Wednesday 16 October 2019

Castle dreams

 

Full length Cashmere coat, €1,850, to order, Elaine Madigan.
'Ada' corded-lace, V-back crop-top with full-length sleeves, €595; 'Ines' matching corded-lace fishtail skirt, €895, both Theia by Don O'Neill, exclusive to Folkster Bridal. Bandeau bra (worn underneath), €90, Cadolle; silk-velvet wrap (behind model), €640, Amoralle, both Susan Hunter. 'Roisin' embellished veil, €220, Veils of Ireland.
Full length Cashmere coat, €1,850, to order, Elaine Madigan. 'Ada' corded-lace, V-back crop-top with full-length sleeves, €595; 'Ines' matching corded-lace fishtail skirt, €895, both Theia by Don O'Neill, exclusive to Folkster Bridal. Bandeau bra (worn underneath), €90, Cadolle; silk-velvet wrap (behind model), €640, Amoralle, both Susan Hunter. 'Roisin' embellished veil, €220, Veils of Ireland.
Cotton-duchesse-satin dress with embroidered heart motif, combined with lace applique, on a hand-quilted full-skirt dress, €POA, House of Delphine, made as part of a CIFD collaboration with Mary Hunter and Sheryl Cullen of the Irish Patchwork Society. Boned basque (worn underneath), €120, Susan Hunter. 'Niamh' satin ribbon-edge veil, €185, Veils of Ireland.
Flapper-style dress in Chantilly lace, €2,250, House of Delphine. Bra (worn underneath), €120; matching high-waist brief (worn underneath), €70, both Chantal Thomass, Susan Hunter. 'Fiona' veil, €90, Veils of Ireland. Earrings, €350, Louise Kennedy. Bouquet; flowers in model’s hair, both Dromoland Castle florists. Lambskin hand-made gloves, €320, Paula Rowan. Sandals, model's own

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

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