If there’s one thing the Irish know, it’s how the throw a good party and this was the exact criteria for Ana and Ricky’s humanist wedding. Held on the Liss Ard Estate in County Cork, they wanted a colourful day that celebrated them, but that was also really fun for all their guests.
“My family is half Colombian and we wanted to celebrate the mixing of cultures in our wedding so we decided to have a wedding with a Latin theme”, explained Ana. “Both being fans of bright colours, we hoped our special day would reflect our gregarious personalities and loving relationship. We are definitely more spiritual than religious, so we took a lot of inspiration from traditional folk celebrations such as the Mexican Day of the Dead as well as the decorative religious imagery found in catholic churches around Latin America.”
“We wanted an event that was unconventional, joyful and exuberant, in contrast to the muted and restrained style of weddings traditionally held in the UK and Ireland, but with a touch of the vintage glamour we both love. Our priorities were for their guests to relax and have fun, and for everyone to be pleasantly surprised with the originality and creativity that had gone into planning the day.”
Amanda and James were married in Derry, Northern Ireland. The day started with the bride getting ready at her parents’ house and a catholic ceremony, but that’s where the tradition ended! Their reception, at Thatched Cottage in Craft Village, was a true reflection of them as a couple. Casual, laid back and thrifty. They spent just £1500 in total!
“Our wedding was bohemian, handmade and vintage inspired”, began the bride. “We didn’t have any bridesmaids or groomsmen (just two witnesses) and chose to keep thing as simple as possible. We wanted a low key wedding, something special and intimate to share with family and friends… no fuss! We also wanted the wedding to reflect who we are and not get lured into the circus and stress that often surrounds weddings. We aimed to create an artistic, homemade, bohemian atmosphere.”
A bar brawl at a wedding isn’t usually something I’d encourage, but that’s exactly how Sarah started to tell me about her Irish pub wedding! The event took place in The Fly’s Tie Pub in Atlantic Beach, Florida.
“Devon is of Irish descent”, she began, “and I am from New Orleans. Since we couldn’t afford a destination wedding in either location, we decided to keep the wedding local but have a Celtic and Creole ‘fusion’ inspired day. We chose March 15th because it was a weekend between Mardi Gras and St. Patrick’s Day!”
“Instead of a tiered white cake, we had a tower of beignets (creole doughnuts) and instead of cutting the cake, we poured an Irish whiskey caramel sauce on top. Some of the other items on our menu were corned beef and cabbage po-boy sandwiches, low country boil including Louisiana crawfish and local Mayport shrimp, and Irish soda bread pudding. We didn’t really get too bogged down by details, but the details we did pick meant a lot to us. The main color accents were black and gold, which are New Orleans Saints’ colors as well as the colors of Devon’s college fraternity. Our handfasting cords reflected the colors in Ireland’s flag as well as the Hash House tartan.”
Jane and Andrew were married in Lissanoure Castle in Loughguile, Northern Ireland. Their day was eclectic from the start which began with the most unusual, but weirdly perfect, inspiration! “Jane found a couple of starting points for the visual style of the wedding early on”, Andrew explained.
“Firstly this photo of Gram Parsons wearing his amazing white cowboy suit with bold coloured leaves and flowers, and an Alice Temperley dress called the Long Eliah Flower Show Dress. Things evolved a long way from there. We used Pinterest to develop ideas with Jane’s sisters and our lovely designer friend Kat Flint. In the end we had a lovely jumble of different bold colours, with some white and neutral tones from brown paper and hessian.”
“The main thing we wanted was for the whole thing to feel relaxed, friendly and personal”, they continued. “We tried to keep it all quite informal with lots of friends and family helping with different parts of the wedding. Music is really important to us too. Andrew spent a lot of time planning all the different musical elements of the wedding (and sang a song at our afternoon open mic).”
Rowena and Cain were married in Dingle, Ireland. They only had €7000 to spend but still managed to create a gorgeous and meaningful day with a little imagination and a lot of elbow grease!
