Editor’s Note: Sharing this lovely Irish wedding from the archives today – I know you’ll enjoy it!
Some weddings just have a magical quality to them and this is definitely one of them. Kelly and Juan both share Irish heritage and enjoyed spending time in Ireland as they grew up so having their wedding on the island just seemed right. They chose St. Coca’s Church and the Carton House in Maynooth, County Kildare, Ireland, to host their beautiful day. / Images by Farnaz K Studio.
Says Kelly, “I had always dreamed of getting married in Ireland not only because its rolling green hills would provide a stunning backdrop, but also because it’s such a huge part of who I am. Although I grew up in New York, my parents are both from Ireland so the majority of my family is over there and my family spent every summer there. Luckily for me my dream of getting married in Ireland became a reality when I fell in love with someone who was half Irish (and half Spanish) and spent just as much time there growing up.
Juan and I grew up in the same home town but him being six years older and therefore a senior when I was a sixth grader, we didn’t know each other. We crossed paths later on when I worked at his firm in NYC as a summer intern and then ran into each other a few years later at a friend’s bar-b-que. A few years later, when deciding where to have our wedding, it was a pretty simple decision to have it in Ireland. We had 100 people in the US and 100 people in Ireland so regardless people would be traveling. Planning a wedding in Ireland all the way from New York posed its challenges but we were lucky to have a lot of people on the ground over there to help.
The ceremony was probably my favorite part of the day. It’s a part of the day that usually doesn’t take a huge part of planning compared to the reception, but in reality it’s really the most important component. From the moment I stepped into the church I was blown away by the emotion inside. The music of the string quartet filled the space beautifully and standing in front of the church with Juan, it almost felt like it was just us at times. Exchanging vows was emotional and exciting and as a surprise I had engraved in Juan’s ring, ‘Le Gra Go Déo’ which means ‘With love forever’ in Gaelic. Because it was in Gaelic, it would be a special reminder of our amazing Irish wedding and would also be something only we understood.
In coming up with a vision for the wedding, it was very easy to be inspired by Ireland and by the old estate we had chosen as the wedding venue. We wanted the wedding to be vintage chic. Because the house was an old stately home for a duke, it was very romantic and old world so I wanted to reflect that in the theme of the wedding. Juan and I wanted to keep it simple because the house was so beautiful; it didn’t need much dressing up.
For our guests, I almost wanted it to feel like they were attending a glamorous party 100 years ago. We decided on lots of candlelight, ivory rose petals and soft fabrics. We decided on ivory avalanche roses, white hydrangea and white snapdragons for the flowers to keep it simple and soft. We didn’t really do a color theme because the different rooms in the estate had different décor and we wanted to embrace that and not clash. We kept the menus, place cards and table names simple on ivory stock with black simple cursive.
To keep with the vintage theme, I wanted my gown to look very old world so when I found the chantilly lace mermaid gown at Vera Wang I knew it was the one. I picked a simple veil with a silk edge and went to Regina B to pick out beautiful gold and crystal vintage style hair combs to add to my updo. For the bridesmaids, we picked Amsale empire waist long chiffon gowns that were looked very 1800’s. We chose Pacific Blue as the color because it was so striking and different and would be a wonderful contrast the plush greenery in Ireland. We found the flower girl dresses at a tiny little boutique in Soho and they were just so whimsical and fairy-like I loved them.
In order to infuse a bit of Irish culture into our wedding, after the rehearsal dinner we decided to have a traditional seisiún (session) with a live Irish band and lots of Guinness and Irish Coffee. It was wild and we had all the guests doing ‘Riverdance’ type moves all night! The day of the wedding we rented a red double decker bus to take the wedding party and our families to and from the ceremony, it was a hit! Definitely went along with our vintage Ireland theme. We also included some traditional Irish dishes like Leek & Potato soup and Irish Smoked Salmon on the dinner menu. Not only did Juan and I want to reflect our Irish heritage into our wedding day but Juan’s father is from Spain and therefore he is half Spanish and wanted to incorporate this into the day. We decided to make the cocktail reception Spanish-themed and got a traditional Spanish guitarist to play. We served sangria as the signature drink and passed Spanish tapas hors d’oeuvres. Although he looks 100% Irish, Juan’s name is Juan Carlos Vives and Spain is also a big part of who he is. This was a nice way to incorporate that into our wedding day, and the guests loved it.
Overall, from the beginning to end the day was perfect. Planning from afar was hard but having a destination wedding in a place so special to us was so worth it. The part I loved about a destination wedding was that all the guests get to spend a few quality days together and really get to know each other. Seeing my Irish great uncle chatting away with my best friend from college warmed my heart. It’s basically one day where you have your entire life in one room. It was an exciting, romantic and amazing day and Juan and I genuinely had a blast. On that day my name changed from O’Brien to Vives and Vives means ‘to live’ in Spanish, and that’s exactly what Juan and I are excited to take on together.”