A Collaborative & Very Musical Wedding in Ireland

Darek Novak Photography

August 13, 2017

Linda and Derek were married in the west of Ireland, the day before their ten year anniversary. They wanted their wedding to be informal, collaborative and very musical. They had friends helping them with decor and flowers as well as performing throughout the day.

They were married in the garden of Gracy’s Bar & Restaurant on the grounds of Westport House. They had a non-religious handfasting ceremony. “Our venue is not normally a wedding venue, ours was the only wedding there in 2016, but we thought it would be the perfect place for the informal relaxed wedding we wanted”, began the bride. “We found there is a real shortage of alternative venues in the west of Ireland so it was hard to find something different.”

“We decided to risk the Irish weather and have the ceremony outside on the lawn. We are both Atheists so it was important there wasn’t a religious element to our ceremony, but we really wanted it to be relaxed and personal to us. Our celebrant was absolutely brilliant, so warm, laid back and entertaining!”

After the ceremony they held their reception inside Westport House, in Gracy’s Bar & Restaurant. One of the most important decor elements to this couple was the flowers. “Flowers were a huge part of our wedding and we were so disorganised, but it worked out so well in the end!” Linda laughed. “My friend Sinead had previously worked as a wedding florist so I asked her if she’d be interested in doing them. We bought flowers from the flower market the day before the wedding and we also asked some close family and friends to bring flowers from their gardens. We ended up with lots of different flowers, and decided at about 10pm the night before the wedding what would go into the bouquets, arch, flower crown, jam jars etc. This was a so last minute but Sinead and a few other friends were brilliant.”

The music was also extremely important. “We both LOVE music so it was a very musical wedding and friends of ours provided all the music. We had some friends playing during the ceremony and afterwards the groom’s band, Mando Mhaigh Eo, who play a quintet of instruments from the mandolin family, played as guests enjoyed a drink and photos were taken. We had a four-piece string band for the reception who played an eclectic mix of old timey songs, wild fiddle tunes, acoustic swing and bluegrass. It was a great alternative to a normal wedding band and they had everyone out dancing. Our first dance song was written and performed by the groom before the band took over and we started to dance. It was so romantic, Derek can’t/ won’t dance and it was all about giving it a go anyway to make his girl happy – life is too short to be self-conscious about dancing and the lyrics were so lovely!”

“The best thing about our wedding was that a lot of guests gave their time and talents instead of gifts which made it feel so personal and collaborative. It bought me back to my time in art college! Friends and relatives did all the flowers, the music, made the cake, confetti, wove the cord for the hand fasting ceremony, made the decorations and bunting, painted the sign, wrapped the cutlery etc. They were just wonderful and we will be forever grateful! The ceremony was also so lovely, we were both really surprised by how moved we felt by it.”

The couple had a budget of €8000, and as well has having a lot of help from friends and family, they were able to save money by making clever choices. “Luckily we’re not materialistic in the slightest!” Linda said. “The main thing we did was stay away from anything that had the word ‘wedding’ in front of it like wedding invitations, wedding shoes, wedding flowers, wedding suits!”

“Instead of buying my dress, which would have been such a huge expense and wasn’t important to me, I rented one instead! I was able to get temporary alterations done to make sure it fit well. Nobody seems to do this in Ireland for some reason and I don’t know why as I think it’s a great idea especially if you have a small budget. I would never have been able to buy a designer dress and what’s the point of keeping a dress in the wardrobe after anyway? Also to make our rings we melted down an old gold bracelet I had which was much cheaper than buying a new one or getting it made from scratch!”