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.

Karen & Joe, A Traditional Irish Wedding in Monaghan


Waterlily Weddings offers a variety of services for our clients, one of which is on-day coordination. Some couples are already familiar with Ireland (usually a groom or bride is an Irish native) and therefore already have a set plan in place with a command on the planning process. But, they need a bit of help on their special day to make sure everything goes according to their plan. Such was the case with Karen and Joe. A native of Ireland’s northern county of Monaghan, it was an obvious decision to host the wedding in Joe’s hometown. Karen’s American family would make the trek over the Atlantic for the wedding. Her father was especially excited, having never traveled outside of the US; in fact his daughter’s wedding would be the reason for obtaining his first ever passport! As the 6-month planning process was well in Karen’s hands, she reached out to Waterlily Weddings to help on the day of the wedding.

From coordinating vendor arrivals, putting on finishing touches, making last adjustments and supporting the couple and bridal party, as on-day coordinators we help to ensure that everything runs smoothly and according to your plan. This enables the couple to enjoy the day of their wedding, to relax while getting their hair and makeup done, to soak in the special moments during the morning and feel relaxed and at ease that details (large and small) are being diligently looked after for you.

Karen and Joe met on New Year’s Eve in 2010 at an Irish bar called The Byre, a local haunt for both of them. Karen’s friends were seated at a table next to Joe’s friend’s, and when she walked over she noticed him right away. They talked and danced throughout the night, even shared a midnight kiss to ring in the new year, and then parted ways without exchanging contact information. A year passes by, it’s once again New Year’s Eve, and eventually Karen found herself back at the Byre with her friends. As fortune would have it, the bar was completely empty this year…except for Joe and his friends! Joe looked towards the door, saw Karen walk in, and walked right up to her and said “Happy Anniversary! It’s been a year since we kissed!”

They’ve been together ever since.

In December of 2015 near Christmas, Karen and Joe were in Ireland visiting his family for the holidays. While in Dublin on a last minute shopping day, Karen and Joe found themselves on the famous Ha’Penny Bridge, overlooking the River Liffey. He dropped to one knee and proposed, Karen said “yes,” and Joe promptly pulled out a lock and key from his pocket. He had written “Joe and Karen forever” on the lock, and they fastened it together to the bridge per a lovers’ tradition. Soon, planning for their dream Irish wedding was underway.

An architectural designer by trade, Karen has a clear vision of what she wanted for her wedding. They would wed in Co. Monaghan, Joe’s hometown, at the cathedral where his parents were married some thirty years before. It would be a traditional Irish affair: a traditional Catholic ceremony, followed by a lavish reception at the beautiful Castle Leslie serving a canape and cocktail reception followed by an expertly prepared five-course meal including roasted chicken, champ potatoes, herb stuffing and chasseur sauce or Irish rib eye with braised shallot, crushed potato with garlic and spinach, carrot and coriander puree, and rich red wine jus. A supremely delicious dessert of strawberry and rhubarb crumble with vanilla bean ice cream followed as prelude to a gorgeous tiered cake of pecan & maple cake with crunchy pecan praline buttercream, chocolate biscuit cake, and a vanilla cake with elderflower buttercream and gooseberry curd. Karen and Joe were served on silver platter the entire evening, including the custom created coconut mojito cocktail at Joe’s request (his favorite drink).

A lovely Irish detail the couple incorporated into their special day was a hand-fasting ceremony. Performed on the steps of the castle by her sister (an interfaith minister) who expertly explained the ceremony’s tradition and history and significance to the guests.

Morning’s grey skies and pouring rain gave way to a gloriously sunny afternoon at the castle, complete with perfect Irish rainbow. Karen and Joe together with their family and friends danced the night away to both a band and a DJ, another lesser known Irish tradition. Karen just shined in her gorgeous Eve of Milady white lace gown. The floral artistry of Stephanie created a lush sea of peonies to compliment the sugar pink shades of Karen’s vision, contrasted smartly with modern grey tones and creamy whites. The wedding was sweet and romantic, traditionally Irish from rainy morning to champ potatoes and heavenly harps.

Without further adieu, Waterlily Weddings is proud to present the wedding of Karen and Joe in Monaghan and Castle Leslie. The video (and killer drone footage) is courtesy of the uber-talented Dreamcatcher Productions. Congratulations Karen and Joe, and may your love indeed last forever!


Ceremony: St. Macartan’s Cathedral, Co. Monaghan  ·  Venue: Castle Leslie, Co. Monaghan  ·  Celebrant: Father McGuinness    PhotographerManuel Lavery  ·  Video: Dreamcatcher Productions  ·  FloristThe French Touch Florist  ·  CakeThe Wedding Cake Boutique  ·  Hair: Aine Hayes  ·  Makeup: Nicola Murphy  ·  Music: Tara Gilsenan (harp) (ceremony, reception); Cream of the Barley (band) (reception); Marty Connor (DJ) (reception)  ·  Transportation: Dixon’s Wedding Cars (Beuford) ·  Dress: Eve of Milady, Spring 2016  ·  Shoes: Betsey Johnson (and Tieks to change into for dancing)  ·  Veil: Kleinfeld’s, NYC  ·  Accessories: Grandmothers bracelet, earrings from Kleinfeld’s, cross my own  ·  Groom Suit and Shoes: Wilson’s Suit Shop, Co. Monaghan  ·  Waistcoat: Ted Baker  ·  Tie: Charles Tyrwitt, NYC  ·  Shirt: Ted Baker

Something Old: grandmother’s diamond bracelet

Something New: dress

Something Borrowed: friend’s purse, aunt’s handkerchief

Something Blue: shoes

Favorite Moments: “The whole day was magical from start to finish and we wouldn’t change a thing!”

Bride’s Piece of Advice: “Be patient. Everything happens for a reason, so if something isn’t working out for you in that moment, put it on hold and do something else, it will all fall perfectly into place! Remember you are marrying the love of your life, so nothing else matters!”

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