Another destination wedding in Ireland for you today. This time though, we are heading west to Galway where Nathan and Caitlin from Montreal (I know-with a lovely Irish name like Caitlin, we are convinced that she has to have strong Irish roots, but we forgot to ask!!) tied the knot after seven and a half happy years together. Shane O’Neill from Aspect Photography was on hand to capture the days magic, and gosh – did he do just that.

We were dying to know their story – this is classic “love comes when you least expect it” sort of stuff!

“Nathan and I met at university in Montreal. We both lived in the same university residence in our first year and shared some mutual friends, but it wasn’t really until our third year at school that we really officially met. My roommates and I randomly happened to move across the street from Nathan, and they had been friends with him in residence, but even then he and I didn’t really get to know each other. It wasn’t until one fateful day in October 2003, when Nathan and I both happened to get dumped by our long-term significant others on the same day and practically the same hour, that we met. That night, my roommates were going out to a party, but I was too upset to join them and opted to stay in and wallow in self-pity with a tub of ice cream. Just as they were about to leave, they looked out the window and saw Nathan walking down the street on his way home. They called him into our place to see if he wanted to join them at the party, but he told them he’d just been dumped by his girlfriend and would rather stay in as well. Hearing this, my roommates suggested that he stay at our place for the evening so he and I could keep each other company in our sorrow. He did, and we ended up spending the whole evening watching movies and jeering at the happy couples on TV. We had such a good time together that night that we made a pact to be “breakup buddies” to help each other get over our exes and deal with our respective breakups. From that night on we were inseparable. After about eight months of being best friends, Nathan and I moved to Dublin for a summer abroad before our last year of university. Ireland turned out to be our lucky charm, because shortly after we arrived there we realized that our friendship had grown much deeper than we’d ever expected. We’ve been together ever since, and Ireland has always been special to us as the place where we fell in love.”

Not only did Caitlin and Nathan have a destination wedding, he popped the question abroad too.

“Nathan proposed to me on August 22, 2009, in Montego Bay. The proposal took place on the first day of our two-week trip to Jamaica. We arrived at our resort in the late afternoon, jet-lagged and absolutely starving after not having a thing to eat all day. I wanted to head straight for the snack bar, but Nathan insisted that instead we explore the resort first (little did I know that he was scouting out the perfect place to pop the question!). By the time we had looked around, the snack bar had closed, so we ended up grabbing some drinks and heading back up to the room to unwind before dinner. Nathan suggested that we have a seat on our private balcony to enjoy our drinks and our first Jamaican sunset, so we settled in just as the sun was beginning to fall down the sky. Nathan tried again and again to get me to focus on the beautiful sunset in front of me and the awesome reggae music drifting up from the live band that was playing below, but I was so hungry by this point that instead I insisted on scouring the resort welcome book to find out when dinner would be served. Luckily, Nathan managed to get my attention just as the sunset was at its most beautiful, then he got down on one knee and proposed. I was completely shocked, but managed to compose myself enough to answer with a resounding “Of course!”

“Aside from Ireland meaning so much to us as the place we fell in love, it also made practical sense. We’d always wanted a very small, intimate wedding, and we knew that if we got married at home we’d have to invite all of our friends and family, and it would turn into a huge, overblown, incredibly expensive affair. By having the wedding in Ireland, we got to have the small, intimate wedding of our dreams while still getting to invite all of our friends and family. (Of the 100 or so people we invited, about 30 were able to make the trip.)”

It’s so great to see destination couples embracing local traditions. This is another old celtic tradition where the couple join hands, right hand to right hand, left hand to left, crossing their wrists. The ribbons are then tied around the top of the wrists on one side and then under and around the wrists on the other, creating the symbol for infinity. Ever wondered where the expression “tying the knot came from”? There you go- you learn something new everyday! Take a look at our feature on Irish Wedding Traditions here and if you’d like to see another couple incorporating another Irish wedding tradition, take a look here.

I adore this picture – so sweet.

“We loved the idea of having the wedding in a castle. We figured that if our guests were going to fly all the way to Ireland from Canada, we had to make it worth their while and give them a real Irish experience–and what’s more Irish than a romantic castle setting in the countryside? We researched a lot of castles online, but when we found Cloghan we knew it was the one. We loved the idea of it being self-catering, that we could hire the whole thing out for a few days and have our entire wedding party stay in the castle with us and have the whole run of the place. We also loved that the owners of the castle had maintained its medieval feel on the inside–so many of the venues we’d looked at were beautiful and castle-like on the outside, but had been renovated to resemble hotels on the inside. Cloghan had a romantic, rustic charm to its interior that none of the others did, which we knew would make a great background for our wedding.”

We asked the happy couple what the biggest challenges were planning their wedding from so far away… Caitlin is more than happy to fill us in.

