THE WATERLILY WEDDINGS JOURNAL

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.

Micro-Weddings | Top Locations & Venues in Ireland: ARAN ISLANDS

Photography by D’Arcy Benicosa |  featured in Martha Stewart Weddings 

 

As the wedding world begins dipping our toes back into wedding planning, we are excitedly embracing the “micro-wedding” concept as we actively plan in 2021 and into 2022 weddings. Waterlily Weddings been successfully planning and flawlessly executing intimate weddings for over a decade throughout Ireland, so this concept of “micro-weddings” is nothing new to us — in fact, we consider ourselves experts on the matter!

We’ve talked about the huge advantages of having a smaller wedding, especially abroad: a more focused guest list, opportunity to allow your budget to focus on the details that are most important to you, and a huge advantage that’s often overlooked is location. For a destination wedding in particular, a huge positive aspect to get excited about is with a smaller guest list, we can really capitalize on some spectacular locations and venues in Ireland to create a truly unique, magical, and memorable wedding for you.

Here on the BLOG we’ll take a detailed look at some of our favorite locations we are actively planning with for 2021 and into 2022 that would be just perfect for your dream day. From Irish ruins to romantic castles, fun casual pubs to breathtaking scenery, there’s plenty to get really excited about and look forward to. So make sure to check back often for the latest!

This week, we’ll start with a truly spectacular location: the Aran Islands.

Photography by In Love Photography

location

Located off the coast of western Ireland, this small group of three islands is known collectively as the Aran Islands or simply, “the Arans.” This area dates back thousands of years. It is a special place, at once a peek into Ireland’s historical past, a resounding connection with nature, and a romantic and spiritual place. This part of Ireland is for the adventurous, the poet, the musician, the historian, the descendant looking to connect with their Irish roots, the bohemian spirit that wants to immerse into culture and soak up the peaceful surrounding and cultural vibrancy.

If you are looking for a truly unique, authentic Irish experience, it does not get better than this. 

The islands can only be accessed via short boat ride — a wonderful way to preserve privacy for your celebration. And the western part of Ireland is known as the Heart of Irish Culture — short drives to the Cliffs of Moher, Bunratty Castle, Galway, The Burren, and much more to explore while on your trip.  This area is quintessential Ireland — continuing to inspire poets, musicians, writers and more for millennia and counting.

Photo by In Love Photography

history

The islands have served as a safe haven for the Celtic people since before 1100 B.C. A few remarkable prehistoric stone forts still dot the islands today that you can explore. The islands grew in peace, developing its Celtic identity from Bronze Age through modern Christianity. You can still find today ancient stones marked by the Celts and ring forts. Enda of Aran founded the Killeany monastery in AD 490, at which point the islands became a spiritual oasis for early Irish Christians and monks. The O’Brien clan built a castle in the 14th century (since destroyed by Cromwell). The people lived quietly and peacefully for hundreds of years, fishing the waters and working the land. The women became skilled knitters, producing beautiful patterns that could also functionally serve in the climate and Irish weather. Today Aran sweaters are as recognizable as the shamrock, and definitely a wonderful keepsake to bring home from your travels. Today the islands serve mostly still as a spiritual destination site — Summer Solstice is a popular day to visit — and historical site for visitors looking for an undisturbed authentic look into Irelands history and culture. 

Photography by D’Arcy Benicosa 

your wedding day

Imagine hosting a Celtic wedding ceremony at an authentic historical site! You will make a memorable entrance through the rolling green fields as a soft coastal breeze tickles your nose with the faint crispness of the salty sea, the waves gently rolling onto the rocky beach off in the distance. Completely private, you and your guests step back into history — locked into this moment set in the limestone ruins of a peaceful monastery, traditional uillean pipes playing softly in the background. A moving, authentic, spiritual bespoke ceremony will set the stage for your vows. Partake in a traditional Celtic ceremony using actual Celtic stones and artifacts! As your guests explore the incredible grounds, you and your photographer will adventure and explore taking photos, the breathtaking scenery serving as backdrop.  This part of Ireland is casual and fun, so we encourage your reception to embrace that vibe! A cozy pub will warm your bones, dining on the freshest local fare like hearty Irish stew and fresh fish n chips. Dance into the night with a traditional Irish band, linking arms with your loved ones and swinging in circles as the pint glasses hoist high and clink to your good fortune.

This part of Ireland is about immersing yourselves into the location, into that moment in time. Embrace the incredible setting around you, dive into the Irish culture and create memories with your loved ones you will cherish for a lifetime.

Photography by In Love Photography

the logistics

This is considered a “remote” location for planning purposes. Things like complicated and complex floral backdrops, opulent table setting designs, and displays aren’t recommended. We can definitely decorate and bring in elements to make the whole day beautiful and uniquely you, but we definitely don’t recommend over the top and complicated. Also do understand given the location and accessibility, rental items and some vendors may be more expensive so keep that in mind with your budget.

Our team of experienced professionals will help you plan your dream wedding day from start to finish:

  • identify and secure the perfect locations for your ceremony and reception
  • transportation
  • conceptualize and design the day’s details including a custom color palette that will work beautifully in both spaces, ceremony details, decor, and more
  • match you with experienced and talented vendors for photography, florals, decor, cake, music, and more

We’ll work together as a team so truly all you need to do is show up that day confident and excited knowing all of the details are taken care of.

Photography by D’Arcy Benicosa

inspiration

With our experience you can feel confident you’re in good hands. This is especially important when coordinating a destination wedding and one that’s a bit more remote. We’ve had the pleasure of helping so many couples over the years, but two in particular stand out as absolutely gorgeous and unique micro-weddings at Aran Islands that are sure to inspire you. Please take a closer look:

Toni & Chris:  beautiful traditional Irish ceremony and featured in Martha Stewart Weddings

Nick & Sarah: a stunning sun-kissed day with bespoke ceremony involving ancient Celtic and Greek elements

Photography by D’Arcy Benicosa 

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