Adventure. Romance. Epic. Three words that describe the Cliffs of Moher and the picture perfect elopement of Candace and Jonathan this past May. We love when a couple know what they want for their wedding day, but are open and flexible to let the day flow freely. The ending result is crystal clear in pictures: the couple is comfortable, really engaged with their surroundings, and emotionally present on their wedding day. Jonathan and Candace decided to elope to western Ireland for the stunning natural beauty and sense of adventure found in the west. They thought it would be a perfect place to start their lives together, and we couldn’t agree more.
We are in love with Candace’s gorgeous blush gown by Cocoon Silk (Portland, OR). The skirt flowed perfectly in the gentle breeze of the cliffs the day of her wedding, the delicate lace pattern beautifully adorning the bodice of the gown and was the perfect focal point for her petite frame. We loved her darker berry hued lip, dark hair pulled expertly back in an effortless chignon, and adorned wedges were just perfect for her ceremony at the Tower and pictures by the cliffs! Jonathan looked smashing in a smart custom tuxedo by Collier Tailors (Portland, OR), the classic old school style matching Candace’s timeless romantic style with a vintage vibe just perfectly.
All they needed was a sunny day, which thankfully they got! And the expertise of Awake and Dreaming Photography there to capture the whole thing!
Fate brought Candace and Jonathan on a summer night in Portland four years ago. They both found themselves outside of a store, when they locked eyes and an instant attraction hit them like a quiet bolt of lighting. They started talking, which led to more talking, and a date, and more dates, and spending more time together including watching football, cheering for their teams — the Oregon Ducks for Candace, and the Michigan State Spartans for Jonathan. Well, one day they were watching some football when Jonathan quietly slipped out a beautiful ring, and popped the question to Candace, who excitedly accepted. A wedding was now in the works, and the planning process began!
They wanted something quiet and intimate, romantic and memorable, and to create a story that they could tell their grandchildren one day. Ireland quickly came to the top of the list. Both Candace and Jonathan found inspiration in its immense natural beauty, breathtaking scenery, and history, and they could easily imagin their wedding taking place there. Once Ireland was decided, they began exploring locations to host their dream destination wedding, eventually deciding on the Cliffs of Moher. Candace and Jonathan are both actually afraid of heights, and they felt it would be a fitting way to begin their life together: conquering their fears together in one epic moment, while at the same time taking their relationship “to new heights.” They loved the idea of hosting the ceremony itself in cozy Newtown Tower — a charming tower right at the Cliffs to draw in that historical and symbolic element into their day. For accommodations they chose the supremely elegant and comfortable Gregans Castle — the perfect getaway in the Burren to quietly pamper themselves and relax before and after their wedding day.
Candace and Jonathan woke to a perfect sunny day in May. A light breeze permeated through the Burren, the expansive Atlantic glistening in silvers and dark blues in the glorious sunshine. Candace was excited and could hardly contain her smile as she enjoyed a quiet breakfast with her soon-to-be husband. Jonathan didn’t have a trace of nerves; he was calm and excited to start the next chapter of his life with his true love. After breakfast they parted ways — Candace to get ready, and Jonathan taking a quick drive around the countryside before returning back to get ready.
Meanwhile, Candace fell naturally into the wedding morning routine of getting ready with hair and makeup. Being in good hands and knowing all was taken care of allowed Candace to actually enjoy the process, enabling her to take in every moment and enjoy focusing on herself. Her hair was pulled into an effortless chignon, her brown eyes glistened with excitement as lip and eye finishing touches were applied, and perhaps a laugh or two (or three) were shared this joyful morning. Candace slipped into her gorgeous blush wedding gown and added her Betsy Johnson wedges, a simple pearl bracelet and earrings perfectly accessorized her dress.
Now dressed, Candace sat down in a quiet corner and pulled out a card from her parents. After reading it she had a chance to talk with them over the phone before heading outside, making her day complete.
Jonathan returned from his morning drive relaxed and rejuvenated. He had some time to reflect on the day, give thanks for the blessing of marrying the love of his life, and a spark of excitement as Gregans neared into view. He got dressed in his custom tailored tuxedo, a classic style perfectly matching Candace’s, and fixed a classic rose boutonniere to his lapel. He had a little time to enjoy a quick pint as he waited to depart for the tower.
