Couples are like snowflakes: no two are going to be alike. So why should their weddings be? The best weddings are the ones where the couple really embrace their moment together, staying true to themselves and their vision, focusing on each other and staying in the moment. Our favorite couples are the ones that develop their vision together, figuring out what’s truly important to them for their wedding day, and adding details that are unique to their own personalities. This is why we love Katie and Mike’s elopement in Ballyvaughan and Doolin. After getting engaged, Mike and Katie attended a few large weddings and were surprised to see the unfortunate side of weddings that can happen sometimes: the stress, the preoccupation with minutia, and the resulting semi-enjoyment on part of the couple. By contrast, Katie and Mike wanted to be in the moment, feel present with each other and absorb the importance of the ceremony. And above all enjoy their special day!
Throughout their engagement Katie and Mike joked about eloping to Ireland. As they got deeper in wedding planning details, they decided having a larger, involved wedding in the States was not for them. Katie kept envisioning a European style wedding with peonies and tea cups, a glorious garden courtyard with climbing ivy and greenery. They even found a venue that actually had an Irish pub attached! They imagined it a bed and breakfast they might stay in while in Ireland. They were trying so hard to recreate an Irish experience for their wedding day, while juggling input from family and friends and a budget growing higher by the minute. Soon the wedding planning process became more and more stressful, and Katie found herself anxious any time a discussion about the wedding came up. She had had enough. A frank discussion with Mike about refocusing their wedding on what they wanted followed shortly thereafter, and they asked themselves if they wanted so many Irish details for their wedding, why not just get married in Ireland?!
The idea of a small, intimate ceremony with just them in a spectacular location really appealed to them. As they started researching locations, the anxiety began to melt away, replaced with excitement and happiness. They wanted their wedding day to be about them and their love for each other, not their families’ opinions or how much money they spent. They were together, on the same page, and excitedly made the final decision to just elope to their dream destination, and have the wedding they always wanted right in the heart of Ireland herself! They chose the Cliffs of Moher and surrounding Doolin village and Burren area in County Clare on the western coast of the island and quickly got in touch with us to start the planning process.
We absolutely love their choice and their determination to make their wedding day about them. We love Katie’s confidence and (the boots!!) and their true, crystal clear love for each other, as is evident in their gorgeous pictures by Poppies & Me in and around Doolin. They tailored their ceremony to be spiritual, the vows reflecting what was important to them as well as incorporating the natural spirituality of Ireland and her history, and even the weather chose to cooperate in the eleventh hour. When we plan weddings in Ireland, we counsel our couples to have Plan B. Weather can be a major factor, especially certain times of year. Katie and Mike’s wedding is an example where we went through Plan B and on to Plan C, but their flexibility and attitude ended up making for a spectacular and perfect day. They got to enjoy a beautiful part of Ireland and it made for some gorgeous photographs and memories. Their sense of adventure and go-with-the-flow attitude is to be admired, and we’re so happy to have made their dream Irish wedding day come true.
Without further ado, Waterlily Weddings is proud to present the elopement of Katie and Mike in Balleyvaughan and Doolin. This, is their story….
“May you go forth under the strength of heaven,
under the light of sun, under the radiance of moon;
may you go forth with the splendor of fire,
with the speed of lightning, with the swiftness of wind;
may you go forth supported by the depth of sea,
by the stability of earth, by the firmness of rock;
May you be surrounded and encircled,
with the protection of the nine elements.”
— Blessing of the Elements
It was a crisp, Irish spring morning. Quintessentially Irish on every level — cold, blistery, and raining. Hard. The seaside village of Doolin, normally alive with music and dance, slowly woke at first light. Brightly colored shutters of the village buildings closed tightly against spring’s cold nights began to open to the steady rain of the Irish morning. The sun hovered lazily behind the clouds, groggy and reluctant in making its way to debut a beautiful afternoon. The Cliffs of Moher towered around the bend, dark ocean waters crashing against the black rocks at the base of the cliffs where sand met white, foamy salty surf. The morning was both quiet and fierce at the same time, the rain beginning to match the ferocity of the crashing waves in the near distance when Katie awoke on her wedding day.
They made it to Ireland. After months of frustrated planning an Irish-style wedding in America complete with soft pink peonies and dainty hand-painted tea cups, Katie and her fiance, Mike, made the decision just to elope and have their dream Irish wedding in Ireland. Tired of the complications of planning a family wedding, they relished in the calm of being the only two people here, alone, left with only their thoughts of each other and a laser focus to enjoy and take in their wedding day together. They woke this morning triumphant and anxious, excited and relaxed. This day had finally come and they were together, here, in this beautiful green land that they dreamed of for many, many months.
