When Joanne Armstrong met Conor Donovan on a ski season in the French Alps, she had no idea their snowy romance would end in a wedding.
Fifteen years later the couple — now happily married — have swapped the slopes for the sunnier shores of Melbourne, Australia.
Joanne (37), originally from Drumbo, said it took a long time for them to finally get together.
After a friend persuaded her to join Facebook in early 2008, Joanne found Conor on the site and the two started emailing regularly. Conor, a property developer from Dublin, was living in Melbourne at the time, but planned to return to Europe for a wedding — and to visit Joanne.
“When he arrived we both very quickly realised that it was serious,” said the new bride.
Joanne resigned from her PR job and joined Conor in Melbourne in December 2008.
After six months living on the other side of the world they returned to England for a friend’s wedding, and Conor surprised Joanne by getting down on one knee in Oxford.
“It was a big surprise, even though we both knew we wanted to be together, and had already made such a huge commitment to each other by moving to the other side of the world,” she explained.
Dressed in a stunning gown from a London boutique, she walked up the aisle with Conor at Drumbeg Parish Church, Co Down, last Christmas. The newlyweds were joined by 140 family members and friends, many of whom braved the snow to fly to Northern Ireland.
With fairytale candles, ivy and mistletoe, the church service was followed by a champagne and Guinness reception at Larchfield Estate in Lisburn.