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.

Kelly & Adam: Gorgeous Elopement in Donegal

When pouring over our weddings in the latter half of 2017 I instantly stopped when I got Kelly and Adam’s gallery from their September elopement in Donegal. Absolutely stunning doesn’t begin to describe it. We’ve often talked here on the blog about how varied the geography can be in Ireland, and how we encourage couples to take advantage of that when deciding on their dream location. We love that Kelly and Adam decided to go into the north and have their ceremony atop the cliffs in Horn Head. We love their laid-back approach, allowing for the day to unfold itself and taking the time to really enjoy every moment.  The day started off cloudy and rainy but per usual, the skies parted just in time for the ceremony to take some spectacular pictures atop the cliffs, countryside’s edge, and even the sandy beach below!  Add to that a gorgeous dress, stunning bouquet, and incredible photographs captured by the super-talented Paula O’Hara  and you have the makings of one spectacular, inspiring elopement.

Kelly and Adam met about ten years ago back in university. They were placed in the same dormitory and on the same floor, becoming fast friends. Kelly and Adam knew always knew they didn’t want a large wedding,  envisioning instead a romantic adventurous elopement someplace beautiful. When they started discussing locations, Adam suggested Ireland.  Kelly is Irish — her parents immigrated from West Cork — and she spent many summers of her childhood in Ireland. He’d been before and they both knew how beautiful it was. But they still wanted to preserve that intimacy and “low-key-ness” of eloping. So they set their sights north of the Kerry and Cork area, and upon their photographer Paula’s recommendation, settled on Horn Head!  We can’t agree more that it was a wonderful decision!

In Gaelic it’s Corrán Binne (“Hollow in the Hills”) and from the pictures you can see why. Horn Head sits on a peninsula in Donegal in North Western Ireland, around the Sheephaven Bay. This part of Ireland is considered one of the most beautiful:  there’s a sense of absolute freedom here, of expanse, and an unmistakable connection to Ireland’s rich ancient past. The area is dotted with stone circles, stone tombs, markings etched by the ancient Celts dating back to the Stone Age. It’s really a spectacular and very special place where the adventurous side of Ireland is palpable. The cliffs rise spectacularly high — enough to rival (and in parts surpass) their famous cousins the Cliffs of Moher — offering the same incredible vantage point and incredible backdrop but with less tourists to contend with. Another striking feature you’ll be surprised to find are the white sandy beaches! Depending on the time of year, the hills rolling back from the sea are impossibly green and dotted with white-washed farm houses, wild horses, and of course, fluffy white sheep. The mix of history with a sleepy countryside demeanor make this part of Ireland irresistibly charming and magical, a perfect setting for Kelly and Adam’s elopement.

Kelly and Adam wanted a simple ceremony based on the humanistic tradition (as both aren’t very religious), one that honors the natural world as enough to be revered in its own right.  Theirs was structured around ancient Ireland, the elements, and traditional blessings. Instead of exchanging rings they opted for the Celtic handfasting tradition. Beautiful poetry and an Irish harpist helped round out the details to create the perfect bespoke ceremony that honored both their beliefs and style. Thankfully the ceremony was  on the shorter side as the wind kicked up and it got colder with the clouds rolling back in!

They then joined their photographer Paula for some gorgeous photos exploring the area in and around Horn Head. After, they sought refuge from the cold wind in the local pub and warmed up with a Hot Toddy and pint of Guinness.  The owner of the pub even let Adam pour his own official Guinness and then surprised the couple with a bottle of prosecco to celebrate!  That evening they returned to their hotel and enjoyed a delicious private dinner with more incredible views in the north as they recalled their favorite parts of their dream wedding day!

We love how effortless and casual Kelly and Adam’s elopement was. There was a sense of ease and just “letting go” of micromanaging the smaller details  that enabled them to really embrace the day and live in every moment of it. That in turn made for exquisite pictures — you can see how present they are and how they are absorbing the area, the ceremony, being their together, and really relishing in every sense of the whole day.  We love how they relaxed at a local pub and just took it all in together. Their day was  simple without a lot of pomp and circumstance, staying true to their personalities and comfort zone.  It really is a textbook example of how you can plan your elopement to Ireland, but to remember to allow yourself that freedom to enjoy the free-flow schedule of the day and really embrace every moment to let it all sink in.

We absolutely love Kelly’s BHLDN dress — suits her form perfectly, compliments the terrain, gives off that sense of formality and elegance but offsets within that rugged terrain just exquisitely. We are obsessed with her blue plaid shawl and find that just a lovely detail that really popped in pictures and worked with everything. Hair, make up, THE SHOES …. everything just wonderfully coordinated and executed. Adam made the classically handsome groom to Kelly’s beautiful Irish bride. And the bouquet is exquisite — expertly prepared by Paula — the colors coordinate just perfectly with the colors of the natural backdrop in Donegal and the hints of soft pinks and pops of orange play off of Kelly’s look just beautifully.  We also love the wine box!  Kelly and Adam each wrote notes to each other and slipped them into a wooden box along with a bottle of wine and nailed it shut. The box is supposed to be opened during their first fight or first year anniversary — which ever comes first! — and enjoyed while reading the notes they wrote on their wedding day. Love that tradition!

Kelly and Adam — congratulations on a flawless elopement! We find it so inspiring and wish you a lifetime full of joy and lots of wine to cheers your beautiful life together!


Location: Horn Head, Donegal ·  Photography & Florals: Paula O’Hara   ·  Planning & Coordination: Waterlily Weddings   ·  Dress & Accessories:  BHDLN   ·  Shoes: Rachel Simpson   ·  Hair: Rossano’s   ·  Makeup: Kerry Harvey

Favorite Part of the Day: “Laughing a lot together…just walking around the beautiful mountains in the wind, laughing and taking pictures. We kept trying to open a bottle of prosecco and failing and our hair was all over the place in the wind…it made for a pretty comical adventure. Having the hot toddy to warm up and just looking at each other and enjoying every moment made the day.”

Bride’s Piece of Advice: “Do what’s right for you! Don’t worry too much about other people. If they  love you, and see that you’re happy, they’ll come around, regardless of how you decide to spend your day.”

Parting Thoughts: “Everything went off without a hitch. It was really everything we could hope for and more. Michelle did such an incredible job with the planning and details and working with Paula was an absolute blast!”


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