St. Patrick’s Day PUB QUIZ #2: The History of Ireland

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Even though we tend to focus our blog on the amazing destination weddings we plan in Ireland, part of the planning process is also getting some inspiration into the history, culture, and celebrations of Ireland. And with St. Patrick’s Day coming up, what better way to get acquainted than with an ol’ fashioned pub quiz!  Check out our other pub quiz post here.  This version will focus on some of Ireland’s history as well as some cultural facts. Use them together to impress your friends of all things Irish! Or better yet, pull up a pint of your favorite, grab your friends, and take this quiz together to see how much you really know about Ireland!


Q1:  The “O” in front of an Irish last name like O’Donoghue means:  (a) a trade the ancestor did;  (b) “son of” ;  (c) “of the village ___”; (d) “descendant of” L

A:  Descendant of ___.

In Gaelic the “O” in front of the last name translates to “descendant of this clan.” So for example, O’Donoghue would mean “descendant of the clan Donoghue.”  You’ll see “Mac” or “Mc” in front of a name like McIntyre or MacTavish and the Mac/Mc are the same thing — they mean “son of.”  Some believe the Mc denotes Irish and Mac denotes Scottish, but the truth is both cultures use them interchangeably.  And to make it even more confusing, some drop the letters and just use M’ with the last name following.  But the O’ will always be Irish.

Q2:  What is Ireland’s native language? :  (a) Gaelic;  (b) Olde English;  (c) Latin;  (d) French Lary

A:  Gaelic.

Irish has been exclusively spoken in Ireland since before the 4th century A.D.  Known originally as “primitive Irish,” this language would serve as the base for other Gaelic languages most notably Scottish Gaelic in Scotland and Manx on the Isle of Man. Around the 5th century, Christianity began to spread throughout Europe and into Ireland as well.  Brought with it was the Latin language, which began to influence primitive Irish and give way to what is known as Old Irish. An example is the Domhnach — Gaelic for “Sunday” which comes from the Latin dominica. Old Welsh also played a small but notable influence on the Irish language’s continued development. By the 10th century a solid, notable Irish language was formed known as Middle Irish that was used extensively throughout Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and neighboring islands. By the 17th century, an increase of English influence both in politics and culture morphed the Irish language once again into what is known as Modern Irish.  From the 18th century, the Irish language was unfortunately starting to get replaced by English as the preferred language for communication.  British rulers in Ireland discouraged the native Irish language as a form of control over its population.  In an effort to consolidate its followers, the Catholic church supported using English as the primary language in masses rather than Irish as it’d been done traditionally for so many years. Increase in trade, colonialism, and travel also helped to influence a preference for the more widely spoken English.  By the 1750’s Ireland had become solidly bilingual:  English for business and Irish for home. In the larger cities English was preferred, which gradually pushed the Irish language even father out to the perimeter of the island. By the 20th and 21st century, unfortunately many native Irish and Irish diaspora lost their fluency in Gaelic. In fact, at one point there were only 21 villages on the entire island that continued to speak Irish on a daily basis. Known as the Gaeltacht, these villages can be visited today where you’ll see the signs are all in Gaelic, hear the language being spoken freely among the people, and really get a feel for this incredible cultural tradition dating back so many years that managed to stay unbroken. The fact that this part of Ireland’s cultural identity was sadly lost for so many years and in danger of being lost completely led to a political and cultural movement in recent years to encourage Gaelic back into the Irish consciousness. Today it is being encouraged as a an official subject of study at school, an overall strong encouragement to revive the Gaelic language throughout the country, and even extend out to the diaspora to learn via apps and other language tools.  This has embraced and today we have many more native-speaking Irish not only in Ireland but also beyond! 

Q3:  Who founded the city of Dublin? :  (a) St. Patrick;  (b) the Romans;  (c) the Vikings;  (d) the Celts Gallagher

A: The Vikings!

