This year was filled with highs and lows, challenges and triumphs in the ever changing realm of wedding planning. We met some stunning couples, expanded our professional relationships, got to collaborate with some amazing talent, and all while doing what we love: weddings in the most spectacular place in the world, glorious Ireland. As the year winds down and we prepare for what exciting things 2016 will bring, we thought we’d take a look back on 2015. So pull up a blanket, pour yourself a glass of your favorite, and enjoy our little interview with our two premier wedding planners, Michelle Johnstone Clark and Sile Tracey, as they take us back through their favorite moments, wedding details, some laughs and what they’re looking forward to in the new year.
Cheers! And Happy Holidays everyone!
Let’s start with the catch-all question: Your Favorite Moment in 2015:
MJC: “One of my favorite moments of the year was getting to plan a wedding in my home town of Bray. There is something about creating a world class, international wedding on your own doorstep that gives you a very particular buzz! Personally, I was also incredibly proud of how stunning the day looked and how well it showed off the place I call home.”
For more stunning pictures of Gesa and Lars’ gorgeous wedding in Bray, click here.
S: “Traveling loop head in June this year, looking at new ceremony spots, on the west coast of Clare. I had a moment when I thought, ‘wow, it is great to call this work…how lucky am I!'”
Describe 2015 in one word:
S: “Fun! So. Much. Fun.”
What was the funniest moment for you in 2015?
MJC: “Finding a bride’s rather large and stunning engagement ring on the bathroom floor before we left for the ceremony. It was funny because everyone was very casual about it: ‘ah yeah…that’s just what she does; she takes it off and leaves it everywhere!'”
S: “When one of the 30 hounds we hired for a post ceremony procession decided he would rather join the guests at the drink reception in the Gallery in Dromoland Castle instead of do his job of escorting the guests!”
Was there a favorite dress a bride wore? Or element of the dress you just absolutely fell in love with?
MJC: “I think the perfect dress is the one a bride just beams in, a dress that looks like it was made for her. Allison’s dress just complimented her and the overall style of the wedding day so perfectly!”
And as for element…..Susan’s shoes from her Cliffs of Moher wedding this past August were amazing as well!”
For more on Allison’s impeccable vintage style and inspired wedding, click here.
S: “Sarah’s dress from her Haggs Head wedding on May 21st. It was amazing and complimented her so well. Simply Stunning!”
What was your favorite destination or venue you worked with this year? Why?
MJC: “You cannot beat the natural beauty pure beauty of the Irish coastline.”
S: “I loved Dromoland Castle.”
For more pictures of Dromoland Castle and Britt and Shane’s beautiful wedding there, click here.
Favorite floral arrangement or color scheme? Was there a particular combination or inspiration that just blew you away this year?
MJC: “I loved the flowers from Casey and TJ’s wedding in Luttrelstown Castle.”
S: “I loved the use of the moss table runner for Jennifer and Dan’s wedding in Waterford Castle in September.”
Favorite detail a bride/groom incorporated into their wedding that really stood out to you?
MJC: “One Mother of the Bride gave her daughter (the bride) her deceased father’s wedding band on the day of her wedding. As a wedding planner you can get focused on the logistical and behind the scene details of the day, but then see a moment like that and it highlights the emotional side and what it’s all about.”
S: “Shawna, a bride we worked with last March, created her own jeweled cake stand. I love when brides don’t take the easy option and use their own time and skill to create the final touches. So perfect.”
What was the most memorable moment you got to witness as a wedding planner this year?
MJC: “I wasn’t there for the actual elopement, but when Dannielle and Ace read the traditional Irish blessing at their ceremony that her now deceased grandmother had embroidered and framed in their home, and at the end when Gabe (the officiant) read the words ‘may the rains fall softly upon your fields’ it began to lightly rain — those special, perfect moments are what make weddings memorable. It could not be more perfect.”
For more details on this gorgeous elopement and more pictures, check out the post here.
S: “Brittany reading Shane her vows; truly genuine, honest and unique to them. So moving.”
What was your most challenging moment/detail/item you had to deal with as a wedding planner this year? How did you end up resolving the challenge in the end?
