We absolutely love when a couple take their wedding day as an opportunity to truly express themselves. Be it weaving in their favorite things into traditional wedding schemes, or going off “wedding script” with super non-traditional venues or details, the fact remains that the most memorable weddings are those where the couple truly embraced their personalities, quirks, and story…and reflected that into their wedding day.
Such is the case with Amy and Michael. Their beautiful, rustic autumn wedding at the gorgeous (and one of our favorite venues) Gregans Castle was a perfect expression of themselves and their story. From favorite movies to a woodland wonderland in an elegant dining room, Amy and Michael found a way to incorporate a little piece of themselves into every detail. And the result was a whimsical wedding day for this Irish lad and his American country girl.
“We both swiped right.”
Amy and Michael’s story began online. Amy is American, a country girl from beautiful Colorado in the States who just transferred to Dublin for a 6 month work engagement. This was her first time in Europe, let alone Ireland, and she knew absolutely no one. A friend suggested she go online to meet some people, and as Fate would have it, a decision that would bring her straight to Michael. An Irishman through and through, Michael invited Amy on a date in Ranelagh to get to know each other and show off a bit of his homeland. They enjoyed a lovely lunch (sans mimosas) at Cinnamon and then Michael took Amy for an ice cream cone at the Dun Laoghaire pier. They walked together through the farmers market and down the length of the pier, talking and laughing and getting to know each other. They spent the next three and a half months together, but then it was time for Amy to return to Colorado. They continued talking the next seven months, trying to navigate through a distance that spanned over two continents and an entire ocean, and taking the time to get to know one another and figure out what they each wanted for themselves and for each other. Later on Michael came to visit in Colorado, then two months later Amy returned to Dublin for a visit, and left back for the states newly engaged!
It was Christmas of 2015. Amy landed in Dublin and check in at the Shelbourne in Dublin, her favorite hotel when she visits Ireland, to spend some time with Michael before making their way out to Cork to visit his family for the holidays. Amy had a feeling Michael would propose this week, figuring it would be with his family present. Michael had an idea and said he wanted to go for a walk over at St. Stephen’s Green to get some air before meeting the family for brunch. So they walked hand in hand over to the Georgian square park, taking refuge under the serenity of the trees. Amy noticed Michael wasn’t able to relax; he was sweating up a storm, and asked if he was ok. He said he was fine and they continued around the old bandstand in the middle of the green. Michael turned to Amy and asked if she’d take a selfie with him. He pulled out his cell phone and they took a couple of shots. Amy started to make her way down off the bandstand when Michael asked her to turn around. She turned and found Michael on one knee, looking up to his Amy, and asked her to do him the honor of being his wife.
Of course she said “yes,” and started to help him back up when a little elderly man walked by and yelled over “Congratulations! Enjoy it — this is the best it will ever be!”
The newly engaged couple nearly fell over laughing.
They joined his family for brunch where they celebrated into the afternoon and with more friends later that evening. And soon, a wedding was to be planned!
The decision to host a destination wedding in Ireland was an easy one. Amy really grew to love Ireland during her work stay those months, and with Michael being Irish, it simply felt like home for them both. Their decision to host their wedding at Gregans Castle came equally as easily: Michael used to visit the estate as a child with his mother and grandmother and remembers it fondly, and Amy is a huge Tolkien and Lord of the Rings fan (Tolkien himself actually stayed at the estate while writing the book series, taking inspiration from the Burren as setting for the hobbits’ Shire). Further, the exclusivity, proximity to sight-seeing, incredible natural beauty, excellent food and accommodations, and a kid-friendly atmosphere was an absolutely perfect fit for their guests and the vibe they wanted for their wedding day.
The overall theme of their wedding was centered in part around the season — fall — and in larger part, themselves! They really wanted to incorporate “a little bit of everything we love”: Colorado country, Lord of the Rings, Guardians of the Galaxy, Hawaii, and more. They had a traditional ceremony with some “nontraditional” details, like a Maile Lei used for the hand-fasting instead of ribbon or chords, and then enjoyed a fabulous five-course meal set in a Lord of the Rings inspired setting in the dining room of Gregans, mixing in natural elements like moss, flowers, and fruits in a color palette inspired by early autumn. From cowboy boots to proper Guinness pints, Guardians of the Galaxy cufflinks to a piece of Lorien, Amy and Michael’s wedding is colorful, fun, and uniquely them and we’re so excited to share it with you today.
