Love at Adare Manor: Chris and Lucy’s Real Irish Wedding

When Christopher Lawlor and Lucy Corrigan matched on Bumble in 2019, neither one of them had any idea of the epic love story they were beginning, nor the fact that it would end in a brilliant Irish wedding at Adare Manor. With incredibly busy professional lives in New York City (Lucy is a lawyer and Chris is an entrepreneur and co-founder of an AI infrastructure company), it took months before they were able to meet for their first date.

When it finally happened, the two met at a wine bar (Compagnie du Vins Surnaturels) and immediately lost track of time, talking about everything from food to music to family. Their relationship took off and the two began to enjoy dates all over the city (many to see the New York Philharmonic).

Suddenly, the new couple found themselves in a city completely halted by Covid. When remote work became mandatory, Chris and Lucy made the decision to travel to Philadelphia to visit Chris’s parents “for two weeks”, unaware that two weeks would turn into five months! As soon as the restrictions lifted, it was time for Chris to “meet the parents” in Lucy’s hometown of Dublin. When all family and friends were introduced and all approvals were met, Chris took Lucy to Park City, Utah where she was met with the ultimate relationship test: three months of ski season. Lucy passed with flying colors and Chris proposed a year later, on a beach, Lucy’s much preferred location.

When I met with Lucy and Chris, it became clear that it was Lucy’s desire to share the beauty and warmth of her home country with all of their combined loved ones. Lucy said this about choosing Adare Manor: “We chose Adare for two reasons. The first is we genuinely think that it’s one of the best hotels we’ve ever stayed at and the second is… we wanted an Irish village where people could show up and all be in one place, close together.” With guests coming from all over the world, Lucy and Chris said they loved nothing more than the idea of their friends and family bumping into each other on the streets of Adare Village.

In the same spirit, Lucy and Chris wanted to cultivate an environment of reunion and laughter, creating memories their guests would keep for a lifetime. With everyone coming together, friends and family from both sides and from different countries, the couple wanted the atmosphere to be a mix of both formal and casual, to go from black tie to full Philadelphia Eagles attire within 24-hours (a hilarious moment that actually happened). Lucy said: “We could have easily gotten married at City Hall, but the opportunity to have all of the people we love come together in one room was too good to pass up. The vibe across the three days was about providing the space, the time, and the drinks for people to see friends and family they don’t normally get to see.”

Though there were many fashionable moments throughout the three day wedding celebration, when the time came to walk down the aisle, the bride wore an Elie Saab gown (that she fell in love with during a serendipitous try-on at Elizabeth Taylor’s old townhouse off 5th avenue!) and Chris wore a Saman Amel tuxedo with a La Bowtique bowtie.

With the vows completed, the new husband and wife exited the ceremony, walking down the aisle to the iconic soundtrack of Star Wars. The reception was brilliant, with everyone out on the dancefloor, including Lucy’s 91-year-old grandfather! Beautiful speeches were given, wedding crashers were escorted from the party by loyal friends, and a wedding cake made out of wheels of cheese (created by Lucy’s favourite cheesemonger) was enjoyed by all.

As a wedding planner, it is a dream to work with such a fun-loving, adventurous and beautiful couple as Chris and Lucy. It was an absolute pleasure to spend time creating a space where Dublin and Philadelphia could come together in an iconic celebration of Chris, Lucy, friends, family, love and cheese.

 

Slán go Fóill,

Tara

Event Planner: Tara Fay | Venue: Adare Manor|  Photography: Greg Finck | Engagement Rings and Wedding Bands: Zameer Kassam | Bride’s Rehearsal Dinner Dress: Zuhair Murad | Bride’s Rehearsal Dinner & Wedding Shoes: Jimmy Choo | Groom’s Rehearsal Dinner Jacket: J. Mueser | Groom’s Rehearsal Dinner Trousers: Ralph Lauren | Groom’s Rehearsal Dinner Shoes: Magnanni | Brides Wedding Dress: Elie Saab | Bride’s Second Wedding Dress: Monique Lhuillier | Groom’s Wedding Tuxedo: Saman Amel | Groom’s Wedding Shoes: To Boot New York | Groom’s Wedding Bowtie: La Bowtique |

The Warming of the Ring Ceremony

Often, I am asked by my lovely couples how they can incorporate Irish culture and tradition into their wedding day. One of my favourite answers is the Warming of the Ring Ceremony. Recently, I was honoured to be interviewed by The Knot in regards to this centuries-old Irish wedding tradition.

What is it?

The Warming of the Ring Ceremony is a strongly symbolic tradition that includes everyone in attendance. Each ring is held (whether in the box or out of the box) by every attending friend and family member. Guests are encouraged to speak well wishes, pray, or internally focus on some loving intentions for the couple. In this way, the rings are ‘warmed’ with love before they end up on the fingers of the newlyweds.

How does it work?

There are a couple different ways I’ve seen the Warming of the Ring Ceremony preformed.

Typically, there is an officiant with a script for each different version. In the first, the officiant meets the guests as they arrive and offers them the rings. Before they take their seats, the officiant asks each attendee to ‘warm the rings’ with their intentions for the couple.

