Today we’re off to beautiful Ireland for a Transatlantic wedding in more ways than one.
Kelli and Stephen are a couple from the US and Ireland respectively, who got married in County Cork’s atmospheric Ballynatray Estate. With a vintage 1920s feel, their day was a mix of roaring and refined, celebrating the era both Stateside and in Europe.
And in-keeping with the romance of their day, they chose Ivana Patarcic Photography to capture it in her signature candid style.
Setting the vibe of the day with their unique wedding, Kelli walked down the aisle in a stunning sequin wedding dress by Jenny Packham, while Stephen was a cool groom in his bespoke burgundy suit.
The floral-laced decor was opulent and elegant, with vintage-inspired paper goods, fresh flower chandeliers and sequin table runners.
If you love the idea of a fun, relaxed wedding, with a hint of glamour, a touch of sparkle and a side of serious romance, Kelli & Stephen’s twenties bash might be right up your street.
Wedding Day Snapshot
Our Love Story
I (Kelli) am from California originally, I moved to Ireland in 2008 for an internship & never left!
After the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, we both volunteered with a charity called Haven and went to Haiti to build houses for a week – Stephen says he heard me before he saw me, so I guess it was love at the sound of my voice for him!
Stephen proposed five years later when we were on a holiday with my whole family in Carmel-by-the-Sea in Northern California, it was a complete surprise to me – I couldn’t stop crying for weeks.
It was so special to have my whole family around to share the news with straight away.
My wedding planner was Amy Cahill O’Brien, she works for the Estate and we would never have made it through all the planning with our her coordination skills, not to mention she has the best event contacts and had answers to any question we asked!
I would have to say that myself and bridesmaid Louise were the main stylists – but so many people helped me make my vision become actuality!
Something really important to us was exclusivity. We wanted to be able to have all our friends and family take over a venue for a few days and party!
Ballynatray Estate was perfect for that, we really felt at home and we took over every inch of the Estate for the four days! We had plenty of space for people to stay both in the main mansion and the cottages on the estate.
It was right on the river Blackwater so the day after the wedding we had a boat dock up and take people on sightseeing tours throughout the day.
It also happens to be the most beautiful place I have ever been in Ireland.
I hate the word “Theme” but I would describe the “Direction” for our wedding as a nod to the 1920s.
But a total mix of the Parisian/American 1920s that was totally Gatsby and debauchery and wild and the more civilized Irish/English 1920s that was full of elegant garden parties and beautiful muted florals.
It’s funny how one era can be portrayed so differently by different cultures and I loved mixing the different vibes of each.
Our wedding in three words? I only need two! Elegant and unique.
We had a humanist ceremony that was very special to us as we pretty much put it together ourselves – we chose every reading, piece of music and our vows.
It was very emotional and testing to get though the ceremony, as with each reading I was just trying not to cry!
It is very moving to have the people you love more than anything in the world help you celebrate and express the love you have for your partner.
We also did a traditional Celtic Handfasting as part of our ceremony that involved both our mums, so that was also very meaningful to us.
Our band is something else that took a lot of time searching for as we wanted someone that could play our first dance song, Led Zeppelin – Thank You. We found Renovator who are rockers from Kerry and were brilliant!
Two of them came early to play the acoustic guitar at our ceremony.
The flowers girls and brides maids walked down the aisle to ‘Dream a Little Dream’ by the Mamas & Papas, I walked down the aisle to ‘Here Comes the Sun’ by the Beatles, we had ‘I Will’ by the Beatles playing while we signed our registry.
When the ceremony was finished Stephen & I walked back down the aisle to ‘Crazy Little Thing Called Love’ by Queen then they played ‘First Day of my Life’ by Bight Eyes and ‘All You Need is Love’ by the Beatles while we were greeting people at the end of the aisle.
The rest of the band came for the dancing and played until the early hours!
Our first dance was to ‘Thank You’ by Led Zeppelin and then they played ‘Can’t Take my Eyes Off You’, the Andy Williams version, when I danced with my Papa for the second dance.
We did not go for a videographer and with Ivana we didn’t need one – she was amazing and captured every moment!
I knew I wanted Ivana when I saw her at a hotel and fell in love with her business cards, they were just photos she had taken, very simple but very effective!
That was our mantra for the photography, simple and no posing!
The colour palette started with my dress that was antique ivories and golds and the bridesmaid dresses were a stunning dusty mauve colour, the flower girls wore gorgeous little ivory sequin dresses.
