“On our third date he told me he knew he was going to marry me.”
The couple: Katherine (Kate) Smyth & Alan Keating
Length of engagement: 18 months | Wedding date: June 19, 2015
Wedding location: Kilshane House, Co Tipperary, Ireland
Photographer: Michelle Prunty Photography | Videographer: Shane Prunty
We met… at a party at Alan’s apartment in Hell’s Kitchen in NYC! My good friend (and bridesmaid) Kelly invited me to a 4th of July party. Her friends Derek and Sinead invited her; she didn’t know Alan personally, but promised “lots of cute Irish men.” Halfway through the night, I realised I still hadn’t met the party host and had been drinking and eating at his apartment! I found him, introduced myself, and then we had a bit of banter about his broken wrist. We didn’t get to talk too long because various guests kept interrupting. The next day, he friended me on Facebook and then asked me out for a drink. As they say, the rest is history. We were instantly smitten and everything was so easy and special and happy. On our third date, it also happened to be Alan’s birthday, I took him out for dinner and drinks, and he told me he knew he was going to marry me. As crazy as it sounds, I knew too.
Our proposal… was a complete surprise. It was our second night in beautiful St. Lucia. I thought we were going to take a group sail boat tour, but Alan surprised me by organising it so that we had the entire sail boat to ourselves. When we were sailing back to the island at sunset, he got down on one knee and proposed. In the States, men typically propose with a ring, but Alan didn’t have one as he wanted us to pick one out together when we returned home. I was so confused, and at first thought he was joking about proposing since he didn’t have the ring! Once I realised he was serious, I of course said yes and couldn’t love my ring more – we designed it together. Did I mention that we got engaged after only 6 months of dating?
My hair and make up… My matron of honour, also my cousin Meg, works for MAC Cosmetics in NYC. So, she was the natural choice to do my makeup. She’s like my older sister, so I knew that we would be able to work comfortably together on what I liked. My hair was styled by Marie Hickey. We had a hair trial when I was in Ireland over the Christmas holidays, and immediately clicked. She was so warm and friendly, and willing to do whatever I wanted or felt comfortable with. She was so quick, talented and patient on my wedding day. She did myself, my six bridesmaids, my mother AND my mother-in-law!
My dress… was by Alvina Valenta from Wedding Atelier in NYC. I have known forever that I wanted a ball gown style dress. I figured it was the one day to wear a DRESS… something that makes a statement on the one day where you are supposed to feel like the most beautiful woman in the room. I also wanted to wear something very traditional and classic. Nothing too trendy that would look dated in a few years. I had fun putting my own touches and customisations on it. For example, adding some lace to the straps to make mini sleeves, and adding lace to the back to raise it up a bit. It really felt like mine at the end of the day.
His suit… was by a NYC bespoke suit company called Beau. Alan always knew he wanted something a little fun, such as the royal blue colour he chose for himself and his groomsmen, together with bright pink and navy socks from Thomas Pink. We thought the pink of my bridesmaid dresses and flowers would pair beautifully with the blue. So, we also had Alan’s groomsmen wear pink ties the same colour as the bridesmaid dresses. Everything turned out beautifully!
Our wedding theme/colours…soft greens, pale/blush pinks, cream. We really wanted a wedding that felt classic and timeliness. I love peonies so it was important to have these in the flowers. And it was important to me to not have the flowers overwhelm the church or the guests’ tables, but add to the décor. I’ve been to some weddings where you can’t even see each other because the arrangements are so huge!
Our ceremony… was a funny, unique experience for me. I am not Catholic, but really wanted to get married in a traditional Irish church. To begin the process, I took a Catholic marriage course in NYC with Alan, and over Christmas, we met with Alan’s family priest. I proceeded to ask many, many questions and become very panicked about how little I knew about a Catholic ceremony. I think I messed up a bit on our wedding day, and didn’t really know what I was doing, but it didn’t matter. It was beautiful and I was so happy to be in church with all of my closest friends and family, and new family and friends.
What our bridal party wore… they wore pale pink dresses by Jim Hjelm group. Since all six of them were travelling from the States for our wedding, I was very careful to choose elegant, beautiful dresses, but that were not expensive. My gifts to them were 14K gold necklaces to wear with their dresses. The groomsmen wore suits from Dorian Black in Dublin.