In the second version, the tradition takes place during the wedding ceremony. In this case, the officiant asks that before exchanging, the rings are passed around to each guest. Personally, I like this version the best. The physical warming of the rings carries such a beautiful sentiment.

How can you make it yours?

For your loved ones who cannot be in attendance, I always suggest adding a personal item of theirs: like jewelry, a linen or lace hanky to pass around with the rings. Personally, I think it is more intimate to pass the rings around without a box to make the ‘warming ceremony’ even more literal. As each guest physically warms the ring with their hands, they infuse even more warmth by way of loving thoughts and wishes. In the past, we’ve read poetry or scripture as the rings are passed to each attending guest, making these moments even more sentimental and sweet.

Are you interested in incorporating the Warming of the Rings Ceremony into your wedding day? Read my interview on The Knot or get in touch!

Slán go Fóill,

Tara

Image by Barry McCall

Top Places in Ireland to Wed in 2024

Are you considering a destination wedding to Ireland? I am absolutely thrilled that you are here! It is no secret that I believe Ireland is the most beautiful and magical place to say “I Do”. In fact, deciding on a wedding venue can be one of the hardest parts because there are so many gorgeous venues to choose from. Ireland is known for its picturesque landscapes and romantic settings, making it a popular destination for weddings. But there are some that stand out amongst the others. Here are the Top Places to Wed in Ireland in 2024:

Ashford Castle (Cong, County Mayo)

A stunning castle set on the shores of Lough Corrib, Ashford Castle offers a fairytale setting for a wedding. With its gorgeous acres of manicured gardens, lush forests and lively woodland, there is magic floating on the breeze and over the sparking waters of Lough Corrib. Additionally, working with the team of professionals at Ashford Castle is truly a rewarding experience in itself. It is nearly impossible to run out of things to do or options for entertainment. A wedding at Ashford Castle can be customized to fit the personalities of every couple that decides to say their ‘I Do’s’ at this enchanted place.

My other favorite detail? The accommodations at Ashford Castle are beyond compare. Each of the 83 rooms have been lovingly designed and individually restored, whilst taking every effort to incorporate the latest modern luxuries. The unique works of art and antique furniture are carefully and meticulously curated. Every one of the team’s efforts comes to fruition as you and your guests take in the sumptuous fabrics, custom-designed carpets, exquisite toweling, feature lighting and drift off to dreamland on bespoke beds wrapped in Egyptian Cotton bed linens.

Find my Deep Dive here: Ashford Castle!

Adare Manor (Adare, County Limerick)

A five-star hotel set on a vast estate, Adare Manor is known for its opulent architecture and elegant surroundings. The manicured gardens and the grandeur of the Manor provide a luxurious backdrop for a wedding.

Adare Manor wedding grounds scenery

An Adare Manor wedding is always one to be savoured, whether it’s small and intimate or a grand affair. It has a unique ambience, a mix of old-world glamour and modern technology and comfort, suffused with warmth and good old-fashioned Irish hospitality, that makes it one of my personal favourite Irish destination wedding venues. It’s what is known as a Gothic revival calendar house, so named because it has 365 leaded windows, 52 chimneys, seven stone pillars, and four towers, which mark the days, weeks, and seasons of the year. The award-winning hotel also includes a championship golf course (set to host the Ryder Cup in 2027) and a Michelin-starred restaurant. In 2018, it was named Hotel of the Year at the Virtuoso Best of the Best Awards ahead of properties like the famed Grand-Hotel du Cap-Ferrat in France and the Berkeley in London.

But really, what makes Adare so unique is not only the setting, but the people. They have a motto they use, ‘Beyond Everything’, and that is really what they do. They go above and beyond for every single guest and every single wedding. For example, there’s Philip, the wedding butler and one of my favourite people at Adare. He becomes so involved with the wedding couple that when they say goodbye it’s a little like parting from a member of the family. Another example is Mary, part of the Adare Food and Beverage team. She gets to know every member of both families, what they would like to eat and drink, and where they need to be and when. It really is an extraordinary level of service, which reflects my philosophy as a wedding planner. It’s this kind of personal attention that makes guests feel truly pampered and turns an Adare Manor wedding from an event into an experience.

Find my Deep Dive here: Adare Manor!

Museum of Literature (Dublin)

When I speak to couples who imagine their wedding in an an intimate and opulent setting, surrounded by rich history and literary legends, I tell them the Museum of Literature Ireland (also known as the MoLI) is the venue for them. Couples who appreciate this city’s love of literature know that MoLI is the perfect wedding setting. Just traverse through Dublin and you’ll find a myriad of bookshops,  historic libraries, literary plaques and statues. Some of the world’s most famous writers called Dublin home.

Museum of Literature Ireland wedding groom

A relatively new addition to the cultural scene in downtown Dublin, it is a dedicated museum that celebrates the rich literary heritage of Ireland and its literary luminaries. MoLI is a partnership between University College Dublin and the National Library of Ireland. Inside the hidden historic rooms of the MoLI, you will find yourself encompassed by Georgian lavishness and you and your guests will join the ranks of all the fascinating characters that have passed through over the centuries.

