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Style Shoot: “All Things Irish” at Castle Durrow



Waterlily Weddings is proud to present a gorgeous style shoot at the incomparable Castle Durrow in County Laois.  Castle Durrow is a venue like no other in the heart of rural Ireland; a quiet haven, somewhere to truly unwind, to experience the best in Irish hospitality and amazing food. The early 18th century Palladian style of the House itself provides dramatic backdrop and immediately sets the tone for your dream Irish wedding. Indoors, the house is impeccably decorated with a mixture of antiques and modern notes, simultaneously creating a luxurious but relaxing atmosphere that is very inviting and not at all intimidating. We really wanted to showcase for this shoot that juxtaposition of modern and vintage, formal and rustic, that Ireland does so well. We deliberately mixed elements from outdoors with indoors to represent that, as we did with the food. We chose to showcase a less formal but still structured afternoon tea, featuring delicious macaroons, heavenly freshly made mousse-filled chocolate squares, and fresh meringues with whipped cream and raspberries picked straight from the garden. Working with a talented and dedicated team on a glorious sunny day, we worked together to bring our vision to life.


The Castle: The house was built between 1712 and 1716 by Colonel William Flower as a family home and has remained in the family’s possession until 1922 when the Flower family were forced to sell up and return to England. In 1929 the estate was made into St. Fintan’s College and Convent, and finally in 1998 was purchased by Peter and Shelley Stokes who have refurbished it into a luxury hotel. Over the years Shelly has poured her heart and soul into continuing to maintain and develop Castle Durrow into one of the premier country house hotels in all of Ireland. Offering modern standards in a gorgeous period setting, a whimsical classic garden full of color and texture, and plenty aesthetically to work with both indoors and out, Castle Durrow fit our style shoot perfectly.


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Why Castle Durrow: Michelle first visited Castle Durrow with her husband 13 years ago, and fell in love with it immediately. They stayed in the stunning Oriental Room, and enjoyed relaxing drinks overlooking the lawn, sipping tea over the Sunday papers in the large leather armchairs, leisurely walks in the gardens, a wonderful facial in the Beauty Rooms, strolling down to the village and over-indulging on the amazing cuisine! As soon as she set up Waterlily Weddings, Castle Durrow was on her “must see” list for clients looking to merge that vintage, period details from Ireland’s history with some contemporary elements.

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The Linens Inspiration: Linen making has been an import industry in Ireland (particularly Northern Ireland) for over 300 years. Specifically, Irish linen is a fabric physically woven in Ireland from 100% linen yarns (i.e. no blends). The beautiful Colmcille (or St Columba) Linen Collection used in this shoot is the exceptionally high quality table linen called Damask. Displaying the unique characteristics of Irish weaving, this particular pattern takes inspiration from the Celtic Knot. According to folklore, each knot has a specific message waiting to be decoded, if we only had the key, but the general symbolism of the Celtic interlace can be expressed as representing the repeated crossing of the spiritual and physical paths in our lives. For tradition and symbolism, Irish linen is a wonderful addition to any Irish wedding.



The Cake Inspiration: The cakes reflect the grace and timelessness of an Irish castle wedding, while still retaining the natural charm of the Irish countryside. The three-tier cake is a modern spin on a traditional ivory iced wedding cake; clean edges and a strong, tall middle tier invoke the classic Irish castle tower itself, the fresh greenery climbing like the ivy of a real castle, the gold lace detail a nod to traditional Irish colors and rich history in lace making. The smaller, semi-naked cake that accompanies with its rustic, earthy notes inspired by the Irish countryside contrasts the more formal, classic main cake. Together they tell a story of Ireland’s sophistication and pastoral charm.

