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A Magical Gougane Barra & Muckross Park Hotel Wedding by Golden Moments Wedding Photography

“We were so lucky to secure this little church as normally it needs to be booked out two years in advance.”

The couple: Maura Desmond & Douglas Read
Length of engagement: 6 months | Wedding date: 28th December 2017
Wedding Ceremony: Gougane Barra, Cork | Wedding venue: Muckross Park Hotel & Spa, Kerry
Photographer: Golden Moments Wedding Photography & Film

We met… 5 years ago at a house party in Sydney through a mutual friend. Most of the people at the party were French speaking and it was not long before Doug and I started talking to one another. By the end of the night Doug took my number and a few days later he invited me to go sailing with him. I said no the first time as I was nervous about sailing in a race. Fortunately, he asked me again and I went. I soon realised he was pretty special, especially seeing him at the helm of the boat, he was so easy going, fun and was such a gentleman in every way to everyone around him. The relationship blossomed from there and six weeks later we went to Brazil together for Carnival on a ‘boys’ trip with his friends. I knew he was serious about me during that trip when he asked me which country we would get married in! From there on in our relationship has been fun and adventure filled ever since.

Our proposal… A long story as there was a few failed proposals along the way along with a continuous debate on where we should get married. The first time Doug wanted to propose was during a ski trip in Japan over the Easter long weekend in 2016. I refused to go as I did not want to fly all the way to Japan for a four-day trip with less than two weeks’ notice!! Three months later Doug had planned a surprise holiday to Bali and half way through the trip he had organised a 3 day hike up a volcano where he was going to propose. Unfortunately, I got sick on the morning of the hike, so we couldn’t go! I was feeling better by the last day of the holiday and at this stage I pretty much knew Doug was going to propose as friends had been texting us asking if we were engaged yet! By the time he did propose I regrettably said ‘no’ as it felt too orchestrated and I told him to do it another time when I least expected it. Finally, we officially got engaged when he got down on one knee on the top of beautiful Sigiriya Rock in Sri Lanka and we finally decided on an Irish wedding!!

His suit… was from Tom Murphy Formal Wear in Cork City, experts in what they do with a great selection of high quality suits. Doug decided to hire all of the suits as all of his groomsmen were travelling from Australia. Tom Murphy did an excellent job and was really helpful, Doug literally emailed through all of the measurements a week before the wedding and he collected them the day before with no problems.

We chose our photographer Golden Moments Wedding Photography & Film because… where to begin, we had seen some of Alan and Brid’s work online and thought their portfolio looked pretty amazing. Once we spoke to Alan we knew we had literally found the ‘best’ photographers in the country. They were brilliant in every way and such perfectionists. Alan went over and beyond the call of duty by visiting Gougane Barra a couple of weeks before our wedding to scope out the best angles for pictures and drone footage for that time of year. On the wedding day they were so professional, relaxed, good fun and took control of everything, so we didn’t have to, they honestly acted like our very own personal wedding planners. We literally had so many people who attended our wedding commenting on how brilliant ‘Golden Moments’ were on the day, they literally did not stop and were not intrusive in the slightest. Our 3-hour wedding film is amazing as are all of our pictures and the five-minute highlight film. Excuse the pun but we truly struck ‘gold’ finding them and feel blessed that they were actually available on our date as they are normally booked out.

My hair and make-up… I found my wedding dress six weeks before the wedding at a bridal store in Sydney. I chose my dress as it was well fitted and timeless, I matched my dress with a stunning off-white fur shawl that kept me warm throughout the day. I kept my hair and make-up very natural as I wanted to look like me on the day. Pat O’Neill, a bridal hairdresser in The Brehon in Killarney did a fantastic job, he was brilliant in every way and he was such good ‘craic’ whilst we were getting ready in the morning!

What our bridal party wore… My sister and one of my other bridesmaids found beautiful sequined floor length fitted navy dresses from Monsoon and matched them with fur capes from Coast. The gents wore navy suits from Tom Murphy Formal Wear.