They met six years ago when Katie was still in college. Her roommate at the time was dating one of Mike’s good friends, and Katie found herself going over to one of the regular Sunday get-togethers Mike would host at his place. It was one special Sunday when Katie saw Mike. Dressed in a fitted t-shirt and baseball cap, he stood in the doorway and his eyes met Katie’s. It was an instant attraction, immediately awaking slumbering butterflies deep within her stomach. As the evening drew on, Mike came over to Katie and they started talking. Soon the rest of the party ceased to exist, and they seemed to enter into a space in the room that was just big enough for only the both of them. It felt familiar, comfortable. An authentic friendship blossomed, blooms of a deeper love beginning to branch out quickly, and soon they found themselves dating for the next five years, resulting in an unexpected proposal on Valentine’s Day.
As she looked outside the window this morning, part of Katie couldn’t believe she was here. Marriage itself wasn’t a sure thing, despite their instant attraction and easy friendship. Katie always wanted to get married, but Mike did not echo the sentiment at first. In truth, their relationship saw its ups and downs, as many do. As the morning hours settled in and Katie began her morning routine in her hotel room, she recalled the journey that got them here. Honest and true, the mark of a real relationship is fraught with challenges as much as celebrations and smiles. It is this balance of learning through the good and the bad that forges a relationship, that unites two people together into one solid unit more than any fancy wedding with satin and lace ever could. Drawing strength and pride in this, Katie and Mike smiled at each other and began to get ready for their wedding.
The morning evolved into a relaxing one. Katie and Mike got ready together, any residual anxiety dissipating with the morning’s heavy rain that was now steadily getting lighter and lighter. At first the prospects for an outdoor ceremony were dire, and talks of proceeding with Plan B indoors was being discussed. But as the clock ticked on, each minute brought the sun one step closer to coming out just in time for their ceremony. The bride and groom continued their preparations at a leisurely pace, relaxing and smiling as they enjoyed the comforts of the hotel, confident that the weather would hold just in time to make their dream outdoor wedding ceremony a reality.
Katie sat in front of the mirror and began to braid her hair. The braid, a symbol of strength and blessings was befitting for this bride. A final touch of fresh floral wreath atop her head was a perfect touch to her Irish wedding. She slid into her gown and trusty brown boots, complete with a penny for good luck given to her by her grandfather before she left, fixed the finishing touches of necklace, earrings, and fur bolero to keep warm, a gift from her mother just a few days before along with parting words of encouragement and love before seeing her daughter safely off across the sea.
By the time they were ready to depart the hotel, the sky had cleared and it was a bright, blistery Irish day. Dara, the celebrant and Sean and Kate, the photographers, had the great idea to separate Katie and Mike and let them travel separately to their ceremony. Although getting ready together helped to relax and calm their nerves, they did want that element of surprise that all brides and grooms dream of on their wedding day. So Katie got in the car with Sean and Kate, while Mike rode with Dara. They were on their way!
As the car drove on it became increasingly clear that unfortunately a ceremony at the Cliffs of Moher, as originally planned, was not going to happen. Although the rain had stopped, the aftermath of an Irish spring storm was in full effect. Gusty winds in the village alone were no match to the gusts atop the cliffs, and temperatures plummeted to an uncomfortable 40 degrees F. Made worse, the muddy trek up the cliffs’ paths to the ceremony site would not be enjoyable, made worse by the bitter wind chill and whipping winds. Dara suggested a beautiful circle of trees out near Ballyvaughan, a suggestion that Katie and Mike accepted eagerly with much happiness. They hopped in the car and made their way to the location only to find the storm’s reach had claimed another location. The road to the trees had been closed off. Dara quickly thought of a final location and suggested the pier at Ballyvaughan.
Ballyvaughan is a charming seaside village in County Clare, northwest of The Burren overlooking Galway Bay. Known for its brightly colored buildings and heart of Irish hospitality, the village is a warm welcome to the chill of the western winds and sea. The stone pier is newly constructed, reaching out from the colorful village and deep green backdrop of the hills behind the village buildings and out into the dark blue waters of the Bay. Now this location seemed to be enhanced by the storm!
The stone pier glistened in the sunlight that finally made its way out of the clouds. The fresh rain had opened up the hills behind the village, revealing a deep verdant green picturesque and almost indescribably beautiful. The sun’s rays shone through the big, white and silver clouds, at times hitting the white washed walls of the buildings behind, illuminating the pier further still, and the beautiful bride who took her position at the head of it.
