Brendan and Mai Manning know a thing or two about weddings. As wedding entertainment specialists, the couple have been helping make couples’ big days magical for 30 years.
Their latest venture, The Wedding Experience Expo, which takes place February 16-17 at the Clayton Hotel Silver Springs, Cork, draws on three decades of industry experience and expertise. Considered a “wedding fair like no other”, couples have the option of reserving their entire wedding at the exhibition, which will be music to the ears of the bride and groom who are short on time.
The husband and wife team, who own Occasions Event Management in Cork, were only sixteen and eighteen when Cupid’s arrow struck and they were married 4 years later. They’ve been married for 40 years, and like many others who have been together for decades, their memories of how their romance unfolded differ, depending on who you talk to!
âWe met when I was on tour in Killarney,â says Mai.
“Didn’t we meet at the Old Oak pub in Cork first?” Brendan asks.
Brendan decided to propose to Mai outside a church, but had a trick up his sleeve. âWe had bought a lovely old three-stone ring, so I knew it was going to happen at some point,â says Mai.
âBrendan knelt in front of the Assumption Church and opened a red heart box. I expected to see my ring, but when I looked down I thought ‘this is not what I remember. “He had just exchanged it for a plastic type ring! He thought it was very funny, but my real ring appeared shortly after,” adds Mai.
While the cost of an average wedding dress in Ireland is now Â£ 2,000, Mai’s was considerably less than under Â£ 30. âI don’t remember the cost of the wedding, but I do remember my dress cost Â£ 22,â reveals Mai. âMunster Arcade was about to close, they were cleaning everything and this dress was right there, I liked it and it felt good. The tail of the dress was then made into a christening gown for our three children. “
And what was the most memorable thing about their big day? “The rain!” Brendan said.
âThere was a thunderstorm on August 11. The car I was supposed to leave the hotel in broke down because water got in, so we had to take a taxi, âhe says.
It looks like the car wasn’t the only one that got wet that day, either. “If you look closely at our wedding photo, notice which umbrella is keeping dry, Brendan got covered and I was left in the rain!” Mai laughs.
Having been involved in the wedding industry for thirty years, the couple have since changed a lot during that time. Mai cautions against relying heavily on social media apps when planning a wedding. âPinterest is the best and worst thing that has ever happened in terms of weddings. You look at the photos and there are some fabulous ideas that will work wonderfully for an article, but when it comes to a wedding it can. you need to breed 20 or 30 times on a very important day with a tight time frame You need help doing all of this.
Brendan and Mai’s daughter, Alex, is a wedding planner. They were therefore able to see first-hand the benefits they can bring to a future bride. âCouples are starting to use wedding planners more. You can have a planner throughout the process or you can hire them the week before the wedding where they check suppliers, are there for rehearsal, and the same day. It makes sense. As for the yarn, you can take a break and enjoy the day.
Brendan also has some tips on where a couple should invest their money on D-Day. âGreat food and entertainment are the areas where people should have a blast because it’s a long day for people. It doesn’t have to be traditional entertainment either, but you’ll want to keep your guests happy throughout the day.
And for those with a big day to plan, The Wedding Expo plans to take the stress out of organizing the entire event. âIt can be easy to get overwhelmed and consumed with a marriage, what we’re trying to do is make it simple for couples,â says Brendan. âWe have built our exhibition around 100 exhibitors that we have chosen ourselves and with whom it is pleasant to work.
âEach category is grouped together, which makes things much easier. So the bride can say âNow I want to look at the flowersâ ââand all the flower exhibitors are there for her in one place. “
What can people expect on this day? âIt’s going to be a lot of fun with entertainment throughout the weekend. We’re so excited to have top blogger Rosie Connolly to give her all of her top tips and tricks for creating the wedding of your dreams, âsaid Brendan.
âThere will be a fashion show, beauty salons, aâ money counts âspace and to please the boys, we also have a room for the bride and groom! One lucky participant will also win â¬ 1,500 for a wedding dress designed by Tamen Michael.
The Wedding Experience Expo takes place February 16-17, 2019, Clayton Hotel Silver Springs, Cork
To get tickets for The Wedding Experience Expo, visit theweddingexperience.ie/wedding-expo or eventbrite.ie