DIY Weddings/Chic Weddings

Refined, Raucous & Beautiful Irish Wedding

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So today’s post is one that’s very close to my heart. It’s the wedding of my very dear friends Róisín and Gary.

And I have to say, I feel more pressure putting together this blog post, than I did when I shared our own wedding. It was such an incredible day, with so much heart, soul, style and hard work put into it – I just hope the post does it justice. (It makes me glad I haven’t attended all the real weddings we share – I don’t think I’d ever get my work done!).

This was one of those wonderful weddings where the groom was just as passionate as the bride (if not more so) about everything going off without a hitch.

Each gorgeous DIY detail was so finely executed, it didn’t look DIY. The food was so beautiful, it felt more like a fine restaurant, than something catered for 100+ people. And the setting at Lisnavagh House was so atmospheric, it felt like a film set.

Every last thoughtful detail and the gorgeous pair at the centre of it all, were captured by renowned fine art photographer, Brosnan Photographic.

(Stay tuned for their wedding film by Ciarán Dooley coming later today – and make sure you check out the gallery for all the details we couldn’t squeeze into the post.)

It started with a romantic church ceremony, it ended in the wee hours with a silent disco under the stars (I’m glad there’s not much photographic evidence of that part!) and in the middle, was a whole lot of wonderful.

I asked Róisín & Gary for three words to describe their wedding. Their answer? “So much love.”

I couldn’t have put it better myself…

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Our Love Story

We met in university (I was 19, Gary was 21) and fell in love pretty quickly – actually it was only a few weeks, so we had to invent ways of saying “I love you” without actually saying it, so as not to freak each other out. We were pretty inseparable from then.

We grew up together, traveled the world, developed the same tastes and interests, squabbled incessantly. 

After 8 years together Gary brought me to Bruges for a surprise birthday trip. I realized what was happening about 20 minutes before he proposed – because he was so nervous and so insistent that we walk to the lake before dinner, then that we find the perfect spot to sit (“Is this too bushy?”) followed by a long, almost awkward, silence that I did nothing to help him out of (in fact, I’m pretty sure I purposely dragged it out).

After a few false starts (“Do you know how much I love you?” “Yes.” “…”)  he pulled out a beautiful ring that he had made for me as a stand-in so I could choose the diamond myself.

I had never owned a ring before so in our ignorance, we put it on the wrong hand (right rather than left) and I haven’t taken it off since, I think I like it more than my engagement ring because he put so much love into it.

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Our Wedding

I thought that our wedding would be great – but I didn’t know that it could possibly be that great.

We’re both creative sorts so we found a beautiful venue that leans a lot towards DIY and did a lot of the details ourselves, including designing & printing invites and save the dates; table decorations (Gary and his dad made the candelabra from copper pipe and we sprayed dozens of IKEA vases); I baked the cake; we imported the wines; we sourced linens from China… It was a lot of work but we loved every minute of it.

Usually when we get home from work we crash and cook and then just watch Netflix for a few hours, but for months before the wedding we had projects that we worked on together every evening or wine tastings with friends to test the latest batch, or cake testings.

We managed to drag months of enjoyment out of a two-day event and got all of this extra quality time together and with the people we love. In the end, that was what mattered to us – not that the table linens were a warm charcoal rather than light grey; or that the florist gave us that perfect sophisticated-yet-wild Irish vibe that we wanted, but the time that we had together and with our friends and family.

It wouldn’t suit everyone to be so particular with everything but for us it was right.

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The Ceremony

The church was a surprise winner for me. I’m not particularly religious so the idea of a ceremony didn’t resonate with me before as much as the reception did, but we got really lucky in finding a small church in the middle of a field and a very relaxed priest (who worked at the university where we met, when we met).

It was really casual, I walked up the aisle to Sigur Ros played on strings by our all-female string quartet (they later got a standing ovation for their 80s pop covers at the wine reception) and we laughed a lot all the way through the ceremony.

It felt warm and loving but also just as significant as a life-long commitment should be. I felt like it passed in about three minutes but it was the best three minutes of my life.

