Waterlily Weddings » weddings in Ireland planning packages

floral_crown_Tin_Can_Studios_173b178c-c49b-498b-9b5c-f905d84b5906pintopinterest “The young maid stole through the cottage door,
And blushed as she sought the Plant of pow’r;–
‘Thou silver glow-worm, O lend me thy light,
I must gather the mystic St. John’s wort tonight,
The wonderful herb, whose leaf will decide
If the coming year shall make me a bride.”

Glad Midsummer!  This week  marks a pinnacle in the calendar — the summer solstice — the longest day of the year and marking of being exactly halfway through 2017.

Historically midsummer was celebrated by a variety of European cultures, including Ireland. The ancient pagans would gather round in the villages, build a huge bonfire in the middle, and welcome the longest day of the year with feasting and classic celebration. People would dance, drink, feast — celebrate the coming bounty of summer’s spoils and ask the gods for continued protection, fertility, and peace. Similar celebrations took place throughout Europe, from Sweden to Italy, Ireland to Russia; each with their own take on the celebration but all gathering around the bonfire. As Christianity began to take hold, the celebration merged into St. John’s Day — a celebration of the birth of John the Baptist, Jesus’s cousin who was born six months before himself. Today you can find a mixture of Christian and pre-Christian details in the celebration of on or around June 24th:  candles and church masses, bonfires and feasting.

When doing research for this post I found tremendous inspiration for a wedding. Many of the authentic details of a true midsummer celebration are naturally found in a wedding:  young maids wear white, flower crowns in their hair, men dressed in their best regalia and everyone gathering together for a huge and fanciful celebration based on feasting and dancing well into the night. I instantly saw in my head what a fantastic and whimsical wedding inspired by this time of year could look like in Ireland, and I just had to share!

The Traditions

Traditionally, a huge bonfire is created as the center focal point of the festivities. In the weeks leading up to the solstice, everyone in the village were expected to contribute something to the fire. Straw, reeds, old or unusable materials were collected and donated for the huge center fire. What is of note is that bones were also collected. Animal bones were saved throughout the year, intent to be used as a sacrifice of sorts for the summer solstice fire and were readily donated when the time came. So named, this “bone-fire” (now “bonfire”) became an opportunity for the villagers to relinquish, to sacrifice, to express communally, and cast into a physical representation their hopes and desires for the rest of the year.

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Maids dressed in long, flowing white dresses and white floral crowns adorned their long, flowing hair. They held lanterns and flowers in their hands, and danced around the fire to the delight of the guests. Depending on what country you’re from, the men either wore red or painted their faces. The leader of the village was responsible for lighting the bonfire, after which everyone in order of importance was invited to add their own torch to the pile, creating a massive structure that could be seen for miles. In Ireland, on Midsummer’s Eve people were invited to eat their meals by the bonfire — this ensured a good harvest season and fortune during the long, winter months to come.

The fire has always been a symbol for not just the ancient Celts, but ancient peoples throughout the world. For the ancient Irish, however, it meant protection, especially from evil spirits. The bonfire was used as a way to ward off menacing spirits, ghosts, and general bad luck. As the evening progressed, games were played and fortunes divined. People were invited to jump over the fires to judge their honesty on matters, prove their loyalty, and settled disputes. Lovers, engaged couples, and married couples would hold hands and jump over the fire in hopes of gaining fertility and blessing in the home. Once the fire tired, villagers would gather some of the ash and spread it on their crops or sprinkled it in their hearths to bring luck.

Many couples took advantage of the auspicious Midsummer and actually held their wedding on Midsummer’s Eve.

In Ireland

Although creating a bonfire is not an impossible feat for a wedding today, it may be worth considering different ways we can incorporate that element to create a fabulous and elegant wedding that still is heavily influenced by summer solstice and midsummer. There are a variety of exceptional venues and areas in Ireland that would suit this theme just perfectly.

Nature ruled the day for these celebrations; an outdoor ceremony set right at the onset of sunset would be most spectacular, somewhere in an open space flooded with trees and flowers and soft, green grass.

Keeping in the bonfire’s theme, a space can be created using lights strung about the trees, mixed in with an incredible amount of candles in varying sizes to create the same kind of glow and romantic ambience of the bonfire with a center focal point (tree, arbour, etc.) around which the guests gather. Have each guest hold a lighted candle — not only would this help mimic that bonfire aesthetic, it will also add symbolism and glorious lighting to the space.

Brides and bridesmaids can continue to wear white — a combination of cream, off-white, ivory, extremely light greys even to create a beautiful palette would present so beautifully. In lieu of traditional bridal bouquets, the bridesmaids can wear gorgeously constructed flower crowns in their hair to keep with the midsummer tradition, and clutch lanterns as they make their way down to the ceremony space to again nod to the central bonfire theme.

The groom and groomsmen can wear red boutonnieres, socks, and pops of red in their ties and pocket squares.

