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Relatively speaking: Partners Rachel and Stephen

By Karen Ireland

Rachel Morgan runs a wedding boutique from her house in Burren, Co Down. Her husband Stephen was a plasterer, but gave that up last year to help look after the bridal business. The couple have three daughters.

Name: Rachel Morgan

Age: 36

Occupation: Owner of The White Gallery Bridal boutique

Relationship to Stephen: Wife

I worked in the PR industry for 10 years and I loved it, but about six years ago my husband, Stephen and I built a new home in Burren in Co Down. The house was massive and we wondered what to do with the extra space. We are both into fashion and Stephen had the idea to turn spare rooms into a bridal boutique.

When I went looking for my wedding dress nine years ago, I found the ranges available quite dull and uninspiring, so I thought it was a great niche and something different to try in Northern Ireland.

We converted two of the rooms at the front of our house into an intimate boutique, where brides could feel special and know they were getting an exclusive service.

We started researching different designers and decided to bring luxury and something a little bit different to Ireland.

We offer a range of designers which are exclusive to us in Ireland. Brides say they love it as, when they come to the boutique, it is something that is not the norm. We have brides who travel from as far away as Cork and Donegal to come and see the dresses.

As well as running the business, we have three young daughters. Ezara (7), Farrah-May (6) and Saoirse (4) and they keep us busy. We try to share the childcare between us and I work my appointments around the school run. Having your own business, though, means it is hard to switch off - especially as it is in the house. Nonetheless, our family time is very important and it's just about being together. Stephen is my rock - I call him the air traffic controller, keeping an eye on everything at home and at work.

He is very committed to the business and our family, and is a loving father and husband. He is considerate and always puts others before himself.

With his great business ideas and the fact he does all the cooking at home, he's the most amazing support to me.

I couldn't do what I do without Stephen."

Name: Stephen Morgan

Age: 41

Occupation: Operational manager with The White Gallery

Relationship to Rachel: Husband

When I left school, I started work as a plasterer which it what I did, until just over a year ago. I set up my own business and had a few men working for me, but then I took a giant leap of faith and went to work for The White Gallery Bridal boutique full-time.

Yes, it is a real conversation piece - "How do you go from the plastering business to working in bridal?", but I honestly couldn't be happier.

Rachel needed help and the way I saw it, I had run a business before, so it was about applying the same principles on a different scale.

I work behind the scenes looking after the finances and making sure everything gets done on time. I check all the orders and dates of our weddings and make sure everything is in place. Rachel is the hands-on one who works with the brides.

We have a great work/life balance - as the business is at our house, we get to spend lots of time with the girls. I love my job now and feel very fortunate to be doing something I really enjoy. Rachel and I are a good team.

Our own wedding was pretty special - we got married in Burren Chapel and then had our reception in Narrow Water Castle, which is now closed to the public, so that made it all the more memorable for us.

Working together and being together all the time, things can get heated, but we have a five-second rule when one of us needs to step up and sort it out, and we always remember that we are business partners as well as husband and wife. Rachel is a fantastic mother to our three children. In some ways, the business is her fourth baby and she loves and nurtures it, too. She has an eye for design and enjoys working with the brides to make their wedding dress dreams come true.

Together we bring something that little bit different to the bridal market here as we offer French designers who are at the top of the game.

However, if someone had told me a few years back when I was plastering walls that I would be giving it up to work with brides, I'd never have believed them."

Wedding gowns with designer twist

  • The White Gallery opened in 2012 in Burren, just outside Newry
  • The gallery stocks designer wedding dresses exclusive to the boutique in Ireland
  • Designers include Rue de Seine, Laure de Sagazan, Halfpenny London, Yolan Cris and Divine Atelier

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