Gary says his favourite moment was watching me walk up the aisle “even if it only took 30 seconds”. Dad and I forgot to practice and we were both pretty nervous so it was more of a sprint than a walk…

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Tips for Other Couples

Just a few…

Gary says grooms should turn and watch the bride walk up the aisle because it’s the best feeling in the world.

If your makeup artist seems slow at trial, reconsider. Ours made the morning extremely stressful.

If you’re working with a venue where you are bringing in your own suppliers like catering etc, plan to spend a lot more than you think you will. Things like caterhire and kitchen cleaning fees really add up.

Don’t worry too much about your dress/hair/suit/shoes – on the day, you won’t care.

Give your photographer a list of who you absolutely have to have photos of. Then give the list to someone else, preferably someone not in the bridal party because they will be busy getting photos done. When you get to your reception and everyone is running around checking in or getting drinks or chatting to people they haven’t seen in ages, it will be the responsibility of that person to round up everyone on your list.

Irish brides, we could not recommend Eunice Power and her catering team highly enough; Christina Brosnan was a wonderful presence on the day and her photos speak for themselves; Retrospect were an epic reception band as were The Bentley Boys after the meal.

Put the extra work into finding the right spot for your ceremony. It can play second fiddle to finding the right venue but it’s just as important.

Don’t overcommit on set-up or second-day activities. Do as much DIY as you want in the months and weeks before but once your guests show up it’s a complete waste of valuable time to be icing a cake. Even delicious cake.

Over-invite: You really will lose 20% of your guestlist before the day, either at RSVP stage or day-before. You can invite more people than you have chairs for.

Buy too much alcohol. That one is a trick because you can never have too much alcohol.

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The Photography & Videography

From the moment we looked at Christina’s work online we knew she was the photographer we wanted to capture our day. We loved the warm romantic feeling her her photos, the natural colours and the fact that she shoots on both film and digital. We felt the tone of her photos would perfectly compliment the style of the day.

When we met her our decision was only further compounded. Her meticulous organization, attention to detail and professionalism put us immediately at ease and we could tell the portraits on the day would be hassle free.

Ciaran is a good friend of ours and an accomplished film maker. For our wedding film, we knew we wanted to capture a short snapshot of our day and knew Ciaran was the man for the job.

Not a wedding videographer, we knew Ciaran would bring a unique viewpoint and create a wonderful reminder that we can watch again and again and again. The extra bonus was having him and John around all day. We had a lot of fun with them and they really added to the warmth of the day.

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Favourite Moments

On the day the meal was a highlight – our caterer did an incredible job with a middle eastern feast – and the speeches were amazing.

One moment I will never forget came at around 4am when the bar staff in the function room wanted to close up, so we emptied the leftover cava out of the fridge (about 30 bottles) and headed out to the courtyard for a headphone disco. Until 7.30am we danced like it was the end of the world, headphones on and bottles in hand. It was the best party I had ever been to.

On the second day one of our best friends wrote and (with the help of some other friends) performed a murder mystery with scenes played out on the grounds and in different rooms around the house – like the library and the Colonel’s bedroom – it was hilarious and inclusive and so memorable for everyone who was there.

Our friends and family contributed hugely to our day. They designed, printed and stuck special beer labels, organized a headphone disco, gave beautiful speeches, performed an elaborate (hungover) murder mystery, hung bunting, pressed hundreds of napkins, assembled mass booklets, (selflessly) tasted dozens of wine and cake samples, advised on the most ridiculous details…

Put simply, they were just as all-in and over-the-top as we were. During the weekend it hit me in waves how lucky we are to be surrounded by so many kind, generous and hilarious people. It made a really lasting impact on me.

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The Honeymoon

We went to Jordan which was the perfect place to get a few days in an insanely luxurious (but reasonably affordable) resort and then have your first adventures together.

We self-drove and moved around a lot between hot springs in the mountains, the Dead Sea, Petra, Wadi Rum dessert and the incredible ruins at Jerash.

The food was great, the people were wonderful, the weather was perfect but the wine was ridiculously expensive so you should probably bring a few leftovers from the wedding.

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