Guest Blog – The Wedding Planner’s Wedding Part II

We were super excited to hear all about THE proposal in the first part of our series following Wedding Planner, Caitriona Foley, of True Romance Weddings. And now she’s back for part II of her wedding planning journey, navigating obstacles and the art of compromise like a true boss. You’re not going to want to miss this… 

Outdoor Ceremony Inspiration

Before I got engaged, I knew exactly what kind of wedding I wanted. I always used to joke with people that I could get married tomorrow if I needed to! From the type of venue to the band, the colour scheme to the dress – I had it all planned in my head. But, as soon as that ring went on my finger, it all (well, most of it) went out the window…

Suddenly, all of the expertise and research I’d gained through years of helping other people plan their weddings was of no use. Because it wasn’t just my dream anymore. In reality, it was about me and Sean, and the compromises we would be making for each other in planning a wedding.

While I am by no means a very loud or outgoing person, I am quietly confident and I do enjoy having a bit of the spotlight every now and then. I love to organise things. Being a Wedding Planner and Stationery Designer, my friends and family have been mounting pressure for years, assuming that my wedding will be very creative and unlike any other wedding they’ve been to.

I’ve put a certain amount of pressure on myself too – to not follow certain traditions or expectations, and to put on a show for my guests. Sean, on the other hand, is the type that prefers to hang back and observe. He is quiet (in a good way), but does not like attention and the thought of standing up in front of other people is definitely not his idea of fun.

The main compromise for us has been the type of ceremony.

While I was raised Catholic, I don’t identify with the religion anymore, and find church weddings to be quite tedious. They are long, drawn out, and so little of it is actually about the couple, their relationship and their story. What I really wanted was to get married outside. After years of discussing it, we seemed to be at loggerheads over the church thing. I didn’t want it. He did. And yet, amazingly, once we were officially engaged, Sean compromised. We could have a humanist ceremony, and we could do it outdoors (if weather would allow it)!

Humanist Ceremony

The next issue was the location for the wedding.

I’m from Kerry. Sean is from Clare. We live in Galway.

I briefly looked at a few alternative venues in Galway, but we decided to keep it closer to home. A few weeks ago, we visited the stunning AnnaCarriga in Killaloe, which is not far from where Sean grew up. There is a permanent marquee structure on the shore of Lough Derg, and catering is done on site.

While it is so picturesque, and we were strongly considering it for a time, in the end my heart was drawing me back to Kerry. I wanted to get ready in my home, not in a strange house or hotel room. So the search brought us to the Kingdom. A traditional hotel wedding was not for me, so we looked at a country house in Killarney that was not traditionally a wedding venue, but would allow us to bring in a marquee and all the trimmings. An incredible site overlooking the lake, it was a definite possibility, and would give me the opportunity to decorate any way I wanted.

We then decided to look at Ballyseede Castle in Tralee. Just over 20 minutes from the homestead, this is a luxurious and yet really homely castle with stunning grounds and (one of my favourite features) three dogs!

Ballyseede Castle - Sean Clarke PhotographyBallyseede Castle - Mrs RedHead Photography

We met with the lovely Marnie who showed us around, and explained their plans for a new Orangerie style conservatory. If weather permitted, we could do the ceremony outdoors, if not, we would have the conservatory, which would still have the feeling of being outside and the beautiful views. Even better, I was assured that whatever styling I wanted to do, I could drop off my stock in advance and they would do all the set-up, taking the stress away from me. What can I say, we loved it.

So that’s where we stand now – we have found our venue, but we are stuck on dates.

We were 99 per cent of the way there – until we learned that the usual date for Communions at my niece’s school is to be changed! We had been working around it until now. She is my godchild and is going to be a flower girl, so this is a major factor in the decision making. What do we do – wait and see, and potentially lose out on our preferred wedding date, or go ahead and find out in a year’s time that my sister and her whole family can’t come? Stay tuned!

Check out Caitriona’s Wedding Planning Services and blog at

Image Credits: Sign – Elizabeth Fogarty via Style Me Pretty; Outdoor ceremony – Loren Routhier Photography via Southern Weddings; Handfasting Ceremony – One Love Photography via Style Me Pretty; Ballyseede Castle – Sean Clarke Photography via Real Wedding; Dogs at Ballyseede Castle – Mrs RedHead Photography via Real Wedding.

Caitriona Foley

Caitriona is a professional wedding planner with True Romance Weddings and contributes tips and advice regularly to the WeddingDates blog.

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