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.

A Year in Review: Best of Waterlily Weddings 2018

Happy New Year everyone! We had an incredible 2018 here at Waterlily Weddings, and as the team reminisced on our favorite moments, we thought it’d be fun to share them with you!  From castles to pubs, gorgeous gowns to bright blue leather jackets, fireworks and boat rides, we’ve had some pretty spectacular weddings this year and can’t wait to show you what we’re working on for 2019!

Here’s a slideshow of our favorite moments, followed by our top picks of the year. And we have even more to show you — galleries not ready by the time this post was written — so  make sure to check the blog often!! Thank you to all of our clients — past and present (and future!) — for putting your trust in us and giving us the privilege of bringing your dream wedding day to life. We wish you all a blessed 2019, full of more adventures and gorgeous destination weddings in Ireland!

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Wedding of the Year

Laney & David | Bantry House & Eccles Hotel | Siobhan Byrne Photography

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We had so many incredible weddings this year that really stood out for various reasons — this was such a tough decision to make, but in the end, we feel Laney and David’s wedding really was the wedding of the year. First, they picked two pretty spectacular locations: Bantry House and Eccles Hotel in Glengariff offer some of the most spectacular scenery and backdrop in Ireland. They smartly chose a garden setting for their spring wedding which worked huge to their advantage: wisteria in full bloom, gorgeous colors created a breathtaking backdrop for the ceremony in the garden and as the party transitioned for the reception, the cocktail reception perfectly timed as the sun began to set on the water, creating a silvery sheen and soft glow. Lots of personalization went into the planning — every detail was thoughtful and had meaning, from the table numbers to guest favors of flower seeds to take home.  Family heirlooms, a thoughtful and simple ceremony, warm and welcoming reception complete with custom cocktails featuring local gin and a surprise fireworks show to light up the night sky. We love that Laney and David’s wedding is authentically Irish, but not in the obvious way — no castles, no ruins, no pub — but instead embraced the spirit of Ireland and created an adventure for their guests as they winded through the Irish countryside, taking in the natural beauty and local culture.

We invite you to read more about their gorgeous day in the BLOG POST here!

outstanding elopement

Jennifer & Scott  | Kilkenny  | JAM Shoots

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An elopement should be about focusing on one another without distraction, taking advantage of a killer venue/location, and embracing the day’s vibe and going with it.  Jennifer and Scott did that 100% for their epic elopement in 2018.  The intimate ceremony took place at Ballybur Castle, followed by some gorgeous photographs exploring the grounds. The couple went into town to celebrate afterwards — really worth the read on the blog post! The day was filled with personalized details, down to a “Married AF” cake topper and “cake-chete.”  We love Jennifer’s pop of blue and how their photographer John of JAM Shoots expertly positioned them throughout the countryside and village to capture the best shots. The whole day is very organic, very unique, has a great pace, and is really true to them and this remains one of my favorite galleries and elopements ever!

Check out more on the BLOG POST here!

best portrait / first look

Tara & Jimmy | Kilruddery House  |  Shane O’Neil Aspect Photography

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We had so many gorgeous portrait sessions and First Looks to choose from this year, but one in particular really stood out for us. One of the most spectacular First Looks we’ve ever seen, we are blown away by the emotive and effortless presentation of Tara and Jim’s first look on their gorgeous wedding day at Kilruddery House & Gardens.  Their photographer — the insanely talented Shane O’Neil of Aspect Photography — managed to capture this special moment with such integrity, smartly presenting it in black and white to highlight the buildup and climax and everything in between: the nerves, the excitement, the fear, the determination, the choice, the pure joy, and complete love between two people in such a glorious happy moment. The perspectives and balance allow the focus to be completely on the event and in-moment progression to create a truly astounding series of photos that completely engage you.  We cannot be thankful enough for Tara and Jimmy as well — their attitude and approach are so authentic and in-moment. Breathtakingly beautiful and a reminder for us as planners, why we do what we do!