MJC: “Oh Lord, I think I have to hand this over to Sile. She had a particularly challenging wedding weather-wise this year!”
S: “When a bride and groom insisted against all advice, weather warnings, etc. that they would bring their 10 guests to Haggs head for there ceremony. What greeted us was the densest fog I have ever seen. The challenge laid in leading the convoy of 5 cars up to the cliff top while unable to see any road signs at all because the fog was so dense. We eventually got there and the ceremony went on, but I was relieved to get us all back safely to O’Connors where the party enjoyed some hot whiskeys! Weather is often a challenge I encounter as an Irish wedding planner, both the weather itself but more so convincing the couple that Irish weather will be the decider on their wedding day, especially weddings planned around the coastline and cliffs. There is a reason why we insist on the Plan B indoor venue option!”
What did you discover this year? Did you discover a new place or venue, a vendor you love? A new way of doing something that you’ll carry over into the next year? Or better yet, something about yourself?
MJC: “First, never be intimidated by the unknown. This year we worked with some really spectacular venues with quite the reputation and their own urban legends; castles and estates where presidents stayed and celebrities got married. That can be intimidating. We planned a stunning September wedding there and loved every minute of it! Including the “necessity” to visit it a few times for research. We’re already planning another spectacular wedding there for June. Second, we take a lot of road trips around Ireland as often as we can because you’ll never know what you will find around the next corner. This year we discovered the Cliffs in Kilkee. Cannot wait to plan a wedding there!”
S: “Over the last few years many of our clients ask us to make up a selection of gifts of Ireland best brands to welcome their guest to Ireland. In 2016 we are going to lauch a range of Welcome Bags to suit every price range – A taste of Ireland, will be even easier to share with your guests from all over the world.”
What did you learn this year?
MJC: “The importance of keeping organized! As our business and team expands, we’re taking on larger weddings whose celebrations last over two or three days. You have to be sure that everything has a list and that it’s checked twice!”
S: “I learnt reading the brides mood on the morning of the wedding and adjusting the tone of the bridal prep room can make a big difference to the flow of the wedding. One of our brides this year was particularly nervous and emotional on the morning of the wedding. Her Mum had been very unwell in the run up to the wedding so emotions were high among all the family. I noticed early on that the more people told her how beautiful she looked, the more overwhelmed she got. Collectively all of the women around her that morning agreed no more compliments or TLC and she quickly pulled herself together and enjoyed the rest of the day.”
Is there a place or venue you’re excited to work with in 2016?
MJC: “Oh yes, in 2016 we’re going back to Sheen Falls and Uragh stone circle, having our first wedding in Doonbeg, Virginia Park Lodge in Cavan, working with some of our regular favorites and some new more unique Dublin City venues like Smock Alley. So excited!”
S: “I am excited to work with Castlemartyr Resort in Cork. I am secretly hoping a client chooses this venue for the wedding next year.”
What will you be doing differently in 2016?
MJC: “This year we’ll be launching a very special line of Welcome Bags for our clients. To date we have been just doing this ad hoc, but in 2016 we are taking it to the next level!
S: “The welcome bags!”
What are you looking forward to in 2016? Any particular trends or details you’re excited about to work with clients in 2016?
MJC: “FUN! We have some couples that are doing some pretty fun stuff on their wedding day including balloon fights and coloured powder fights. I cannot wait to see those photos. Some couples are incorporating droids into their wedding days and others are going more traditional with falconry and clay pigeon shooting. Whether it’s modern or traditional, 2016 will be all about FUN.”
S: “In 2016 Ireland will celebrate the centinerary of the 1916 rising. This is one of the most historical events in Irish History. I look forward to sharing information and news of 100’s of cultural events taking place during the year to mark the rising, so that couples can take in the history with their friends and family while visiting Ireland for their dream destination wedding.”
Any parting words?
“For 2016, it’s time to grow!!! We’re excited about continuing to grow the team. In particular, working with the very best, so finding people who are right for Waterlily Weddings does not happen overnight. We are DELIGHTED to have two new team members to start 2016 with and another creative, styling, planner genius joining us in Spring 2016.”