Gorgeous setting? Check. Gorgeous dress? Check — times TWO! Gorgeous bride and handsome groom? Check. Falcon? Check. Epic DIY details that I’m still salivating over and in complete shock at how beautifully it turned out — check! check! check!!! We are so in love with Elsa and Zach’s spring wedding at one of our favorite venues — Mount Juliet in Thomastown, Kilkenny — and are so excited to share it with you in this week’s BLOG! We are absolutely blown away by Elsa’s gown. Get your tissues ready…
What makes your wedding unique is focusing on the details: take inspiration from what is meaningful to you and in your life, and build a theme around that. Elsa fully embraced this wedding mantra when conceptualizing her wedding day look and created a custom look that is both memorable and deeply meaningful. She wore two dresses for her wedding day — a simply breathtaking gown that she made herself for her wedding ceremony (!), and then changed into an elegant cream Marchesa evening gown with gorgeous gold lace overlay for the reception afterwards. It was important to Elsa and Zach that the details they had in their wedding had meaning. They designed their own rings using family heirloom pieces, crafted their ceremony to reflect what was unique to them, and Elsa was literally the Do-It-Yourself Rockstar of Ages. In addition to making her own dress, she ended up making her Maid of Honor Susi’s dress as well (!!).
SUPER talented, sweet, meaningful, thoughtful, elegant. Zach and Elsa’s wedding is such a great example of how how couples need to own their weddings. And we are so excited to share theirs with you today. This, is their story….
Elsa and Zach met in Durham, North Carolina back in 2012 when Elsa was pursuing her PhD and Zach was in medical residency. They met through mutual friends and would run into each other often, but remained friends as they dated other people. Four years later Elsa finally agreed to go on a date with Zach, and after just three short months they knew they were meant to be. Zach proposed to Elsa with a custom designed engagement ring made with family heirloom stones, and he popped the question in her childhood home in front of their mothers in May of 2016.
They knew they wanted a small, intimate wedding with just family and close friends, so hosting a destination wedding came up as an option. Elsa and Zach both traveled to Ireland previously and loved it, and both have Irish heritage, so when discussing locations to host Ireland kept coming back to the top of the list. They got in contact with Waterlily Weddings and we started brainstorming options. Elsa mentioned she loved horses (she owns two in fact!) and wanted to incorporate riding at some point in the activities, so Michelle suggested Mount Juliet in Thomastown, Co. Kilkenny as the absolute perfect choice. It has everything this intimate wedding party wanted: the day before the wedding the ladies went riding and enjoyed spa treatments and the men enjoyed golf, followed by a traditional Irish tea for all. Mount Juliet has the perfect balance of countryside elegance, an incredible natural setting, and a coziness that makes everyone feel very comfortable.
….Really quickly, we need to talk about this gown….
Elsa’s unique and stunning wedding gown is an incredibly moving nod to her beloved grandmothers, who have passed away. She figured out an amazing way to have a part of them with her on her special day. Her maternal grandmother — Louise — wore a beautiful satin Priscilla of Boston dress from the 1940’s for her own wedding, that Elsa’s mother also wore to her wedding years later. Elsa also had her other grandmother’s wedding dress and with luck, both were made from a matching heavyweight cream satin that could be worked together to create a brand new dress! Elsa’s grandmother taught her to sew growing up, and she’d usually make one dress or outfit a year in her spare time. She even made a friend’s wedding dress! Elsa knew deep in her heart, creating her own wedding dress was the absolutely perfect way to honor both of her grandmothers, and add that unique special detail to her wedding day that was truly a reflection of herself. So she set to work!
She began the process by researching and trying on dresses for style and size at bridal stores with her mother and soon to be mother-in-law. It was important to Elsa to keep the integrity of the original dresses, so she knew the design ultimately would be something elegant but with a modern twist of some kind to put her personal style stamp on it. Once Mount Juliet was settled on as the venue, the rest of the dress’s details fell into place pretty quickly. Elsa knew she wanted to incorporate as much of her grandmother’s dresses as she could, but the challenge was she was a good 5 inches taller and 2 sizes bigger than them! The missing puzzle piece came in the form of a gorgeous cream floral embroidered lace that she and her maid of honor instantly fell in love with. Elsa ended up making multiple tops and three full versions of the dress (all satin deep v neck with A-line skirt; all satin with high neck and lace on bodice; light pink strapless top lace overlay and lace sleeves) before finally settling on the finished design. Everyone around her was getting anxious she could pull this huge project off, but Elsa remained cool: “For me it was really about what ‘felt right’ which is easy when trying on dresses at a store, but not so easy when you have to make the dress first — this was probably the biggest challenge. Making your own dress could become overwhelming and stressful quite easily, but thankfully for me it was a really fun process!”