Without further adieu, Waterlily Weddings is proud to present, Michael and Amy’s autumn wedding in the Shire. This, is their story….
“Meet me in the altar in your white dress
We ain’t getting no younger, we might as well do it
Been feeling all the while girl I must confess
Girl let’s just get married
I just wanna get married…”
It was a cool but thankfully sunny morning, this October 8th. The Burren woke peacefully, much as it has for centuries, wildflowers in full autumnal glory dotting the rocky landscape among the ancient rolling hills of western Ireland. The sun rose lazily in the pale blue sky, the grey-white clouds off of the Atlantic off in the distance would make a presence but not a full appearance this wedding day, thankfully.
Amy awoke in her bed at Gregans Castle, a comfortable estate retreat in the heart of this Irish shire. Calm and surrounded by her closest family and friends, she raised herself out of bed and began for the day’s preparations. A breakfast was brought into her suite, and she casually munched and sipped champagne, juice, and coffee alongside her bridesmaids. They laughed, relaxed in their silken robes adorned with colorful flowers, and enjoyed this peaceful wedding morning with each other as they took turns getting their hair curled and pinned, and brushes that gently stroked the apples of their cheeks.
As the morning went on, Amy slipped into her ivory and taupe lace Justin Alexander dress, her auburn hair cascading down in gentle soft curls around her shoulders. She slipped into her shoes — a trusty pair of brown boots — a little piece of Colorado country brought with her today for her Irish wedding day.
Meanwhile, Michael awoke happy and excited. He got dressed, a bright Irish blue suite and crisp white shirt but the outfit was not complete until the Guardians of the Galaxy cuff links made their appearance as the final, perfect touch. He made his way down to the bar in Gregans, where he met his best mates. They stayed and talk a little while, reminiscing and joking as the morning hours casually went by. Then they all walked down to a cemetery nearby to visit a boyhood friend of theirs, paying their respects and spending some time with a special friend who sadly could not be there in person that day. They made their way back up to Gregans, and the wedding was soon to begin.
Up in the suite Amy was putting on her own finishing touches. A gorgeous veil handmade by a dear friend was fixed to her hair by a beautiful vintage style hair comb completed this Colorado girl’s perfect rustic-vintage look. Some jewelry by Nadri and a megawatt smile and she was ready!
Her bridesmaids dressed in their flowing fawn-colored dresses, clutched their orange, peach, and pink blooms and couldn’t help their happiness and admiration for their dear friend and bride. A quick kiss from the Father of the Bride, and everyone took their places for the wedding on the estate’s sprawling green.
Overlooking the expanse of the Burren, benches laid out with oatmeal colored cashmere blankets flanked the natural grass aisle — outlined with different sized white lanterns holding candles, and sprawling with orange, peach, cream, and pink blooms, bright greenery, and bright red crab apples sprinkled down its length. The ceremony’s center was a table laid with white linen and a bright arrangement of flowers and greenery overflowing almost the entire length of the table. This was in turn flanked by two tall arrangements, branches with soft green foliage, wild grass, and pops of bright orange in tall clear vases with more bare branches, lanterns, and flowers trailing at the base to complete the rustic fall look. The men took their places in front of the guests, and the bridesmaids began their walk to the alter. The band — the Galway Ramblers — began to play “If I ever Leave This World Alive” and Amy made her debut. With veil lightly trailing behind in the breeze, she made her way to her smiling Michael and took her place beside him.
A traditional ceremony took place, including hand-written vows Michael and Amy wrote that very morning. They purposely chose to wait until the morning of their wedding day so the words they spoke to each other would be most authentic and truly in the moment. They chose to incorporate the hand-fasting ceremony, but with a twist: they love Hawaii, so instead of using the traditional ribbon or chord, they used a Maile Lei to fast their hands. A beautiful garland of fresh white flowers was carefully wrapped around their clasped hands, proclaiming them onto one another in front of these witnesses. Bob Marley’s “This Is Love” was one of their readings, and Michael’s copper-haired nephew Zachary was the perfect ring bearer.
