Tina Maclean and Shaun Strain had a celebration filled with unique touches on board the ss Great Britain

A cheeky wink in a Scottish bar was the start of Tina and Shaun’s relationship, although she wasn’t too impressed in the beginning. “At first I didn’t think much of it but then he convinced me to dance, and stole a kiss,” reminisces Tina. Seven years later, Shaun got down on one knee on his boat and popped the question to a surprised and overjoyed Tina. “I loved this wonderful woman and I wanted her to be my wife, so without any planning or any gimmicks I asked her to marry me there and then,” explains Shaun.
When it came to planning the wedding, Tina wanted to get married in Scotland, where she lives, and Shaun wanted it to take place in Ireland, where he’s from, so Bristol was chosen as a good compromise! Shaun’s son is the actor who plays the role of Isambard Kingdom Brunel at the ss Great Britain, and when the couple went to visit him at work, they both realised that this was the venue for them for a number of reasons, including the boat proposal! “Shaun is an ex-Royal Navy engineer and I spent years living on merchant vessels, so the sea is in our blood,” explains Tina. The date of the wedding also had special meaning as the couple met on 19th July, which mirrored the date of the ss Great Britain’s launch in 1843.
Tina wanted to honour the history of the ship and so chose an outfit that reflected this. Her Irish crochet dress was made by Cara Wagstaff at Cocoa Couture from an original 1800s design, and customised with an antique veil and wax flowers. Tina’s flowers were in keeping with the style of a nineteenth century bouquet and featured cream roses, bells of Ireland and sweet peas. She also added memory pendants to honour loved ones who had passed on.
The wedding blended traditional Irish and Scottish customs, with guests taking to the dance floor to strip the willow, the groom and many of the male guests wearing kilts, a piper leading Tina onto the ship and then into the wedding breakfast, and a traditional handfasting element to the ceremony. “This is where the phrase ‘tying the knot’ comes from,” explains Tina. “That was a lovely special touch as we said our vows.”
Fun and family were also important elements for the day. “I wanted to have all those that mattered to me there to celebrate our love,” says Tina, with Shaun adding: “Being Irish, our weddings are all about having a good old knees up!” In the spirit of fun, the guests posed for a group photos in top hats and stick-on sideburns in honour of Brunel!
Continuing the nautical theme, Tina and her bridal party made their entrance along the river on a cruiser named Patience, which coincidently happened to be the name of the song for their first dance. The wedding was also the same weekend as the Bristol Harbour Festival, “so there was an extra buzz about the city that made it even more special,” says Shaun. “We had guests from Scotland, Ireland, America and China, and they all had such a good time – many have said they plan to visit Bristol again as they were so impressed with the city and its people.”
Martin Dabek captured the special moments from the day, taking the couple to all the best spots on board the ship. “A week later he sent
us a video clip of some of the best pictures,
and it made me cry as I watched it again and again!” remembers Tina.
The day didn’t get off to the best start, as Tina nearly needed emergency dental treatment. “An hour before the hairdresser came, I was opening a package with my teeth when my front crown came flying out across the room. I had bridesmaids running all over Bristol finding super glue to fix it back on!”
Despite this dental mishap, the rest of the day went exactly as planned, and the couple were thrilled at how their onboard celebration turned out. “All of it was magical, with friends and loved ones that truly mattered to us joining in to celebrate with lots of good food and drink, ceilidh dancing, laughter and smiles, in such a truly majestic and elegant setting,” describes Tina. “It really was my most perfect day.”


Venue SS Great Britain, Great Western Dockyard, Bristol BS1 6TY T: 0117 926 0680
W: www.ssgreatbritain.org
Photography Martin Dabek Photography T: 01173501032 W: www.martindabek.com
Bride’s dress Cocoa Couture, 9 Clarence Parade, Cheltenham GL50 3NY
T: 01242 233588 W: www.cocoacouture.co.uk
Groom’s outfit Chisholms, 47-51 Castle Street, Inverness IV2 3DU T: 01463 234599
W: www.kilts.co.uk
Jewellery Andrew Scott, 9 Promenade, Cheltenham GL50 1LN T: 01242 524000
W: www.andrewscottjewellery.co.uk
Flowers The Flowerman, Broadmead, Bristol BS1 3JA T: 0117 914 1675
W: www.theflowerman.com
Catering Fosters Event Catering  T: 0117 9776611 W: www.fostersevents.co.uk