Valerie and Ryan, our Texas sweethearts, were sure about one thing when planning their magical castle wedding = that Ireland was to be the place where they would tie the knot. They travelled across the Atlantic ocean with their friends and family and gave their guests a one-of-a-kind experience. This real wedding features a dreamy wedding venue, elegant glamour with tartan touches and even a Riverdance performance! Anna G, captured the day through these gorgeous images, and we cannot wait to show it off!
Valerie and Ryan who live in Dallas, first crossed paths six years ago at a rooftop bar. Ryan’s friend left to meet a date and Ryan stayed to finish his drink when Valerie walked in with her friends and saw an open table with a very handsome guy leaning against it. “We thought we would steal his table as he was a bit outnumbered, however, he didn’t give it up so easily. We ended up chatting the night away and stayed out until 4am!” says Valerie.
Le’s take a moment for welcome signage – that trailing garland is fabulous and only a taste of what’s to come with the ceremony backdrop, !
Valerie may have made the first move, but Ryan was the one who proposed. He commissioned a wedding band from a jeweller in San Francisco, however, due to the wildfires the workshop had to be relocated so the ring was delayed for months. Finally, when the ring arrived, Ryan convinced Valerie that after a year of lockdowns they needed a road trip, so they headed to the Texas Hill Country for hiking and wine tasting! Valerie explains: “Ryan had planned for us to drive down and then stop at a scenic hiking spot called Enchanted Rock, a large granite dome that overlooks the surrounding countryside. On the drive down we kept passing signs that said tickets to Enchanted Rock need to be reserved in advance. When we got to the park gates we found out why – tickets had been sold out for weeks, meanwhile, the park was closing in an hour. Luck was on our side, and after chatting with the park ranger, she mentioned there was a bar over the next hill, if we wanted to come back in an hour when the park was closed, because that is when the locals come. After a quick drink at what turned out to be a saloon straight out of a western movie, we headed back to the park and hiked up the mountain just in time to watch the sunset. Ryan found a quiet spot and got down on one knee, and through lots of happy tears, I said ‘yes’! Ryan had the wedding band engraved with ‘my soul mate’ in Irish, so it was very special.”
The bride chose a strapless, silhouette-hugging gown. Her bridal hair was pinned back in a soft upstyle, which showed off her baroque pearl earrings in all their glory! Old Hollywood glamour meets an Irish Castle was the overall wedding theme and we can safely say, they executed it sublimely. The chic bridal style, paired with the tartan groom style, and of course the emerald green bridesmaids worked perfectly. “We wanted the day to feel elegant and special but also relaxed and not too fussy. Kate our stylist did a wonderful job incorporating lots of lush greenery and florals for both the ceremony and the dining room,” says Valerie.
A very special moment during their castle wedding day, was when both mothers took part in the ceremony readings. The mother of the bride read the poem Scaffolding by Seamus Heaney, a beautiful poem about the importance of having a strong foundation. Whilst the mother of the groom read For Marriage by John O’Donohue, which ends with “May love bring you home to each other.”
Another favourite part of the ceremony was the handfasting ceremony, where Valerie and Ryan’s hands were bound together with a braided rope while the harpist played For Love of a Princess from Braveheart. “For me, that’s when it really hit home that we were married,” says the bride.
In line with the elegant aesthetic mixed with Irish elements, the groom opted for a stylish tartan tuxedo jacket, which was the main inspiration for the colour scheme. “We went with dark green velvet and navy to bring in some winter elements and added lighter green accents and lots of white florals and greenery for spring. Our wedding date was in late March just as the seasons were changing and as we weren’t sure what kind of weather we would get, we wanted something that would work for both winter and spring!” they say. “Anna G, our photographer captured the day so beautifully, we couldn’t have asked for anyone better.”
Valerie grew up in Pittsburgh listening to traditional Irish music, and stories from her grandmother and toe-tapped to Irish dancing. Tieing the knot in Ireland seemed like a natural choice, especially since Ryan’s family had always wanted to visit the Emerald Isle. Valerie explains what made Dromoland Castle the wedding venue of her dreams: “My sister and I had stayed at Dromoland Castle a few years prior and fell in love with it on the spot. We had such a fun time exploring the grounds and wandering the passageways only to get lost and (happily) wind up at the bar, so I knew our guests would have a great time there as well. Ryan and I also liked that there were lots of activities for guests – falconry, clay shooting, golf – and we took advantage of them all.”
As neither Valerie nor Ryan likes being the centre of attention, enjoying a small wedding and intimate ceremony with their families, followed by a fun dinner party was exactly how they planned out their day, prioritising top-class food and wine. “Dromoland did not disappoint, the wedding dinner was one of my favourite parts of the evening. We also hired an Irish band for the reception and my friend who was in Riverdance brought some girls from his dance school to do a little show, which really got the party started!” they say.
The wedding reception tables were garnished with an abundance of foliage and plump ivory florals. Making a second appearance of the day was the ceremony arch, a breathtaking fresh floral instalment that made for the perfect backdrop for the dancing. They shared their first dance as husband and wife to Nobody But You by Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani.
The newlyweds who planned their wedding from abroad offer some straightforward advice to those planning: “Take a second to slow down. In between taking photos and going to dinner, we were able to sit and have a glass of Champagne and take a breath and enjoy the moment!” After the celebrations, they enjoyed some honeymoon sun in Greece which they highly recommend!
A very special thank you to Valerie, Ryan and Anna G for sharing their charming and ever-so-glamorous Irish castle wedding day with One Fab Day!
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