Dawn and Eoin got engaged in Norway, married in Ireland and planned their destination wedding from their home in Florida. Eoin proposed at Christmas, which didn’t leave much time to plan their summer wedding, but the couple managed with the help of some great vendors- and they even got a beautiful day in Dublin for it! Dawn has all the details for us below (including some great advice for future brides) and their elegant day was captured by Monica Hadarean.

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“Where do you propose to a Florida girl who gets cold when the temperature drops below 70ºF (20°C)? We were visiting Eoin’s family in Dublin for Christmas when Eoin suprised me with a brief trip to Norway. After a perfect day skiing in Hafjell and dining in Lillihammer, we went for a romantic walk in the snow. Spotting a half frozen waterfall, we decided to walk through the small park for a closer look. Then, with flecks of snow sparkling in the air, Eoin dropped to one knee and proposed. Of course I responded the only way a girl could: “Are you joking? Are you serious?” (not my finest moment). But I quickly recovered and, after Eoin convinced me he wasn’t joking, I said “Yes”.


After surviving the cold of Norway for our engagement, we decided summer would be best for our wedding. Next descision: Which continent- Europe or America? I knew family and friends in Florida were up for a trip to Ireland, while Eoin had been fielding questions from his relatives about when they should “book a trip to Florida (hint, hint)”. So as a teaser engagement anouncement we emailed our family and friends a link to a travel website they “might soon need.” Our American guests quickly stepped up to declare their willingness to visit Ireland. Meanwhile, despite all their talk, our Irish guests turned out to be indisposed for international travel at the time. Destination decided: Ireland. 


While a wedding proposal at Christmas is very romantic, it doesn’t leave much time to plan a summer wedding. With a large American contingent flying Ireland, we wanted somewhere easy to get to: Dublin, which also suited Eoin’s family living in or a few hours from the city. Next came finding an available venue. Much to our surprise, most of the wedding venues we contacted said they had summer dates available. When we specificed June 2015, after they stopped laughing, they said they thought we were asking about summer 2016. So when Eoin showed me the website for the Radisson Blu St Helens, besides immediately falling in love, I had to restrain my hopes. To my delight, when we contacted the wedding coordinator, she didn’t laugh and actually said, yes, we have dates for summer 2015! 


Being from Florida, I thought getting a marriage license would be easy: here we simply present identification and pay a small fee, and after three days a license is granted. Also, celebrants are typically later on the “to do list” since any public notary can perform the ceremony. So, I was shocked to learn that in Ireland, there is a three month waiting period, and since I wasn’t Irish, I had to send my birth certificate to my birth state for a special “apostille” stamp. My shock turned to panic when I contacted celebrants and none were available until the following year! I was about ready to tell my fiancé that we were postponing to next summer when we found One Spirit Interfaith Ministeries and learned that Rev. Berni Brophy was available on our date! We were lucky and grateful to find Berni, and after a few conversations by Skype, we knew she was the perfect person to perform our ceremony.


We did most of our planning over the internet. I used weddingsonline.ie to search vendors, and I asked them for recommendations for other vendors; it was reassuring to hear the same names again and again. It was nerve-wracking to rely on photos, but Eoin’s sister-in-law lives in Dublin, so she helped view things. Also, luckily I had frequent flyer miles to visit Dublin by myself two months before the wedding to meet vendors and make final choices on the flowers, cake, and wedding menu. The most amazing part of the trip was walking into the venue for the first time. I was blown away! Radisson Blu St. Helen’s lived up to its elegence suggested in pictures, and being there in person felt magical. I couldn’t wait for my day to be a princess in its fairytale halls and gardens! I spent the week meeting the wedding coordiantor, Zuzanna, our photographer, Monica Hadarean, and our videographer, Matthew with MG Best Movie, all of whom surpassed my expectations of professionalism, expertise, and personability. I left knowing we made the best choices and feeling in good hands.

