Our Dromoland Wedding – Keith Woodard Photography
The Irish Wedding. A divine specimen to behold. And to imbibe. And imbibe. Oh, and did I say imbibe? There is no leaving an Irish wedding until at least 3AM. Not even if you are the bride and groom. In fact, the bride and groom are always the last to leave. It is customary that the two lovebirds maintain their life-of-the-party-personae until every last guest has turned in or collapsed at their feet from “too much drink taken”. And yes, wedding ceremonies usually begin early in the afternoon as in the States so it is one long, lush, lovely day in which to participate. This is particularly fresh in my mind as we attended a friend’s wedding this week in Tipperary (pronounced Tipper-RARE-ee). And I am still recovering (2 days later). But it was such a beautiful day; a fabulously fun-loving couple, their sentimental church ceremony that began with the Irish Uillean pipes, a lovely part of the service which was recited in Irish and a reception that took place at a hotel at the foot the dramatic Glen of Aherlow. (sidebar: I love that Ireland has glens and reeks and skrees and gorgeous folkloric topography like that).
As weddings do, we were reminded of our very own romantic Irish wedding and began feeling nostalgic. Our day, to an American girl, was the stuff that fairy tales are made up of… The ceremony took place in the most charming old church, which is said to be the finest remaining example of the “barn” church in Ireland. We borrowed Seamus, the spirited violinist from Bunratty, and he gleefully performed our chosen music. We also enlisted the help of Michelle McDermott, a brilliant wedding planner since I didn’t have much knowledge of the who’s who/what’s what here at the time. Our reception was carried out at the idyllic and distinguished Dromoland Castle in Newmarket-on-Fergus, Co Clare. When we arrived at the gates, we were greeted by two beautiful white stallions and a vintage carriage awaiting to transport us into the estate (see photo above). We meandered down a path passing by ponds and geese which eventually lead to a walled garden. I had never felt so taken away by feelings of awe and joy and love in my life as I did on that day, it was truly spectacular. (For those of you who don’t know, I should tell you that these fabulous feelings set in AFTER the actual ceremony…the before and during part is, well, you’ll find out).
Because I am American (and a former “particular” producer) we had to keep some of my traditions, however, little did I know that almost all of what I was strenuously requesting during the planning process was exclusive to weddings in the States so all of my wishes could not be granted, but still a good few were. I really wanted commercial hair and makeup for myself and my girls so we hired an editorial makeup artist from Dublin that I had read about in an Irish fashion magazine to come down and be there for the day. The hairstylist stayed on for the evening for touch ups. Very OTT for Irish standards and possibly everyone else, but I wanted to look my very best all day AND night. Also, we designed the wedding invites with a studio in the States and used a die-cut embossment of the McDonnell family crest which were produced using a combination of letterpress and engraving techniques. Die-cut embossed invites in Ireland? Again, OTT for Irish standards, but hopefully respected (jury’s still out). Here, the bride and groom to-be actually handwrite the name of each guest on the inside of the invitation on a line as shown here. I initially thought that seemed a bit slapdash, but perhaps that does add more of a personal touch.
Our meal at Dromoland may have been the best I’ve eaten in Ireland to date (really, I am not just saying that). To start, a delicate monkfish and crab velout with garlic and chives (so unforgettable that my mouth is watering writing this) followed by a gorgeous and light savory parsnip and thyme soup and after, a smooth pomegranite sorbet was offered to cleanse the palate. For the main course, a filet mignon that was so gloriously juicy and tender that you could cut it with a butterknife served with fresh organic potatoes and various roasted vegetables. Our wedding cake was round and 4-tiered with little vintagey strands of icing creping and beading across each level. To me, it looked very timeless and classic which is exactly what I had hoped, but I had to make a serious compromise on the top tier, for when we met with the cake maker I was informed that the top is always fruit cake. What!??? How not tasty. I seriously thought she was joking (we really do make jokes about fruit cake in the States you know). But she wasn’t and R really preferred it that way too so there was no way out of it. I just could not fathom why anyone would want to eat fruitcake at a wedding.
We hired an 8-piece traditional Irish music group to start the entertainment who performed beautifully and encouraged many guests to do jigs and reels on the dance floor, the most popular being the Siege of Ennis. An example of the Siege of Ennis (or as I like to call it, the Electric Slide-Irish style) from the Tipperary wedding can be seen here. When the trad music was ended we had a deejay who creatively served up tracks until every last person left in those wee hours of the morning.
But, as any proper married American couple, R and I disappeared into the night long before that and began our life anew…..
Next week: 3 Fabulous Irish foodies-2 living in Ireland and one in Paris-and their deliciously scandalous cookbooks. And, for a few lucky food-loving readers, a free copy will be sent to you!
Slán Abhaile and Happy New Year!