Although ancient Celtic people long-inhabited Ireland, the capital city was actually founded by none other than famous Viking Ivar the Boneless of the Great Heathen Army in the late 800’s A.D.  As the story goes, after avenging his father Ragnar’s death in England at the hands of King Aella in Northumbria (snake pit — messy business), the sons of Ragnar split off to continue raiding and founding new kingdoms. Ivar chose to go west to Ireland, where he settled in the Dublin area. Back then Dublin was a small ecclesiastical center of early European Christianity.  They turned it into a bustling port town and formidable fortress, the base that would eventually found the city in 914 A.D. and take title as one of Ireland’s oldest city.  Also known as Imar, Ivar the Boneless would found the Uí Ímair dynasty that would dominate the Irish Sea region for many centuries to come.  According to the saga, Ivar/Imar left Dublin to go raid in England. He was killed in a battle and buried in England. He instructed his army should he be killed, that he be buried in a place that was exposed to attack for if anyone tried to attack that land, they would not be successful in taking it.  And true enough, England held against all foreign attack until William the Conqueror stepped foot from Normandy, found Ivar’s burial mound, took out the body, burned it on the pyre, and continued his successful invasion.

Q4:  The phrase “luck of the Irish” was given to Irish immigrants that successfully made the often treacherous voyage over the Atlantic to the American colonies in the 17th and 18th centuries, true or false? Ardai Mrs.

A:  False.

While the voyage over the Atlantic was fraught with dangers, the term “luck of the Irish” is actually a more recent phrase attributed to Irish immigrants in America, and not one of a complimentary nature either. Used in reference to the gold and silver rush years in 19th century America, the majority of successful miners happened to be Irish (by way of birth or ancestry). This quickly developed into a reputation that the Irish people were very lucky. At first this seems like a compliment, but in fact it was a derogatory double-handed compliment born out of jealousy — the implication being that only luck led to their success, not intelligence or industry.

Q5:  Name the burial ground in Ireland that is older than the pyramids in Egypt:  (a) Stonehenge;  (b) Uragh stone circle   (c) Aillwee cave   (d) Newgrange Andrea De Stefani

A:  Newgrange.

Celtic burial mound, Newgrange, was constructed around 3200 B.C., making it over 600 years older than the pyramids in Egypt and 1000 years older than Stonehenge!  Located a short distance outside of Dublin, you can visit this incredible archaeological site today.  The actual mound together with ancient carvings, pictures, and much more all created by the ancient Celtic people is both an incredible cultural experience as well as a spiritual one. Stonehenge is actually in England. Although the Uragh stone circle in Ireland a spectacular site to behold, it does not date as far back as Newgrange.  And Aillwee cave is just a cave — it wasn’t used as a place of burial.

Q6:  Name the dog breed that is one of Ireland’s oldest and most authentic icons: (a) jack russell terrier;   (b) wolfhound;  (c) bulldog ;  (d) sheepdog Hazell

A:  The Irish Wolfhound.

This large breed of dog has been man’s best friend in Ireland for over 7000 years! Today’s breed weighs in at an impressive average of 120 lbs for males, around 90 lbs for females, but their ancestors were even bigger! They were highly revered in ancient  Ireland, even impressing upon the ancient Romans and Julius Caeser himself who wrote of them in his The Gallic Wars.  The Irish used these massive dogs to hunt wolves, guard their homes, keep their livestock in line, and even in war — the dogs would go into open battle right along with the Irish warriors and on many occasion helped turn the tide to the Celts‘ favor! So impressive were the wolfhounds in battle that they were referenced with “cu” before their name — a respect reserved for only kings and distinguished warriors.  Agile, very intelligent, and disciplined, the Irish wolfhound today is the largest breed of canine according to the American Kennel Club.  And although not fighting fierce battles anymore, these gentle giants do enjoy the regular hunt in the Irish countryside.

Q7:  What was the name of the original alphabet used by the ancient Celts? :  (a) Latin;  (b) Ogham;  (c) Runes;  (d) Pictish Klaus

A:  Ogham.

This line-based alphabet inscription style dates back to at least the 4th century in Ireland. Many scholars believe it dates actually much earlier, even as far back as 1 century B.C. The ancient Celts would carve lines into natural elements like stone, trees, bark, sticks — usually names — to communicate locations, mark important features, graves, ownership, etc.  In the alphabet, each letter symbol is named after a tree.  The horizontal lines are linked by a vertical line to denote a singular letter.  These series of symbols are then grouped together for form words, and are read from bottom to top (not top to bottom as in English).  Interestingly, many scholars believe this alphabet was conceived as a way to communicate secretly: the combinations of 1/2/3/4/5 lines to each letter directly correspond to a finger on your hand (1-5 fingers);  you could hand-signal your communication or write it on trees and other markers for people to find. There are many monuments and archaeological sites that still display the Ogham alphabet originally carved by the ancient Celts today, in Ireland, Wales, and Scotland. And manuscripts where the Ogham was translated into Latin and Old English even! It’s quite fascinating!