“Our theme was Dia de Los Muertos meets the Owl and the Pussycat”, explained the bride. “Bright, vintage, musical, quirky and memorable. This theme ran throughout from the vintage style Save the Date cards complete with his ‘n hers skulls, the wedding invitations which were made from real 7inch records, the Sailor Jerry style wedding programme which had old style tattoos on it, the wedding cake and bridesmaids’ dresses. The reception tables had painted sugar skulls on with ladybird books, filled tea cups, birdcages and flowers in jars.”
Rowena bought her dress second-hand from eBay and had it customised into a 1930 style. She fell in love with the dresses of that time period after watching one too many movies set in that era!
“In Ireland, weddings still tend to be quite traditional and never really deviate from each other”, she continued. “We wanted to have something different and therefore memorable, one of those weddings that stands out and looks like something from a film or from a magazine. I decided early on that I would not follow any of the ‘rules’ that brides and grooms feel compelled to adhere to. I never went to any wedding shops, I didn’t have fresh flowers, we didn’t have a DJ or a first dance, there was no set seating and nobody gave me away. The whole day was very off the cuff yet totally relaxed.”
Louise and Pete’s Belfast manor house wedding was full to bursting with cute, quirky and retro DIY details. The bride wore a polka dot Candy Anthony wedding dress and looked every but the mid-century starlet with her beehive hair do and classically gorgeous make up. “We definitely had a retro themed wedding”, Louise explained. “I took inspiration from Hairspray (especially when it came to my hair!) and had a pink polka dot 50s style dress. Pete had a teddy boy-esque suit. We played 60s garage songs during the drinks reception and 60s girl groups afterwards. We asked all our male guests to wear bow ties, which they did, including my 5 month old nephew!”
“In the year leading up to our own wedding Pete and I attended 13 weddings (including an amazing 5 day affair in Rajasthan), so we ended up with a really good idea of what we felt was important”, she continued. “It all centred on making sure our guests were having fun and that the food and alcohol was plentiful. We wanted to get everyone up and dancing. We knew from the outset that a hotel wedding wasn’t for us and we discarded elements that we didn’t feel mattered on the day, like having a top table or a cake cutting ceremony.”
With steampunk and a contemporary twist on Victorian fashion as their influences, Amy & Adam planned their Glenarm Castle wedding to totally reflect them. They homemade as much as possible and hired tipis that were put up in the walled gardens of their venue for the reception. They had a humanist ceremony which included personal readings by friends, one of which was inspired by quotes from Einstein, Darwin and other scientists and philosophers. Amy designed her own wedding dress and had it made by dressmaker Lynne Gregg. Her shoes were Irregular Choice and her accessories were all DIY.
“We always knew we wanted to have a party that was all about style and fun, and encouraging our friends and family to embrace the idea of the day”, explained the bride. “The laid back atmosphere was the main goal; we felt it was so important to not have an uptight, stuffy, traditional day.”
“A lot of our wedding was DIY That’s what made it so true to us and although stressful at times (at 1am the morning of the wedding making buttonholes!) it was always our aim to do as much ourselves to make sure our stamp was clearly upon it all. We loved every moment. I particularly remember the afternoon before the wedding organising my dad and his friend assisting me with flower arranging and decorating the tables with strawberries whilst Adam was up a ladder stringing bunting and fairy lights! We decorated the tipis with a customised gramophone, which was a gift from the groom’s cousin who is an art director for films. We also bought duelling pistols, hot air balloon models, birdcages, an antique typewriter and decorated tables with old family photos. We got extra props and help with décor from Grace and Saviour.”
Rebeka & Gerard were married in October at The Station House hotel in Ireland. The ceremony was held in the gardens where the couple had set up hay bales covered in blankets for their guests to sit on. They basically homemade everything and spent just €1500 (!) but it was perfect. The bride bought her wedding dress from a charity shop and customised it herself to create a real one of a kind gown. She wore it with a stunning homemade veil and Dorothy Perkins shoes. The bridesmaids wore high street dresses and carried flowers that the bride had arranged herself.