After the spiritual ceremony, everyone can retreat back to the reception space:  central dance area right under the stars, trees lined with twinkle lights and garlands of greenery and fresh, fragrant flowers. Comfy blankets line the outside of the space in clusters, lanterns with candles giving perfect lighting and a romantic setting for everyone to share their food and drinks. Wine and cool ale is passed around for everyone, toasts are made and inspired on the fly as the Irish band plays traditional Irish music in the background. Some food is passed while others help themselves to the food tables:  Irish cheeses, freshly baked breads, fruits and nuts and carved roasts are ready to be devoured. As dinner nears, everyone is invited to the dinner space: long wooden tables are richly decorated with linen table runners, beautiful gold table setting and candle light interspersed with more flowers, herbs, and fruits inspired by the colors and scents of the season. A formal dinner is enjoyed, the bride and groom toasted, then full and happy everyone retreats back to the dancing space to dance well into the night…

Inspiration Board

A midsummer wedding in Ireland can be personalized with your own unique elements. We can custom-create your ceremony to reflect your beliefs, traditions, and loves while still incorporating a little bit of Irish as well.

Theme: modern midsummer woodland wedding

Place: Kilkenny, Killarney

Season: summer

“…And the glow-worm came
With its silvery flame,
And sparkled and shone
Through the night of St. John,
And soon has the young maid her love-knot tied.”

                                                                                                                                           — A Midsummer’s Celebration

                                                                                                                                     by Mike Nichols

There are a variety of spaces that could function throughout Ireland for a midsummmer inspired wedding, from a more elegant castle garden venue to an enchanted forest, but two areas that jump to mind right off the bat in Ireland are Kilkenny and Killarney, both known for their woodland forests and variety of estate homes and castles to host your reception afterwards.

We love the idea of flower crowns for all of your guests. Consider decorating vintage cocktail glasses with a sprig of fresh flowers like babysbreath, and serving a very traditional elderflower based cocktail at your reception. Lanterns can be carried instead of bouquets by your bridesmaids; they come in a variety of colors, shapes, and styles to suit your wedding theme. Traditionally wildflowers in all shapes and colors are used for midsummer — let yourself go on the color palette and allow the season to speak to you. Keep dresses and suits neutral but not dreary and let the splendor of the season really stand out in the flowers, décor, and food. Strawberries in particular are very seasonal and traditional; consider incorporating them both on your décor and throughout your wedding reception.

We hope this inspires you to consider hosting your dream destination wedding in Ireland on one of the most special days of the entire year: summer solstice! CONTACT US today!


Images: Fly Away Bride, Want That Wedding, Honestly Yum, Brides Magazine, Happy Wed, Wed Lux Magazine, Mywedding, Temperley London, MOD wedding, 100 Layer Cake, Wedding Chicks, Big Day Designs (stationary), Chic Vintage Brides, Botanica Events, Elizabeth Ann Designs, The Kitchen McCabe, Silk & Willow (stationary), Dancing with Badgers (Etsy) (handfasting chord), Pinterest

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jeff AND Kellypintopinterest

Michelle JC had the pleasure of helping Kelly and Jeff create the destination wedding of their dreams in Sutton Martello Tower,  Smock Alley and Patrick Guilbaud’s Dublin. They were a fun, adventurous, kind and thoughtful couple whose day it was a joy to plan. On the day the sun shone and then the heavens opened, but everything was taken in their stride and Michelle got to do what she loves best – being there to coordinate the day itself.

We are super excited to share their stunning day with you soon!

In the meantime Kelly wrote a wonderful piece about Michelle and the team’s help on her BLOG which we thought we would share:-)

Eat. Drink. Be Married.



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Ireland Ogham Stone. Dunmore Head. Dingle Peninsula. County Kerrypintopinterest

Many couples wish to incorporate some Irish traditions into their dream destination wedding day in Ireland. Be it one or two subtle details to a full tour-de-force event inspired by Ireland’s history and traditions, there are many unique details as a couple you can work into your wedding day. One of the lesser known traditions is known as the oathing stone.

Dating back to ancient Celtic times, the use of an oathing stone for important ceremonies spanned throughout Europe where the arm of Celtic culture reached. The practice was most concentrated, however, in Scotland and the northern and western coast of Ireland, and are still used as part of the marriage ceremony to this day in some villages.  Although it sounds like some “Game of Thrones-esque” blood-swearing ceremony involving daggers, it’s actually a very innocent and simple ceremony done literally over a stone. The stones used can vary of course, but the meaning and ceremony are pretty much the same throughout, and are a very meaningful, very beautifully presented ceremony to unite a couple together on their wedding day.

The Oathing Stone

The oathing stone in simplest of terms is literally a stone (or rock of some type) that the couple touches while saying their vows to each other, making their promises to one another. The tradition dates back to the ancient Celts where important, serious oaths were made by placing one’s hand on a stone, much like we would place our left hand on the Bible and raise our right hand promising “to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.” Similarly, the ancient Celts would swear oaths of fealty to their clan leaders, swear truth when testifying, and set oaths of marriage over a stone. Even kings were crowned over a special stone, taking their sacred oaths over the rock in front of nobility as witnesses. The physical act of placing your  hand over the stone clearly showed the participant’s willingness and intent to take seriously the words they would utter.

