Life is a crazy ride, and that’s how we met! I’m from metro Detroit, Michigan, and Mark is from Wexford, Ireland. Back in 2012, I spent a summer in Nashville, TN for an internship. While there, I was working in a bar for extra cash, and befriended a girl from Ireland, who was also spending her summer in Nashville. We ended up living together and she introduced me to another friend of hers, Emma, who was best friends with Mark from college. In 2013, I decided to move to Ireland on a working holiday visa for a year. Emma was my roommate, and I met Mark one weekend that he decided to visit Cork. Mark already had plans to move to Canada a few months later, but we stayed in touch. After I moved home to Michigan in 2014, we started to hang out more and started dating – and the rest is history. We have spent a lot of time apart and had to travel a lot to see each other, from Ireland to Canada, Michigan to Tennessee and now to Florida , but it’s all been worth it!

Tell us about your wedding! What was the inspiration behind your day? Did you have a specific theme, style or color palette?

Since Mark and I were already married, we wanted our wedding to be simple, laid back and more of a celebration of our love and all the people we’ve met along the way. Florida has such beautiful, lush greenery, and I love the whimsical, bohemian style, so I tried to combine the two at the Sarasota Garden Club. Our color palette was neutral so that people could focus on the natural, beautiful surroundings of the garden. We love to travel and are both musicians, so we tried to incorporate bits of that into the decor by using Mark’s guitar case as our card box and a personalized map as our guest book. Since Mark is from Ireland, we also tried to incorporate some Irish wedding traditions. Mark’s mom gave me a horseshoe, which is custom to give the bride for good luck. She also gave Mark a sixpence to give to me, which is an old tradition that originally started in the 17th century where the bride gave it to the groom – but it is now given to brides as a sign of good luck. The groom also gives it to the bride to symbolize that he will share all he possesses. Mark’s mom also gifted us a personalized hurley, which is a wooden stick used in the Gaelic sport of hurling, with our wedding date on it, as well a ceramic heart with an Irish blessing on it.


Let’s talk wedding decor. How did you decorate your space for the ceremony and the reception?

Nearly all the decor was DIY! I was going for a neutral, whimsical bohemian garden feel, yet I wanted to keep it simple. Our ceremony was outside the garden club on the lawn under a large tree. We felt the natural surroundings were beautiful enough, and wanted it to feel relaxed and natural, so we did not decorate for the ceremony. The reception was held inside the garden club and on the garden patio. The garden club is surrounded by windows and open sliding doors, so you get a lot of beautiful, natural light and can see the surrounding garden. Not wanting to take away from that, I used neutral colors and stuck to using classic greenery and fairy lights entwined in them. We used ceiling fan light covers as candle holders for a more bohemian look, and clear glass wine bottles filled with fairy lights as holders for the table numbers. We also stuck to clear, glass vases filled with classic white faux florals and greenery. We had three hoop wreaths with greenery hung from the ceilings as well as globe lights strung through the inside and market lights on the outside patio.


What were the florals like in your wedding? Did you use flowers in any of your design elements like the bridal bouquets, centerpieces or ceremony backdrop? Did they play an important part in the overall style of your wedding?

We used entirely faux florals and greenery for the wedding. I bought most of the faux florals, greenery and greenery garlands from Hobby Lobby. I made my own bouquet and bought my bridesmaids bouquets pre-made from My aunt made the men’s boutonnieres, and I made the groom’s mom and my Grandma’s corsage. Friends helped me make the floral arrangements for the vases for the reception tables out of white ranunculus, small white roses and greenery. Our day-of coordinator really helped put the finishing touches on the decor with leftover bits by putting flowers in the greenery on the head table and by wrapping bits of greenery garland around the cocktail tables, as well as putting piece of the greenery in vases on the tables. Since I was going for a relaxed, bohemian garden feel, the greenery was an important part of decor on the tables and throughout the theme.


Did you personalize the day in any way (food trucks, guest entertainment etc.)? What were some of your favorite parts of your wedding?