“Our vintage bohemian wedding was personal and DIY”, Rebeka writes. “We love everything vintage and unusual and we bought that into our day. My advice to other brides would be to collect as much as you can, because everything has a purpose. We made all the bunting and collected the table linen throughout our planning from second hand shops.”
Noel & Dee’s Cork wedding had a laid back, bohemian vibe and was held at Ballyvolane House. The ceremony was held outside in the woods. “The owners of Ballyvolane House, Justin & Jenny Green and their wedding coordinator Breffne McKenna organised our ceremony and reception flawlessly”, began the bride. “We didn’t have to worry or think about anything on the day as everything went so smoothly. Even when our celebrant didn’t show up, there was no issue as Justin stood in to conduct our ceremony in the woods. This made it even more special. Our guests didn’t know any different, and just assumed Justin was the celebrant until he came around during the reception with a tray of champagne. Some of the guests commented that we were really getting our money’s worth out of him! We can’t thank them enough for going above and beyond in every way.”
The ceremony was made even more personal by the musicians who performed, “Music for the ceremony was by my husband’s extremely talented musician friends, Craig O’Neill, Grainne Gormley, Sandra O’Halloran and Karen Jordan”, Dee explained. “They chose the music and I walked up the aisle to ‘Scarborough Fair’. During the hand tying they sang a very old Irish love song called ‘Eileen Aroon’ and we walked back down the aisle to Bob Dylan’s ‘Forever Young’. All of these songs were so beautiful and haunting, it was so special to have them sing for us and we are eternally grateful. As Karen lives in Buenos Aires many a Skype practice session getting their harmonies right happened in preparation.”
Running her own vintage boutique, Dirty Fabulous, in Dublin, Caroline was in the perfect position to plan her DIY circus themed wedding. She and fiancé Peter knew from the outset that they wanted something fun and unusual, and they had the perfect place in mind to host it. “We go to flea markets at the Dublin Food Co-op building and we always loved it”, the bride began. “It’s not particularly pretty by any stretch of the imagination but it always has a lovely vibe. We were at the market one Sunday and we both said that if we were ever to get married that it would make an awesome venue. It just went from there really, it took me about 6 months to convince the co-op to let us do it and we didn’t have a back up plan if they said no.”
“We did everything ourselves and for about €5000 (with 120 guests!) using props from Dirty Fabulous” she continued. “We started the day with a 1940s girl band, The Bugle Babes, followed by a pre-wedding first dance to Cathy Davey & Neil Hannon singing a duet. Then we got married on stage, my brother dressed as a ring master reading Oscar Wilde, and as soon as we were pronounced husband and wife The Dublin City All Stars, a big brass band, marched in playing Louie Louie. They had never played at a wedding before and they are mostly kids and their parents but they learnt the song for us and it was AMAZING! Everyone went bananas! They then played for about thirty minutes while everyone went crazy. Oh and my husband sang a Fred Astaire song to me during our vows which was awesome.”
Anna & Mirko wanted a simple wedding with tons of personality. The day was held at Fallon & Byrne, a restaurant in the heart of Dublin.
“We met 12 years ago and we never talked much about marriage until two years ago”, wrote the bride. “I was getting dressed one Sunday morning and we were chatting away when he just came and out and said ‘Do you want to marry me?’ I didn’t realise it was a genuine question and replied ‘Ah yeah why not’. He grabbed me and we start jumping around in a circle laughing. Mirko was shouting ‘We are getting married!’ and I was like ‘Oh Really? Yay!!’ It was so funny and this situation sums us up really.”
“We were so relaxed about the whole situation and just wanted to keep it small with close family and friends”, she continued. “We managed to arrange everything and enjoy the organising stress-free. I think this helped us to get the most out of the day and enjoy every second.”
The ceremony was particularly important to this romantic pair. “The ceremony was held in Fallon & Byrne at 3.30, so everybody was in the room waiting for me at 3pm. I was a little late so didn’t really have to much time to think or get nervous. When I entered the room and looked at Mirko and all our family and friends my heart skipped a beat. It was so surreal and very emotional. It’s a memory I know I’ll never forget. The day went so fast like a dream, we really felt so over whelmed with happiness.”