Q8:  The composer of “O’ Danny Boy” was:  (a) Irish;  (b) English;  (c) Northern Irish; (d) American . diaz

A: English.

The lyrics may tell a story about a boy named Danny who left Ireland during the famine, but it was written by an English lawyer in 1910 in England! Frederic Weatherly wrote the lyrics to the song in Bath, Somerset (England) and after hearing his sister-in-law (who was born in Ireland) sing the Irish song ‘Londonderry Air,’ he set his lyrics to the song. So it’s an Irish tune and about an Irish lad but written by an Englishman.

Q9:  In what country were the cocktails “Irish Car Bomb” and “Black Velvet” created: (a) America; (b) Ireland; (c) England; (d) Canada. 

Awake and Dreaming Photography

A:  England!

The popular drink, Irish Car Bombs, were invented in an English pub and are a shot of Bailey’s Irish Cream and a shot of Irish whiskey dropped bomb-style in a pint of Guinness, then slammed back. The name comes from the bomb-style of dropping the shot glasses in the pint of Guinness, but also to the car bombings between Ireland and Northern Ireland called “The Troubles.” There are some Irish pubs that won’t serve the drink, as it’s considered offensive to order. Black Velvet is a half Guinness, half champagne drink usually served in a champagne glass. It was created in England in 1861 to mourn the death of Prince Albert, consort to Queen Victoria. The dark Guinness achieves the black shroud effect echoed in the shawls and veils worn at the time at funerals. So even though Irish spirits are used, the drinks are actually English!

Q10: Polar Bears are Irish, true or false? Picard

A:  True!

DNA tests on modern-day polar bears have revealed they are originally from Ireland! Their DNA closely matches that of the Irish brown bear, suggesting that the bears left Ireland during the last ice age when it became too warm. While others stayed in Ireland, their cousins went north and became the polar bears we know today.

Q11:  This widely celebrated American holiday originated in Ireland:  (a) Halloween;  (b) Christmas;  (c) Easter;  (d) April Fool’s Day mordecai

A:  Halloween.

Called Samhain in Gaelic, our Halloween traditions originated in Ireland and were brought over to the Americas through Irish immigrants.  The ancient Celts believed the veil between the spirit world and our world  was at its thinnest around October 31st.  People would dress in costumes, paint and cover their faces to confuse the spirits who would come back to the village to play tricks on the living, or possibly take revenge on those who wronged them while still alive.  The people of the village would gather around a large bonfire in the center of the village to honor the dead. They would bring back a torch lit from the bonfire’s fire and carry it back to their own homes to light the hearth in a hallowed out turnip;  in America the easier-to-carve pumpkin was substituted and know known as the jack-o’-lantern. At home the table was set for a feast, and one extra place setting was placed for the dead to join that night.  Children dressed as ghosts would go from house to house impersonating spirits, asking for offering to help appease those who’ve passed. The villagers would give these visitors a “treat” — a piece of barmbrack (a fruitcake made with dried fruits, peels, and heavily seasoned with spices) — to ingratiate themselves with the spirits;  today we give candy. Eventually the Catholic church replaced All Hallow’s Eve with All Saint’s Day on November 1st, but the traditions were too great and All Hallow’s Eve continued to be celebrated throughout Celtic parts of the world and in America. Today Halloween remains one of the most popular holidays in America.

Q12:  The Titanic stayed in this Irish port of call town on her maiden voyage: (a) Belfast;  (b) Waterford;  (c) Queenstown (Cobh);  (d) Dublin

Copyright Michelle Escobar, 2014

A:  Queenstown (Cobh).