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The Dress Inspiration:  A timeless silhouette taking aspects of the 1910s, the dropped waistline and deep V gives a flirty yet classic look. The peplum is key to giving shape, while the tulle A-line skirt dances dreamily with every movement. The dainty cap sleeves tick the traditional box while also adding individuality to the dress. Orlaith’s inspiration for “The Roisin Dress” was born out of the fabric used; reminiscent of Colonial India when the sunlight catches the beaded lace. The tassel belt gives it a modern twist. The Roisin is perfect for the traditional yet coquettish bride and an afternoon wedding in the castle’s garden.


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The Suit Inspiration:  The three-piece bespoke suit and shirt was masterfully designed and finished by hand in Dublin, Ireland. The grey herringbone Valentino tweed was sourced in Scotland, chosen for its breathability, versatility and slight hint of green weave running through the cloth, a nod to Ireland’s verdant landscape. The shirt was cut from Luxuries of South Sea Island Cotton, sourced from the West Indies then created by master craftsmen in Nepal, Kathmandu. The design was finished by hand with a working sleeve cuff, wooden horn buttons, majestic grey Paisley lining added to the jacket with a forest green satin lining added to the back of the vest (which was cut as a scooped/horseshoe design) in efforts to compliment the hint of green in the tweed. It is a representation of masculine Ireland: strong, refined, and classically handsome.

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The Flowers Inspiration: Taking inspiration from Irish gardens and woodlands, the floral arrangements tell a story of the timeless relationship of Ireland with nature. Flowers were selected for their shapes and silhouettes, mimicking the landscape and ancient wind-worn trees, and textures. Ivy climbs up the walls of castles and shrouds the grand country houses, the untamable wild nature representing freedom and abundance. Anenome (representing the end of winter and new beginnings), Astilbe (the soft flowing, symbol of patience), and Eucalyptus focused most of the arrangements. Artemisia foliage was used for its lovely silvery-green hue and tradition (women carried Artemisia in large bunches to bless the church and home). Hops, the representation of fertility, were used as a perfect, stand-alone statement detail. The richness of Ireland’s landscape was used outdoors and then brought indoors; shades of greens from silvery gray greens to bright lichen greens accentuated the metallic details and linens for the table, complimenting the rich jewel tones of the rooms. The tone is merging the two parts of Ireland: the wild, untamed natural beauty with constructed elegance and sophistication.

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The Food:  We wanted to showcase the freshness and delicious flavors from an Irish summer garden, the free and wild growing berries with a structured formal tea. Traditional hand sandwiches with Irish smoked salmon, cream cheese with fresh wild scallion, freshly baked soda bread and warm, irresistible scones are a nod to Irish tradition. The more whimsical hand-piped meringue, structured petit-fours, and ganache add a sophisticated modern sensibility. Again, wanting to merge with wildness of Ireland with structured formality we used fresh wild berries for the compote and meringue detail. The result was a colorful, delicious, relaxing yet sophisticated indulgence just perfect for an Irish wedding day in the beautiful gardens.

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A huge thank you to Wim of In Love Photography for the gorgeous pictures, the dedicated and uber-talented Lamber de Bie for floral exquisiteness, Cat at The Cake Cuppery for two outstandingly gorgeous (and delicious!) cakes, David for a stunning bespoke suit, Bridget for the amazingly beautiful linens and history behind them, Erica for the lovely stationary, Claire for the stunning hair style and Fiona for the beautiful makeup of our model, everyone at The Attic Bridal Boutique, Ryans Jewelers for the jewelry, and Joseph for the incredible video of the day. And of course a massive thanks to Shelly and the staff at Castle Durrow for the incredible setting and delicious food.

The Details

Coordination: Waterlily Weddings

Venue: Castle Durrow,

Video: Berg and Giles

Photographer: In Love Photography

Wedding Dress : The Attic bridal boutique, Limerick

Grooms Suit :  (Belfast Studtio) (Dublin Studio)

Cake: The Cake Cuppery, Dublin

Flowers: Lamber de Bie,

Linens and nightgown: Blarney Woolen Mills

Stationary: Smock

Hair: Claire Barry

Make up: Fiona Harrison MUA’ ,

Jewelry: Ryan’s Jewelers

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