Autumnal Virginia Park Lodge Wedding | Claire & Kevin

Claire and Kevin’s Virginia Park Lodge wedding took place at the start of November, one of the most atmospheric times of year for an Irish destination wedding. The skies are clear and the trees are, as WB Yeats put it: “in their autumn beauty”, a kaleidoscope of scarlet, amber, and gold that sets the landscape on fire. But, while the couple wanted to celebrate the autumn-winter season, they also wanted to distinguish their event from any elements of Halloween or Christmas that would give it a holiday feel. Instead, we envisioned the day as sumptuous and elegant, with a lush autumnal palette of berry and navy blue. Inspired by overblown florals and winter fruits, we were able to bring this vision to life, with a cosy but opulent feel from beginning to end. This beautiful Virginia Park Lodge wedding was featured recently on the fabulous Carats & Cake, so be sure to pop over and check out the full feature here.

Virginia Park Lodge reception venue pavilion fall wedding

fall wedding pumpkins and squashes decoration

Virginia Park Lodge autumn wedding invitation

Suzanne Neville off the shoulder wedding dress

autumn wedding boutonnieres

Virginia Park Lodge is that rare find, a country house wedding venue that exudes warmth as well as luxury. Just an hour away from Dublin, the 18th-century hunting estate is set in over 100 acres of beautiful parkland near the charming village of Virginia in Co. Cavan. It was the perfect place for Claire and Kevin to host their guests in privacy and style. Although the lodge is licensed to hold civil ceremonies and partnerships, the couple instead opted for a church ceremony at the beautiful St. Brigid’s Catholic Church in Oldcastle, around fifteen minutes away. After the vows, it was on to the reception at Virginia Park Lodge’s stunning lake view pavilion, with its glass walls and vistas of Lough Ramor. It holds up to 300 guests and is truly a highlight of any Virginia Park Lodge wedding!

bride walking down the aisle

St Brigid's Catholic Church in Oldcastle wedding

navy blue wedding program with peach velvet ribbon

ceremony exit Virginia Ireland wedding

Claire and Kevin wanted their reception to have the intimate atmosphere of a dinner party. We used navy velvet linens on a mix of round and long tables, with overflowing florals and fruits as centrepieces. At each place setting, plush velvet ribbons hand-painted with guests’ names acted as place cards. A lush display of flowers and greenery hung above the main table, while thousands of lights twinkled from the draped ceiling like a canopy of stars. As a finishing touch, beautiful coloured candles imported from Denmark were incorporated into the table design, creating the warm, sumptuous party feel that the couple had always envisioned. The brilliant London Essentials band entertained the guests, going table to table, before famed Irish musician, Paul Harrington, finished the night with song and dance that lasted well into the wee hours.

rainy wedding day bridal party

autumn wedding navy blue bridesmaid dresses

fall wedding at Virginia Park Lodge

The menu is a central part of any Virginia Park Lodge wedding since the hotel is owned by Michelin-starred Irish chef, Richard Corrigan, and benefits from seasonal produce grown on the estate. Claire and Kevin’s guests dined on fresh Atlantic seafood, autumnal pumpkin soup and ravioli, and the most delicious prime Beef Wellington. Instead of a wedding cake, they opted for a cheese wheel tower.

fall floral vignette at Virginia Park Lodge wedding

Virginia Park Lodge lakeview pavilion reception décor

autumnal wedding table décor velvet linens

Virginia Park Lodge autumnal wedding table décor fruits and flowers

cheese wheel wedding cake for fall wedding

Another favourite element of the day was the stationery details. Grosvenor Stationers in London not only created the stationery suite but the day-of paper products as well. It was all about the little details, including a bespoke monogram that the couple commissioned from Sarah O’Dea. The suite also featured delicate calligraphy and gold-lined envelopes. For the velvet ribbon that was used to tie the programs, as well as in the bridal bouquets and on the tables, we drew inspiration from the peach-toned tiles in the church. The stationery truly set the tone for the guests, both before the wedding and on the day.

fall wedding cheese wedding cake table with hanging florals and greenery

Virginia Park Lodge wedding reception with twinkle lights

London Essentials wedding band at Virginia Park Lodge

bride and groom with cheese wedding cake

Congratulations again to the gorgeous bride and groom!

