Romantic, memorable, special - after the wedding day is over, the two things everyone remembers are the bride's dress and the wedding venue.
On our pages today are my favourite Irish bridal designers; my favourite dresses of theirs; and my favourite venue, Dromoland Castle.
"We are the dream-weavers. The romantics. The perfectionists," Marie Chawke of Dromoland Castle tells me. "We have history, grandeur, and luxury all wrapped up in a truly bespoke experience."
When I first visited Dromoland Castle, I was struck by somewhere so luxurious being also so welcoming and home-like, down to the comforting aroma of a wood-burning fire in the entrance hall. The castle is the 16th-Century ancestral home of the O'Briens of Dromoland, whose lineage dates back 1,000 years to Brian Boru and the High Kings of Ireland, and it was family owned until recently. The new owners have
spent €20m making it an altogether more beautiful version of itself; 450 acres of beautiful land, lakes, forests, horses, dogs, birds - it is romance embodied.
Bridal planners and brides the world over have my respect. During our shoot, I had the fantastic services of Dorothea Madden, Dromoland Castle's head gardener, to help me select the perfect locations for shots, and Dromoland's fantastic florist, Anne Romer, to whom I sent pictures of the kind of bouquets I wanted and she took care of the rest; but still, it was such hard work!
Dresses-wise, Meghan Markle's austere look has yet
to make an impact on the bridal market. If you do favour a sophisticated, elegant look that is utterly feminine, Theia by Don O'Neill, exclusively available at Folkster Kilkenny, is the one for you. My team were blown away by his simple-seeming dresses when they were put on.
The high priestess of subtle sensuality and exquisite femininity; there is always a gentle hint of the past - not to be confused with retro or vintage - about the House of Delphine's creations that I find completely beguiling.
If utterly feminine, soft romance is your dream, then Helen Cody is your woman. No one does soft and gentle drama like her.
During my bridal research, I found a fantastic online Irish company called Veils of Ireland. They make all their veils here, to order, and do colour-swatch matching.
"A wedding day is about magic," says Dromoland Castle's own dream-weaver, Marie. "No matter who the couple are, they want magic."
The stuff of dreams and happy memories.
Photography by Peter Evers
Fashion edited by Constance Harris
Sunday Indo Living