Couples who choose the Museum of Literature Ireland have access to the gardens outside, including the beautiful Iveagh Gardens, which were originally owned by the Guinness family. The Iveagh house is located just a few doors down from the MoLI. Intimate weddings at MoLI are a joy to plan. It is stylish and elegant and offers opportunities for celebration both inside and out. I relish creating an atmosphere of exclusivity for you and your cherished friends and family to focus on the moment at hand.

Find my Deep Dive here: Museum of Literature!

Dromoland Castle (Newmarket-on-Fergus, County Clare)

Another castle setting, Dromoland Castle, offers a historic and romantic atmosphere. The castle is surrounded by lush greenery and a beautiful lake, creating a magical setting for a wedding.

Originally the seat of the descendants of one of the last High Kings of Ireland, Dromoland Castle is now an amazing luxury hotel that has welcomed celebrities and dignitaries from Bono to Nelson Mandela. Magnificent scenery, sumptuous interiors, a championship golf course, and elegant French-inspired fine dining add to the unforgettable experience. The venue is also incredibly versatile, offering a wide range of ceremony and reception spaces of different sizes, from a charming walled garden to the magnificent Brian Boru Hall.

Read more about Dromoland Castle weddings here!

Merrion Hotel (Dublin)

As soon as you step through the elegant Georgian doors of the Merrion Hotel in Dublin, you’re immediately transported into a world of luxury and charm, wrapped in a warm Irish welcome. This place embodies grace, romance, and hospitality – making it an unrivaled destination wedding venue in the heart of Ireland.

The Merrion Hotel takes its distinctive character from 18th-century townhouses, which once belonged to influential Irish figures — boasting 123 guest rooms and 19 suites, a two-star Michelin restaurant, a luxurious spa, and meticulously manicured private gardens. The hotel exemplifies grandeur, splendor, and comfort – everything you might wish for your wedding day.

You cannot go wrong with a Merrion Hotel wedding; it is undoubtedly a testament to Ireland’s rich history, elegantly situated within four meticulously restored Georgian townhouses in Dublin. These 18th-century townhouses, once the homes of notable figures such as Viscount Monck and Garret Wesley, were designed by famed Irish architect Richard Cassels. Over the years, they have witnessed significant events in Irish history, such as the birth of Arthur Wellesley, the future Duke of Wellington. The hotel’s name, ‘Merrion’, comes from the title ‘Viscount Merrion’, granted to Sir Charles Monck in 1760. Today, the hotel blends its historic grandeur with modern luxury, offering a unique retreat that is deeply rooted in the city’s architectural and social history. It serves as a beautiful reminder of Dublin’s Georgian heritage while providing world-class services to its guests.

Find my Deep Dive here: Merrion Hotel!

Ballyfin Demesne (Ballyfin, County Laois)

I’m always delighted when my clients choose Ballyfin Demesne for their destination weddings in Ireland, as it truly is a special place. Built in 1820, the neo-classical Regency mansion (and later, boys’ school) underwent an extensive renovation in the early 2000s, finally reopening as a luxurious five-star country hotel in 2011. Since then, it has received multiple prestigious accolades, including being voted the best hotel in the world by Conde Nast Traveler and receiving the AA’s Hotel of the Year Award in 2018. If you want something very unique and private, then this is the place for you.

Wedding photos in front of Ballyfin Demesne

What makes Ballyfin wedding venue so special is that visiting it is like walking back in time. Think of it as a Downton Abbey house party of your very own. On arrival, the staff line up to greet you, just as if you were the lords and ladies of the manor returning to your country pile. And that’s just the start of the old-world charm and traditional Irish hospitality you can expect during your stay. The butlers all have a personal connection to the property, so they are part of the family there, and everyone has a story to tell.

Although Ballyfin is described as a country house venue, I think of it more as a little bit of paradise in the middle of Ireland. On a clear night, it’s easy to imagine what the world was like 200 years ago. With very little light pollution, the countryside is so still and serene that it feels like you’re the only people for miles around. And it’s so private that once you enter you really feel like you have arrived home. I’m delighted to have such a strong relationship with the wonderful team there, and to be able to recommend it to my clients knowing that they’ll love it as much as I do.

Read my Deep Dive here: Ballyfin Demesne!

Mount Juliet Estate (Thomastown, County Kilkenny)

A country estate with a Georgian mansion, Mount Juliet offers a blend of luxury and natural beauty. The estate includes a golf course, gardens, and a river, providing various picturesque backdrops.

To describe a bit more about why I suggested Mount Juliet, it is nestled within the verdant Irish countryside, it is a breathtaking wedding venue that offers an idyllic setting at a majestic Georgian Manor house, set on a sprawling 500-acre estate. The bride described to me that she had always dreamt of a winter wedding and this venue seamlessly blends historic elegance with modern luxury, providing an enchanting backdrop for the ultimate fairy-tale winter wedding. Surrounded by meticulously landscaped gardens, ancient woodlands, and the tranquil River Nore, Mount Juliet is the epitome of romance and charm.

Read about Esias and Sheena’s Mount Juliet Estate wedding here! 

