Thursday 14 November 2019

Real Wedding: Tom and Esther's laid back wedding at the stylish Ballilogue Stone Hamlet

A beautiful boutique wedding at the alternative country house of Ballilogue in Kilkenny

Karen Birney

Karen Birney

Tom from Kilkenny met Esther from Newcastle Upon Tyne by chance. They bumped into each other on the small island in Fiji, while travelling opposite ways around the world back in 2007. 

Needless to say they hit it off.

The couple now live in Victoria, Australia, where Tom asked Esther to be his wife. He proposed on the wild beach of Oberon Bay in a National Park while they were out hiking.

They weren't long planning the big day, tying the the knot four months later in the summer of 2017 in Ballilogue Stone Hamlet, Inistioge, Co. Kilkenny. "We were married legally in Australia in May with a small group of friends as witnesses," said Esther. "In Ireland, Tom’s father, Pat acted as our 'celebrant' on the day providing some beautiful words and blessings as Gaeilge."

The couple had a large marquee on site at the Ballilogue Hamlet, using the renovated Old Dairy for the ceremony itself. "It was the right balance of stylish and homely - and impeccably presented," said Esther of the unique venue. "The creative director and all-round-oraginser-whizz, Mark, was an absolute blessing planning the wedding from overseas."

Their photos are by Livia Figueiredo.

The Day

"We wanted a relaxing weekend with our immediate family and dearest friends for company;" said Esther about the wedding, "a sort of reunion over the long weekend in June." 

Wedding guests arrived to Ballilogue on the Friday, and had a relaxed evening of dinner and drinks while the couple finished their last minute preparations in between catching up with everyone.

"On Saturday we drank champagne in the garden, had beautiful photos taken, ate delicious food and danced well into the night," said the bride. "The next day we had a hog roast, and everyone hung out in the marquee easing their hangovers with great food and chat."

The Dress

Esther wore a gown by Australian designer Karen Willis Holmes, after having visited her store with friends the year previous. "To be honest this is the only store I went to and only tried five dresses!" she said. The designer's off the rail collection was ideal for the bride as she planned the big day in such a short space of time.

Esther's sister was her bridesmaid on the day. Her dress was from Coast and Esther's nieces' dresses were from Monsoon.

The Ceremony

The couple based their vows on a humanist script and put together words and phrases that they liked. Tom’s father added in some Irish blessings and special words of his own and they had two readings by family members. 

The Venue

"Ballilogue fitted the type of celebration we wanted perfectly!" said the bride. "There are also three beautifully restored stone cottages onsite that slept the majority of our guests. It slept 22 of us - ranging in age from 7 days old through to 95! - we all stayed for three nights and was within easy reach for those living in Ireland.

"New Ross is the nearest town which was perfect as we bought all our own alcohol as well as stocking the cottages with food for guests. It was the right balance of stylish and homely, and was impeccably presented."

The Food

The couple had mini bites with their champagne reception in the garden straight after the ceremony. "We purposely made a point of ordering more than less – there's nothing worse than being hungry at a wedding!" said the bride. Their three course sit down meal was relatively traditional, said Esther, adding: "but the presentation and execution was anything but!" They didn’t have a wedding cake, and instead served a tower of cheeses, condiments and crackers by Sheridans for nibbles later in their evening with a DIY gin bar. "Late night bacon bla’s came out at 10pm – they disappeared within minutes!"

The Highlights

"The entire weekend – it was like a three day reunion," said Esther. "Living in Australia makes it tricky to catch up with all your dearest family and friends when you’re home for holidays. This was just perfect way to reconnect with everyone!"

The Honeymoon

Esther and Tom chose Italy as their honeymoon destination. They spent four nights in Lake Garda staying at 'the incredible' Lido Palace on their long haul back to Australia. "We were kindly gifted Virgin gift vouchers which we put towards three separate holidays within Australia."

The Advice

"My advice would be don’t get too hung up on the minute details and stand your ground on the guest list – invite people who you actually want to spend the day with!"

The Vendors

Photographer: Livia Figueiredo | Celebrant: Tom’s Father, Pat Bacon | Ceremony location: Ballillogue, Inistoge | Ceremony music: “Songs of Love”, Divine Comedy | Wedding dress: “Beatrice”, Karen Willis Holmes | Shoes:  Twinkle Silver Metallic Pump, Alan Pinkus | Accessories: Australian high street jewelry store | Engagement ring: 18ct yellow gold set with a Queensland, Australian parti sapphire – matte finish. David Parker, bought from Piece of Eight in Melbourne | Wedding ring: 18c White Gold custom made by Ellinor Mazza (Australian Designer) | Bridesmaids’ dresses: Coast and Monsoon | Grooms/groomsmen’s suits: Jack London | Flowers: Tina at The Wild Bunch in Kilkenny ("an incredibly talented floristry artist!" | Decor: DIY | Reception venue: Ballilogue, The Rower, Inistioge, Co. Kilkenny, Ireland | Hair and makeup: Hair by Sandra at Anna Furlong Hairdressing, New Ross | Make-up: Denise at Denises Beauty Clinic, New Ross | Honeymoon provider: Lido Palace – Lake Garda, Italy | Reception entertainment: Ceildh band and caller – Dublin City Folk | DJ - Spotify | Personalized craft beer – | Catering by Creative Catering, Dunamaggin, Co. Kilkenny  | Sunday Hog Roast + Salads by The Whole Hog ("thoroughly recommended!")

Your wedding on

Would you like to share your big day with readers of We want to hear from you! Simply mail with the name of your photographer, your venue, and one or two photos from your day and we'll get in contact with you!

Online Editors

Editors Choice

Also in this section