Even the groom was out shooting guns only hours before the wedding. (I doubt the bride cared though, she and her bridesmaids spent the day getting spa treatments. :) The guys working at the gun place had some of the thickest Irish accents we heard in Ireland and we laughed pretty hard when a man we could barely understand said he was going to be the one to give us the instructions on gun safety.
They also had archery arranged that morning which I was excited to try since I've never done it, but with the drive out to the shooting range we didn't have time to do both before having to get ready for the wedding.
(The church was pretty - just obviously heavily forested.)
The ceremony started and in came all of the wedding party (I think there were about 10 bridesmaids), all accompanied by the organ. Then the organ stops and all of a sudden you hear the blare of a bagpipe and in comes a kilt-wearing bagpiper followed by the bride. Talk about here comes the bride! It was probably one of my favorite touches of the wedding. I LOVE bagpipes and seriously, what a way to announce your entry.
Even though lots of people were taking pictures of the wedding, I felt weird trying to get in people's way to get a shot, so I just got a couple not good pictures of them signing the wedding certificate and leaving the chapel.
The wedding was lovely, the bride and groom followed the bagpipes out and everyone hung out and enjoyed the beautiful surroundings (not to mention the amazing flowers over the arch) and took photos for a while.
Will and Marion, the happy couple
Check out the sweet ride with the personalized plates they had waiting as their transport back to the castle and off for the honeymoon. Loved it.
Even the tourists were out excitedly snapping pictures of the wedding party.
Then it was back to the shuttles where a white-gloved staff met us with glasses of champagne that they continued to fill the whole way back to the castle. (And came back with water for two of us.)
At the castle we were ushered around back for a garden party with cocktails and hors d'oeuvres. It was beautiful. There was a band (different than the band they would have later that night) and beautiful flowers and delicious seafood appetizers. (Ryan kept stalking the girl with the lobster bisque, trying to pop up in different places acting like he was a different guy :) They even had shawls for the women in case you got chilly and umbrellas for everyone in case it rained.
The bride and groom made their entrance in their stylish automobile and then mingled a bit before taking some pictures with the wedding party.
I believe the bride's dress was a Carolina Herrera designer gown (for those who follow those kind of things). I can't remember the designer for the bridesmaids dresses, but apparently the bridesmaids had about 25 dress choices to look over. They each narrowed it down to their top three or so, and then Marion went through with a professional and each girl was matched to a dress and color based on her body type and skin color. (The photographer was always in my way, so this was the best large group shot I got.)
The dinner bell was rung, and we were ushered into the castle. I swear there was an entire garden's worth of hydrangeas in that room.
Actually the flowers were flown in from Holland early that morning. They were literally flowers everywhere. Tall arrangements on the tables, short arrangements underneath those, flowers on the cocktail tables outside, flowers in the bar, flowers in the bathroom, flowers all over the castle... Wow. I really liked these arrangements too with rosemary wrapped around them.
Everything at this wedding was monogrammed. I should start with their wedding invitations, actually. Their save-the-date cards were really a small booklet with all sorts of information on Sligo, the accomodations, things to do, etc. beautifully letterpressed with designs from the area and castle in Ireland. The wedding invitations were again beautifully letterpressed and seriously about the thickness of a cardboard box. The dinner menus that night were letterpressed and designed to match the interior of the room we were eating in. But then everything you touched pretty much the whole weekend was monogrammed - napkins, menus, itineraries, coasters, even wooden cocktail stirrers. They had also had their fine china specially designed to be of the castle in Ireland. Pretty impressive attention to detail.
For dinner we had several courses, even sorbet before the main meal to cleanse the palette. For the main course we had our choice of duck or monkfish (I went with duck). After dinner and a few words from the families, the cake was cut and a room for dancing was opened up with a different band playing.
You'd think she might be tired, but that bride danced her socks off all night long.
When they were ready to leave, we found beautifully boxed and packaged cupcakes with an artistically decorated Irish scene with two sheep on it with for all the guests to take as they left. Of course there had to be one final perfect touch, as they drove off. We all lined up with sparklers, then as they started down the dirt road from the castle, a tunnel of fireworks shot up like fountains along their path lighting their way out. It was a pretty spectacular ending.
The next day, our last day for sightseeing our way back out of the country was pretty much seen through the windows of our car as it rained almost nonstop the whole day.
And then we came to this one area on the coast where there were wild purple and yellow flowers growing everywhere. Entire hillsides were covered in them. So gorgeous.
That night we stopped in Galway, a really cute town, for our final Irish meals and meandering.
We really did try our fill of anything Irish we could think of there. Lots of fresh seafood, fish and chips, Irish stews, lamb, shepherd's pie, and of course Irish coffee and lots and lots of beer for everyone else.
And of course we have to give a HUGE thank you to Ryan's sister who flew all the way across the country to leave her 4 kids (older than ours) and come take care of our three unruly boys. We walked in to a clean house and happy boys - (I can never get both of those simultaneously). Brave woman even took the kids swimming every day, did projects with them, and even my cupboards were organized and food was made to last for the next day or two. How's that for service??!
Oh Ireland. It was an amazing time. The perfect wedding. Our accomodations were great, food was great. The country was beautiful. I love the accents. I kept saying I could live there. I'm sure there are downfalls to the country but I didn't see them. I guess the rain. But just think, my tall, lanky, pasty white kids would even fit right in!!