These are some of my favourites and what I would consider the top places to wed in Ireland in 2024. There are so many, so reach out! We can talk about even more Incredible Wedding Locations in Ireland. Remember to consider the capacity, check reviews and testimonials, and visit the location, if possible. You should always discuss your specific needs with your wedding planner as they should be the expert in whatever venue you choose. Once you’ve decided on a location, you can move on to the next best part: First Steps to Planning a Destination Wedding.

I am so excited for you!

Slán go Fóill,

Tara

Images by Ashford Castle website, Christina Brosnan, Dromoland Castle website, Story of Eve, Mount Juliet Estate website

Museum of Literature: A Complete Venue Guide

About the Museum of Literature (MoLI)

When I speak to couples who imagine their wedding in an an intimate and opulent setting, surrounded by rich history and literary legends, I tell them the Museum of Literature Ireland (also known as the MoLI) is the venue for them. Couples who appreciate this city’s love of literature know that MoLI is the perfect wedding setting. Just traverse through Dublin and you’ll find a myriad of bookshops,  historic libraries, literary plaques and statues. Some of the world’s most famous writers called Dublin home.

Founded in 2019 and encapsulated in Numbers 85 and 86 of St Stephen’s Green, these two buildings have also served as a university, a museum, and the townhouse of one of Ireland’s most infamous playboys and adventurers – Buck Whaley. MoLI is designed to be a dynamic and immersive museum that explores and celebrates Irish literature, from its rich history to contemporary contributions. The museum aims to engage visitors of all ages and backgrounds in the world of Irish writing and literary creativity.

Couples who choose the Museum of Literature Ireland have access to the gardens outside, including the beautiful Iveagh Gardens, which were originally owned by the Guinness family. The Iveagh house is located just a few doors down from the MoLI.

A relatively new addition to the cultural scene in downtown Dublin, it is a dedicated museum that celebrates the rich literary heritage of Ireland and its literary luminaries. MoLI is a partnership between University College Dublin and the National Library of Ireland. Inside the hidden historic rooms of the MoLI, you will find yourself encompassed by Georgian lavishness and you and your guests will join the ranks of all the fascinating characters that have passed through over the centuries.

Why I Love Planning Weddings at MoLI

Intimate weddings at MoLI are a joy to plan. It is stylish and elegant and offers opportunities for celebration both inside and out. I relish creating an atmosphere of exclusivity for you and your cherished friends and family to focus on the moment at hand. The couple who chooses to wed at The Museum of Literature Ireland likely prefers to be surrounded by their closest loved ones, desires a more private event, and revels in the historical and literary significance of a venue like MoLI. Fun Fact: The nickname “MoLI” hints to James Joyce’s heroine in Ulysses: Molly Bloom.)

Museum of Literature Ireland wedding groom

This means their wedding will include a special entrance reserved only for guests at No. 85 St. Stephen’s Green where your ceremony will be held. When the “I Do’s” are finished, everyone can retire to the adjoining Saloon for a lavish cocktail hour. Wedding photos can be staged in Dublin’s famous Iveagh Gardens or in the Reader’s Garden, which has its own access. Private dining options are available upon request.

MoLI Ceremony and Reception Spaces

The Readers Garden

Newly landscaped, the Courtyard and Readers Garden are meant to be a place of peace and enjoyment. A quiet space for learning and reading. They are famous for two protected trees, one being the ash tree that James Joyce had his graduation picture taken against. The other is a Killarney Strawberry tree. (James Joyce is pictured below, second from left, graduating at UCD Newman House in 1902.)

Iveagh Gardens

Commonly known as Ireland’s “secret garden”, Iveagh Gardens is a stunning green space located just behind The Reader’s Garden. A public park with humble beginnings, the Gardens were started in 1756 under the title of “Clonmell Lawns”. In 1939, the space was offered to the chancellor of University College Dublin as a “gift to the nation”. The garden features a large sunken lawn, a pond, a boating tower, a cascading waterfall that flows over rocks from each of Ireland’s 32 counties, and a maze that is a miniature copy of London’s Hampton Court Maze.

literary Dublin destination wedding inspiration

Iveagh Gardens are a beautiful place, surrounded by buildings, and located close to the Museum. Iveagh Gardens are a little harder to find but so worth the effort! They are dedicated to Irish novelist, Maeve Binchy, providing yet another literary link. And, while weddings are not currently permitted there, couples can obtain a permit to use it as a location for wedding photos. I encourage romantic and literary couples to incorporate small nods to their favourite stories into their wedding design and photography. If you need a little help visualizing what this kind of theme could be, read my post: Literary Wedding Inspiration for a Romantic Dublin Destination Wedding.

Commons Café

Commons Cafe is a stunning space with a modern design. Built in the original student dining hall of the University College Dublin, this venue has long been the setting for the gathering of close friends. In fact, the poet Gerard Manley Hopkins lived here during his time as Professor of Classics at the university, and James Joyce was a student here before graduating with a BA in 1902. Other famous Irish writers to have studied at UCD Newman House include Flann O’Brien, Kate O’Brien and Maeve Binchy.

