Romance was certainly in the air when local entrepreneur Ann Pinkerton came up with the idea for her new business.
Ann is the proud owner of Runaway Irish Weddings, a small and intimate wedding venue situated at ‘The Rocks’ just outside Crossgar and close to the shores of Strangford Lough.
The dream romantic venue is approved for weddings up to 18 people and is set in 2 acres of beautiful garden grounds surrounded by woodland with tranquil paths, waterfalls and ponds. The weddings are conducted in the lovely pondside Summer House.
Ann turned her idea into a reality after taking part in the Go For It Programme and working with our own Joan O’Hara to develop a robust business plan and turn her idea into a commercial enterprise.,
Ann said: “Whilst I had run a similar business previously, I lacked the expert knowledge and deep understanding of the marketplace in Northern Ireland. I saw a social media post about the Go For It Programme and got in touch. I was put in contact with Joan O’Hara at the local Down Business Centre and it all went from there.
“Joan provided tailored business support and insights that I just wouldn’t have been able to access on my own. I felt totally supported and having such a good sounding board in the early stages of the business was so helpful. The business plan really helped me understand the niche audience I wanted to target and the best methods of communication to reach them”.
Speaking about the development of her business idea Ann said –
“After attending college and university studying hospitality and events management, and also working on and off within the industry, I decided to follow my passion and ran my own holiday cottage business in Dumfries and Galloway. It was here I first gained a small wedding venue licence and saw the real potential in small weddings.
“When I moved to Northern Ireland, I discovered there was no small wedding or elopement venues and knew I had found a gap in the market. When I found ‘The Rocks’ I instantly knew this magical place would be perfect for intimate and romantic weddings.
Ann is a Humanist Celebrant with Humanists UK and is assisted by close friend and fellow Celebrant Trevor Molloy. Humanist Celebrants are experts in creating unique, personal and bespoke ceremonies with the focus on the couple and their wishes.
Runaway Irish Weddings also provide weddings for couples who are facing end of life circumstances, delivering a quiet and peaceful ceremony that carefully meets the couple’s wishes.
Ann continued: “The words, the music and whole feel of the wedding are so important. It is the couple’s love story woven into a narrative that will be a lifetime memory. I work with an amazing team all handpicked to provide the very best of services. Award winning chefs, incredibly talented photographers, musicians and florists. We aim to provide a happy and relaxed wedding carefully curated to meet the couple’s dreams and wishes.
Commenting on her work with Ann, Joan O’Hara, Business Advisor, Down Business Centre said “We were delighted to be able to support Ann in the start-up stage of her business. Ann was in a position of vast knowledge and expertise for her field but lacked the knowledge of the local market to launch her business. That’s where we were able to step in and help.
“Through the completion of her business plan, we were able to finalise Ann’s business proposition, and complete and two years of financial projections. Ann has created an intimate wedding venue perfect for the couple who value intimacy and privacy. I look forward to hearing the many love stories of happy marriages from Runaway Irish Weddings in the future.
If you have a business idea and would like to find out more about the help and support that the Go For It programme can provide please contact Joan O’Hara firstname.lastname@example.org