We finally got our chance to fulfill our dream of an actual wedding ceremony or, more precisely, a Renewal of Wedding Vows Ceremony in Doolin, Ireland, in 2015.
My wedding trauma from from 2008 would finally be a memory of the past.
We were back in Europe, we had savings, and we were only a two-hour flight away from Ireland.
Honestly, I can not remember precisely why we chose Doolin to be our wedding destination. I think Sean had heard from somebody who had visited Ireland before that Doolin was a terrific place, and after doing some research and looking at the stunning pictures of the area, we agreed that Doolin would be the ideal place for what we wanted.
Doolin is located in County Clare on the edge of the Burren just a few miles from the famous Cliffs of Moher. And it is everything you always hope to experience when visiting Ireland. Irish Pubs, Irish music, the countryside is breathtaking. It is a stunning place!
Getting from Germany to Ireland
But let’s go back to how we got there in the first place.
We were stationed in Stuttgart, Germany, and Stuttgart did not offer any affordable flights to Ireland back then.
So, since we had a dog to think about, my parents agreed to take care of him. We took Toby to Trier (my hometown) the day before our flight and then flew out from Frankfurt Hahn with Ryanair to Kerry Airport in Ireland.
The flight was a quick two-hour trip, and then we rented a car (I think I remember that Ireland has some bizarre car rental laws, so make sure you do your research before booking). The drive was two hours from Kerry airport to Doolin, our destination for the next three nights.
I was not anticipating how terrified I would be riding in the car with traffic being on the left side of the road. It took me two whole hours getting used to thinking I would not be crashing into the many stone walls that are overgrown with greenery while driving along the narrow roads. But we made it.
Of course, we also made to stop in one of the local grocery stores on our way there. I always think it is fantastic to see what unique products are offered in foreign grocery stores—exploration 101.
We stayed at the Doolin Hotel, specializing in providing wedding arrangements for couples getting married in Doolin. They have a whole backyard with a fantastic wedding venue for couples celebrating with guests.
After our check-in, we stayed local and paid a visit to Fitz’s Bar that belongs to Hotel Doolin. Of course, I had fish and chips, and a traditional Guinness from the tap. It was a relaxing way of getting introduced into Irish culture. We stayed a while after dinner, enjoying our first taste of traditional Irish music and sipping on another beer or two.
Preparing for the Big Day
The next morning, we met our priest, who would be performing a handfasting ceremony at our Renewal of Vows ceremony.
I think it is important to mention that we did not get married legally or officially in Ireland. We were married legally on March 14th, 2008, in Germany, and that has always been the day we celebrate our wedding anniversary.
This Renewal of Vows was to make up for the special wedding day we never had, but always wanted.
So, we did not have to deal with any legal paperwork to register the wedding back home. If that is your situation, make sure you ask all the right questions to have your paperwork in order.
Our priest was lovely and asked about our expectations for the ceremony, and so on. After all that was clarified, Sean and I had no other commitments for that day, so we headed out to visit the Cliffs of Moher, which are only a 15-minute car ride from Doolin. Breathtaking!
Most of our wedding planning was done from Germany beforehand, so we just had to be there and go with the flow.
We had booked the priest, photographer, flowers, hair, makeup from Germany.
On arrival in Doolin, we reserved a dinner place for our wedding day dinner.
The second whole day we were in Doolin, we had set aside for our wedding celebration.
Our Irish Wedding Day
After getting up, we had a fantastic breakfast in our hotel (it was fabulous every day by the way), and then our pre-booked hairdresser came to our hotel room.
I had a picture of how I wanted my hair to look like, and she managed to do just that. I was thrilled with the outcome. The hotel suggested the hairdresser, and I was delighted with their recommendation.
After that, the makeup artist came to our room. She was also recommended by the hotel, and she knew exactly how to make me look stunning for my wedding day.
While getting ready for the big day, my pre-picked wedding bouquet from West Clare Flowers arrived. I had chosen a wildflower bouquet, and it was even more beautiful than I had expected. I still have that bouquet of dried flowers now. It has made it from Ireland to Germany, and then from Germany to Virginia. And every time I see it, I think of that unforgettable day, on June 30th, 2015.
Then, it was finally time to meet up with our wedding photographer, Mrs. Redhead, in the lobby. I instantly liked her, and she did such a stunning job that day!
We got so fortunate with Mrs. Red Head. She shot all these fantastic photographs that are featured on this blog post today.
Mrs. Redhead also gave us a ride to the wedding venue that day. We could choose from different options that day, but chose Fanore Beach in County Clare.
We got quite lucky with the weather. It looked like it wanted to rain the whole time, but in the end, it never did. I guess we got spared by the weather gods because, on our original wedding day in 2008, it had rained all morning.
We chose Fanore Beach because it looked beautiful, and it was low key. Not too many people, and the introvert in me, definitely prefers that.
The ceremony was beautiful and unique, and everything we had ever hoped for our Renewal of Wedding vows ceremony.
It was not a German or US-traditional ceremony, but precisely what we had imagined when deciding to renew our wedding vows in Ireland.
After the official part of the ceremony, our wedding photographer Mrs. Red Head took over the rest of the afternoon and whipped us away to the most stunning photography locations in County Clare.
Can you believe I finally got wedding photographs by an actual photographer of me in a wedding gown? I never thought that day would come!
The Wedding Gown
Fun fact of my wedding gown is that it was not an official wedding gown at all. I had played around with the idea of getting the whole experience of going to a bridal store and do all the trying-on and sipping on the champagne thing. But in the end, I instead rather invested the money on a beautiful vacation and some fantastic nights in some superb Irish pubs 😊
I bought my wedding gown at the German online retailer “Otto.” They have all kinds of dresses for every type of occasion, and the one I found was simple, elegant, and not over the top at all.
After spending the whole afternoon out on the road, taking pictures, we went home for a quick rest before it was time for dinner.
When we returned to our room, the hotel staff had decorated our door and the inside of our room with beautiful wildflowers. It was a lovely surprise, and I was utterly smitten by their effort to make us feel special that day.
I debated for a minute if I should keep wearing my dress for the rest of the evening, but opted for my comfy jeans instead.
We then headed to dinner at a local seafood restaurant. Dinner was a delicious three-course meal, and the owners made sure we felt very welcome that evening.
After dinner, we walked up to McGann’s Pub and restaurant. It was a crowded evening that night. We finished out the evening by listening to incredible Irish music, sipping on a few beers, and making friends with other visitors. It was the perfect ending to a long, awaited day that I had imagined for many years to come. Our promise we gave to each other had become a reality.
Final Thoughts on our Wedding Adventure
We could not have planned it any better. A feeling of accomplishment was here, and the past wedding trauma was finally behind us.
We both finally have an actual wedding day that is more than just a memory of a stale courthouse and our private residence.
It is a wedding memory that we both love to look back at, and that I enjoy re-living every step of the way.
I always wanted that big wedding with all the usual stuff couples do on their wedding day as a little girl. But looking back at our relationship and life now, I know our wedding was always supposed to happen just like it did.
We have never had a run-of-the-mill relationship, and life continues to surprise us regularly. And I can not wait for all the future adventures we will still conquer together.