Led by sisters Domini and Peaches Kemp, Commons Cafe prioritizes Ireland’s fresh produce and culinary heritage. Set in the original student dining halls of UCD Newman House, the Commons has long been a space for sharing food and ideas amongst friends. Couples fall in love with the original artwork and curated culinary quotes. For events, the cafe opens out onto the Courtyard Garden, creating a masterful blend of indoor and outdoor spaces.

Newman House

Newman House, where MoLi is located, is a magnificent historic space. With its marble floors, Cuban mahogany staircase, and lavishly-detailed plasterwork, it is a unique Dublin wedding venue. To do it justice, one might follow cues from this styled shoot I produced.

The table design featured earthy tones and rich, dark ones, with luxe details like custom calligraphy layered with simple household items to play out the juxtaposition of the blue and green palette. Aged wooden farm tables were chosen to bring character, balanced with delicate natural greenery, in the form of ferns and succulents. Layers of dots and petal-like patterns at each place setting modernised the rustic setting, while votives in copper glass holders and emerald green taper candles created an intimate, elegant feel.

Old Physics Theatre

The Old Physics Theatre is bursting with timeless style. The ballroom, decorated in neo-Gothic décor, features handmade wallpaper, beautiful high-arched windows, and an impressive chandelier. The entire room has an ethereal golden glow. It’s a wonderful option for an intimate wedding in Dublin, with space for private dining for up to 60 people. It also made a gorgeous backdrop for this photo shoot: Contemporary Vintage Bridal Style at the Museum of Literature Ireland Wedding Venue, which combined vintage sensibility and retro flair with modern romance!

Museum of Literature Ireland wedding table décor

Experiences and Events Nearby

For those that plan on spending some time in the city, Dublin offers a wealth of popular tourist attractions for visitors to explore. The city is also known for its lively pub culture, scenic parks, and welcoming atmosphere, making it a great destination for travelers interested in history, culture, and entertainment. Here are some of the most well-known and highly recommended attractions in the city:

Keeping it within a 15-min walking distance, you and your guests can explore St. Patrick’s Cathedral. One of the largest Gothic cathedrals in Ireland and steeped in history, visitors admire its magnificent architecture and explore the beautiful gardens. The National Museum of Ireland is home to several branches of the National Museum, each focusing on different aspects of Irish culture and history. The Archaeology Museum, Natural History Museum, and Decorative Arts and History Museum are all worth exploring. Art enthusiasts can appreciate the extensive collection of European and Irish art at the National Gallery, which includes works by renowned artists such as Caravaggio and Jack B. Yeats. Lastly, Trinity College is Ireland’s oldest university, and it houses the world-renowned Book of Kells, a beautifully illuminated manuscript. Visitors can also explore the historic campus and the Long Room library.

Just a bit farther, Dublinia offers an engaging look into Dublin’s Viking and medieval history with interactive displays and reconstructions of historical scenes. Dublin Castle has played a pivotal role in Irish history and is known for its stunning architecture. You can tour the State Apartments, the Chapel Royal, and the Dubhlinn Gardens. Lastly, the iconic Temple Bar. Dublin’s cultural quarter is known for its vibrant atmosphere, featuring numerous bars, restaurants, galleries, and street art. It’s a hub for nightlife, entertainment, and the arts.

To stay within a literary theme, there are a handful of writer-focused locations to be sure to see. This includes The Dublin Writers Museum (featuring exhibits and memorabilia related to Ireland’s literary greats), The James Joyce Centre (exhibitions, lectures and walking tours dedicated to the life and works of Joyce), The W.B. Yeats Exhibition (celebrates the life of the poet and is located in the National Library of Ireland in Dublin), and The Oscar Wilde House (showcases the famous playwright’s life, works and contributions to literature and culture).

Jump on a bus and you can visit Kilmainham Gaol. A former prison turned museum, Kilmainham Gaol provides insights into Ireland’s turbulent history, particularly during the struggle for independence. It’s a significant historical site. While you’re on that side of town, locate Phoenix Park and visit the Dublin Zoo. It’s a popular family attraction with a wide variety of animals from around the world. It offers a fun and educational experience for visitors of all ages.

MoLI Location

Centrally located in the heart of Dublin, on the south side of St. Stephen’s Green, there are many methods of travel to get to the MoLI. Once in Dublin however, your guests can use other city centre landmarks to find their way. MoLI is about 10 minutes’ walk from Merrion Square, the National Gallery of Ireland, the National Museum, Dáil Éireann and Trinity College.

I like to remind my couples that there are areas of the MoLI that are not wheelchair accessible. If you intend on inviting a guest that will need additional mobility requirements, the MoLI is able to assist them in accessing the building. However, there are many other available areas at the MoLI that do not require additional assistance for those with limited mobility.

Let’s Plan a Wedding at MoLI

Planning intimate weddings at MoLI is a delightful experience. The venue exudes style and elegance, providing ample opportunities for celebration both indoors and outdoors. My aim is to create an atmosphere of exclusivity, so that you and your cherished friends and family can focus on the moment at hand. If you’re eager to tie the knot at The Museum of Literature Ireland, don’t hesitate to reach out!