Our ceremony… was in beautiful Gougane Barra, which is located near to the Cork and Kerry mountains. We were so lucky to secure this little church as normally it needs to be booked out two years in advance.

Our honeymoon… it turned into a ‘family-moon’ with Doug’s family joining us for a week skiing in St. Anton, Austria. Unfortunately, I got the ‘Aussie’ flu in Ireland two days after the wedding so I was literally bed bound for the week!! We love travel and feel that ‘every holiday is a honeymoon’, we are off to the USA to catch up with friends in July. Our official honeymoon will be to Trinidad and Tobago to see Doug’s family followed by a relaxing week on our own sailing in St. Lucia or Barbados in early 2019.

Our wedding theme/colours… we wanted to keep it simple and elegant. We initially decided that our colour theme would be a royal blue colour to tie in with some jewellery I received from Doug! In the end it was easier to go with a navy colour scheme as there were more options for both the bridal and grooms party.

We chose our venue because… of its location and reputation. It is located in Killarney National Park which is not far from Killarney town. Muckross Park Hotel has an excellent reputation as a luxury hotel, spa and wedding venue which was important as we had so many guests attending from overseas. Also, as we were organising everything from Australia we did not want to have any additional stress and we knew everything would be well organised by our wedding coordinator.

My favorite part of the wedding day… do I have to pick just one??

The ceremony was so special, especially saying ‘I do’ in front of all of our friends and families who travelled from literally every corner of the world to help us celebrate.

The drive up to ‘Coom’ pub which is highest pub in Ireland (novelty for our overseas guests) and is located between the Cork and Kerry mountains. We stopped there for a quick drink and had traditional Irish musicians playing beside a huge open fire before we continued on to Killarney for the reception. Coom was covered in snow and we really felt like we had our very own white wedding.

The opera singing waiters were AMAZING and inadvertently we ended up having our ‘first’ dance to Nessun Dorma which was perfect as it was not rehearsed and felt so natural and right.

Seeing the Irish dancers doing a special ‘hurley’ dance!

Our menu… we wanted to showcase the best of fresh Irish cuisine and knew that Muckross Park would not disappoint. The menu included five courses and guests had the option of four mains (fish, chicken, beef and vegetarian). All of our guests commented on how amazing the food was, including our French friends who stated how ‘surprised’ they were that Irish food could be so good!!!

My piece of advice for other couples…

  • GET A VIDEOGRAPHER, we very nearly didn’t and we are so pleased we did. Also try to choose a photographer that is prepared to go the extra mile on everything. For us Golden Moments were absolutely faultless and went over and beyond the call of duty to ensure we had the most relaxed day possible and the results from the film footage and pictures speak for themselves.
  • Be prepared to be overwhelmed with emotion, I was not prepared and found it difficult to not be able to talk to every one of our guests properly on the day.
  • Relax and do not stress about the little things. We organised the wedding in honestly less than 3 months from Australia. I was finishing my masters and Doug was really busy with work, so we really did not get a chance until mid-October to get everything organised. Everything comes together once you put your mind to it and really the little things do not matter in the grand scheme of things. We wanted everyone to have a great time and to have fun, the easiest way to do that was to put on a full ‘open bar’ all night long…


Photographer/Videographer: Golden Moments Wedding Photography & Film | Wedding Venue: Muckross Park Hotel & Spa, Killarney, Kerry | Wedding Ceremony: Gougane Barra | Harpist for Ceremony: Mairead Kelly | Flowers: Carty’s Florist, Killarney | Hair: Pat O Neil, The Brehon Hotel, Killarney | Suits: Tom Murphy Formal Wear, Cork City | Opera Singers: Opera Singing Waiters | Irish Dancers: Crux Entertainment Cork | DJ: Crux Entertainment Cork

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Pamela enjoys writing about all things decor (she loves buying it too) and has a not so secret addiction to stationery.

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