We chose our photographer because… I found Michelle Prunty‘s work online and fell in love with her style of photography. She is very editorial and not overly staged or posed. She really captures the moment. Capturing candid moments, and the beauty of our venue and its grounds, and the special people who attended our wedding, was very important to us. We were able to meet over Christmas in Ireland, and I found her so sweet and kind. I was so happy to work with her, and so excited to hear she was going to be a bride a couple months before me!
We chose our videographer because… Many of my married friends had said they really regretted not hiring one, and those who did were so happy they spent the money. I was having trouble finding one within our budget when Michelle suggested her brother, Shane Prunty. It was perfect! He never felt in the way or had lights or cameras in our face, which I was afraid of. He was very discreet, and I cried like a baby when I watched our video. I would highly recommend him!
Our wedding car… A 1979 Mercedes Benz SL 350 convertible in royal blue, which matched the suits perfectly! This was an Alan project – he’s really into old cars!
We chose our venue because… right after we got engaged, I told Alan I wanted to get married in Ireland. Ever since our first trip there together, it had held a very special place in my heart and was a big part of the evolution of our relationship. We saw at least five venues in Ireland, mostly in Cork. Within five minutes of arriving at Kilshane House, Alan said he was “done.” I too knew that it was our venue very quickly. It felt very special. I loved how our guests would get to stay in the various houses spread out over 300+ acres of land, and how our rehearsal dinner and the day after BBQ could be in completely different rooms, and the amazing feedback I had heard about their food. The staff were lovely. After our cocktail hour, the owners (also an American and her Irish husband!) took us into the sitting room for a special toast and gifted us with two monogrammed champagne flutes by Tipperary Crystal. They have weddings practically every weekend, but we felt very special. I can’t leave out our venue coordinators, especially Laura at Kilshane House. Laura and the staff made sure we hit every deadline and approved everything, and really kept us on schedule leading up to the day and the day of the wedding.
Our menu… The tasting was definitely our favourite part of the wedding planning! While Alan focused more on the wine, I was focused on a nice mix of delicious meats and fish, and desserts. And the chef at Kilshane really took the time to pick seasonal foods (many grown right on the venue grounds), and customise some of the dishes based on our interests.
Our honeymoon… while many couples choose beach destinations, we really wanted to do something we would only do on our honeymoon! So, we went on safari in Tanzania for 10 days, followed by 3 days in Istanbul. I am a huge animal lover and it was magical to be a few feet away from a lion or an elephant. The best part was getting one on one time with each other and reflecting on the wedding and sharing stories!
My piece of advice for other brides… Do everything in baby steps or in buckets of tasks. You can’t think of, or even try to plan everything at once or you will be overwhelmed and not everything must get done at once! Start with the vendors that get booked well in advance – book your venue, band, photographer, florist right away. The rest can be done in baby steps. I really tried to imagine the day, and everything I would need and went from there. Also, it’s very easy to go over budget because you think you “need” certain things. Set your budget, and have each vendor work within that budget. What’s important to you? Maybe have a slightly larger budget for that item, but a smaller one for others.
Venue: Kilshane House | Caterer: Kilshane House | Flowers: The French Touch | Hair: Marie Hickey | Make-up: Bride: Meg Stratton, MAC Cosmetics | Church Music/Cocktail music: Highly Strung, string trio | Wedding Band: Blacktye Wedding Band | Photographer: Michelle Prunty | Videographer: Shane Prunty | Church: Church of the Annunciation, Bansha | Cake: Doris Ryan | Dress: Alvina Valenta, Wedding Atelier, NYC | Shoes: Jimmy Choo | Groom’s Suit: Beau, NYC | Groom’s Shoes: Hugo Boss | Bridesmaids’ dresses: Jim Hjelm | Groomsmen suits: Dorian Black | Invitations: Paper Presentation, NYC | Honeymoon: Pure Safari | Wedding Car: Classic Car Hire
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Former editor, current contributor, (she just can't let go!) Karen enjoys writing fashion but is known to dabble in decor from time to time. Her favourite section on the site is the Real Wedding section, followed closely by the Health & Fitness forums.