'Intimate and Relaxing': Jackie & Gareth's Connemara Wedding

A delightfully fuss-free wedding with wow-factor style!

Postponing a wedding due to the Covid-19 pandemic was heartbreaking for even the most laid-back of couples, but Jackie and Gareth from today's real wedding tell us that having a longer engagement actually helped them refine their priorities for the big day. Having planned a June 2020 wedding for 170 guests, the couple tied the knot with just 15 people in attendance 12 months later, and the result was straight-up magical! With the gorgeous grounds of Renvyle House Hotel as their backdrop, and the talented Claire from Studio Brown Photography behind the camera, they created the most beautiful and effortlessly simple day - we just know you're going to love their dreamy Connemara wedding!
Jackie tells us that she and Gareth first met on a night out on St. Patrick's Day in 2016. "It was a whirlwind," she tells us. "A few weeks later, we went on holidays to Malta together. The rest is history."
Jackie and Gareth sourced their wedding rings from the fabulous Bespoke Diamonds in Dublin. Her engagement ring is an out-and-out showstopper, isn't it!? It was designed by Gareth in collaboration with the team at Bespoke Diamonds, and features a yellow oval diamond in a halo setting. Divine!
After three years together, Gareth booked the couple on a trip to Barcelona, with a secret agenda! Jackie remembers, "On our first day, we went to Parc del Laberint d’Horta. In the historical garden, he proposed at the centre of the labyrinth, where there is a statue of Eros, the Greek god of love. It was magical!"
Jackie and Gareth tell us that they had planned a June 2020 wedding for 170 guests, but decided to postpone it for 12 months when Covid-19 restrictions came in. "We thought many of the Covid restrictions would be lifted by then," Jackie tells us. "How wrong we were!"
With strict restrictions still in place in early 2021, the couple came to an agreement. Jackie tells us, "We decided that if we were allowed to get married on June 11th 2021 (whether it was 2, 6 or 20 people allowed), that we would go for it and celebrate at a later date. So, we continued with any planning that we could. I even bought an outfit online for the day, just in case I couldn’t pick up my wedding dress if shops were still closed! We were hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst."
How gorgeous is Jackie's Riki Dalal gown? And, if you'll excuse the pun, we are head over heels in love with her embellished Christian Louboutin sandals!
With just 15 guests in attendance, Jackie and Gareth were keen to give the day a personal feel. "We wanted everyone to be involved and have a role to play, especially during the ceremony," Jackie says. "For example, my brother wrote and recited a poem called ‘Wildflower’ for the ceremony, while my Auntie Bernie knitted the cable for the handfasting. Moments and contributions like that are things you will never forget."
The couple have got only great things to say about their venue, Renvyle House Hotel. Jackie tells us, "it has the cosiness of your granny’s house on a cold winter’s evening but also has a feeling of freedom of a fresh Summer’s day. It has the Atlantic Ocean to one side, a lake on the other and stunning blooming gardens, so we didn’t need to move very far for photos."
The couple planned an outdoor ceremony, and weren't phased when it started raining 30 minutes beforehand. Jackie says, "the staff were so flexible and kind, and could see the blue sky on the horizon! We pushed the ceremony by 15 minutes to allow the shower to pass. I was able then to walk down the aisle, outside by the lake, on a beautiful sunny June afternoon."
Jackie's brother, Neil, was her Man of Honour on the day, and it sounds like he rose to the occasion! Jackie tells us, "he surprised me with a personalised locket to wrap around my wedding bouquet. It had four pictures inside a heart - one of Gareth and I, both of my grandparents, and my parents at their wedding 37 years ago. In particular, my brother really made the whole experience extra special for me and went above and beyond."
Jackie describes their wedding day as, "intimate, peaceful and relaxing. Only having the two immediate families there made it very personal and special. We had time to share stories of years gone by together and soak up these special moments between us all."
It helped that the couple had some stunning landscape to work with! "There was so much Connemara beauty and Galway history surrounding us," Jackie says, "that we wanted to incorporate that into the day as much as possible. The music was mostly old Irish songs, while the colour palette was quite neutral because we wanted to compliment our surroundings more than anything else. My parents also sourced two old Galway Crystal glasses with the Claddagh symbol on them for our first meal as husband and wife, which brought in the Galway roots even more."
Jackie tells us that her top piece of advice for engaged couples is to personalise their day. She says, "every couple has their own tastes and identities and what I’ve learned is that needs to be reflected through their wedding. Do what you want to do and you will feel the most comfortable on the day."
She adds, "I think taking time to figure out what you both want and like is so important. Due to the pandemic, we ended up having an engagement one year longer than expected and, in a way, I loved having that extra time to plan but also realise what we really wanted on our day. There was no rush, no panic, no sailing in at full speed to a wedding (where it’s really over in an instant!). In the end, the two years gave us time to really enjoy being engaged and hash out our wedding plans to make sure they were right for us."
The couple had booked a trip to Dubai and Jordan for their honeymoon, which was cancelled due to Covid-19. Instead, the couple had a staycation-style honeymoon. "We stayed on for a fabulous few nights in Renvyle House Hotel with our families before heading out on our own to a remote, old-world Irish cottage in Durrus, where we toured around West Cork for three days, exploring the beaches, scenery and towns and villages along the way. We had a picnic at Barleycove beach, fish and chips looking out at the Atlantic and did a rugged hike around Sheep’s Head. It was wonderful. We topped the week off with the most breathtaking weekend at Adare Manor in Limerick. Not only has it the most remarkable food and gardens, but that staff there made it one of the most memorable experiences we had as a couple."
Jackie tells us that her brother helped with the couple's stationery. "My brother, Neil Fox, designed the ceremony booklet and menus. He also helped design a new Fox-Leyden family crest which is based on the traditional Fox and Leyden family crests!" What a gorgeous idea!

Thanks so much to Jackie and Gareth for sharing their gorgeous Connemara wedding with us, and to Studio Brown for providing the beautiful imagery! There are even more photographs to swoon over in the gallery below.

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Photography //
Studio Brown
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Wedding Dress Designer //
Riki Dalal
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Bridal Boutique //
Tamem Michael
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Earrings //
One Dame Lane
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Arm Cuff //
Etsy
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Stationery Designer //
Neil Fox
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Stationery Printer //
just-print.ie
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Flowers //
Go Dutch
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Cake //
Mary Reid
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Makeup //
Nicola Belton
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Harpist //
Lynn Saoirse
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