Slán go Fóill,


Planner: Tara Fay Events | Venue: Virginia Park Lodge | Photography: Brett Harkness | Flowers: Flowers by Moira | Bridal Dress: Suzanne Neville from Sharon Hoey | Bride’s Shoes: Manolo Blahnik | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Ghost | Video: Dreamcatcher Productions | Stationery & Invitations: Grosvenor Stationers | Linens: Total Event Rental | Tabletop Rentals: Whitehouse Crockery | Monogram: Sarah O’Dea | Church Music Tenor: Simon Morgan | Ceremony Music Instrumental: Mamisa Quartet | Reception Music: The London Essentials | DJ Wedding Night: Gordon Johnson | Late Night Music: Paul Harrington | Hair: David Cashman | Makeup: Paula Callan | Cheese Cake: Sheridans Cheesemongers


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7 Traditions to Reinvent for Your Same Sex Wedding in Ireland

When it comes to planning a same-sex wedding in Ireland, couples have a lot of creative freedom. After all, without traditional gender roles, you can shake up the rules and do away with stuffy conventions that don’t suit your personalities or beliefs. It’s all about creating a celebration of love that is completely your own. But which traditions should you drop completely and which can you re-imagine? Who walks down the aisle first, and who ‘gives them away’? Is there still a best man’s speech? Is there still a best man? As an Irish wedding planner, I’ve worked on some fantastic same-sex destination weddings. Each is as unique as the couple it celebrates, but over the years, I have found that there are some traditions that lend themselves especially to reinvention. Here are seven of them!

Bridesmaids and groomsmen. According to The Knot, less than half of same-sex couples choose to have a wedding party. But, while having no attendants is one option, you could also opt for a mixed wedding party that does away with traditional gender roles. It’s all about having the people you love and who love you by your side, whether that means bridesmaids, groomsmen, bridesmen, groomsmaids, or any other term you want to use. The same goes for attire. Dress everyone in matching suits or change it up and mix and match outfits in complementary colours, patterns, and styles. You make the rules!

Traditions to Reinvent for Your Same Sex Wedding in Ireland

Choosing your wedding attire. What to wear for your same-sex wedding in Ireland is completely up to you, whether that means two suits, two dresses, one of each, or none of the above. What’s most important is that each of you feels like the best version of themselves and wears an outfit that celebrates that individual style and shape. Beyond the classic dress or tux, there are so many creative options, from jumpsuits to traditional Irish kilts. And you don’t have to stick to white or black either! To keep the overall look cohesive, it’s probably a good idea to coordinate your ideas or hire a stylist to help you if you don’t want to shop together.

The bouquet(s). For a wedding with two brides, both brides may choose to carry a bouquet, but neither of you has to. And flowers aren’t just for women! Grooms can also choose to carry a beautiful bouquet for their wedding. Whether or not you throw the bouquet(s) is up to you, and this is one tradition many modern couples choose to discard altogether. A sweet alternative is to present each of your mothers with a bouquet instead.

Traditions to Reinvent for Your Same Sex Wedding in Ireland

Walking down the aisle. The processional is another area where many couples have questions. In a straight wedding, the bride typically walks down the aisle to the waiting groom, where she is ‘given away’ by her father or another family member. For a same-sex wedding, there are so many ways to make this work for you. Some couples walk down the aisle together as a sign of unity. Others enter from opposite sides and sometimes join up to walk the last steps together, or enter first and have their guests follow. Another option is a unique set-up, like a ceremony in the round or two aisles. It’s all about your personal preferences (and ceremony site). It’s also up to you if you want to be walked down the aisle (all or part-way). It can be a lovely moment to share with a family member or close friend and doesn’t have to represent the outdated ‘transfer’ of a daughter from father to husband, but rather a gesture of support and the joining of families. Talk through all the options and get creative!

Traditions to Reinvent for Your Same Sex Wedding in Ireland

Traditional vows. A same-sex wedding in Ireland may be a civil ceremony, a Humanist ceremony, or a symbolic ceremony. For all three, you can customise your vows, although a civil ceremony may still require certain phrases to be said to make it legal. Talk to your registrar or celebrant to discuss your options. Beyond that, it’s up to you! Write your vows together or individually, allowing it to be an emotional surprise on the day. Make them fun and lighthearted, or serious and poetic. It’s all about reflecting and celebrating the love you share. You could also include an Irish wedding tradition like handfasting as a tribute to your destination.

The pronouncement. Another element of the ceremony you may wish to discuss with your officiant is the pronouncement. Whether you opt for ‘husbands’. ‘wives’, ‘spouses’, or something else is up to you. Alternatively, they could just pronounce you ‘married’.

Traditions to Reinvent for Your Same Sex Wedding in Ireland

The speeches. Typically at a straight wedding, the father of the bride speaks, followed by the groom and then the best man. It’s up to you how you mix this up. Both your parents could speak or you could choose one of your attendants or a close friend. And the two of you could do a joint speech or each have a turn. You could even have songs instead of speeches or an open mic for whoever would like to give a short tribute.

Ultimately, it’s up to you to create a same-sex wedding in Ireland that truly celebrates the two of YOU. In doing so, you’ll be joining your lives in a way that feels totally authentic – and maybe even setting trends for others to follow!

Slán go Fóill,


Images by Eric Kelley, Bartek Witek Photography and Jenny McCarthy