For  more on Tara and Jim’s incredible wedding day, check out the POST HERE.

favorite location: outdoor

Natalie and Justin  | Dunluce Castle  | Paula O’Hara Photography

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In Ireland we’re spoiled for incredible locations to serve as backdrop for your wedding day. In 2018, we got the opportunity to venture north into Northern Ireland, a part of the island that boasts some of the most spectacular, breath-taking scenery you can find. It’s no wonder it’s often used for film locations, including Game of Thrones!  Natalie and Justin chose Dunluce Castle to serve as setting for their elopement and it truly ended up being a dream wedding day.  The castle along with the dramatic northern island cliffs served as backdrop for their intimate ceremony. After, they explored the area including the famed Hedges and sandy beaches for gorgeous photos with their photographer, the uber-talened Paula O’Hara.

We cannot wait to share more of this gorgeous elopement with you later this month!!!

outstanding venue: general

Ashford Castle | In Love Photography & Epic Love Photography

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With so many incredible venues to work with in Ireland, it really was hard to choose a top favorite for 2018.  Ashford Castle comes to the top of the list for its amazing versatility, attention to detail, impeccable execution, and possibilities for even more spectacular weddings we’d love to see in 2019-20.  The castle is picturesquely set with coast and countryside, beautifully appointed, and offers a variety of options to work with both indoors and outdoors for your wedding day (big or small).  In 2018 we planned a beautiful intimate ceremony in the garden and a multi-day Indian-themed spectacular including custom built glass marquee, live food stalls, and more. Ashford really is the apex of venues, offering incredible design options both indoors and outdoors for an unforgettable wedding day.

Check out more of Ashley & Kyle’s garden wedding at Ashford (beautifully captured by In Love Photography) HERE .

And Lindsay and Miten’s  coral and emerald themed Indian celebration (gorgeous photos by super-talent Epic Love Photography) HERE.

outstanding venue: ruins

Sarah & Nick | Aran Islands | In Love Photography

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Ireland is unique in that it has some incredible ruins you can work into your setting for your wedding day, from island monasteries to castle ruins.  This year was difficult to choose who was top for this category, but taking into consideration location, texture, variety, and uniqueness, the Aran Islands wins out for 2018.  We had the pleasure to help Sarah and Nick plan a lovely intimate wedding here, merging ancient Celtic, Greek, and Irish traditions into a bespoke wedding ceremony in a gorgeous location.  We love how this location incorporates lots of ancient Ireland, has an incredible natural backdrop, and gives you an instant quintessential Irish tone to distinguish your wedding from the rest.

Check out more gorgeous photos captured by the super talented Wim of In Love Photography in our BLOG POST here!

outstanding venue: indoors

Kilruddery House & Gardens | Christina Mell Studio

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Kilruddery House is always a slam dunk choice to host your ceremony, and indoors is no exception. Natural light pours through the orangerie no matter the weather, creating an ethereal look that photographs beautifully. Unique details like tile work on the ground, statues, brick work, and more create a unique space full of interesting textures and colors to work into your design and color palette. We’ve had many different styles of weddings here, from modern to vintage, light and airy to deep and moody and they all work.  Cannot wait to see how our clients interpret this gorgeous space in 2019! And cannot wait to share more of Devin and Damien’s

best overall composition

Dawn & Scott | Kinsale | Aspect Photography

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This category looks at a wedding’s overall vibe, schedule, and tempo of the day which is really important (and often overlooked).  We get caught up in the details, but creating a smooth tempo throughout the day where each element leads to the next is the difference between a good wedding and a great one.  Dawn and Scott did just that with their fabulous Kinsale intimate wedding! Beginning the day in this sleepy port town, they had their first look, explored a bit of the local cliffs with some champagne, had a gorgeous ceremony at an Irish ruin, then celebrated with their guests in a relaxing local pub with Irish music and local fare. We can’t wait to share more with you very soon!

favorite overall decor: ceremony

floral arch | Hanna & Patrick | Frog Prince Design | The Lous

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Many couples focus on the reception but the ceremony is the reason you’re there to begin with! Hannah and Patrick’s ceremony at Virgina Park Lodge featured a spectacular round floral arch and garden floral decor expertly prepared by super talented Frog Prince Designs (photos by The Lous). The skill lies in the right proportion, shape, style, and balancing out the rest of the decor to compliment (not distract) from any focal points and finer details. Hanna and Patrick’s focal point arch was just that and really created a gorgeous space for their nuptials.

