Thursday, May 30, 2013

Lizzie & Steve - Lough Rynn

As regular readers of the Blog will know, I'm a fan of peoples' dogs taking part in their weddings. Unlike in Britain or the US, our faithful friends don't often get much of a look-in here. That certainly wasn't the case with Honey, who as well as participating fully in the hair & make-up preparations, also took a front-row seat at the ceremony. She fitted in perfectly with the dash and glamour of the wedding day - she's a cosmopolitan Manhattan Lady, currently residing in London. Lizzie is a cosmopolitan Monaghan Lady, who looked stunning in a non-traditional bodice & skirt finished in Parisian lace, by a famous designer whose name escapes me right now. Steve is an exotic mix of Australia and Ireland - be warned - if you take him on at Aussie Rules Footy, you may require his services as an orthopedic surgeon.

With four Smyth sisters in attendance, it was lively in the house at Lough Rynn. I always enjoy a bit of banter with the bridal party, and it didn't take long for me to realise I'd met my match in Amy, who had an answer for everything, and came back with more. No doubt working as an engineer in the macho mining industry in Perth has sharpened her slagging skills. She even demonstrated how miners stand for photos, before reverting to a more Xposé girl pose. Luckily, I had another man to engage with. Walshie denied being a newcomer following in the footsteps of nouveau mods like Bradley Wiggins and Leighton Baines - he's been a dedicated follower of mod fashion since Paul Weller hit the scene in the 80s apparently. As (former) Off The Ball Presenter and Irish Times Columnist Ken Early was also in attendance, it meant we had two extraordinary men's barnets to admire and envy.

It was a fine day for a stroll in the walled gardens at Lough Rynn, the summer colours emerging again after the long winter. Also colourful and extremely detailed, was the three-tier cake made by Lizzie's sister Claire, which it was rumoured Steve was going to cut with a scalpel rather than the traditional silver knife. Before a honeymoon proper, the happy couple were heading for a Paris for a few days before Lizzie had to jet off to Chicago for work and then back to Killaraght to check out her photos. The social whirl, eh?

Lizzie & Steve Blog Collage

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Edel & Barry - Kilronan Castle

A good few years back, one of the first weddings I ever photographed was in Gortletteragh, so every time I go back there and see the big bell in the Churchyard, I get a little bit nostalgic. The wedding bells were ringing for Edel and Barry on Saturday, but again, the weather was unkind. Even with umbrellas, it was too miserable to go outside until late in the evening, when the monsoon moderated to drizzle and we managed a little walk around the grounds of Kilronan Castle.

The rain wasn't going to dampen the spirits at this wedding though. Edel was giddy with excitement when I arrived, and thrilled with the surprise bouquet and necklace which had come from Barry. The countdown was on - the heart-shaped blackboard getting chalked down with each passing hour. Bridesmaid Lisa is known for her dramatic hair colours, and had promised a new one for the big day. It was a closely-guarded secret until she came downstairs sporting a deep red/plum shade, that looked great. Edel herself is a striking blonde, and a set of decorative boxes in her room might offer a clue as to her inspiration. She was certainly looking as glamorous as Marilyn on Saturday.

Pageboys Adam & Noah added lots of fun to the day, until it all became too much and they fell asleep in the arms of Grandad Eamon and Uncle Adrian. After the ceremony, we stopped at the fine house Barry has built for himself & Edel before heading on to Kilronan where the champagne was flowing. Night Fever & DJ Ken were playing after dinner, and from the report I got, it was one hell of a do, with Edel leading the singing, dancing and general merriment. Eamon from Big Apple was on video, and he told me it was such a good night it was well into the small hours of the morning before he got home. Edel & Barry will need a spell on the beacn in Cancun to recover and be ready for Vegas & Chicago...

Blog Collage-Edel & Barry

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Catherine & Gary

Anyone who doesn't know Catherine will be amazed to learn that she generally doesn't like herself in photographs. She told me this after her, Gary & little Heath came down to the studio for their pre-wedding shoot a few weeks back. I couldn't believe it, as not only is she gorgeous, but the camera loves her too. Some people just look good on camera, and to my eye, Catherine is one of them. If she doesn't like some of these, I think I'll go looking for a different job...

After spending a little preparation time with Catherine & her bridesmaids, I took a spin down to the local across the road from the Church, where Gary and The Groomsmen were having a quick one. I don't often find myself in the pub before noon, so I was surprised to find the place was buzzing - it was busier than many pubs on a Saturday night. Some of the locals were a little camera-shy, so I made my excuses and left after taking a few shots of Gary and the lads.

The ceremony was conducted by Fr Padraig Costello, who I remember well, having photographed his niece Sinead's wedding last year. The Church looked great and everything went very nicely indeed. I always have a keen ear for the music, and I don't think I've ever heard James Blunt's "You're Beautiful" played at a wedding before. I always thought it was about a fella on the tube in London eyeing up another bloke's girlfriend, but with a couple of little changes to the lyrics, the church musicians Blush turned it into something more like a traditional love song.

Afterwards, we went down to the river Moy, where Catherine's Dad had worked as a ghillie for years. It was very picturesque, but very cold, with a wicked breeze whipping off the water, so we moved on to the 13th century Abbey in Straide where the sun was shining. From there, it was straight back to The McWilliam Park Hotel where Alan provided a warm welcome and the party got going.

Catherine's dramatic dress came from Kadee Bridal, while Gary and the boys were dressed by Eddie Murphy. Hair & Make up were Mona Lisa and Sandra from Mac in Galway. Cannaboe made the cake, while Late Nite Radio rocked the joint til the wee small hours. I was talking to the band the next day and they said it was a wild, crazy and great night.

