I blogged this wedding briefly right after the wedding, but here is the whole story behind this wedding
From the bride:
David and I met in February of 2013 at an Irish bar in downtown Manhattan where David’s Irish Football team was holding a fundraiser. That night marked the beginning of my now thorough understanding of the mysterious world of uniquely Irish sports. Two years later, on an anniversary that fell on Superbowl Sunday, David proposed in Central Park. Insisting we skype his family before going to watch the game, David rushed me back to our apartment, where my entire family was waiting. Later that night, my large, unconventional family facetimed with David’s large, very conventional family for the first time, commemorating the moment with a screenshot. Leading up to the wedding, that screenshot proved uniquely handy for both families as they scrambled to match the names and faces of their soon-to-be–in-laws.
from the Bride and Groom
From the groom:
I grew up on a sheep farm in the center of Ireland, which I have come to realize is a foreign concept to many Americans. Emily spent time with my family on the farm first over the summer and then this past Christmas. We knew we wanted the wedding to pay tribute to my farm roots in some way. And, if we were asking my family to make a trans-Atlantic journey, we wanted to make it worth their while with a wedding that felt like “us”… traditional but inclusive, relaxed but elegant, and equal parts American and Irish. We visited beautiful rustic venues within a few hours drive of the city, hoping to find a place that reflected my upbringing while we maintained NYC as a base for travel-weary guests. After several months of visit after visit that started to blur together, we realized why nothing we had seen felt right…each venue was full of quaint, pinterest-worthy touches that evoked a generic “farm”-like atmosphere. As a true Irish farmer, I couldn’t reconcile paying a steep fee for a farm-inspired wedding that bore no resemblance to an actual farm. We realized if we couldn’t do the farm-wedding “right” we wouldn’t do it at all.
From the bride:
We went back to the drawing board, thinking specifically about what we wanted to share with our friends and family. We thought about my family’s house in tiny Franklin, Maine, not far from Acadia National Park and Mt. Desert Island. The old farmhouse, called “The Donnell Place,” has been in my family since they settled in 1816. Apart from the luxury of electricity, the house is just as it was when our family members lived there 200 years ago, which is why it means so much to us. For generations, the house has been a touchstone for grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, and cousins to come together every summer, often from opposite coasts. David felt an immediate connection during his first visit which has only become stronger and he’s come to think of it as a stateside-version of his Irish home.
We both liked the idea of using the house to bring our nearest and dearest together. We meticulously planned an all-or-nothing, jam-packed weekend of wedding planning over the July 4th holiday in 2015. We drove 8 hours each way and visited countless locations that were beautiful and quintessentially Maine. After each jam-packed day, we retreated to our quiet, internet-free house. As we reflected, we realized that while we love everything about Maine, the house was what makes it special, and that’s what we want to share.
Once we decided to go for it, the real work began. I soon realized that long-distance wedding planning was nothing compared to the work it would take to bring our 200 year old farmhouse wedding-ready by August. We worked with a dream-team of dedicated local plumbers, electricians, and landscapers to help us reach our goal. After months of wedding-planning and overseeing our little home makeover, it was time for our only on-site planning visit. Fresh from California, we greeted legendary wedding planner and personal saving-grace that is Gillian Shenon. As the last snow fell in April, we descended upon the house for the busiest weekend the house had ever seen. That weekend, we got to meet our incredible vendors in person after months of phone calls and emails. There were a few speed bumps, such as blowing a fuse just as our caterers arrived for our menu tasting. Calm and collected, Abby and Michael of Trillium Catering were determined, calm, and incredibly resourceful. As we called the electrician in a panic, Abby and Michael managed to prepare an elegant, candle-lit tasting that provided a much-needed boost in moral. We all head back to the real world, crossing our fingers but confident that we’re in good hands.
The week of the wedding, excitement grew as guests arrived. Because this was the first time our families would meet in person, we wanted that to be our focus in the days before the wedding. So, in between bouts of last-minute wedding prep, we spent the precious days leading up to our wedding sharing our favorite Maine activities and traditions. Our families got to know each other naturally, making memories that made the wedding day feel even more special.
From the beginning, this was an all-hands-on-deck operation, and we looked to our family and friends at every turn. For our officiant, we made a cross-country request for a Sonoma County judge with decades of experience performing wedding ceremonies. This judge happens to be a college classmate of the both my Dad and my Uncle, and has become a close family friend. He looked to Irish history and literature and shared his unique view of our family’s past to create a unique, unforgettable ceremony. We also tapped a loved one’s generosity in making our wedding cake. In addition to a variety of delicious dessert bites courtesy of Trillium, we paid homage to our sweet tooth with a classic Irish “chocolate biscuit cake.” This family member went above and beyond, going as far as lugging pounds of Irish chocolate for her trans-Atlantic journey to ensure authenticity. The bride’s family was not immune, and her teenage sisters were tasked with day-of décor, designing and making signs, arranging flowers and paper lanterns, and last but not least, coining our wedding hashtag: #MainelyIrishWedding.
Moments before the wedding began, we felt a calm roll over us we watched our busy-bees turn to wedding guests.
We were in awe, filled with deep gratitude to every person who made this moment possible, from our generous and patient family and friends to the invaluable energy and creativity Sharyn brings to the day to our dedicated, hardworking vendors, and to the incredible Gillian Shenon, who expertly guided the ever-moving parts to work in unison to create a truly unforgettable day.
I appreciate Emily and David taking the time to write down and share their story so I can share it with you along with the photographs. When Matt and I met with them in New York City prior to the wedding, we got pieces of this story. But with the excitement and anxiety of wedding planning, the story is told much better now that it has past. I identified how David felt finding a piece of his home (Ireland) here in Maine. Rural life can be overlooked and forgotten but when it is a part of your upbringing you can carry it with you forever and any place that can bring you back those memories is a good place. And a good place to have your wedding.