B & D // Gloster House
Today’s wedding comes to you from the stunning Gloster House in Co. Offaly, where New York-based Irish couple Bláthnaid and Dáire tied the knot earlier this year. Their nuptials were so beautiful, these pics have been picked up by top American wedding magazine site, Martha Stewart Weddings! Such a huge honour for me to be Martha-approved!
To give other wedding-planning couples inspiration for how they can also achieve a Martha-worthy wedding, I caught up with bride Bláthnaid to pick her brains. She was kind enough to share her story and advice, and I was delighted to learn more about this stylish couple’s planning process.
“As we are both Irish living abroad, our wedding at home in Ireland was a destination wedding in a way. It was all planned from the US. Many of our immediate family and friends live abroad too, so lots of guests travelled to be with us also. And so, under the Irish sunshine and on a blanket of cherry blossom, we “tied the knot” with a Celtic hand fasting in the Italianate gardens of Gloster House, Co. Offaly, Ireland,”.
Although they grew up in the same county and went to the same university, it wasn’t until many years later that they met through a dating app in Dublin and their love story began. They say that the familiarity made the relationship feel “like home“ from the beginning.
And then came time for some big changes; a move to New York and a very special question; “Will you marry me?“. The time then came to deciding on a venue for their big day, there was one place that ticked all their boxes; “We went in search of a private hire venue and found Gloster House online. While at home for a visit, my mother and I went to view it and fell in love instantly, I called Dáire straight away and said “It has to happen here!””.
“The house is the family home of Tom and Mary Alexander, they have spent almost twenty years restoring the Georgian manor to its former glory. They have done it with such authenticity and care – the architecture and interiors of the house are out of this world. The acres of gardens are also heavenly! Mary and Tom were such warm hosts, it really did feel like our own home. I cried when we had to leave, we wanted to stay there forever!” I hear ya, Bláthnaid!
The theme of the wedding was inspired by the décor of the house and by Bláthnaid’s Romona Keveza cherry blossom dress. “My name, Bláthnaid, means ‘blossom’ as Gaeilge. When I found the dress with my mother at Kleinfeld it was also cherry blossom season in New York, we knew it was meant to be! The design and craftsmanship in silk organza was so incredibly special and with my love of fashion, I feel like “she” had a life all of her own and we’ve called her Blossom ever since!”
The floral theme carried through onto the ceremony decor; “The arch used for our outdoor ceremony was built by my wonderful father and decorated by my very talented sister and maid of honour (a lawyer who should be a wedding stylist!). The foliage and blossoms all came from my family’s gardens and orchard. Before our rehearsal dinner, we each helped my sister by adding cherry and apple blossom to the arch, I feel like a piece of my childhood was with me on the day. Appearances by Percy the Peacock, including coming to eat the cherry blossom confetti being sprinkled by our beautiful flower girl nieces, added so much to the laughter!”. The rest of the florals were done by Richard Haslam Flowers.
“We took lots of time in choosing the content of the ceremony from the readings to the wording of our vows. Our celebrant, Romy McAuley, provided us with lots of options and we came up with the perfect balance to make it as personal and heartfelt as possible. We chose to perform a ‘Celtic hand-fasting’ ceremony in which both sets of parents and my ninety year old grandmother, placed ribbons over our clasped hands. Many say that this is where the term ‘tying the knot’ originates. We chose poetry, prose and a traditional Irish blessing as our readings, one of which was ‘To Love is not to Possess’ by James Kavanaugh,” says Bláthnaid.
Bláthnaid’s brother and uncle and Dáire’s aunt did readings in English and in Irish (Bláthnaid’s family are fluent Irish speakers). “Dáire’s wonderful sister Órlaith, sang ‘Can’t Help Falling in Love’, which had everyone in floods of tears. Music was provided by my childhood friends, an amazing group of musicians called The Dolce Trio (who play harp, violin, clarinet and piano). Each musical piece was chosen carefully and included all of my favourite pieces, including a joyous traditional Irish piece by O’Carolan – a nod to my harp playing days!” Bláthnaid explains.
Bláthnaid is an incredible singer and musician, and shared her talents with guests even on her own big day. “Having sung at weddings since the age of ten, I felt it important to sing at some point in the celebrations. I decided to surprise Dáire and our guests by serenading them from the gallery with an Italian aria, following in the footsteps of Dame Nellie Melba who performed at the house in the early 20th century. This was one of the highlights for me, as I will never forget looking down at the faces of those I love the most in life.”
It was a perfectly warm and temperate Spring day, so we were able to maximise the beautiful gardens and surroundings for their portraits, including the gorgeous in-bloom magnolia tree sprinkled with fallen petals around it.
Bláthnaid was kind enough to leave me this lovely testimonial: “We had the absolute pleasure of having Claire capture our day last month. From the moment I reached out to her to make inquiries she has been nothing short of fantastic. She is a true professional in every sense. Her gentle presence is exactly the type of energy you want around you on such a big day. The photographs speak for themselves, she manages to capture every detail and the narrative of the day so perfectly. Thank you Claire, the day has passed but I will adore your photographs forever.“
Photographing this wedding was such a pleasure, and I’m so happy to know it will showcase one of Ireland’s most gorgeous venues among a new audience of American wedding-planners!