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A Happy Homecoming – Carlton Hotel Kinsale Real Wedding by Insight Photography

“I never imagined it could feel so perfect but it really was our favourite day ever.”

The couple: Tara Kavanagh & John Carmody
Length of engagement: 19 Months | Wedding Date: August 1st 2014
Wedding location: Carlton Hotel Kinsale

Photographer: Patricia Fitzpatrick from Insight Photography


We met… Summer 2006 in Kerry watching France vs Italy in the World Cup final. I pretended to be totally into the game so that I would have a reason to move seats to be up near the TV screen next to John. To be honest our paths had crossed a couple of years prior to this – I had my eye on him for awhile!


Our proposal… Was during our first visit home to Ireland after almost 2 years in Melbourne Australia. John wanted us to be able to celebrate with all our friends and family. It was midday Christmas Eve on a walk up Corrin Cross in Fermoy – suited us perfectly as we always go on long walks together. John proposed with my grandmother’s 1920s Art Deco engagement ring; a gift from my Dad. I didn’t cry, it all happened so quickly, he was down on his knee and pushing the ring on my finger before I knew what was what!! Haha! He was nervous. I love thinking about that day…



My dress… I bought in Melbourne. The designer is Luci Di Bella. The gown was called ‘Gemma’. It was made to measure and fitted like a glove. It was a fitted satin bodice, sheath silhouette with a French lace overlay. The neckline was sweetheart with beautifully detailed lace straps with delicate beading on the shoulders. It has detailed beading and a lace belt. It took me awhile to find the dress as generally I’m not that into wedding dresses! But I got so much enjoyment out of wearing it – I adored it!



My hair & make-up… My hair was done by Tracy in Carmel’s Hair Salon Fermoy. I wore it simple, pinned to the side with soft waves loosely over my left shoulder with some flowers. My make-up was done by Clare Lambe from Dublin, she usually works in TV and only does a handful of weddings as word of her good work gets around! I don’t wear a lot of make-up so it was very natural and looked lovely on the day.



What our bridal party wore… My three bridesmaids chose their own gowns in Ireland when I was in Australia. This worked well – they ran each decision by me anyway! They chose to wear matching dresses; one-shoulder Grecian style chiffon floor length dresses from Dessy. I chose the jade green colour. They carried peach and white flowers. They all looked beautiful.







His suit… Was a Remus Uomo three-piece tailored suit in soft grey from Sean Husseys in Tralee. He wore a white shirt and a dark blue tie. He choose his buttonhole himself and it looked great. He topped it off with some stripy socks and some lovely tan brown leather brogues.







Our ceremony… Was short, sweet and fun! Our priest asked everyone to stay seated for the whole mass to keep everyone engaged. It went so quickly I couldn’t believe it! Everyone joked that we couldn’t keep our hands off each other because we kissed before the priest announced it!! I thought he had forgotten and didn’t want to miss that part so I said to John “he forgot the kiss ,let’s kiss quick now!!” It was good, we got to do the kiss twice in the end! Many guests told me their favourite part was when I fist pumped the air in celebration after putting the ring on John’s finger! I don’t even remember doing it, I guess I was caught up in the moment. John’s Dad, Sean, called it “the move of the day”!!









We chose our photographer because… My mam had been to a wedding the year after we were engaged where Trish from Insight Photography was the photographer. Mam knew that the photography was by far the most important to me. She said Trish had done a slideshow and the photos were lots of beautifully captured moments. She also said Trish just danced about in the background snapping and they hardly noticed her – very important for the camera shy guests! We are so so happy we chose Insight Photography – Trish was like part of the gang for the day – we really enjoyed her company and the shots are amazing!







We chose our venue because… We love Kinsale. We had many dates there when we lived in Ireland – we think it’s so romantic and has true Irish charm (something we miss living overseas!). My family and friends helped me choose the Carlton Hotel Kinsale with photos of the beautiful views and great feedback on the yummy food! It was the perfect size for our 185 guests.



We chose our wedding coordinator because… Claire O’ Sullivan came with the Carlton Hotel package! She was great – supportive, friendly and approachable. Nothing was a problem and everything ran like clockwork – this woman gets results!



Our menu… Went down a treat! My godfather had 3 servings of the main course! They couldn’t get enough!! Guests enjoyed a choice of seafood vol au vent or warm Cajun chicken salad with coriander & lime vinaigrette, followed by tomato soup with pesto. Mains were roast leg of lamb or grilled fillets of Seabass stuffed with Mediterranean vegetables. Dessert was a trio including cheesecake and profiteroles or a warm berry crumble with crème Anglaise. Guests also enjoyed a toast drink of their choice as well as red or white wine.





My favourite part of the wedding day… is so difficult to choose! I never imagined it could feel so perfect but it really was our favourite day ever. For me, walking up the aisle to meet John has to be it.(John’s brother Gavin played Moon River beautifully on classical guitar). That moment really caught me by surprise – I was shaking like a leaf with anticipation, I couldn’t wait to see him! John’s speech was also amazing – he was nervous and I was really proud to see him pull it off so well. Everyone complemented him. He even reduced the men to tears – he made my friend Julia’s boyfriend cry!!






Our wedding theme/colours… Our theme kind of just came together naturally rather than being planned. The different elements we chose just blended together and we ended up with a sort of rustic, laid back theme with burlap details, fresh flowers and some home-made details – our table plan was Polaroid pics of all our fave places to go in Melbourne (our local coffee shop, our favourite bar in the city, other landmarks etc), my friend Katie made our beautiful cake with fresh buttercream icing and we imported our favourite beer and cider from Australia and New Zealand to serve to our guests. We also had ‘love’ herbal teabags for every guest as a favour. We also had a Polaroid camera station with cool props and a box for posting ‘love notes’. The main colour theme was jade green, the colour of the bridesmaid dresses. Our families would also tell you that Cork vs Kerry GAA was a theme, with the phrase “rivals for 70 minutes, married forever” being used on more than one occasion!



Our honeymoon… was in South Africa and Bali. Adventure & sunshine. We will hop our way back to Australia and avoid the dreaded jet lag. We have both always wanted to safari so that will be the highlight of our SA trip; I’m a cat lover so can’t wait to get up close and personal with a few lions and cheetahs whereas John wants to see a black rhino charge! Bali is all about rejuvenation, peace and warm long sun-filled days.




My piece of advice for other brides… Put your organisational hat on and work as a team with your future hubby! Once back from Australia I was manic running around doing last minute jobs that I could’ve organised earlier. I was exhausted! John was an amazing support and enjoyed being part of the last minute rush!! Remember that this is a big day for many people; mothers of the bride and groom want to look their best on this emotional day, dads are working hard on speeches, brothers and sisters are welcoming a new sibling, bridesmaids and groomsmen are celebrating their efforts in helping this day come about, friends are travelling far to join the celebrations.


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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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  1. Claire Sullivan says:

    It was a pleasure bringing all Tara & Johns wedding ideas to fruitition, such a lovely couple to work with!!

  2. Jean McSweeney Butler says:

    Ralph and I had a fantastic time in Ireland sharing in the joy of your fabulous day. Every detail was perfect. I wish you and John many years of love and happiness together. Thank You for including us.

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