We cannot wait to share more of this gorgeous wedding with you later on this month so make sure you check back soon!!

Reader’s Choice: Laney & David, Bantry House

favorite overall decor: reception

Aissa & Kevin | Luttrellstown Castle | Frog Prince Design | Sydney Bliss and Siobhan Byrne

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outstanding ceremony detail

Celtic & Greek traditions | Sarah & Nick | Aran Islands | In Love Photography

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We love when a couple really embrace the wedding day and create a bespoke ceremony that’s truly unique and reflective of themselves.  Sarah and Nick’s wedding at the Aran Islands merged together ancient Celtic, Irish, and Greek traditions for a truly unique and inspiring ceremony.  We love the Greek Orthodox tradition of the stefana — two circlet crowns joined by a ribbon signifying the joining of the bride and groom together — and incorporating real, authentic Celtic stones into the ceremony!

Please check out the blog post for  more!

outstanding cultural detail

Lindsay & Miten | traditional Indian ceremony | Epic Love Photography

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Lindsay and Miten’s multi-day wedding celebration spanned everything from scenic stops at the Cliffs of Moher to a vibrant Indian themed rehearsal dinner to a multi-cultural eastern and western wedding day. But the ceremony was particularly outstanding. A traditional Indian ceremony took place under a custom built arbor. The wedding color palette glowed in shades of emerald, coral, white and gold. Many details were brought to Ireland directly from India, providing a really authentic and rich cultural detail that was beautifully documented by Epic Love Photography.

Check out more in the BLOG POST here!

outstanding reception detail

table numbers & seating chart | Laney & David  | Siobhan Byrne Phoography

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Again, the little details where couples personalize their event to make it uniquely them are the details that stand out and  make your wedding special. Laney and David enlisted the help of their friend Shanae who created custom hand-painted watercolor portraits of their beloved pets to serve as the table numbers. A hand-drawn colored sketch of Bantry House served as their guest book — guests invited to sign as they entered the reception space — a keepsake that now hangs framed in their home. For more check out the BLOG POST here!

outstanding cake

rose gold and marble | Aissa & Kevin | Cupcakes & Counting | Sydney Bliss and Siobhan Byrne Photography

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We love a fabulous wedding cake and Cupcakes and Counting never fail to deliver just that.  They created a stunning marble effect cake for Aissa and Kevin’s wedding at Luttrellstown Castle with gorgeous edible rose gold detail. A perfect cake topper and accent decor completed the look for this modern day fairytale wedding.

We can’t wait to blog more very soon, but for now check out our wedding featured on The Vow!

favorite first dance

Laura & Reid  | Killarney | Awake & Dreaming Photography

[pp_gallery id=”30376″]So much to love about Laura and Reid’s intimate wedding — they came in just about every category between favorite ruin, ceremony detail, look, style, and more.  But for us what really stood out was how they embraced Ireland as an adventure and boy did Ireland deliver! From boat ride to their private island ceremony location, private castle tour, to celebrating with the locals, their wedding has so much to love but it’s their First Dance we’re blown away by.  They were post-dinner with their friends in the heart of town when they started walking down one of the side streets. A street musician was playing some romantic Irish songs on the guitar, and they spontaneously started to dance.  The locals stopped their cars and cleared the way, inviting them to move into the middle of the street.  That special moment, where time stopped and they looked into each other’s eyes dancing as husband and wife under the Irish night sky and sting lights and local revelry for the first time was beautifully captured (as always) by super talented Awake and Dreaming Photography.