Eoin and I arrived in Dublin two weeks before the wedding. My parents traveled with us from Florida, but they took a ten day tour of Ireland, where they saw lots of mist and sheep. Meanwhile, we endured a whilrwind of meetings: the wedding coordinator, the wedding license interview, the band, the florist, the cake maker. We also went on a shopping tour to buy the wedding rings, the ceremony candles, place settings, and decorations. Somehow, we also fit-in make trials, engagement photos, and visits with family and friends. The whole time, Eoin made fun of me constantly checking the weather for our wedding day, “They can’t even predict today’s weather, let alone in two weeks”. Despite ongoing reports of impending rain, our special day was warm and dry with a sunny Florida sky.


Our ceremony was in the Seamont Suite, an intimate, elegant room perfect for our 74 guests. We began with a small rememberance incorporating the wedding bouquets for those who couldn’t travel and those who had passed. Our mothers lit the family candles from which we lit our wedding candle. Our fathers blessed the rings. Our friends read poetry. Eoin even made the cord for the handfasting ceremony. These were all beautiful and meaningful moments, but for me, the highlight was a slight last minute change…I had planned two deviations from wedding tradition: I wanted a less cliché song than “Here Comes the Bride”, and I wanted my parents to walk together to symbolize lasting love instead of my father “giving me away”. But Eoin suggested that the first few bars of the traditional wedding march would alert guests that the ceremony was starting. I compromised and said yes to the song, but kept my plan to walk down the aisle by myself. I was pretty calm standing in the hallway watching the bridal party enter one by one…until I heard those first few notes. I started to tear up! It was almost my turn to walk in, and I suddenly knew I made a mistake. My dad was in line a few people in front of me, so I reached for his hand and said, “I need my daddy!” We quickly rearranged the line, and my dad and I walked in side by side.


After the ceremony, we gathered on the outdoor terrace for champagne and canapes. Then we roamed the hotel grounds which offered stunning backdrops for pictures. For the meal, we sat surrounded by opulent elegance in Le Panto Suite and the adjacent Library. After the meal, the Library was cleared for dancing, while guests sat and talked in La Panto, or mingled on the Terrace. The wedding band, Craddog, was fantastic! They played modern and traditional music with a Celtic lilt. One band member ‘called’ a Ceili Dance, which mingled the American and Irish guests for some good Irish craic. After the band, a DJ played until after midnight. A hard core session continued in the residents’ bar into the wee hours of the morning. I was the only American still awake, though Eoin claims I was officially Irish at that point. We stayed awake until we saw the first rays of sunrise as new husband and wife!


* Avoid overplanning: A few hours pre-planning might only save you minutes on the day. Identify key target areas where you can really make things flow.

* Be flexible: don’t let a few deviations from plan (which nobody else will notice) spoil an otherwise perfect day. Accept things out of your control: such as weather conditions, cranky children, sick bridal party members. Just have a sip of champagne and remember the real reason for the day.

* Have a list of important pictures: The photographer will plan the typical photos (with parents, with brothers/sisters, group shots) but this is your chance to get the less obvious photos (your old team, school friends). Also, listen to your photographer: While they’ll welcome suggestions, you hired an expert for a reason.

* Request no guest mobile phones during formal photos: Tell guests that formal pictures will be available online (confirm this with your photographer; Monica gave us thumbnails to post within a few weeks) allowing the photographer to work faster, making things more relaxed, and reducing risk of spoiled pictures (guests looking at different cameras for example).

* Slow down, and enjoy the day as much as possible!”

Photographer: Monica Hadarean | Videographer: Maciej Gawinski | Flowers: Magic Moments | Coordinator: Zuzana Hassler | Celebrant: Berni Brophy | Make-up and Hair: Nikki Fanning | Dress: The Formal Spot, Winter Garden, FL | Suit: John Mitchell, Gainesville, FL | Rings: John Brereton Jewellers | Cake: Creative Cakes | Music: Craddog

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