It’s the question I pondered from the moment the invitation arrived. I’d been to an English wedding and it was totally different to what we do in the US. The wedding goes on ALL DAY. Also, no open bar (imagine the cost and mayhem of an all day open bar?). Also, there are two parties at an English wedding. The first one is where you have the meal, the speeches and of course, the ceremony. The second one starts a few hours later, more people arrive, there’s more food and that’s when the dancing starts.
I asked Luke if he knew what to expect from an Irish wedding, he hadn’t a clue. We were flying blind and I could not wait to find out what we were in for.
We arrived at the church just before 1 o’clock and chose a side to sit. The ceremony began the way most church weddings do. The flower girl took a stroll, the ring barer nearly sprinted down the aisle, followed by the bridesmaids and finally the bride and her dad. All this time the groomsmen and the groom were at the front of the church facing AWAY from the procession. It was so sweet to see them peaking around, telling the groom what was happening. It was a full Catholic ceremony and lasted just over an hour.
As for the guests, people were very dressed up. Even Luke commented on how much more formal the whole affair felt to any other wedding we’d been to previously. Women wore hats or fastenators, elegant dresses and jackets and stunningly tall shoes. Most men were in three piece suits even if they weren’t in the wedding party.
The bridal party left the church and went off to take photos. Most of the family and friends headed to a nearby bar for a drink and a mingle before heading to the venue in Killarney (an absolutely STUNNING part of the country btw). Weddings in Kerry are a truly big affair. Our friends had “only” 140 people attending. They said most people they know have well over 250. It meant plenty of people to chat to and a truly electric event later in the evening.
Similar to an American wedding, there was a cocktail hour in the lobby of the hotel. We had canapés and Prosecco. The bar was open to anyone who wanted something other than the fizzy stuff. After a little while, a man with a big ol’ bell came out and rang it several times. Everyone filtered into the ballroom for dinner.
Dinner + Speeches
This went down pretty much exactly how it would at any wedding. It was probably about 7pm when the appetizers were brought out. Then the speeches came. First from the bride’s father, then from the groom’s family, then a poem from the bridesmaids, a thank you from the groom and the finale, the best man’s speech. Dinner followed swiftly after and we were digesting with a drink by 8:30.
There was a break between dinner and dancing. Most people flocked to the bar, some went outside for fresh air. It was a nice time to get to know a few people and hear stories about our friend’s before we met them.
Dancing the Night Away
This is where the event truly came into it’s Irish own. The fun began around 10pm when the band started to play (most weddings I’ve been to in the US END at 10pm!). They knew exactly how to get the crowd involved. There were congas and line dancing and sing-alongs for the entire two hours that the band played. As they sang their last song, the DJ started setting up. He played for another three hours. The bar didn’t close until 3AM.
The After Party
The singing and swaying continued well into the night. As the venue closed it’s doors most people poured into the hotel bar for more merryment. Luke and I said our goodnights around 5AM and couldn’t believe what a great party the Irish throw for their weddings.