Our ceremony was very unique. Since Mark and I were already married, we asked a best friend of ours to officiate, even though he had no experience. We knew he would bring an element of fun and humor to the day, which we really wanted. Because of this, nothing in the ceremony was truly traditional, which we loved. He nearly forgot to have us exchange rings, which was hilarious! Mark also didn’t take his first wedding ring off (one we had bought from Wal-Mart when we eloped and were broke) and I couldn’t get his new ring on his swollen hand! Mark and I wrote our own vows, which were a big hit, and one of my absolute favorite things we did. There were quite a few laughs from not only us, but our guests as well. We had no rehearsal, so I’m surprised the ceremony went as well as it did! Since we were already married, the hard part was already over, but we were still nervous! We originally planned to have a food truck to contribute to the relaxed feel we wanted, but unfortunately it fell through at the last minute. Our food choices remained relaxed and nearly the same as we wanted from the food truck, though, as we enjoyed mozzarella stuffed meatball sliders, fried green tomato Portabella burgers, barbecue chicken sliders and sides of fries (my favorite!), mac and cheese, and mixed vegetables (just to give guests a bit of green)! The non-traditional food seemed to be a hit, and was delicious as well. We used Mark’s guitar case as a card box, and had a personalized map as a guest book.

Let’s talk fashion. How did you both choose your wedding day look? Describe the looks in detail.

I was looking for a comfortable dress with a bohemian feel. I ended up dress shopping at David’s Bridal with some girlfriends, and bought a dress too quickly. I realized after I purchased it that it was not my style at all! Ha! So, I went back, and the staff was kind enough to let me exchange my dress, so I continued shopping until I found the dress for me. I settled on a Melissa Sweet dress, whose dresses have a romantic yet somewhat bohemian or vintage feel. I loved the ethereal feel of it, with the layers of tulle and blush flowers. Mark had his suit custom made at Men’s Wearhouse. Our friend Max helped him shop for one and pick out the suit features that made him look best. We were having the groomsmen dress in grey suits, so we stuck with that color palette but made Mark’s suit stand out more with the pinstripes.


How did you meet? Tell us about the proposal.

Mark and I met in Ireland! I befriended two Irish girls while living in Nashville, Tennessee for two summers during grad school. Once I graduated, I moved to Cork, Ireland for a year and moved in with one of those girls, who happened to be best friends with Mark. Mark is from Wexford, but went to college in Cork, and came back to visit friends for a weekend. I ended up hanging out with him that night, and we started a great friendship. When I met him, he already had plans to move to Canada. Four months later, he moved, and I never thought I’d see him again. We kept talking and continued our friendship, and eventually when I moved home, back to Michigan, we started hanging out again. We eloped a year after that!


What was the most anticipated or special moment of your wedding day?

Since we eloped three years before we had an actual wedding, I think we were looking forward to the entire day. We were excited to finally celebrate our love with people we loved from all over the world, and we were excited for people from all walks of life to meet. Our favorite thing about our wedding day was just that – having everyone we love meet and love each other. We couldn’t have asked for more. Aside from the ceremony, my favorite moment was our first dance. We chose to dance to “Candy” by Paolo Nutini, one of my favorite love songs that has a fun build up at the end. Toward the end of the song, everyone was invited to come dance with us, and when the build up came, everyone started jumping and hugging and the energy was through the roof. I started crying thinking of everything that had happened to get us to that moment; to be sharing such a special time with everyone we loved. I don’t think my heart has ever felt so full! I will never forget that moment.


Do you have any wedding planning or marriage advice that you’d like to share with other couples planning their day?

I think the best advice I read when I was planning was to remember to make it your own. You can get really caught up looking at ideas you love online and then replicating them, which takes away from your own personal style or twists. DIY wedding projects take a LOT of time, and there were some unique ideas I wanted to incorporate into my wedding that I ended up simply not having enough time to do, which was a bummer. We tried to stay budget friendly by doing a lot things ourselves, but my best advice with this is keeping in mind how much extra work it takes to do it yourself, and to weigh that up with the money saved. With some things, you’re just better off paying someone do to do it if you can afford it! The best marriage advice I was given is to communicate. Our relationship has withstood a lot, including long distance, all because we are able to communicate with each other about everything without judgement.