The famous “unsinkable ship” the RMS Titanic was built by Irish hands in Belfast, Northern Ireland on Queen’s Island in Belfast Harbour.  When she departed for England she would never see Belfast again.  Titanic’s home port is registered as Liverpool, England.  She began her maiden voyage from Southampton (England), stopped at port of call Cherbourg (France), then went on to Queenstown (now renamed Cobh) in Cork (Ireland) before departing into the open Atlantic seas where she’d meet her fate. Today Cobh remains a bustling port town, the only dedicated cruise terminal in all of Ireland.

BONUS:  whoever gets this correct gets an extra shot of whiskey (the good stuff, mind you)

Q:  Irishmen James Hoban is a part of America’s history in this huge way: (a) he designed the White House;  (b) he designed the American Flag;  (c) he was part of a secret spy ring in the Revolutionary war that helped turn the tide in Washington’s favor;  (d) he delivered the Declaration of Independence to England to be published and circulated there Bruno

A.  Irishman James Hoban designed the White House

President Washington visited Charleston, South Carolina in 1791 where he saw under construction a county courthouse designed by Irish-born architect James Hoban.  He met with Hoban to inquire about creating a similar design for the official presidential residence.  Hoban’s original design for the White House was based exactly on the courthouse’s design, and was submitted along with 8 others (including one given anonymously by Thomas Jefferson).  Washington looked over the designs and quickly selected Hoban’s from the submissions.  Not entirely pleased with the direct copy of the courthouse, Washington encouraged Hoban to redesign the structure to be more monumental and grander in appearance. Based on Washington’s own recommendations, Hoban changed the original 3-story design to a wider 2-story and expanded the western and eastern out significantly to get the neoclassical style residence we have today. Jefferson and others would later tweek the design with some additions like the rotunda in the front, but the original American iconic structure was designed by an Irishman born in Kilkenny, Ireland! 


Hope everyone had fun getting to know a bit more about Ireland and its history, culture, traditions, and its remarkable place in the world today.  Raise your glass and cheers! to a happy St. Patrick’s Day!

8 Wedding Ceremony Styles Perfect for Your Destination Wedding in Ireland

Photo by Larry McMahon Photography

We’re finding many couples are fine with picking out the cake and flowers, but coming to a bit of a block when it comes to their ceremony! Maybe you and your partner are coming from two different faiths and want both equally represented on your wedding day.  Maybe you have some cultural traditions you want worked in but don’t know how to merge them into a simple ceremony.  Maybe that traditional wedding in a beautiful church was always your dream, but you aren’t sure how to make that happen abroad. Maybe you want a spiritual undertone to the ceremony, but not one that’s extremely strict or too formal.  Or maybe you want to do away with the traditional stuff all together and come up with something really unique!

Traditional. Unconventional. What does “spiritual” actually mean? And what is a “humanist” ceremony exactly?!

Waterlily Weddings is here to help you figure out the different kinds of wedding ceremonies out there and how they can work for your destination wedding in Ireland. Be it a huge wedding bash or intimate elopement, we’re certain we can help you craft the ceremony that’s just perfect for you.

Types of Ceremonies

There are a few different types of wedding ceremonies that may fit the bill for what you are envisioning. Ask yourself what’s important to you:

  • getting married in a particular faith?
  • do I want a ceremony outdoors or in a picturesque setting?
  • are there any family or cultural traditions important to us?
  • do I want to be the center of attention?
  • do I want my guests to be active participants in the ceremony?
  • do I want to incorporate anything Irish into the ceremony?

Remember, there’s the legal aspect of getting married as well (be it at home or abroad) and we’re happy to help navigate you through that part too! And if you don’t feel  you fit into one of these boxes below don’t worry: there’s always “other” (or as we call it, “bespoke”).

Photo by Shane O’Neil


A traditional ceremony goes after a specific script and set of traditions laid out by a particular faith and/or culture. They are usually performed in a house of worship (ex. church, temple, mosque, etc.) and presided over by a licensed religious leader (ex. priest, rabbi). Many religions will require pre-marriage courses or classes so make sure you inquire about that to make sure you schedule enough time for yourselves to complete everything.  You will still need to sign the paperwork to be legally married; this can be worked into the religious ceremony either before, during, or immediately after the religious ceremony.

The Pros:  Many couples find traditional religious ceremonies appealing because it connects them to their faith, heritage, and cultural traditions; many couples grow up attending weddings in their community, envisioning themselves doing the same on their wedding day.  For some couples, the set traditions of the ceremony take out the stress of planning details for this part of their wedding day, enabling them to focus on the reception and other elements of the wedding like the reception.

How We Can Help:  Ireland is a predominately Catholic country but does have other faiths represented.  We have done quite a few traditional religious weddings, from small chapel ceremonies to big cathedrals as well as other faiths including Jewish and Hindu.  We can help you find the right location and venue, help you navigate through the paperwork process (including the legal paperwork), organize any special items and ceremony details needed, and recommend elements to enhance the ceremony like picking the perfect music, lighting, programs, and more.


A spiritual ceremony is still centered around some kind of faith, but is a bit less strict on the rules of how and where it can be performed. Spiritual ceremonies can take place virtually anywhere: indoors, outdoors, under a tree, in a barn, cliff-side, etc;  it doesn’t require a religious house to be performed.

The Pros:  Spiritual ceremonies are a great option for those couples that have a sense of spiritualism but don’t want something so strict: it affords them generous flexibility as to the location of their wedding and the ceremony details.  It’s a great opportunity to personalize an important part of their day — picking readings, poems, songs that mean something for them; writing your own vows; choosing a location that has meaning for you both. They can also give a couple the flexibility to have close family members or friends presiding over rather than a priest or minister.

How We Can Help: This is one area where Waterlily Weddings really excels. We pride ourselves on perfectly matching our couples with the right location and ceremony space for their dream wedding day. Anything from ancient stone circles to castles to the coast, we extract the details of what will make up your dream wedding day and translate them into the perfect space. We can help you find the right celebrant for your day — we are proud to work with amazing licensed celebrants throughout Ireland — or help guide your family or friend who will do the honors. We can work with you to outline your ceremony, work in any Irish traditions or elements if you like, and help source any items you may need (like candles, handfasting chords, music).

Photo by D’Arcy Benicosa

Ancient Celtic

A really unique option available only in Ireland is having an ancient Celtic marriage ceremony.  This ceremony takes heavy inspiration from Nature and the elements, our ancestors, and meaningful Irish tradition. It’s a beautiful ceremony to watch and partake in.  You’ll work in incredibly and authentic elements like stones carved by the ancient Celtic people dating back to the Bronze Age. You’ll be able to work in Ireland’s incredible natural beauty as backdrop, ruins, ancient structures built hundreds and thousands of years ago.  The ceremony will be extremely meaningful — tailored to your journey together as a couple and focusing on your future together.  This ceremony can incorporate some Irish traditions including the hand-fasting, oathing stones, blessing of the rings, and much more.  To be considered legally married you will still have to incorporate the legal paperwork as well.

The pros:  If you’re not particularly drawn to a specific religion but want your ceremony to feel ritualistic and important, this is great option for you to consider.  It combines the dose of spirituality you want with room to personalize it, but it’s structured in some ways with rituals like the hand-fasting for example to make the ceremony feel authoritative and official without being too formal (like a traditional religious wedding). It can feel more structured than a spiritual ceremony and often impresses upon the couple and their guests.  Working in these unique elements also will make for some really stunning and unique pictures. This is lovely option for all couples, but especially for couples renewing their vows or celebrating an anniversary!

How We Can  Help:  Working weddings throughout Ireland for the past 12 years has given us access to some of the most incredibly breath-taking locations on the island. We’ve worked with ruins, castles, countryside, coastline — all located in the heart of true Irish history and culture that really add that special something to your wedding day. It sets the tone so uniquely and pointedly couples and their guests often reach the ceremony space on the day of the wedding and their first reaction is to simply gasp, completely overcome by the beauty and vibe there. Waterlily Weddings is very thoughtful about helping to plan the ceremony details: we will match you with the right type of celebrant, help secure any items required for the ceremony, and fill in the rest of the details to create the perfect ambiance.


An inter-faith ceremony is one where two separate and distinct religious faiths merge together into one cohesive ceremony (for example, Jewish and Christian). It can be a bit tricky to pull off, requiring the participating of both sides respectively to work together to create a ceremony that makes sense and has pace to it. This is usually achieved by working in different rituals, customs, traditions from both faiths into the ceremony itself.  Again, legal paperwork will need to be a part of this as well.