Throughout Scotland and Ireland, the practice of swearing over an oathing stone was a pretty regular practice. Some villages held specific stones — known as “The Oathing Stone” — which were clearly marked and always used. Other villages simply settled for a decent looking stone to fit the bill, while others used stone buildings (i.e. placing your hand on the wall of the stone chapel for example) when a suitable stone could not be acquired.  The actual material of the stone was not at issue; a limestone or quartz could serve equally to the job. All that mattered was that it was a natural stone, of the earth, of the land.

In terms of the marriage ceremony, the bride and groom would either lay hands on the stone or hold it up together. The idea behind this is so that the stone could physically absorb the energy of the couple, their intentions, and thus become a physical representation of their promises and vows to one another.   In some villages symbols or marks would be etched into the stone; sometimes letters or symbols that represented the couple, sometimes magical binding symbols that were believed to seal the vows into the stone.  If the couple brought the stone they were allowed to take it with them into their home, a reminder and blessing to guide them throughout their married life. If a larger, more significant stone was used, it was visited much like a monument would be today.

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The tradition of oathing stones continued well through the Victorian era throughout Ireland, Scotland, and Britain. During the Victorian era, it was a popular custom for the aristocracy to take the oathing stone and have etched in it the family’s coat of arms joining together, the date of the marriage, and any other details related to the marriage and noble family. This would then be used in the couple’s garden or built into the wall of a home. Others opted for a less detailed version and simply used intertwining hearts, or one heart with the couple’s initials in the middle, much like a couple in love would carve their initials into the bark of a tree.

The custom fell out of favor by the 20th century, but if you keep an eye out you can find these stones throughout Ireland and the U.K. today!

Today a simpler version would be to have a garden stone carved with your names and wedding date, then set decoratively in your garden.

Marriage Stones

Now, in Ireland there are a set of even more special stones that one can find throughout the island called a marriage stone. These are very special and quite distinctive in appearance. They look like a tall, monolithic stone one would find in any ancient stone circle, except these special stones have a small hole carved through it. The majority of these stones are in western Ireland, from the southern peninsulas in Co. Kerry up through Donegal in the north. They are very unique and created just for a marriage ceremony.

a9d38c7799b6e575077e3015043fcd7epintopinterestThe holes in these stones are just big enough to fit two hands and nothing more. The couple each take a hand through the hole on either side of the stone and meet in the middle, clasping hands. They say their vows to one another and the magic of the stone binds them together forever. There is a more detailed authentic, ancient Celtic ceremony that can be performed for your wedding day if using a marriage stone is something you are considering. For more details contact us today!

How To Use An Oathing Stone Today

If incorporating an oathing stone is something that intrigues you, but you’re still not quite sure how to make it work, there are a variety of ways a couple can use this detail and tradition in their ceremony. From hosting your ceremony at an actual monolithic circle site to incorporating small stones into your ceremony or reception, there are plenty of ways to express this tradition to suite any budget and design aesthetic. To get your started, consider these ideas:

  • Outdoors Spiritual Ceremony — consider hosting your ceremony at a stone circle;  you can pick any one of the stone circles throughout Ireland and choose a particular stone there to use, or one of the marriage stones themselves; we can create a bespoke spiritual ceremony reflecting your beliefs, vows, and incorporate any family traditions you may want included!
  • Blessing Stone — take a stone that you pick out together (maybe from a hike in a favorite place or from a memorable trip, or even the backyard of your home) and ask your celebrant to incorporate it into your spiritual ceremony
  • Wishing Stones — if you don’t want to build a ceremony around the stone itself, consider taking smaller flat river stones and having them personalized for your wedding day; you can also invite your guests to take a stone and write well-wishes for you then either have them throw them into the water to cast their wish or collect them and display them in your home
  • Personalize It — if you like the idea of the wishing stones but don’t want to use stones per se, consider using another natural element such as sea shells, crystals, wood slices, and more!


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This tradition suits the couple that want a unique, very traditional Irish element to their wedding day. For the couple that wants to honor their Irish or Celtic roots, this is a lovely way to honor those ancestors who participated in the exact same ceremony but many years before you. Couples looking to incorporate spiritualism into their ceremony might want to think about this. Being able to take something of the earth that has given life, to honor it and use it to bless them is very symbolic and visually stunning as part of your ceremony. Again, the actual element can be very personalized to suit your budget, aesthetic, and belief system and we are more than happy to talk further with you and conceptualize together ideas that would fit your dream Irish wedding day perfectly!

Photos: @jacquelinemf87; thenewwildgeese.com; tampabayareaweddings.com; Wikimedia; frenchweddingstyle.com; frametoframe.com; Pinterest

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