In the end Elsa custom-created herself an incredible A-line wedding gown with tiered satin cream skirt with long train made from the skirts of both her grandmother’s dresses, a blush pink off-the-shoulder top with the white cream lace overlay for that modern detail. And the perfect accessory? The veil.
Ya, she made that too….and it is absolutely PERFECT.
The morning of their wedding day started off with a bit of Irish drizzle. A cozy fire was lit in the estate and everyone enjoyed a calm morning with an undertone of wedding excitement pulsing through. Zach joined some of the guests outdoors for a bit of falconry — one of his favorite activities he got to experience in Ireland. He was more concerned about not seeing his bride before it was time! Elsa, meanwhile, enjoyed a lovely breakfast with some of her guests and thankfully it included bacon. She made sure to take a bit of alone time and drew herself a hot bath before getting on with wedding preparations. It helped to center her and get her in a space to really be able to focus and enjoy this special day. We love that.
When it was time, everyone gathered inside. Elsa and Zach wanted a simple and meaningful ceremony, without the pomp and circumstance distractions. They wanted the ceremony to be very reflective of the two of them, focusing on the actual act of getting married rather than distracting details. Two close friends did readings, their mothers were the witnesses for the license, and a hand-fasting ceremony poignantly added that Irish tradition. In lieu of speaking out their vows, Elsa and Zach instead chose to write them out to one another in letters that they exchanged before the ceremony. They were worried about being nervous and forgetting to say what they wanted to say, and having that take over the entire ceremony so instead they chose this course would better suit them so they could enjoy the ceremony fully. To honor her mother, Elsa surprised her by asking the musicians to play her favorite song during the ceremony. Tears ensued.
The couple hosted a traditional formal cocktail reception immediately after the ceremony. Elsa and Zach got to sneak out with their photographer Shane to get some pictures in the garden, which was in full spring bloom. The carpet of queen ann’s lace and lush greenery seemed to enhance the vintage vibe of Elsa’s stunning dress.
They returned back to the estate and Elsa quickly changed into her reception gown — a gorgeous gold lace Marchesa gown. They kept the decorations low key for the reception, and enjoyed a traditional multi-course dinner including an amuse bouche, potato & truffel vaioli with duck egg yolk and asparagus, a gin & tonic palate cleanser, a choice of beef fillet with sauce soubise and glazed shallot fondant potato or cod with salted lemon, mussels and roast chicken jus. Instead of a traditional wedding cake, the couple with their guests enjoyed desserts expertly prepared by Mount Juliet including a vanilla baked custard tart with blackberry sorbet.
Two specialty cocktails were served throughout the day for the guests: a Gin Mule (Elsa’s favorite) and a Jameson Cloudy Apple.
The evening progressed into a casual and comfortable night by the fire, playing cards and sipping cocktails. An impromptu whiskey tasting even took place!
Elsa and Zach — congratulations and may we say “well done” on planning such a beautiful, intimate, and meaningful wedding day. We love how you incorporated everything and everyone you loved into your day. We love the thoughtful details, from the designed rings to the dress to playing cards well into the morning hours with your friends. We wish you both a life full of happiness and so much joy.
Venue: Mount Juliet, Thomastown · Celebrant: Spiritual Ceremonies · Photographer: Aspect Photography · Flowers: Lambert de Bie · Music: Ronan Browne · Hair: Upstyle Junkie · Makeup: Audrey Cashman · Dress: D-I-Y (bride); Marchesa (reception gown) · Veil: D-I-Y · Shoes: Klub Nico · Jewelry: earrings handmade by friend/guest Kris Barrett; bracelet family heirloom (Zach’s mom); rings custom design via Joint Venture Jewelry (Cary, NC) · Groom Suit: J Crew navy blue tux · Groom’s Accessories: J Crew (belt), Allen Edmonds (shoes), Mougin and Pigquand (watch), Brooks Brothers (cufflinks) · Bridesmaids/ MOH: D-I-Y (bride) · Groomsmen: Ted Baker · Special Details: save-the-dates were monogrammed luggage tags with the insert being the actual save-the-date; welcome bags for each guest included a scarf for the ladies and flasks for the men
Something Old: grandmothers’ dresses · Something New: earrings · Something Borrowed: bracelet · Something Blue: shoes
Best Part of the Day: “The ceremony and taking pictures in the garden.”
Bride’s Piece of Advice: “It’s really easy to forget why you have actually decided to get married when you’re in the middle of planning a wedding. Remember to put your relationship first. Talk with your partner about any expectations they may have about the wedding/wedding day and what they care about versus what they don’t care as much about. It’s the mismatched expectations that can lead to the stress on the day or during the planning process.”