“Booking all of the vendors from overseas. Because our venue was self-catering, we didn’t have hotel staff to help organize everything or a built-in catering team like the more formal castle venues did. We had to build everything up from scratch–the catering, the decor, the bar services, and just about everything else you could imagine. It was a bit of a logistical nightmare trying to find vendors and get in touch with them from Canada, especially since many of them didn’t have websites or even email addresses.”

“Having the wedding overseas also meant that all of the special handcrafted touches that we wanted to incorporate into the wedding either had to be brought with us when we came to Ireland for the wedding (and we only had a 20 kg weight limit for our luggage for an entire summer abroad!) or sourced once we arrived. We arrived in Ireland a week before the wedding, and spent that entire time running around like crazy in towns that were totally foreign to us, trying to find everything we needed. We literally didn’t sleep more than five or six hours in total over the four days leading up to the wedding, but we managed to get everything we needed, and those last-minute details–the Ladurée macaroon favours we drove to Dublin to pick up the day before the wedding; the Belleek centrepieces that people got to keep and take home as souvenirs; the old-fashioned sweets table with some of our guests’ favourite candies; the black-and-white photo wall with pictures of Nathan and I growing up–were the parts (aside from the ceremony, of course!) that people loved and remembered most about our big day.”

A destination wedding certainly has it’s challenges but judging from these beautiful images, Nathan and Caitlin clearly pulled it off. There is only one thing that Caitlin said she’d change about her wedding, something that all us Irish gals can completely empathise with.

“The weather! It poured rain all day on our wedding, which meant that we had to miss out on the sky lantern ceremony we had planned for the evening (rain+wind+paper lanterns=FAIL). It also made it hard to get good outdoors shots (we were literally ducking in and out of the castle every few minutes as the rain stopped and started up again). Thankfully our photographer was absolutely amazing and went above and beyond to make sure we got fantastic photos, rain or shine.”

Just incase you missed it at the beginning… that “absolutely amazing” photographer is Shane O’Neill from Aspect Photography and I’m sure you will all agree that yes, he did an absolutely fantastic job. Thanks to Caitlin, Nathanial and Shane for sharing this gorgeous wedding with us and we will leave you with some words of wisdom and great advice from the bride…

“Give yourself a lot of time to plan! We started planning the wedding two years before the big day, and things were still rushed at the end. And make sure to give yourself lots of time at your destination before the wedding to get all of those last-minute details sorted out, especially if you’re going the self-catering route.

Also, be prepared to miss out on having a lot of important friends/family there for the big day, especially if your destination is fairly far afield. It’s a sacrifice that can be hard to make. In our case, none of our grandparents were able to make the trip to Ireland. We compromised by holding a legal wedding ceremony in Toronto before we left for Ireland, and having them come to that instead. It was really nice to be able to share a special day with them, but it still wasn’t the same as them being there to watch us walk down the aisle as man and wife on our “real” wedding day.

Oh, and talk to your vendors to find out exactly what they can and can’t do, and how they expect things to work on their end. We found that things worked quite differently in Ireland than they did back home, and it was sometimes hard to figure out who was in charge of what. No matter how much we talked to our vendors and tried to confirm how things would be run, we still ended up having some duties doubled up (we could have totally done without our wedding co-ordinator since our caterer and florist ended up managing all of that stuff anyways) and some things that fell through the cracks.”

Wedding Photography, Shane O’Neill from Aspect Photography | Ceremony & Reception Venue: Cloghan Castle, Co. Galway, Ireland | Wedding Dress: Vera Wang | Bride’s Veil: Vintage (her mother’s!) | Bride’s Shoes: Benjamin Adams | Hair and Make Up: The Powder Room Girls | Flowergirls’ dresses, shoes, and socks: Pinkmarie | Bridesmaid Dresses: J Crew | Groom and groomsmen tuxes: Blacktie | Flowers: Victorian Posy | Centrepiece vases: Belleek | Lace table runners and doilies: Heritage Lace | Ceremony Music: Peter Smith (groom’s father) | Trad/ceili Band: Martin O’Brien and Co. | DJ: Barry Cassidy – djbar@eircom.net | Caterer: Tina Matthews from Rumbling Tum – tinamatthews1@eircom.net |Bar Services: Maurice McCarthy – +353 86 811 4925 | Cake: Lillies and Pearls | Wedding and Handfasting Ceremony officiant: Dara Molloy | Custom letterpress invitations: Heather Forsythe Designs | Graphic design (menus, banners, programs, table numbers, etc.); The bride

3 Responses

  1. Fridays FAB 5 | Fly Away Bride

    […] Wednesday brought us to the rustic town of Roussillon in Provence, France for Aoife and Jamies UK/Irish/South African/ French wedding and yesterday, we headed to the west of Ireland for Caitlins and Nathianls transatlantic ceremony in Cloghan Castle. […]

    Reply
  2. Thana

    Mrs. Caitlin, I really love the Esther dress but cant afford the full price. I would like to ask if you ever consider selling your dress?I am interested in purchasing.
    Thank you,
    Thana

    Reply

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