme, lots of ice features and a reindeer rodeo, the whole lot.
“I was absolutely exhausted but it was a fantastic day, I felt incredible in my dress and I’d do it all again if I could!” The Ever After Bridal Sale takes place in the Clayton Hotel on Lapp’s Quay on Saturday October 28th and Sunday October 29th from 12pm - 6pm. Tickets are available for €10 on Eventbrite and photos of some of the dresses can be seen on Facebook.Saturday October 28th and Sunday October 29th from 12pm - 6pm. Tickets are available for €10 on Eventbrite and photos of some of the dresses can be seen on Facebook.