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A Small, Festive Wedding at Christmas Time

Since their wedding was at Christmas time, they kept the theme and colours quite rich and festive. They stuck to the deeper reds, greens and golds but kept things quite simple as the venue speaks for itself and is very beautifully decorated at Christmas time.

Names: Shóna (Murphy) & Daniel Bloom
Engagement length: 2 years
Wedding date: 2020-12-28
Wedding location: Ballyseede Castle, Tralee, Co. Kerry
Photographer: Ciara O’Donnell
Videographer: Maurice O’ Carroll

Shóna and Daniel met in summer 2014. They both moved to Dublin and met through Shóna’s new housemate in the first couple of weeks of living there. They met in a terrible dingy pub in the city center but the second they saw each other they just knew that was it! When you know, you know!

“I had always told Dan I never wanted to get engaged during Christmas and of course, he listened! December 22nd came around and Dan surprised me with a night away in Killarney. We left our little girl with my parents who knew what was happening because Dan had asked my father’s permission the week before! Surprisingly my mother kept quiet and off we went! I was so excited I forgot to bring my coat so when we got to a viewpoint of the lakes of Killarney, across from the Aghadoe heights hotel, I was so cross that he wouldn’t give me his nicer coat seeing as I was a few months pregnant and it was December! Off we trotted to the viewpoint and suddenly the clouds opened up and the sun shone through, just as other visitors left so we had the place to ourselves. Next thing Dan gets down on one knee, takes out his phone and reads a poem which I didn’t hear a word of because I was so stunned and he asks me to marry him! I said Yes (obviously!!) it was perfect! We then had afternoon tea in the Aghadoe heights looking out at our proposal spot and he then whisked me away to Ballyseede Castle where we spent the night. I had shown Dan a picture of Ballyseede on Instagram years before and always told him, even though I had never been there I was getting married there! We instantly fell in love with the venue and booked it for our wedding the following morning – when you know, you know!!”

Since their wedding was at Christmas time, they kept the theme and colours quite rich and festive. They stuck to the deeper reds, greens and golds but kept things quite simple as the venue speaks for itself and is very beautifully decorated at Christmas time.

Shóna wore an Anna Campbell dress which was one-shouldered with a sweetheart neckline. She wanted to stay true to her style which is sort of reserved and floral! Dan wanted to feel like James Bond for the day and he loves his suits so he wore a black tuxedo from Louis Copeland.

Shóna’s sister was her only bridesmaid and she was keen to also stick to her style which is quite glam. She wore a forest green long skirt and a gold sequined top from Folkster in Kilkenny. Daniel’s best man couldn’t travel for the wedding, unfortunately, so his father stepped in on the day. Both fathers wore Tuxedos from Louis Copeland. Shóna’s mother wore a beautiful red dress from Phoenix in Cork and a stunning custom made headpiece from milliner Carol Kennelly. All of the flower girls wore dresses from Debenhams and the pageboys wore tuxedos from H&M.

“Our ceremony was absolutely beautiful. I was raised Catholic and Daniel is Jewish so wanted to make sure our ceremony reflected our combined beliefs and morals while being respectful of one another. We chose Spiritual Ceremonies because we were allowed to personalize our ceremony and have certain elements of both sides. Our celebrant was Helen O’Sullivan and she was beyond amazing! We clicked with Helen right from the start and she was always on hand to give us help and support during our wedding planning. We included elements such as the unity candle, a hand fastening ritual and two beautiful readings which were such an accurate representation of us that our guests thought we had written them ourselves! Dan even got to smash a glass for good luck and we shouted “Mozel Tov!” which was the perfect ending! Our ceremony felt completely intimate and personal, we wrote our own vows and we were also able to have our ceremony on zoom which was of course, very important!”

“Ballyseede Castle is the most magical place! Not only is the venue beautiful but every single member of staff is amazing! The castle is full of character and beautiful homely touches like pictures of the owners’ families that when you are there you just feel so comfortable and relaxed. The grounds are spectacular, even on a cold and wet winter’s day and the rooms are absolutely stunning! Every single one of our guests was blown away by the rooms and some already can’t wait to visit again. The food is unbelievable, there were so many choices of dishes for our wedding we found it so hard to choose! Everyone’s plate was empty and the service was outstanding. Of course, this year has been difficult for the hospitality sector all over but Ballyseede did everything in their power to accommodate us and our requests. From arrival to check out we were treated like royalty and nothing was too much bother! The hotelier Marnie paid a visit to the bridal suite the morning of our wedding to check in and have a chat, she then gave me some really helpful tips and walked with us down to the ceremony which was just a lovely touch. Daniel and I did a first look in the orangery too and it felt like we were the only two people in the castle – it was all just spectacular.”

Shóna and Daniel found it hard to choose just one highlight from their day. The first look was definitely one of the favorites as they were both so emotional and excited and also relieved that they had finally made it.

“Like every other couple over the past year, we were on this rollercoaster of “Will it happen? Won’t it happen? How many can go? What restrictions will be in place?” But we also had to consider the UK as Daniel’s family and friends live there so we really did go through all options and emotions! Although it was bittersweet, we were able to have his parents and sister there and of course our family and some friends from Ireland who were all so happy and glad to be there that the atmosphere was amazing, you could just feel the love that day. Our ceremony was so beautiful and intimate too so I think that was also a favorite part as we knew we were finally going to be husband and wife!”

“I think if this year has taught us anything, it is to focus on what’s most important in life and that is your loved ones. Of course, we wanted a wedding day with all of our family and friends from here and abroad but ultimately, we just wanted to get married and be husband and wife. If your day is affected by restrictions, it will still be the perfect day because you are marrying your partner. There will be more perfect and important days to come in your life and you will have each other. Even though there were only 25 of us, we felt like the rooms were full of smiles and cheer and utter love all around. There are also some perks to smaller weddings that I think we didn’t realize. We had so much time together and also time with each guest that we never felt flustered – we always say we felt so present on the day and we have no regrets. Just go for it!”


Ceremony and reception venue: Ballyseede Castle | Photographer: Ciara O’Donnell | Videographer: Maurice O’ Carroll | Planner/Coordinator: Mary Lyons | Hair: Laura Lou Boyle | Makeup: Áine McMahon | Couple’s outfits: Anna Campbell & Louis Copeland | Wedding party outfits: Folkster, Louis Copeland & Phoenix | Cake: Theresa Foley – Heavenly Baked Tralee | Celebrant/solemniser: Helen O’Sullivan – Spiritual Ceremonies Ireland | Jewellery: Keanes Cork | Flowers: Maura Sheehy – Maura’s Cottage Flowers

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Kelly Jane Hartmann

Kelly is a former wedding planner and a lover of anything pink. She believes that any bride can plan her own wedding, with a few tips and helpful tools.

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