My dress was the Joy Dress by Jenny Packham and it the very first dress I ever put on… I still tried on many many dresses after, but ended up buying that very first one when I tried in on again in Chicago on a weekend away with my best friends at Ultimate Bride – it was magical and they all cried when I came out it in, except for Molly!
Both my engagement ring and wedding ring are from Delphi Antiques in Dublin, and the lovely owner Declan lent me the beautiful earrings I wore on the day.
I wore two very special bracelets on the day and I still wear them every day! On one arm a diamond bracelet from Tiffany’s from my mum & Grandma and the other was a gold bracelet by Irish designer Tory Long that I gifted to my best friends the morning of the wedding.
We had a custom suit made for Stephen as we couldn’t find the colour we wanted anywhere!
The bridesmaid dresses were something tough to find as I had a very specific colour in my head – I kept calling it a winter rose… Eventually I just came across them while shopping in Maynooth, the colour was perfect!
It was the Malene Dress from Soft Rebels and I bought them in Divine Boutique. My bridesmaids helped me find he belts on Etsy, the designer was Davie and Chiyo. I wanted to get a comfortable shoe, so I picked up the metallic gold black heel in Zara – I liked them so much I bought a pair for myself as well!
The groomsmen wore dark blue Strellson Suits from Arnotts with custom shirts, pocket squares and ties.
Advice for Other Couples
Set your budget but also realize that you will go over, weddings are much more expensive than anyone that hasn’t had one could possible imagine – and until you’re planning one you won’t understand.
So set it, but also don’t kill yourself I you go over!
It is also important to find your vision or direction for your day and see it though, Pinterest is great of getting all our ideas together and you will see the direction you want to go quite clearly when you look at everything you pinned!
Also, the best thing we did was intensive planning, we spent so much time making sure every aspect was exactly how we wanted it – this was very taxing at periods and I think Stephen wanted to kill me at several different moments along the way, but because of all the hours of planning we put in the day went exactly how we wanted it!
Our wedding planner Amy definitely saved us money with her contacts and getting special rates. We did spend a lot – time and money – but I wouldn’t have changed one thing, it was all worth it!
Almost all our décor was floral!
Jenny was my truly magical florist, anything I dreamed up she was able to make up for me!
Putting together the flowers with her; from moss panels at our ceremony to the floral chandeliers over the tables, was a total dream and one of my very favourite parts of the wedding, after the dress of course!
The flowers used throughout everything, the bouquets, chandeliers, buttonholes, floral panels etc. were amnesia roses, sand roses, aubergine lilies, seeded eucalyptus, begonia leafs, moss, hydrangea & hanging amaranthus.
We also put up family photos all around the house.
Our Favourite Details
A few of my very favourite things were the floral chandeliers and the fireworks at midnight. I also loved our day after party!
A group of us went clay pigeon shooing the next day and we also had activities going on the lawn all day like Giant Jenga & Puc Fada (an Irish sports game based on hurling) and we had an ice cream van come to the house!
The evening of the second day we had a sit down BBQ & a traditional Irish band came to play – my US friends just kept asking them to play the song from Titanic over and over again, and they did!
Stephen’s aunt even joined in and played the spoons with them…we really had a wonderful day after that was just a special as the day of!
Who needs cocktails when you have a Champagne Tower! We had amazing five course formal sit down dinner with canapés at the reception.
Eunice Power did our catering, choosing our menu was so easy with her, everything was beyond delicious.
At midnight, the chefs made us traditional Waterford blaa burgers.
Judith from Scrumptious Cakes made our cake, I am coeliac and she made the most delicious gluten free flavours for me, no one even knew it was gluten free cake!
We used my grandparents’ cake topper that they had at their wedding in 1960!
My brother, who is a very talented artist, did all the artwork for our invitations and stationary – we spent a lot of time on them and they turned out so perfect I would definitely say it’s worth it – I’m not sure if he would agree with me though!
He also drew a picture of the Pont de l’Archeveche at I took in Paris (the love lock bridge) that we used as our guestbook, everyone signed the locks!
We went on a mini-moon right after the wedding for a little break & we are currently planning on big honeymoon for our first anniversary to Kenya for a safari – we can’t wait!
It’s so beautiful, isn’t it? I’m just in love with Kelli’s dress, and Stephen’s suit is so smart and unique. Irish weddings tend to be quite traditional, so it’s always nice to see something a little different from my homeland!
Thanks so much to Ivana Patarcic Photography, and of course, gorgeous Kelli & Stephen for sharing their vintage Irish wedding with us.
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