The rehearsal and dinner went very well, and all seemed to have fun. The food was delicious but nothing felt too formal. DH was surprised with a limo to take him go-karting at the local indoor place as a bachelor party for him, and I guess they drank on the way back to the hotel and went and hung out in one of the groomsmen's rooms for a few hours after that. I had my bridesmaids come back to our hotel suite to give them their gifts while we drank wine, and I made a few of them cry. I gave them Kate Spade clutches tailored to each one's favorite color, a $100 spafinder gift card, handwritten cards thanking them, and personalized gifts (as if it were their birthdays thanks to advice on TK). Then we all hugged and one of them taught the rest of us how to do the Wobble so we could all do it the next day.
DH came back to the room right as I was getting ready for bed, and we went to sleep. I woke up around 8 am and went to breakfast, where I ran into two of our guests who had flown in from San Diego the night before. I ate breakfast with them, and it was so nice getting to hang out with them one on one before all the craziness began. Then I went to the conference room reserved for makeup, and the MUA and Hair stylists arrived at 9. My bridesmaids and my mother and my MIL arrived then as well. MIL brought coffee and bagels, and I had asked the hotel to provide mimosas and sandwich wraps for lunch, so we all had plenty of food. The photographer and videographer arrived around 1:30, and from there things felt like a blur.
By 3 pm, DH and I were ready for our first look, which was amazing. My family had started arriving for family pictures early, so many of them got to see our first look happen unintentionally (including my cousin who saw me before DH did as I approached him and yelled that I looked beautiful, not realizing DH hadn't seen me yet and this was the moment when he would be seeing me for the first time! She was super embarrassed when she realized, and we laughed about it together later, so no harm done). DH loved what he saw when he turned around, and I couldn't believe how handsome he looked and that this would be my husband soon! We then went into family pictures, and got a break about 20 minutes before the ceremony began.
We lined up outside of the tent to begin the processional, when rain drops started to fall. They were few and far between, but we were all concerned the sky would open up before we all got inside the tent. Fortunately it held off, but it started downpouring at the end of the ceremony! The groomsmen were handed umbrellas by the hotel staff to help escort guests from the tent to the reception building after they went through the receiving line held in the tent (we had to move it inside due to the rain). The rain had let up by the time our receiving line had ended, and DH and I got a few more pictures with the photographer after that. Then we went and joined everyone for the second half of cocktail hour, and by then guests were coming up to us telling us how much fun they were having already! We had an ice luge with our signature drink that was a huge hit, and our bar game went over amazingly well. We assigned numbers to drinks, and had large 20-sided dice for people to roll. We didn't require it, but everyone (including the bar tenders!) had a blast with it. We also had a whiskey and wine tasting station that people loved.
Everyone was seated for dinner, and from there it was a pretty standard setup. We were announced, had our first dance (and our bridal party started singing along to the music during it which made it even more special!), and ate dinner. The DJ played soft music during dinner, and our friends and family started dancing to that while waiting for the main course to come out. The dance floor was packed by the time the main course came out (probably only 20 minutes between the salad and the main), and our DJ commented that he has never seen people dance during that time! After dinner, we went into the parent dances, cake cutting, and then officially opened the dance floor for the rest of the night. The dance floor was packed all night, and even people who said they don't dance at weddings were up dancing! The cake was delicious, and the dessert bar and coffee and cordial station was well appreciated as well. Then at the end of the reception (11:30 pm), we had an after party until 2 am in the hotel bar. We paid for food in the form of wings, pizza, and sliders, and the hotel staff brought leftovers from the dessert bar over too, and our friends and family had a blast getting to socialize and hang out with us longer. We were a little worried about not providing alcohol at this time too, but our friends and family seemed perfectly happy with buying drinks by that point if they wanted to keep drinking, and a few people took the opportunity to buy us shots, so it was a fun time.
DH and I got back to our hotel room at 3 am, which had been decorated with rose petals and a bottle of champagne was waiting for us. We went to sleep at 4, got up around 10 am, loaded up the car with our gifts, said goodbye to family/friends who were at the hotel still, drove back to our apartment, packed our bags, and the car to bring us to the airport arrived at 1:30. We were on the road by 2 pm, and arrived to JFK around 6 for our 8:40 pm flight, which got delayed to 9:40. We fortunately made it to LHR with plenty of time for our connection to Dublin, and picked up the rental car and drove directly to Ashford Castle.
At Ashford, the original room they gave us had a ton of problems. The fireplace and sink drains didn't work, the room was missing towels and wash cloths, and the bathroom had a bright blue/purple "safety light" that couldn't be turned off. The light was a huge problem since the bed faced the doors to the bathroom, and the light basically illuminated the whole room at night, even with the bathroom doors closed. I was extremely upset, and DH and I made a game plan of asking to be moved to a different room or leaving early and finding a cute bed and breakfast nearby to stay at for the remaining 3 nights. He calmed me down by telling me that no matter what happens when we go to complain, we will have a great story to tell. And he was right.
The employees at Ashford felt terrible about the situation, but didn't have any other rooms in the castle they could move us to. The manager came out to speak with us, and just as we were about ready to tell them we were leaving early, she presented us with another option. It was true they didn't have any other rooms in the castle, but it turned out they did have something else on property available, which was the boat house built by the Guinness family in the 18th century right on the lake. It was called the Hideaway Cottage, and had it's own gated entrance, but was less than a 5 minute walk to the castle. It isn't possible to book this online, and it normally costs $3k a night. It is where they put celebrities who come to stay there but who want some privacy still. She offered to move us there at no additional cost to us, and we took it! After we moved, we had an amazing time. We had a nice little private cottage on the lake, but got to take advantage of all of the amenities and activities at the castle, including Falconry!
The rest of our honeymoon was great too. We went to Killarney, did a boat tour of the lakes and a tour of the Gap of Dunloe by jaunting car, went to the Jameson Midleton Distillery and did a tour and a whiskey tasting, and explored Dublin and did the Guinness tour where we learned how to properly pour a pint off of a tap. We did a ton of walking, but we also ate a ton of delicious food (including hearty soups and amazing fish and chips) and drank a lot of beer and whiskey. We got two free shots of Baby Guinness and a free apple cake because it was our honeymoon, and now they are one of our favorite shots. DH thought it was just a small glass of Guinness and was very surprised when he drank it. We then had an overnight layover in London this past Friday night, and we stayed in a hotel where we had a view of Big Ben. We took the Tube everywhere to explore the city and see a few sights before heading back to the airport, our flight was uneventful (though the crew gave us a bottle of champagne to take home because it was our honeymoon), and we took the train back upstate from NYC Saturday night.
Okay, that was long, so here are (non-pro) pictures! Please excuse the blurriness of some of them. Pro pictures should be done in the next 2-3 weeks, and I will AW those too!
DH (center) with the guys from my family having a great time at Cocktail Hour:
Trying to show more of what the cake topper says ("Light of my Life"):
And some bonus honeymoon pictures:
First Guinness in Ireland and showing off our new jewelry: