Destination weddings in Ireland and DC/MD USA. Your Irish wedding planner – styling and coordination to die for weddings since 2006. Based in Dublin and Maryland.

Real Weddings: Shawna & Mark, Picture Perfect at Waterford Castle


Waterlily Weddings is proud to present the destination wedding of Shawna & Mark at Waterford Castle. They met in the summer of 2011 and became engaged in the summer of 2013. This is the second wedding for both, so they wanted to make sure it was special and different. They wanted to make it a trip of a lifetime, celebrating the start of their journey together as husband and wife by embarking on an adventure to Ireland with their closest family and friends. They chose to host their intimate wedding at Waterford Castle, a beautiful classically romantic venue that suited Mark and Shawna perfectly. We just fell in love with Shawna and Mark; their love for each other is clear, and it’s easy to see in the pictures how excited they were to be in Ireland and getting married.

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Although they decided to keep their small kids at home for the trip, they incorporated them in the most darling way on their wedding day: pictures of them in beautiful framed charms fixed to her bridal bouquet and his boutonniere. They had a simple traditional Irish ceremony in the castle followed by a five-star meal and lots of celebration, then toured Ireland together as husband and wife.

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We love how they personalized their day with quotes and Irish details like the Claddagh coins and Jameson favors, and are totally in love with the wellies Shawna wore for pictures (and gifted to her very lucky bridesmaids!). Their wedding is elegant but with a sense of fun and wonder to it, an appreciation and respect for Irish culture and very much celebrates them as a couple. Well done. (Make sure to check out the slideshow at the end for more gorgeous pictures of their beautiful day.)

This, is their story….

  “I may not be your first date,

your first kiss,

your first love,

or even your first marriage.

I just want to be your last EVERYTHING.”


Mark and Shawna woke that morning to a brisk spring day. The sky was bright Irish blue, the coolness in the light breeze tickling the morning dew that embraced the soft blades of the new spring grass and tender blooms just beginning to bud on gnarled branches of the trees in the garden. A quick spring shower would give way to a brilliant beautiful rainbow later for pictures, just the perfect quintessential Irish detail.

Like clockwork, the castle awoke and began preparations for the day’s festivities. Crisp white linen was laid on the table and fresh flowers placed alongside the windowsill of the glass windows. A beautiful morning light began to stream through, and all that was left was for the bride and groom to arrive.



Shawna relaxed in her suite together with her mother, step-mother, and three sisters as preparations were underway in the rest of the castle. Hair and makeup arrived right on time and began their work, including a beautiful Celtic knot motif worked into her hair. Sipping champagne and nibbling on cheese and fruits, Shawna slipped into her Reem Acra dress adorned with blush sash to match the blush underlay in the dress and bright green shoes to match. Her sister Lauren gave her the necklace and a pair of Kate Spade earrings completed the look flawlessly. A lace-trimmed veil was the final, perfect touch.

But there was one last thing to do. Shawna logged on to facetime with her children who wished her an excited “good luck!” She grabbed her bouquet and made her way downstairs to meet Mark.

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Mark meanwhile had spent his morning similarly in relaxed spirits, walking the grounds of the castle and taking pictures. He got dressed in his Ralph Lauren suit and taking in the spirit of Ireland, accessorized with a green tie that matched the hydrangea used in the floral arrangements that Shawna created perfectly. Special touches included green argyle socks and engraved collar stays that said “All my love All my life” in Gaelic, a gift from Shawna. A quick celebratory good luck pint with her father at the bar and Mark made his way to the ceremony to meet Shawna.

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The ceremony was intimate and very traditional. A celtic harp played traditional music as Shawna made her entrance, accompanied by her proud father. Still not nervous, but rather just so excited to see Mark. She took in the stunning atmosphere, appreciative that the castle was everything they dreamed of for their wedding. The castle itself epitomized what their own relationship was all about: timeless and beautiful. They could not have picked a more fitting setting to say their vows.

Mark stood at the front of the room, completely entranced by the vision that was Shawna. Glowing in that light that streamed through the windows, she illuminated the room with her flowing locks and bright eyes, eager and so genuinely happy to see him. They could not contain their excitement and love, everyone in the room seemingly suspended in this special, intimate moment of which they were so lucky to be apart of.

The ceremony began. Shawna’s stepmother read 1 Corinthians, her favorite verse. Each of her sisters placed a colored ribbon on Shawna and Mark’s clasped hands, a simple of unity and blessing as they were hand-fasted. Shawna’s mother performed the ring warming ceremony.


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They exchanged their vows, pledging their love and fidelity to one another while looking into each other’s eyes. Everyone looked on proudly as they were pronounced husband and wife. A kissing of his bride and they were on their way!


Mark and Shawna had a very intimate wedding; only her mother, step-mother, father, and three sisters were in attendance. They relaxed together laughing and toasting with champagne in crystal flutes while nibbling on traditional Irish canapes, taking in the serenity and classic beauty of the castle. A beautiful table in the dining room was set for the party, little bottles of Jameson whiskey adorned each place setting with notes that read “Truth Serum, Love Potion, Pain Killer, Courage Builder — Cheers & Thank you for being here!”

The couple incorporated another traditional Irish theme — the Claddagh — into their place setting by decorating the crisp white linen with a Claddagh coin engraved with “friendship, loyalty, love.”

The party enjoyed a feast of traditional Irish fare and drink, enjoyed while being serenaded by the romantic sounds of the bagpipes. The theme continued as tables were decorated with Irish blessings, poems, and pictures of the couple together with their children. The cake — a traditional  Irish fruitcake — Mark’s choice.


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The day was sweet and went along perfectly. The couple took pictures around the grounds, exploring hidden walls and romantic stairways throughout the ancient garden. Shawna changed into her green wellies to walk more comfortably, and even gifted a pair to each of her sisters.

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Waterford Castle is on an island, making it a spectacular spot to take a variety of pictures. Shawna and Mark really enjoyed their time together exploring the whole island as Paul snapped pictures. And of course, to top off their perfect sweet Irish wedding, a full rainbow over the water.

Congratulations Shawna & Mark on an absolutely charming wedding day! We wish you a life together full of happiness and continued blessings.

For more incredible pictures by Moat Hill Photography check out the slideshow below.  


The Shorthand

Ceremony & Reception: Waterford Castle (Waterford)  •  Photographer: Moat Hill Photography  •  Ceremony Music: Brenda Malloy (harp)    Reception Music: Anthony Wallace (bagpipes)   •  Makeup: Laura Kay  •  Hair: Valerie O’Dea  •  Cake:  Caca Milis Cake Shop (Waterford)  • Dress: Reem Acra  •  Earrings:  Kate Spade  •  Groom’s Suit:  Ralph Lauren  •  Bridesmaids:  charcoal lace dresses from Watters

DIY: Shawna did all of the floral arrangements herself including her beautiful bouquet, Mark’s boutonniere and decorations for the ceremony and reception. She took Irish poems, blessings, and quotes and printed them using different fonts in green and white to match the theme; vintage style frames completed the look. Shawna also  made her bridal belt to match the blush lining of her dress.

Favorite Moments: Taking pictures throughout the grounds and castle and looking into each other’s eyes, taking it all in. Tie for favorite moment was when the rainbow appeared.

A Bride’s Piece of Advice: “Hire a wedding planner! Being our second wedding we were both more relaxed, but being able to trust Michelle to take care of everything let us focus on family, ourselves, and the wedding experience rather than worrying about details.”

In The End: “We are just average people who were lucky enough to find each other and lucky to find Waterlily Weddings to execute a perfect wedding for us! We wish we could have explored Waterford more while we were there, but are looking forward to coming back soon!”



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