The ceremony took place in Newton Castle, right near the Cliffs of Moher. The tower is a 16th century tower house near the town of Ballyvaughan. It is a unique structure in Ireland, being of cylindrical form with a curious pyramid base. Today the four floors are open to the public, and the occasional wedding. In fact, Waterlily Weddings was the first to produce a wedding at the tower!
Candace and Jonathan loved the history and location of Newton, the shape and feel of it adding that “fairytale” element to their dream destination wedding in Ireland. Plus being centrally located to the cliffs for incredible pictures, it was a perfect fit for them.
The ceremony was a traditional Irish spiritual ceremony reflective of their personal journey. A traditional Irish harpist played, adding the perfect Irish ambiance and that special touch they will both remember forever. Jonathan took his place in the base room of the Tower first, awaiting his bride. The fire hearth was ablaze with a warm fire, the mantle was adorned with a gorgeous garland of pink and white flowers, and white candles of various sizes and shaped dotted the round room from floor to window.
Candace walked up to the tower and stood in the doorway, taking Jonathan’s breathe away. He will always remember how she looked when she stepped into the room, thinking about their future together and never forgetting being overcome with absolute happiness. As Candace walked through the room, each step taking her closer to Jonathan brought a wave of emotion and excitement, until she took her place by his side, both gleaming at one another and at total peace.
Their celebrant, Dara, began the ceremony which included a blessing of the elements, traditional Celtic blessings of the couple, and readings. Candace and Jonathan stood and exchanged vows, each looking into the others’ eyes and holding each other’s hand and envisioning their future together: married, as parents, growing old together, being grandparents one day. As they quietly went on their mental journey of their future together, the four elements were called upon to bless them both, then their hands joined and tied in the traditional Irish hand-fast. Rings were blessed and exchanged, a unity candle was lit, and a few tears wiped away as the ceremony concluded.
After the ceremony, Jonathan and Candace made their way out of the Tower and around the area, ready to explore! Their fear of heights would be put to the test as they walked about the pathway right to the cliffs’ edge.
Hand in hand, the climbed about the cliffs, relishing in the sun’s splendor walking together along the soft grass that was gently dancing from the breeze off the coast below. Far below them the Atlantic was a splendid shade of sapphire, waves gently hitting the rocks below and seagulls flying off high in the distant sun.
They held hands and walked, embraced and held each other, took in the time to breathe in the salty air and take in the moment — that present moment — that they were the only ones in the world, there for each other, united in a forever bond witnessed by the ancient spirits of this most sacred island.
As the sun began its descent into the horizon, it was time to leave. They returned to Gregans Castle where a romantic, multi-course candlelit dinner awaited them in a cozy corner. They talked and ate, held hands and smiled, relishing over their perfectly romantic day atop the Irish hills. They knew they made the right choice to elope. They knew they made the right choice to marry in Ireland. And they couldn’t wait to get back to their loved ones to share their epic adventure.
From morning to night they held hands, took in each other with warm gazes, conquered their fear of heights like a true team. The bond between Candace and Jonathan is as crystal clear as the day that blessed them. They are a wonderful presentation of the quintessential elopement that Ireland has to offer.
Jonathan and Candace: we wish you a lifetime full of happiness, continued conquering, and many, many more happy memories. May the light that shines so bright in both of you never diminish. Congratulations!
Something New: flower robe to wear morning of wedding
Something Borrowed: mom’s white clutch purse
Something Blue: shoes; bride’s best friend’s blue “ear ring” from college
Favorite Part of the Day: “I liked it all from start to finish; I had the experience of a lifetime!” — Candace. “Seeing Candace walking through the door and spending the rest of the day just holding hands and smiling/laughing together.” — Jonathan
A Piece of Advice: “Don’t sweat the little things! It will all work out in the end! Remember to work together and always talk about everything together during the planning process; in the end when it’s all done, you will feel like you did it all together and it’s a great feeling to start out the future that way.”