Museum of Literature Ireland Venue at a Glance

Address: UCD Naughton Joyce Centre, 86 St Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2

Phone: +353 1 716 5900

Email: hello@moli.ie

Website: https://moli.ie/

Capacity: 60 guests

Slán go Fóill,

Tara

Images by Story of Eve, Heritage Ireland and the Museum of Literature Ireland website

Destination Wedding Trends for 2024

One of the beautiful things about life is that it’s always changing. It makes sense that love and weddings are ever-evolving, too. Here are some 2024 destination wedding trends to consider as you begin your planning adventure:

Unplugged Weddings

While this isn’t a new idea, it’s gaining popularity year by year. Some guests might struggle with unplugging from their ever-present electronic devices, but if you make it a wedding rule, you’ll find that most will thank you for the break from reality by the end of the event. Without distractions, your guests can truly spend some intentional time with one another. When you ask guests to disconnect from their devices during the ceremony, it encourages a more present and intimate experience. Plus, you don’t have to worry about the incredibly awkward moment of a ringing phone in the middle of your vows!

Virtual Elements

It might sound like I’m contradicting myself with the last point, but with the rise of virtual weddings during the pandemic, lots of couples have continued to incorporate virtual elements into their destination weddings for guests who can’t attend in person. Being able to attend in real-time, even though they are miles (or countries) away, will mean so much to your loved ones. Plus, with the ability to record and live-stream each precious moment, this reduces your guests’ compulsion to grab their devices and record for you. It also reduces the amount of cell phones inelegantly held overhead during the ceremony.

Eco-Friendly Weddings & Cultural Experiences

Sustainability and eco-consciousness have been on the rise in the wedding industry. Couples are choosing eco-friendly destination wedding locations, minimizing waste, and opting for sustainable décor and practices. They have also become much more culturally aware. Couples have been going out of their way to incorporate the customs of local culture into their wedding, including cuisine, music, and traditions. Here are some unique ways to incorporate cultural aspects and Make Your Irish Destination Wedding Stand Out.

Unique Locations & Intimate Gatherings

Couples are looking beyond traditional wedding locations and seeking unique, off-the-beaten-path destinations for their weddings. This might include mountains, forests, historical landmarks, or (may I suggest) beautiful historic Irish castles? With locations becoming more remote, we’ve seen another trend sprout forth – smaller, more intimate gatherings. Couples are often opting for quality time with a select group of loved ones rather than hosting large affairs. Pared-down events might also allow couples to invite their guests to spend more days or attend more activities.

Multi-Day Celebrations

That being said, some couples are extending their destination wedding festivities over several days, allowing for more relaxed and meaningful interactions with their guests. Knowing there are extra days to spend celebrating means more time for conversation with family and friends. It also means more time for adventures – like hiking, hot air ballooning, boating or falconry! Yep. Falconry.

As trends vary from year to year, you can depend on your wedding planner to keep you in the loop on factors like culture, economy and current events (especially if you plan on having your destination wedding in Ireland or any other country). One thing that never changes, though, are that weddings will always be about celebrating love and bringing friends and family together for the most important moment of your lives. That’s something we can always rely on.

Slán go Fóill,

Tara

Images collected from Story of Eve 

Ashford Castle Wedding Venue: A Complete Guide

About Ashford Castle

Voted the most romantic hotel in Europe, Ashford Castle is a fairy tale venue. Boasting suites tucked away in turrets, breathtaking views, and luxurious accommodations, it is unlikely anyone will forget a wedding event hosted at Ashford Castle. Before we get into the unbelievable details of this extravagant venue, let’s dive into the castle’s history.

Although Ashford Castle has a truly remarkable history, its greatest claim to fame is its standing as the former home of the Guinness family. This 800-year-old castle has played host to notables and royalty, including The Prince of Wales (later King George V), George Harrison, John Lennon, Rory McIlroy, Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex and President Ronald Reagan (to name a few). After a five-year restoration that included the talents of local experts and artisans, Ashford Castle remains an impeccable example of medieval and Victorian architecture. Although the walls may be ancient, the Red Carnation hotel inside is the picture of luxury.

After the castle re-opened in April 2015 following major refurbishment (820 windows were replaced, a new lead roof installed, and its stonework repointed), Ashford Castle has gone on to be awarded as a Forbes five-star hotel, as well as the Ashford Castle Spa, making them the first and only hotel in Ireland to hold two Forbes Five-Star awards. A few other awards of note include No. 1 in The 5 Best Hotel Resorts in the UK and Ireland (Travel + Leisure 2022),  5 Star Hotel Bar of the Year (Bar of the Year Awards 2022), and Winner of Sustainability Initiative Of The Year – Communities (The Travel Industry Awards 2022).

Why I Love Planning Weddings at Ashford Castle

Honestly, who wouldn’t love planning a wedding at Ashford Castle? It’s like coordinating a fairy tale! With its gorgeous acres of manicured gardens, lush forests and lively woodland, there is magic floating on the breeze and over the sparking waters of Lough Corrib. Additionally, working with the team of professionals at Ashford Castle is truly a rewarding experience in itself. It is nearly impossible to run out of things to do or options for entertainment. A wedding at Ashford Castle can be customized to fit the personalities of every couple that decides to say their ‘I Do’s’ at this enchanted place.