The Pros:  Some couples don’t want to defer one faith to the other for the marriage, and when both are open to having an inter-faith ceremony it can represent both sides quite fairly and nicely. Since you both come from rich backgrounds and traditions, it’s nice to be able to have both expressed equally and have everyone share in it together.

How We Can Help:  Much like the ceremony styles above, we can help you find the perfect location, source special items (like a huppah for example), help craft programs that explains your ceremony’s details so your guests can follow along, and in general create a gorgeous space for your inter-faith wedding.


This ceremony type is like an inter-faith ceremony but focuses on cultural elements rather than religious traditions worked into the ceremony. These details are more culturally traditional like colors, traditional clothing, specific items that need to be present, food items, flowers, etc. that are customary for that particular ethnic tradition.  The ceremony can be a specific religion or faith, or general/spiritual in nature, but then we work in elements from the respective cultures into the ceremony itself and the space to express the couple’s cultural heritage.

The Pros:  This is another way we can personalize your wedding. Just because you’ve decided to get married in Ireland doesn’t mean you need to completely abandon your culture or traditions if you’re not Irish;  there are definitely ways to work in those traditions in a way that will still make sense in the Irish setting and backdrop.  And if you’re not Irish and want to include some Irish traditions, go for it!

How We Can Help:  Similarly to the above, it’s about choosing the right combination of elements: location, venue, celebrant, details. But it’s also about having a professional who knows Ireland and knows what will work and what won’t in context. We can help with the logistics of working these elements in, how to bring special items to Ireland (and back to your home after if need be!), how to get things to your ceremony space, how to work these elements into your ceremony in a way that is unique but doesn’t clash with the setting and everything else going on.

Photo by Siobhan Byrnne


You may or may not have heard this term while planning your ceremony. A humanist ceremony is different than the above in that it is a non-religious ceremony. There is no restriction on location, who can perform the ceremony, and there’s no set guidelines or script like in a traditional ceremony.  You don’t want to exchange rings? In a humanist ceremony you don’t have to!  Don’t want to repeat or say vows? Have them expressed a different way.  This is the “no rules” ceremony style, where you can completely create it from scratch to exactly what you both want. A humanist ceremony generally doesn’t work in the legal paperwork side of marriage either; it’s done usually before or after the ceremony quietly by the couple on their own.

The Pros:  If you’re a creative person or just detest the formality of traditional weddings and aren’t spiritual in any way, this is the option for you. It really enables you to dream big and create a completely personalized event.

How We Can Help: You dream it, we can help make it happen!  We’re happy to help you brainstorm ideas, finds the right vendors to bring your vision to life, bring in special details, and get the perfect photographer to document the day!


A civil or legal ceremony is one that is not spiritual or religious in nature.  It is usually performed by a government official or civil servant licensed to carry on marriages. They can be held in government buildings like City Hall, or outdoors with a licensed officiant. A civil ceremony will follow a structure: procession, opening words, vows, rings, pronouncement, “you may kiss”, closing, recession.  There is room to add some spiritual or religious elements (ex. reading a quote from the Bible in the opening), but the overall tone is not religious or spiritual. Couples may repeat the traditional vows or are welcome to say their own. You can personalize this ceremony with the music choices, adding readings or poems, simple unity gestures like lighting a unity candle.  There won’t be any overt cultural or religious elements usually.

The Pros:  For the couple that isn’t terribly religious or spiritual nor really looking to incorporate any ethnic or cultural traditions, this ceremony style is a nice, clean option.  There’s some room to personalize it. The structure can be appealing for couples that just want something straight-forward.  Civil ceremonies offer the flexibility to choose different locations. Many couples in Ireland choose to host their civil ceremony in a different part of their reception venue — ex) ceremony in the castle garden and reception in the dining room — making the transition to the reception quite easy for them and their guests.

How We Can Help:  Getting married abroad can have some challenges in getting the correct paperwork and legal aspect done properly.  Waterlily Weddings is happy to help guide you through this process so it is stress-free and you can focus on the fun parts of wedding planning!

