Meghan McCarthy walked into the family room as her boyfriend Jeremy Arnold walked down the hall of their new apartment. Through the darkness, she saw flickers from every candle they owned. At first, it didn’t make sense. It was Feb. 13, 2011, the weekend of Valentine’s Day, which was supposed to be low-key. “We had always joked that we would never do a Valentine’s Day or Christmas engagement because that would be silly,” Meghan says. But taking advantage of the surprise element, Jeremy dropped to his knee and it started to click—and of course, she said yes!For most of her years, Meghan wore a Claddagh ring to honor her Irish heritage. “It was always something that meant a lot to me and to my family,” she says. Jeremy’s family traced back to Ireland as well, so the Irish symbol—a heart for love clasped by hands for friendship and topped by a crown for loyalty—was perfect for their wedding on June 30, 2012. The Claddagh design appeared on the couple’s cake topper and cocktail napkins, complemented by a Celtic knot (loop around a heart) that graced the stationery, save-the-date magnets, invitations, and programs. “I thought those were very connected,” Meghan says of the two symbols.Surrounded by Irish accents, she held her father’s arm and walked toward the altar, wearing the dress that her mother had chosen from New York Bride & Groom and paired with a tiara purchased from Ireland. “One of my clearest memories was turning the corner to come down the aisle,” Meghan says. “I just felt so loved.” To top off the memories captured by Pixels On Paper, Meghan’s parents surprised the couple with a bagpiper at the church who trilled into song after they took their vows. “Family is very important to us,” Meghan says. “We were very blessed to have so many family members there.”For a final twist, the bride and groom blended family history with personal history during the reception by serving a specialty drink they dubbed the “Tar Heel ‘Tini” to honor their alma mater and fellow Carolina alumni, and they both cherished that splash of their past.“To both Jeremy and I,” Meghan says, “Carolina holds a very special place in our hearts. Not only did we fall in love there, but we fell in love with Carolina itself Our story began there.”
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