My other favorite detail? The accommodations at Ashford Castle are beyond compare. Each of the 83 rooms have been lovingly designed and individually restored, whilst taking every effort to incorporate the latest modern luxuries. The unique works of art and antique furniture are carefully and meticulously curated. Every one of the team’s efforts comes to fruition as you and your guests take in the sumptuous fabrics, custom designed carpets, exquisite towelling, feature lighting and drift off to dreamland on bespoke beds wrapped in Egyptian Cotton bed linens.

 

Ashford Castle Ceremony and Reception Spaces

No matter what you’re dream wedding looks like, Ashford Castle can make it come true. With the castle’s 83 bedrooms and suites, gatherings of all sizes can abide on the gorgeous property. From 16 to 160 guests, the sky is the limit.  You can even hire the entire estate and make the entire place your own, allowing you and your wedding party to enjoy the full castle experience without interruption.

When I think of an “unforgettable experience, I think of an “exclusive use” wedding at Ashford Castle. This means all estate activities are available for your and your guests to enjoy (this includes falconry, equestrian, golf, river cruising, fishing and spa treatments), exclusive use of all restaurants and bars including The George V Dining Room, and the underground Wine Cellars for a magical pre-wedding event. Sweets can be provided by the epic PaulaPastry. Soak in a ‘secret garden’ feel when we plan your ceremony in the Walled Garden. Retreat to the Maigue Suite, or to Oak Hall located at the heart of the castle, where your reception will have your guests reminiscing for years to come.

Need more options? Say no more. How about hosting your ceremony in the Castle’s Drawing Room? Were you imagining more of a church vibe? Saint Mary’s Church Cong is located in the village, just a three-minute drive from the Ashford Estate. Just 40 minutes further, you’ll find historic Ballintubber Abbey, a popular destination for many a bride and groom. When all is said and done, couples can retreat and recover at The Boathouse or the legendary Reagan Presidential Suite.

Let’s look into some of these options a little further.

The George V Dining Room

Produced exclusively for the Ashford Estate, creative Irish cuisine inspired by the first seasonal ingredients from the West of Ireland is presented by Executive Chef Liam Finnegan in The George V Dining Room. Along with fresh produce foraged from the estate itself, alongside an extensive wine cellar, it’s no wonder The George V Dining Room has hosted distinguished guests from almost 800 years. Your guests can dine where the Prince of Wales (also known as George V of England) dined in a special dining room built in honour of his visit in 1905.

Experiencing Chef Liam Finnegan’s culinary brilliance is not limited to just the Dining Room- there’s also casual dining in the beautiful setting of Cullen’s at the Cottage or the atmospheric Dungeon, or a delightful Afternoon Tea in the elegant Connaught Room. A note to all my couples who value sustainability and shopping local: Ashford Castle proudly shares the same beliefs. In the castle’s six restaurants and three bars, much of the produce is sourced locally or grown in their own gardens and polytunnels.

PaulaPastry

Here’s something I’m really excited about – PaulaPastry! Who better to provide your wedding day treats than award-winning chef, Paula Stakelum? Ashford Castle Estate has launched a new chocolate and patisserie concept, PaulaPastry, developed by by Chef Paula Stakelum herself. Crafted in small batches by Paula and her team, each delectable treat comes with meticulous attention to detail and the finest flavours possible. Your guests will write home about the signature chocolate shards, indulgent praline spreads, chocolate-covered nuts, and hot chocolates.

The Wine Cellar

Listen closely, my friends. If you want to impress, invite your guests to follow you into the secret tunnels of Ashford Castle. They will gasp in awe as they take in the historic passageways that were unearthed during the renovations and be taken aback even still when they experience a private dinner and wine pairing in these 16th-century tunnels. The cosy ambience and soft lighting is the perfect atmosphere for an intimate celebration. The knowledgeable Head Sommelier will educate your guests on his carefully curated wine list.  He may also inform you of the history of the cellar and its beginnings as the old servants’ entrance to the coal bunker where buckets were gathered and delivered to warm up each of the rooms of the castle.

The Walled Garden

If you’ve always imagined Ashford Castle as your wedding venue, but you’ve envisioned something more outdoor and garden-themed, they’ve got you covered. The gardens at Ashford Castle are something out of a ‘secret garden’ fantasy. Restored with loving attention to its original formation in the 1890s, the great formal Main Parterre, the beautiful Walled Garden full of perennial borders, fruit and vegetables, and the long Terraced Walk and Broad Walk are perfect for an open-air ceremony. Afterwards, you and your new spouse can spend time wandering and reflecting in the great woods, where the wildlife and great ancient trees add towering and unparalleled ambiance.

Connaught Room

Treat your guests and indulge in speciality teas, delicate finger sandwiches with traditional fillings, warm scones and handmade pastries in the Connaugt Room. The floor-to-ceiling windows offer spectacular views of the manicured gardens and Lough Corrib. Not to mention the captivating Donegal Crystal chandelier, panelled oak walls, and hand-carved fireplace. I think a Welcome Brunch would be fabulous in this space. It’s also available for Afternoon Tea or a private Wine Dinner.