Blog Collage-Catherine & Gary

Tanya & Tommie

Tanya & Tommie's wedding was a real hometown one - Boyle to The Landmark in Carrick via Knockarush. I started at Tommie's house, where Minnie & Cooper, the prize Pomeranians, all dressed up in their wedding bows, seemed to think that they were the stars of the show. No such rivalry at Tanya's, where the bride was firmly in the spotlight and looking fantastic, ably supported by her bridesmaids, including supersub Michelle, drafted in late after Tanya's sister Shauna was unable to travel from Australia.

The weather forecast proved accurate, and the rain tumbled down all day. Luckily, we were prepared, and had a couple of fallbacks planned. First up was a pint in Kate Lavin's, which is always appealing. Tanya was pressed into action to pull a pint for Tommie. He seemed to find it amusing, and while Tanya didn't have the same expertise with the pumps as landlady Marie, he still drank it happily. Then we popped into King House for a few minutes. I'd been puzzled as to who Tanya reminded me of, and it was only when we entered the diningroom in the house that it struck me. The actress Elizabeth McGovern, who plays Lady Grantham in Downton Abbey. Obviously, Tanya is about 30 years younger but if you look at this picture from 1980 here, there's definitely a likeness. Speaking of showbiz likenesses, I've had a few Groomsmen pull the Blue Steel look from Zoolander, but never as well as this trio of bride, dad and brother before.

Tommie is more a music than a movie man. Though he looks like too nice and cleancut a young chap to be a drummer in a grunge metal band, appearances can be deceptive. Tommie pounds the skins for highly-rated young band "As The Miller Burns". Rumours of a hometown gig as part of the 2013 Boyle Arts Festival have been circulating for a while, but I hear an underground guerilla gig in Denis Dodd's Back Lounge is more likely. Whatever route they take to the top, it'll have to wait until Tommie returns from honeymooning in Mexico and New York.

Once again, Niall from Complete Weddings was alongside me. Flowers came from Chantelle at Pure, hair by Laila Valentino, make-up from Patricia in Glow, while Gerard from Aiden Ray supplied the boys very dapper suits.

Blog Collage-Tanya & Tommie

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Catherine & Damien, Knockranny House, Westport

It was the beach or bust for Catherine & Damien - they love to walk the dunes along Bertra Strand, so it's a special place for them. It's a pretty special place to photograph in too, with spectacular sea views across to the islands in one direction and the Reek of Croagh Patrick towering over us on the other side. Hail, rain or snow, we were going to the seaside for the afternoon. As it turned out, we didn't have to battle with the elements at all, as the sun shone on Murrisk. The boys were even able to break out their snorkeling gear. With these mad lads, I wouldn't have been surprised to see one of them striking out for Achill, suit and all.

Everything was nice and chilled at Catherine's house, the only real worry was where Auntie Kathleen would park her car. She's famous for causing gridlock wherever she goes, and Pat has had to restrict her parking around the house after a number of incidents. No such problems for the boys, who were having a quick one pre-wedding in McEvilly's. A Mini Cooper doesn't take up much space, and has to have been the coolest wedding car I've seen in a very long time. This 1960s original actually belongs to Damien's Dad, Oliver, who I'm told was up til 3am on Friday night polishing the chrome.

Some grooms take a bit of a back seat when it comes to wedding planning and organisation, but while Catherine may have be the boss (we're still not sure, the cufflinks are open to interpretation), Damien wasn't idle. He was putting his woodwork skills to good use whittling table signs, ring boxes, buttonholes, table plans and signage that looked great around Knockranny House. For the second day in a row, the bride's dress came from Pamela in Dinagh Modes. The boy's suits came from Eddie Murphy and wedding flowers were by Ruth. As I write this, Catherine & Damien are somewhere on the Inca trail, and will be touring Cuba and Mexico before landing back in Mayo in a few weeks time, which sounds like quite a trip. I'm sure there'll be a few stories to be told in Mcevilly's after an adventure like that..

Catherine & Damien Blog Collage

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Christina & Declan, The Landmark Hotel.

The course of true love varies widely, from love at first sight to late realisation, from whirlwind romance to protracted courtship, from instant passion to growing desire..... Over the past year or two I've had a couple who got married 22 years after their first date at a school disco, and another who met in January and married in November.

Declan is a man who is prepared to take the long view. He knew from an early stage that Christina was the woman for him, and set out to persuade her of that fact. Christina wasn't prepared to be swept of her feet; Declan would have to work for her hand in marriage. He's also a shrewd tactician, and employed a number of different strategies in wooing Christina. Some of the highlights include buying a bull from her father, turning up on her doorstep after an elaborate car chase which may have involved the Gardai, and something to do with Donkeys, that I didn't quite understand. Whatever, he did, it worked, and on Friday their guests travelled the four roads to Glenamaddy to attend their wedding.

After a lovely ceremony under the Harry Clarke Stained Glass Windows in St Patrick's, the bridal party retired to Jim Pete's Pub for a quick pint. It's the type of intimate, old-fashioned pub it would be very easy to pop into for one and end up staying for several hours, but the discipline held, and we were on the road to Carrick in good time. We were met with the usual warm Landmark welcome from Trish & Emma, who then proceeded to tidy up the boys and make sure they were looking their best.

A fine set of speeches before dinner set the scene for the evening that followed, with Declan's Dad Denis getting them off to a hilarious start as he told us tales of Declan. I met one of the guests later in the weekend who informed me she didn't leave the Late Bar until an ungodly hour that no civilised person would be up til. Sounded like a good night!

C&D Blog Collage