This wedding is very close to my heart. Tonaí and Lisa first contacted me when they saw this photoshoot I did at a local bookshop. It’s funny how fate sometimes has a way of bringing special people into our lives!
Today I bring you this very special blog post, about their stunning, authentically Irish wedding, with my photos accompadnied by some of Tonaí’s wisdom. The guys are both very passionate about native Irish culture and language and they wanted their wedding to reflect this. Tonaí, in particular, had many ideas for the wedding celebrations based on his historical knowledge and research.
Tonaí and Lisa got married in the beautiful unspoilt landscape of Connemara (Conamara), in the Ghaeltacht, where the Irish language is still widely spoken.
As the couple had met over a copy of Foclóir Uí Dhomhnaill, and speak Irish together, it was only natural that they should decide to have their wedding entirely in the native Irish tongue.
Following the wedding the freshly married couple left the church under an arch of swords held aloft by Tonaí’s guard of honour.
As a decision had been made to avoid having matching kilts there was a great display of colours between the kilts worn by the groom, best man, honour party and piper. Many of the other male guests were kilts as well, and it was the first time either of the fathers had worn them!
Keeping with a local tradition they crossed the road to enter Coyne’s pub on a red carpet where Lisa went behind the counter to pour the first pint of Goodness for her new husband.
While the guests enjoyed a pint in the pub, we had time to run off for photos in various stunning nearby locations!
Dropped off on the driveway of Renvyle House, the happy couple walked up to the reception accompanied by two Irish Wolfhounds, the honour guard of swordsmen, bagpiper and musket fire!
For their post-dinner entertainment, the couple decided to go with a band that played traditional tunes, to accompany their dance-off with a difference. Tonaí and Lisa devised a small Irish dance routine to entertain their guests and to provide a clear start to the after dinner phase of the big night. This bit of fun was followed by another dance-off, this time involving set dancing with the whole group!
The wedding spun over two days and I had the pleasure to photograph both days. In recognition of the long journeys to north-west Conamara by many of their guests the couple wanted to have an activity rich two day celebration of their marriage. The second day had a range of great outdoor activities provided for the wedding guests including fly-fishing, guided hill walking, clay shooting, croquet and golf.
Day two’s main event though was a result of a wish to also have a wedding ceremony based on pre-Christian Irish Gaelic traditions and culture. Following a BBQ the couple and their gusts prepared for their second wedding, this time in the eyes of the old gods!
The ceremony took place just after dusk on the storm beach adjoining the hotel grounds. Between the hotel and this secluded spot by the Atlantic everyone passed along a route lit by the flicker of candles, a sight that drew gasps of surprise when first sighted.
Lastly couple walked this route of fire to the beach, passed through a pergola hung with candle filled glass jars, circled the crackling bonfire and returned through the flame-lit arch to their druid. By circling this centrepoint of fire three times in the right-handed direction the couple brought luck on their union in the eyes of their families, friends and ancient spirits of the land.
The druid, Duibhir, led a bi-lingual ceremony that involved oath exchanges by Lisa and Tonaí, the reading of a specially composed Irish poem by the wedding’s bard and contributions by Tonaí’s father and two friends of the happy couple. This simple ceremony was based on research into the the festivals used to mark significant events in Gaelic society, from pre-history right up until modern times, for example Samhain, Imbolc, Bealtaine and Lúnasa.
One of the things that was very important to Lisa & Tonaí was having everyone at the wedding feel involved and welcome. The event felt so special – just like what you’d imagine way back in the day, when we were all connected to our community and the land.
Band: Flat Out
Cake: Evelyn Mac Carthy
Pipes: Dónal Ó Céilleachair