10 expert steps to creating a wedding fit for an Irish summer or any time of the year. Photographs by PAULA O’HARA. Words and styling by LOVE &.
What springs to mind when you think of an Irish summer? Well, it certainly isn’t cacti or King Protea, tropical cocktails or elaborate outdoor dining scenarios; but type “summer wedding” into Pinterest and you’ll find little else right now. International wedding trendsters are all over that balmy, palmy, “it never rains in paradise” vibe – which is gorgeous, yes, but do you know what else is gorgeous? Ireland. And you really don’t want to see what comes up when you search “Irish wedding”. Which is annoying as hell, because Irish summers – and most other Irish seasons – have their very own kind of magic that makes for a wedding vibe that’s warm, rich and twilighty, with subtle bursts of jewely, glowy colour. The landscape is lush and deep; hazy sunshine all the more valued for the threat of ever- expected cloud; scents and flavours are earthy and nostalgic… the Irish summer is like the super-laid-back cousin of a proper, scorchio, foreign summer. It nonchalantly states, “I might be sunny today, if I feel like it, but I’m not trying too hard.”
You just have to roll with it. Embrace its beautiful juxtaposition of shade and light… and because it’s Ireland, when planning a wedding, be prepared for anything.
“But how?”, you ask. First, step away from the Pins. Second, follow these ten easy steps and boom, you’ll have yourself a wedding so at home in its setting, it’ll seem like it grew there.
PUT A ROOF ON IT
Planning an Irish wedding meal with no covered back-up space is a certain kind of madness. But a roof doesn’t have to mean walls; awnings, pole tents, roofed terraces (and even outbuildings with large windows and doors) can offer that airy al fresco feel, without the risk of soggy breadbaskets.
2 DRINK ARTISAN BOOZE
You can’t hold a glass without seeing an artisan producer of alcoholic beverages, these days. When creating your signature cocktail, find a local micro-distillery and work with what they produce. Be sure servers can tell guests what they’re drinking, or pop a little sign on your cocktail station.
3 GET IT ON PAPER
Paper goods are the perfect medium for bringing bright, summery motifs through to your tablescape; stationery will never look awkward, whatever kind of day it is. Reflect the pops of colour you use in your florals in a papery theme that guests will notice here and there, on menus, signage and namecards.
4 MAKE LIKE A BOTANIST
When visiting your venue, study the flora in the grounds and ask the hosts what flower varieties will be in bloom there on your wedding day. Using this as a guide for your floral theme will keep your photographer’s background aesthetic consistent, whether you’re, you know, just having a casual wander through a meadow, or cutting the cake.
5 PRIORITISE COMFORT
As a nation, we must get more value out of attending a wedding than anywhere else. And we love to judge other nationalities for calling it a night before the 2am fish and chips have even been served. Take pride in our celebratory stamina with convivial room plans and very comfy seats… because you know the best craic happens long after dessert.
6 SOURCE LOCAL, TASTE WORLDLY
Homegrown, seasonal ingredients are what will make your wedding menu zing, but a focus on Irish food doesn’t have to mean cabbage and spuds. Ask your venue if they have any produce growing on site; request organic cream from a local farm, for your panna cotta … genuine eating experience a-go-go.
7 FORAGE FOR YOUR PROPS
Taking inspiration from the locale is one thing, but actually poaching nature’s cast-offs for your décor styling will really up your bring-the-outdoors-in ante. Of course, you should never pick, break or trespass, but if you happen to see an abandoned branch blocking a boreen, why wouldn’t you take it to make placecard holders, is the real question.
8 UPDATE SWEET NOSTALGIA
Most of us had grannies who grew rhubarb, stewed it up and served it with custard as a summer’s day treat. And while you’re probably not going to serve stewed rhubarb at your wedding, reimagining some of its comfort-eating feels to top a fresh meringue buttercream cake will give your guests the warm and fuzzies.
9 THINK PRACTICAL
Despite living here our entire lives, Irish ladies rarely accept that we need something to wear over our wedding guest gúnas, come breeze, bluster or sundown. To keep goosebumps at bay among your gal pals, you’ll never regret stocking up on a load of cheap throws.
10 OUTDOOR “I DOs”
If you’re dead set on holding some part of the proceedings outdoors, go with the ceremony. It’s the shortest part of the day, needs no styling elements that aren’t weatherproof, and sometimes a bit of rain can make it all the more romantic (providing there are plenty of brollies… and a trusted guest, on hand to protect your updo, at all costs).
Kate O’Dowd and Jen Power are the discerning eyes and hard-working hands behind event consultancy, love &. They produce weddings, parties and brand events for clients throughout the country. Their biggest inspirations for the events they create are their clients and the location they’re working in, lovnd.com.
Photographed by Paula O’Hara. Words and styling by Kate O’Dowd and Jen Power, for love &. Flowers by The Informal Florist. Cakes by Wildflour Bakery. Food by Smyth and Barry. Stationery by Dusty Boy Designs. Shot on location at The Stables. Crockery, Article Dublin. Glassware, Considered by Helen James. Cutlery, Cutipol. Portrait of Kate and Jen by Nathalie Marquez Courtney.