A Rustic Wedding With An Autumn Theme

Articles, Real Weddings

Say hello to Claire and Johnny! They planned an Autumn themed wedding full of dried leaves and rustic decor. We love that they placed a big focus on the food, the drinks and the party. So they selected the wedding formalities that they wanted and ditched everything else!


Couple: Claire & Johnny

Length of engagement: 1 year 11 months

Wedding Date: 17th November 2023

Wedding location: Virginia Park Lodge, Cavan

Photographer: Ros Byrne – Couple Photography



Claire and Johnny met on Tinder in August 2016 and were both pleasantly surprised!

Johnny proposed to Claire on a cliff overlooking one of their favourite beaches, Ballymastocker (Portsalon) Beach in County Donegal during Covid. They both probably had Covid at the time, so celebrations were outdoors.



“We didn’t know it until the run up really but our theme was a little country/vintage/quirky/sustainable. Colour wise they ended up being tweeds, navy, rusts, browns – we wanted old school yet warm and general autumnal colours. The venue and surroundings tied so well into this theme.”

They DIY’d the place names on tables by writing their guests names or nicknames on dried leaves from local parks, and then put dried leaves on the tables.

Instead of fresh flowers, they really leaned into the dried leaf aesthetic and the look of the venue. Claire bought a selection of different dried flower bouquets online from Twig and Stem, picked out what she wanted and rearranged them into hers and the bridesmaids’ bouquets.



“We wanted to invite more people rather than spend extortionate amounts of money on things that are irrelevant to us. We preferred our money to go on the food and booze! We didn’t buy flowers, we didn’t have a cake as the dessert and food and petit fours were just so good, we didn’t want a cake to take from the gorgeous menu. We just used an online platform for invites so didn’t waste paper on that. We also put the ceremonial details, poems and songs etc up online on the site to save paper and stay sustainable. We didn’t get too caught up in the small things but just loved it all.”



Claire bought her wedding dress online for 182 quid! And just got it slightly altered and added the cuffs to it – done by her lovely local seamstress in Terenure, Eileen from The Sewing Centre. She didn’t see the point in spending thousands and preferred something she could move and dance in easily! 

Her blue, velvet vintage-esque shoes were from Flordeosaka and she didn’t take them off until 6am. Very comfortable and she’ll definitely wear them again.

Hair was by Rose Boyle and make up by Aideen Murphy.



Johnny and the boys wore Magee suits and the girls wore navy dresses in different styles from Duntery – they chose their own style and Duntery had a huge variety all in the same colour. They were actually very well made with built in bras and extremely affordable and reasonable. Flower girls wore Monsoon and ushers wore H&M/Next.



“We had a Humanist ceremony and very informal. Philip Byers was our celebrant and was brilliant, nice and loud and fun for such a large crowd (who were mostly standing!). We had a guard of honour from Johnny’s classmates in the Irish Defense Forces which added some formalities to the laid back affair!”

Johnny and Claire wanted a bit of craic and they both love music, so they showed off their culture by including traditional Irish music in their ceremony. They chose an upbeat yet relaxed theme – like medieval celebration/festival, so they had Seamus Ong on pipes, Cian Murray on whistle and Claire’s cousin Teddy on bodhrán.



Their wedding was beautifully captured by Ros of Couple Photography. She was recommended by one of Johnny’s friends in the army.



Their wedding celebration was at the beautiful Virginia Park Lodge!

“It was large enough for our huge guest list (we needed to cater for 260 on the day but had invited over 300), it was close(ish) to Dublin, Donegal and Naas (where most of our guests were from). The venue and surrounding area was beautiful, we had the grounds and the venue and all to ourselves for the “night before meal” (we had 70 guests at this) and the day of. This meant guests could check in from before the ceremony (which was at 2:30pm). We had everything take place on site. We felt like we owned the place for 3 days! Most importantly, the food was supposed to be the best in the business….and it was.”

Johnny and Claire highly recommend the venue, wedding coordinator team and the Michelin Star quality food curated by chef Richard Corrigan.



To entertain their guests, they had The Panoramics band and DJ.

“They were just EXCELLENT. We gave them lists of banned songs and definite songs. Their set list was right down our alley and Claire had seen them play before at 2 separate weddings and loved them. We had a pretty tough first song; The Woodpile from Frightened Rabbit, but the lads learned it off for us so they could play it live. Legends. The DJ after was the lead singer from the band and he absolutely went for it! The dancefloor was never empty and really played to the crowd. Even Claire’s 68 year old dad was raving!”



When asked about their favourite part of the day:

“All of it. From the very beginning to the bitter 5:30am end. I just adored the party atmosphere and really felt that people had a good time too… I hope!”



This is Claire and Johnny’s brilliant wedding day advice for other couples:

“Enjoy every second of the run up and the day itself, just let loose!”



Recommended suppliers

Photographer: Couple Photography

Wedding venue: Virginia Park Lodge

Planner/coordinator: Deirdre Corrigan and Ciaran Whelan Siqueira from Virginia Park Lodge

Band and DJ: The Panoramics


Other suppliers

Videographer: Martin Healy | Ceremony Music: Seamus Ong, Cian Murray, Claire’s cousin Teddy | Hair: Rose Boyle | Dried flowers: Twig and Stem | Makeup: Aideen Kate Murphy | Dress: Online – ASOS | Suits: Magee | Bridesmaids dresses: Duntery | Engagement ring: Courtville Antiques | Wedding Rings: John Michael Jewellers Dublin 2 | Celebrant: Philip Byers from HSE