Photo by This Modern Love Photography


Religious. Cultural. Spiritual. Ancient. Meaningful but not too much. Toned-down but not dry. Something unique that’s not weird or cliche. It’s possible none of the above fit you and you like a little bit of everything, or nothing from any of them! A bespoke wedding ceremony is one that is completely uniquely designed just for you. From beginning to end, you choose the pace and style and vibe of your ceremony.  Maybe you want to create some new traditions. Maybe you want to combine a bit to make something that works for you both.

The Pros: This is the creative couple’s dream option. Every element can be carefully and uniquely conceptualized around you.

How We Can Help:  First, drawing out your vision and into a workable outline that your vendors can follow.  Next, sourcing the items and vendors needed to support your vision. Finally, being there that day to see it all come together.


Think about stands out for you. What makes you feel complete, fulfilled, and puts a smile on your face. If it’s one in particular that stands out great; if it’s a bit of everything that’s fine too! The important thing is whatever ceremony you choose, you both need to feel connected to it.

Dana & Tim: A Ray of Sunshine at Newtown Tower

Some may view getting married abroad as a nerve-wracking gamble of sorts: “I haven’t seen the venue! I won’t be able to try hair and makeup trials — how will I know if it will work?!  Will the florist understand my vision?”  The answer to these is a resounding “it will all be fine and actually even better than you expected.” Truly! And Tim and Dana’s intimate elopement is proof in the pudding of just that! “Honestly, I was so amazed by how everything fit together on the day. I didn’t even see what my flowers or hair piece would look like and meeting these people to do my hair and makeup at the moment they were going to do it was all so exciting!” says Dana. “Every single one of them were truly amazing and each brought a piece to make the day fit together so well!”

Dana and Tim actually got married on their 15th anniversary of being together! When they decided to get married, they knew eloping was the right choice for them. They wanted something magical with a real historical feel that felt like a different place, a different time — and Ireland fit the bill perfectly.  From there we carefully crafted a bespoke wedding day for them at one of the most spectacular venues in Ireland — Newtown Castle — and worked in some amazing details like a First Look and spectacular portrait shots along the famous coastline.  We love Dana’s approach for the day and their style together as a couple — traditional with a touch of whimsicality in the sea glass colored skirt of her dress and orchid hairpiece in lieu of a veil that added that unique personal touch. We love their casual approach to the day in choosing what made them comfortable but still would present well in Ireland, their easygoing attitude and willingness to embrace everything that came that day clearly comes through in the pictures. You can see they love being there, they love being there together, and taking everything in. Enjoy the gorgeous photos taken by Awake and Dreaming Photography!


Dana and Tim met a while back when they were teenagers!  Despite not going to the same high school, they met in their teens at a mutual friend’s BBQ and instantly clicked. They years spent together were enough — they never really felt the “need” to get married, especially with the pressure and opinions that often accompany a larger wedding at home, so they sort of shelved the topic until their thirteenth anniversary. They got home from a short vacation the night before with a late flight and Dana had to wake up early for work the next morning. Completely exhausted, she got to bed. But Tim had other plans:  he cleverly grabbed the box of Cheerios and laid out his proposal message in honey-covered oats on the kitchen counter and set her engagement ring out for her to find as a surprise the next morning. Groggy and tired, Dana woke and made her way into the kitchen where still half-asleep tried to make sense of the cereal on the counter. When it all finally clicked she ran back into the bedroom, woke Tim up, and she said “yes.”


Having a large traditional wedding just wasn’t something Dana and Tim were ever interested in doing;  eloping somewhere amazing was always more their style, so they agreed if they ever got married that would be the way they’d go. At first eloping in America was considered but they couldn’t quite find the right place or fit for what they envisioned; it just didn’t feel “right” to them. So they began to look abroad. “We didn’t want traditional, as I am a firm believer that you create your own story and path; you don’t have to follow what everyone tells you how you have to do things,” says Dana. Tim and Dana always shared a love for Ireland and it was their dream to go there one day. It occurred to them to celebrate their upcoming 15th anniversary by eloping to Ireland! It was a perfect idea! They got in contact with Waterlily Weddings and we sorted out the details! After some research and discussion, western Ireland quickly rose to the top of the list and their bespoke wedding elopement was planned!