So excited were they to be husband and wife, they even kisses each other before being proclaimed! Much to the delight of their guests and themselves, when finally announced “husband and wife” they took a second shot at it and sealed it with a kiss.
Guests showered the newly married couple with orange and cream flower petals as they walked down the aisle. Everyone retreated to Gregans for some refreshment and the couple enjoyed taking some pictures together around the area.
The dining room at Gregans was transformed into a woodland wonderland befit of a modern day elf’s wedding. The long dining tables were draped with crisp white linen and classically appointed with fine china and clear as the rain glassware. The pale green menus matched the cream and green cushions of each chair. The length of each table’s center was dotted with clusters of flowers, berries, grapes, apples, all in different containers from terra cotta to glass jars. Wooden slabs nuzzled in between the flowers and fruits, and gave a nice contrast of texture to the soft bright green moss dotting throughout the tables. Tall arrangements of branches, soft greens, and leaves leaped towards the ceiling, some strung with small white twinkling lights. As the afternoon gave way to night, the candles were lit and the bright oranges and reds of the decorations glowed like ancient amber.
The guests feasted on a five-course meal, drank and drank some more. From canapes to lobster bisque, the food was rich and satisfying and was befitting a feast any lord of Middle Earth would be proud of. A vanilla cake simple adorned with fresh strawberries was the crowning glory for dessert.
Michael was in charge of selecting the music for the first dance. A surprise, he carefully plotted his plan to create the perfect first dance experience he knew his bride would love. The band began playing one of Amy’s favorite songs she loved in her 20s called “Let’s Get Married” but Jagged Edge. Once she recognized the song she cried (that he remembered) and laughed (as it can be a slightly lyrically – inappropriate song for a wedding). But then the band seamlessly turned to Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud” as Michael danced with his bride in his arms, one of the first songs they heard together on their very first date.
They feasted. They laughed. They drank. They danced. They smiled. They cried. They loved. And they did it their way.
Amy and Michael — we are so in love with how in love you are with one another. We love your sense of humor, your confidence, the little details that make you both unique and uniquely you together. We love that you “think big” and are confident to be yourselves, placing an emphasis on happiness, enjoying life, and sharing that love with those you love. We hope you continue to indulge your adventurous spirits, keep that sense of yourselves wherever you may go, and we know we’ll see you again at “home” in Ireland.
And as you kiss under the light of a thousand stars, we’re thinking out loud we know you found love right where you are.
Congratulations! And cheers to a lifetime of happiness for you both!
Venue: Gregans Castle, Ballyvaughan, Co. Clare · Celebrant: Marike Peek · Photography: NavyBlur · Videography: Dreamcatcher Productions · Flowers: Lamber De Bie · Music (Ceremony): Galway Ramblers · Music (Reception): Funky Buskers · Dress: Justin Alexander (Bridal Collection, Denver, CO, USA) · Shoes: “Freebird” by Steve Madden · Accessories: Nadri · Veil: Marybeth Pfeiffer · Make-Up: Odharnait · Hair: Helga Kampff · Groom’s Suit: M&S Autograph Collection · Bridesmaids: Amsale (Bella Bridesmaids, Denver, CO, USA) · Groomsmen: Love Suite (Ireland) · Cake: Goyas Fine Food · Car: Pat McKenna / Irish Diamond Limousines · Wedding Accessories Rental: M. O’Bryrne Hire Stationary: COLORIdiGIO · Special Touches: Guardians of the Galaxy tie tacks and cuff links for groomsmen — Jegas Creations (Etsy); Welcome Bags — Milgrim Designs (Etsy)
Favorite Moments: “Seeing my girlfriend’s faces when they got their first look, laughing and joking with Helga, NavyBlur, and Gavin and Odharnait, looking out and seeing everyone we love at our ceremony, getting my veil and dress stuck all over the rocks during photographs, the speeches, the FOOD!!!, the atmosphere and our surroundings…”
A Piece of Advice: “Stick to what you love. Even when everyone is telling you what they like and what they think are the right choices, go with your gut. Pick what you love and it will all work out!”