Check out more on the BLOG POST here!

favorite bridal bouquet

Laney | spring garden bouquet | Kristine Hayes Wedding Design | Siobhan Byrne Photography

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This was so hard to choose as 2018 gave us some truly stunning bouquets.  Laney’s gorgeous bouquet included white and greenery spring tones to compliment her gorgeous dress created by Kristine Hayes Wedding Design (formally Lovebird Design). The shape, style, composition are a perfect choice for Laney’s look.

For more on this fabulous intimate wedding, check out the BLOG POST here!

favorite overall look: bride

Shannon | Newton Castle | Sean & Kate Photography

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This was such a hard category to score and we had so many gorgeous brides in 2018 that really stood out. Shannon’s overall look really did take our break away, though. From the stunning figure-hugging Martin Liana dress to the cathedral veil to the Stuart Weitzman shoes to the Tiffany jewelry, hair and makeup impeccably done to showcase her natural beauty, Shannon was every bit the perfect bride. Her femininity is effortless as she moved from location to location throughout the day. Be it dramatic cliffs with equally dramatic veil to ethereal in a pub, we cannot wait to share more of this idyllic wedding day with you very soon in 2019!

outstanding detail: bride

heirloom headpiece | Laney & David | Bantry House | Siobhan Byrne Photography

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Laney incorporated a lot of thoughtful details into her wedding day, including her headpiece. Originally worn by her mother when she married her father, it added the perfect sparkly and glamorous touch to Laney’s look. And one day will be passed down to her children for their wedding day!

Check out the blog post for more!

favorite look: groom

Ryan | Mackenzie & Ryan | Cait Bourgault Photography

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You really can’t beat a tuxedo for your best groom’s look. Ryan updated the look and stayed within their blue palette with a sleek and modern navy tuxedo that worked perfectly on their wedding day. He looked dapper waiting for his gorgeous bride Mackenzie, cutting cake, on the dance floor, and through to the night. Well done Ryan!

Check out their blog post for more!

favorite look: bridal party

Mackenzie & Ryan | Ballymagarvey | Cait Bourgault Photography

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Mackenzie and Ryan’s bridal party look was absolutely stunning.  The shades of blue, from turquoise to sapphire were a gorgeous pop of color against the Irish countryside and garden.  The bridesmaids were dressed in a wave of blue tones and different styles of dresses to suit their shapes and individual personalities, and the groomsmen dressed in smart navy to compliment Ryan’s navy tuxedo. The colors are a breath of fresh air, vibrant and really photographed beautifully by Cait Bourgault.  We hope this will inspire more couples in 2019-20 to go for more vibrant colors on their wedding day!

For more check out the BLOG POST here!

Reader’s Choice: Laney & David, Bantry House & Gardens

favorite personalized detail

Anny & Bryan | sketch + logo | Mount Juliet | Pawel Bebenca Photography

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If you have the talents, don’t be afraid to incorporate them into your wedding day! Anny is a very talented sketch artist who worked in some gorgeous details to personalize her wedding day. During the design phase, we were brain-storming how we could make her day unique when she offered she could sketch. She ended up sketching Mount Juliet for the invitation suite — the design we also used for the menus — and creating a really clever logo that doubles as “AB” (Anny & Brian” as well as a shamrock to represent Ireland. We used the logo on the place cards, menus, and the cake topper for the perfect touch!

For more on Anny & Brian’s glorious spring wedding day at Mount Juliet, check out the BLOG POST here !

favorite shoes

Lindsay | Badgley Mischka | Epic Love Photography

We loved Lindsay’s choice in footwear for her two looks on her wedding day. This pair of sparkly Badgley Mischka’s paired perfectly with her western and eastern attire looks. For more check out the BLOG POST here!

Thanks for taking this tour with us down memory lane. We can’t wait to see what’s in store in 2019!

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