Jessica + Alan’s wedding planning goal was to have an “all-Irish day.”
Surrounded by the rolling green hills, dense forests, and stunning lakefront scenery of County Cork, Ireland, Jessica + Alan’s celebration at the Gougane Barra Hotel was nonstop ethereal romance.
The couple made every effort to ensure their wedding was created using Irish products and local Irish suppliers. There were tons of handmade Irish details, there was homemade mead, and Irish wildflowers and greenery were incorporated into all of the florals. And the result was a sophisticated and romantic occasion that embraced all the magic of Ireland while keeping Jessica + Alan’s epic love story at the forefront.
Photographer Andrew O’Dwyer captured so many stunning photos of the happy couple and their dreamy Irish wedding day that you need to see. And you have to hear the incredible story of how these two fell in love…
We love the simple yet super-sentimental vibe of Jessica + Alan’s engraved wedding bands!! If you’re trying to decide what chunk of your wedding budget should be set aside for rings, take a peek at our guide to how much money should you spend on a wedding ring.
Alan’s sophisticated black tuxedo was created by Jim Wallace, master tailor of Acorn Fashions.
We are loving the sage green bridesmaid dresses from Folkster that Jessica’s besties wore! The matching velvet adds so much elegant texture.
Alan is from Ireland, but Jessica’s from New Zealand, so their love literally spans the globe. Jessica started her dress hunt on a visit home to New Zealand, trying on options with her mom and sister, but she wasn’t finding anything she liked. When she got back to Ireland she gave it another go and found this gorgeous tulle and lace gown by Randy Fenoli Bridal (yes the Randy Fenoli from Say Yes To The Dress!). Jessica fell in love with it for its “elegant, enchanted vibes.” We are obsessed with the flowy cape detail!!
We’ve got an Ireland Travel Diary you need to read if these photos have you planning your dream Ireland itinerary in your head.
You need to look through our list of the most stunning sage green bridesmaid dresses in every style if you’re loving Jessica’s bridesmaids’ looks as much as we are.
Jill Wild created the day’s romantic florals, including this beautiful bridal bouquet. We’re loving the all-white Irish wildflower blooms paired with tons of lush greenery.
Pay a visit to our a to z men’s formalwear guide to study up on menswear options for your big day!
These stunning photos are your sign to go ahead and book that Ireland trip.
A Tradition-Filled Ceremony
Processional: "Caoineadh Na Dtri Mhuire" by The Bonny Men
Recessional: "Ho Hey" by The Lumineers
First Dance: "We Deserve To Dream" by Xavier Rudd
Check out 13 ways to incorporate Irish traditions into your wedding if you’ve got Irish roots you want to embrace on your big day like Jessica + Alan did!
Trust and enjoy the process, have fun, get imaginative.
A beautiful, billowy cape detail like Jessica’s adds so much ethereal whimsy to a bridal look and can be a fun alternative to a veil. Look through our list of 31 bridal capes and wedding capelet designs for a dreamy look to see all the possibilities!
A Love Story for the Ages
Jessica + Alan’s love story makes our hearts explode, and Jessica tells it so beautifully:
“Alan, a tall handsome Irish farmer, was taking a year in New Zealand to discover the kiwi agriculture and way of life. A few weeks after his arrival, in a small coastal town, he found himself in a quiet craft brewery after work, winding down after a long week getting shat on by cows. Beside him was a middle-aged lady (my Mum) who had endured an equally exhausting working week. A few hours later my usually over-protective mum had fallen in love with Alan, decided he was the man for me, and set us up on a blind date.
“I was furious when mum called me – what the actual fuck mum, I am having ‘me time’, discovering who I am and blah blah. She told me, ‘Trust me, just meet him once.’ I followed her advice and attended a blind date with Alan. Not to a local cafe or restaurant, or anywhere in public like normal people who don’t want to get raped and murdered – no, to his rural farm house for a roast beef dinner … ‘Damn, he’s old fashioned,’ I thought as I had a panic attack on the way out to his house that night. Long story short – we fell in love…. that night. Ridiculous. We lit the wood burner, listened to music, and talked and made love all night. Mum was right.”
“6 months later, Alan’s visa was up and he had to leave the country. I followed. We spent 18 months traveling the UK, Europe, and Asia. This was a wild time. We eventually ran out of money and moved back to Alan’s homeland, Ireland. I continued in my career as a palliative care nurse, and Alan slaved away on the farm.
“One day at work, Alan had a sudden onset of severe back pain, initially thinking it was a cardiac event, he attended the local emergency room where he discovered he was unable to get out of the car as he had lost all movement from chest down. After numerous scans and tests, he was rushed to Dublin for emergency spinal surgery where they discovered he had suffered a spontaneous epidural haematoma (bleed on spine), which had permanently paralyzed him. Alan spent nearly 9 months in various hospitals and rehabilitation. To say this event was life changing would be an understatement. There is no way to truly describe the grief associated with this kind of loss – especially for such an adventurous, 30 year old man. Specialists were never able to find the cause of Alan’s spinal cord injury – they describe him as ‘unlucky’, one in a million.”
“It was at this point in time where I learned my love for Alan was truly unconditional. Wheelchair and all – he was still the love of my life. Over the next few years we lived in a rural wood cabin (aka our healing sanctuary) where we planted a ton of veggies, got some chickens, and learned how to adapt to our new way of life. We started traveling again, going on random missions and dates, Alan started driving again, he re-trained as a welder and went on to secure himself a good job.
“Finally, we were in a happy and secure point in life … Alan decided it was time. He took me for a picnic date in an ancient woodland in the Wicklow Mountains, we sat together on a cozy rug underneath the trees sipping tea and eating cheese sandwiches when Alan presented me with a diamond ring and asked me to marry him. Without hesitation and with many tears of joy, I said yes.”
An Emotional Reception
“After the nuptials, Alan and I escaped up into the woodland with a bottle of champagne and enjoyed a glorious hour together buzzing and being in love,” Jessica says. “We soon returned to the little retro hotel on the lakefront to join our friends and family who had come from near and far. Little did they know we had been working with a team at Dublin City university over the previous months, and Alan had been practicing walking in their very high-tech exoskeleton.”
“Moments before entering the reception room where all the guests were seated, the song ‘Walk 500 Miles’ by The Proclaimers started belting out. I’m sure everyone was thinking shiiiit this is a bit inappropriate for the chap that can’t even walk one step. Right on cue, the double doors opened and my husband and I walked in to the room hand in hand, dancing, crying and laughing. The cheers of the guests were electric, nearly deafening. I have never felt more proud in my life.”
Tissues or custom wedding day hankies for guests might not be a bad thing to have at the ready for all of the happy tears on your big day!
Entering our reception together ... walking!!!
“I am so proud to be married to Alan,” Jessica says, “and we hope to inspire people and prove that love really does rule all!”
Congratulations, Jessica + Alan, on your sophisticated and romantic all-Irish wedding day! Your love story is beyond inspiring, and we wish you two all the very best!!
photography: Andrew O'Dwyer Photography // venue name: Gougane Barra, Gougane Barra, West Cork, Ireland // florals: Jill Wild // wedding dress: Randy Fenoli Bridal // bridesmaid dresses: Folkster Ireland // getting ready robes: Something Blue, Wexford, Ireland // hair stylist: Cathyanne Bridal Hair // makeup artist: Portrait by Jessica // groom attire: Jim Wallace and Master tailor