They were blessed with gorgeous weather. The sun shone a glorious golden hue from dawn to dusk on their wedding day, seeming to add to the enchanting backdrop. Dana woke that morning and had breakfast with her good friend Emily, who joined on the trip. They took a stroll down to the tower to check it out — Dana’s first time seeing it in person! — and was just blown away. The sun shown through the crisp morning air, light beaming through the fluffy clouds to highlight the green countryside and castle architecture just like out of a fairy tale. She got butterflies in her stomach knowing she’d return in just a few short hours to get married to her best friend! They returned to hotel to get ready and Dana let the hair and makeup team take over, perfectly executing exactly what she wanted.  Meanwhile, Tim enjoyed a leisurely morning eating breakfast and taking a stroll about the grounds. “It was just so calming and peaceful on the grounds, definitely refreshing to have before our day started,” says Tim.  The country house hotel where they were staying had a holywell in the basement; Tim took the time to go explore and just sit next to it, relax and listen to the sound of the water.  Back upstairs, Dana changed into her custom Jenny Yoo gown and sandals and debuted her look to the ladies in the room who gasped in delight and approval. This was really happening! And everything was going just perfectly!


Dana and Tim wanted to get married in a historic, rustic castle a little off the beaten path. Something smaller and intimate that had a bit of Irish history and charm to it that wasn’t huge and overwhelming, something set in the heart of Irish country that would look and feel magical. Newtown Castle was the perfect choice for them: situated picturesquely on the coastline in the west, the small medieval tower has that rustic, cozy feel with the added huge bonus of sitting on some pristine, incredibly beautiful landscape showcasing the coast and the country.

They elected to do a First Look which we love and always encourage our couples to consider.  The grounds of the country house were quite lovely this time of year, and the lighting from that sun was just perfection so they chose to do the First Look shots right in the garden. Then a vintage car arrived to take them to the tower for the ceremony.

They chose to host a spiritual, non-religious ceremony. They incorporated some Irish traditions including Irish blessings and vows, the handfasting, and the Irish harp played to set the mood perfectly.  Their handfasting chord was made in the Aran Islands, a keepsake for them to remember their special day.  Dan and Tim even bought their wedding bands in Ireland! Dana found hers their second day in Ireland while in Dublin and Tim found his while visiting the Cliffs of Moher just the day before!

After the ceremony Dana and Tim celebrated with some champagne outside of the castle before taking some pictures.  They made their way down to O’Loclainn Whiskey Bar after with their guests for a little snack and some refreshment. The owner was so fun joining in the celebrating and even let the couple pour their own pints! Dana and Tim then left with their photographers for an epic photographic adventure touring the western coast: countryside, lighthouses, cliff sides, roads — they really enjoyed spending the first few hours together as husband and wife exploring together this beautiful part of Ireland they always wanted to see.  Later on that evening, they returned to the country house to relax in front of the fireplace with some more champagne and mingle with their guests before changing and heading out into town for dinner and dancing.


“We laughed so hard and had so much fun with our photographers — taking the pictures was a true adventure!”  Dana and Tim also loved the intimacy of the post wedding celebration, and how intimate and simple the ceremony was. Having done away with a lot of the distractions of a big wedding for them enabled them to be able to focus the day on the meaning of what they were doing, and really let them be present throughout their wedding day.  Especially for them having been together for so long before deciding to get married, choosing to elope was really the perfect choice: “Actually going through with officially getting married after 15 years together — it was like a wave of emotions came over me and flashes of our life together; it’s hard to believe we have come this far,” says Tim. “The only thing we’d change is have it last longer!” says Dana.


“Don’t be afraid to make this adventure into something that is so unique to you! Make it your way! For us, it was eloping away from the ‘typical expensive and overwhelming wedding’ that most people feel inclined that they have to do. Our families are small and very understanding that it was not something that fit for us. The entire day was reflective of us and I wouldn’t change a thing. Have as much fun as you can. Enjoy the moments. Drink your wine/pint and celebrate! Every person that has heard our story wishes they did the same thing, so don’t ‘wish it’ — DO IT! Also hire Waterlily Weddings! It was one of the best decisions — I really don’t think I could have done all of this myself — from another country on top of it — it is worth it!”

Please enjoy more of Dana and Tim’s charming elopement in the slideshow below. And contact us for more info and to get started planning your dream elopement in Ireland!