 

Oak Hall

Everyone’s breath will be stolen by the incredible Oak Hall, one of the remaining features of the Guinness period. The crystal chandelier that hangs overhead looms largely, but not as largely as the castle’s 80kg (170lb) Irish wolfhounds (beautiful and docile dogs) who are often found relaxing here, among the fresh flowers. In Oak Hall, you’ll also find the castle’s guestbook, an enticing read full of names, both celebrity and royal. Above the hall, on the mezzanine is a library of over 800 antique books. It’s a spectacle to behold and a remarkable place to greet your guests for a cocktail hour!

The Boathouse

One of my favourite spaces at Ashford Castle is the restored boathouse, located a few minutes from the castle, on the shores of Lough Corrib. Constructed more than a century ago, The Boathouse is a hideaway for two, an intimate and private escape, a place to relax in isolation. Originally used by the Guinness’ to store Italian Riva boats, The Boathouse offers lake views that will fill your heart with peace and your ears with the soothing sounds of lapping lake waters.

When you’ve had your fill of the expansive views, you and your new spouse can retreat to the marble-lined bathroom and soak in the deluxe tub for two after dining à deux inside or al fresco on your private lakeside terrace. If you can ever get your fill of the incredible architectural and interior design detailing (including handmade timber parquet floors, original art, bespoke Murano glass chandelier, and king-sized bed), you’ll find two bicycles for jaunts around the property. Return home, enter through the gates, unlock your front door, and find your 24-hour butler ready to take your dessert order. Is this a dream? If it is, I promise to ask the incredible staff to not wake you two up!

The Reagan Presidential Suite

Located in the oldest wing of the castle, I always recommend The Reagan Presidential Suite. There is nothing more romantic for a bridal suite than an original wood fireplace, antique George III style four-poster bed, original portrait art, individually sourced antiques and spectacular floor-to-ceiling views of Lough Corrib. This split-level suite offers two bathrooms and can be combined with two adjacent rooms – the Kennedy Suite and Corrib Lake View Room – to complete a private three-bedroom wing of the castle.

This suite also includes a complimentary bar, complimentary viewing of “Quiet Man” (the movie filmed at Ashford Castle), 24-hour in-room dining, and many other exclusive amenities. Definitely the kind of perks all couples will want to take advantage of!

Additional Events and Activities

From Ireland’s first and finest falconry school, to horse-riding, golf, fishing, tennis, kayaking, archery, clay pigeon shooting and cosy movie nights in our stylish private cinema, Ashford Castle has a myriad of experiences and activities to keep your guests entertained. Here are just a few:

For hundreds of years, the grounds of Ashford Castle have been hailed as one of the finest sporting estates in all of Ireland, if not the world – which is proudly continues to this day. I am a confident fan of the dedicated Activity Coordinators, Michael and Fiona, who will guide each individual to the perfect past time. For example, those who love a day on the lake, experienced Lough Corrib guide, Frank, will take anyone out in the traditional wooden boats he hand-crafts himself. As a local marine and approved countryside guide by the Irish tourist board, Frank offers guided boat trips on Lough Corrib for up to three guests at a time, visiting its many beautiful islands.

Another option is falconry! An experience of a lifetime for those flower girls and ring bearers 7 years and older. Truly, the oldest established Falconry School in Ireland is an experience for those of all ages. Bond with a new hawk friend before sending them into the woodlands, gasping as they follow you from tree to tree, ready to return to your gloved hand when you call for them. Using their exceptional eyesight, speed, and training, the hawks will allow you to learn all their fascinating traits (via the Falconry School instructors, of course). What a unique and incredible memory to send your guests home with!

The Spa at Ashford Castle

Imagine spending time with your closest friends in this incredible place of relaxation. It is unlikely you’ll find a space that is more well known for its ability to rejuvenate and refresh in the entire country. This is why The Spa at Ashford Castle was awarded ‘Ireland’s Best Hotel Spa’ in 2021 for the 6th year in a row by World Spa Awards and we were also voted ‘Best in Sustainability’ in the 2019 Irish Tatler Awards.

If you’re going to spend time at Ashford Castle, I would highly recommend spending a significant amount of time at The Spa. The team is dedicated to restoring beauty and balance through treatments and spa journeys, personalised for each of their guests by exceptionally skilled therapists. I can’t recommend them highly enough. Your entire wedding party (and guests, as well) will leave feeling restored and renewed.

A Five Star Focus

Believe it or not, I am just scratching the surface of all the venue spaces and experiences Ashford Castle has to offer. If you’re interested in learning more, you can visit their website listed below. If you’re ready to take the leap and plan an incredible fairytale wedding at this magical castle in County Mayo, get in touch! Together, we can create something as marvelous as you absolutely deserve!

Ashford Castle Wedding Venue at a Glance

Address: Ashford Castle, Cong, Co. Mayo, F31 CA48, Ireland

Phone: +353 (0) 94 954 6003

Email: concierge@ashfordcastle.com

Website: https://ashfordcastle.com/

Slán go Fóill,

Tara

Images collected from The Ashford Castle website and Peter Carvill