Meanwhile, Dara positioned himself with Mike at the end of the pier, Siobhan, their violinist, began to play the fiddle nearby. Katie took her place at the head of the pier, the stone pathway of it making a natural aisle. She walked slowly to the beautiful music, the sun’s rays reaching down from the the sky, bouncing off her white gown and illuminating her like an angel. Mike saw a glimpse of his bride, a vision against the village and green hills behind her and his eyes welled up, overcome with happiness and emotion. Katie herself could barely hold back the tears. The ferocity of the morning’s rain left a tranquility of unspeakable beauty now, a perfect setting for their ceremony. The waters calmed down into a beautiful deep blue, waves gently rolling in the distance, and the sky opened to a bright steel blue hue with huge white clouds that moved swiftly through, silvery edges sparkling from the sun’s rays when they hit them. The stone path was slick and seemed enlivened, the bright ecru lichens that adorned the sides of the pier like natural graffiti glowed in the aftermath of the rain. The winds calmed down to solid breeze characteristic of a seaside town, making Katie’s hair wisp about the flowers in her hair. Although this was not what they imagined their wedding to be originally, it was exactly what they imagined all the same.
Dara began their traditional Irish ceremony. A combination of readings and vows, Katie and Mike worked together in the weeks leading up to their wedding to personalize their ceremony and make it unique to them, reflective of their journey together as a couple. They chose to incorporate a blessing of the elements into their day, befitting as the elements conspired in the end to bestow upon them a most glorious day for a wedding and pictures. They also had a traditional hand-fasting ceremony and Celtic prayer.
After the ceremony it was time to celebrate! Working up an appetite, they celebrated their wedding dinner at O’Connors Pub in Doolin and dined on the best fish ‘n chips in the area, washing it down with a couple of pints of Guinness in lieu of a wedding cake! Then they spent the rest of the day with their photographers touring the area and exploring, taking the most gorgeous pictures. At one point a rainbow appeared, and they chased it down from location to location trying to catch it. From running through the fields down to climbing the rocks to the sea, Katie and Mike had a real adventure on their wedding day exploring this beautiful part of the Burren.
“May love and laughter light your days, and warm your heart and home.
May good and faithful friends be yours, wherever you may roam.
May peace and plenty bless your world with joy that long endures.
May all life’s passing seasons bring the best to you and yours.”
Castles, sea, water, earth. Rain, shine, wind, calm. Katie and Mike experienced much during their wedding day, and all with a fantastic attitude and sense of true adventure! We congratulate you both, and wish you a beautiful life together with many continued blessings, peace, and calming courage in the face of anything. Countless blessings to you both! Please make sure to check out more beautiful pictures of their wedding below in the slideshow.
Ceremony: Ballyvaughn Pier, Galway, Co. Clare • Celebrant: Dara Molloy, An Charraig, Inismor, Aran Islands • Hotel: Hotel Doolin, Doolin, Galway • Photographer: Poppies & Me, Limerick • Flowers: Ann Mahon, Ennis, Clare • Music: Siobhan Keane • Dress: Bridal Bliss Designs, Osage Beach, Missouri (USA) • Shoes: Katie’s favorite boots • Veil: floral crown via the Floral Den • Jewelry: diamond bracelet (gift from Mike), vintage necklace and earrings • Groom’s Suit: Men’s Warehouse • Tie/Accessories: Men’s Warehouse
Something Old: doily from her mother, wash cloth from her grandmother • Something New: garter purchased by her grandmother, fur bolero from mom • Something Borrowed: a pair of her grandmother’s blue socks, her mother’s engagement ring • Something Blue: purse
Favorite Moments: Getting ready together, being able to relax together the morning of the wedding; exploring Doolin and the surrounding area when we were taking pictures; being pronounced husband and wife.
Bride’s Advice: “Get Michelle of Waterlily Weddings to help! She was exactly what we needed. She helped me plan our perfect wedding and I couldn’t have done it without her! She suggested all the right vendors, helped us keep organized and calm, and made our vision a reality. We are so thankful for her.”
In The End: “The day was perfect just like it was. I’m a little disappointed we didn’t get to get married on the actual Cliffs of Moher, but the pier at Ballyvaughan was amazing and so unique. The uncertainty of where we were going to get married was a bit stressful, after the Cliffs were out and the tree grove was inaccessible. We both agree that the pier was ultimately a great location! So peaceful, calming, and romantic. Just what we wanted.”