Emma & Conor - Holy Cross Church, Charleville & Ballyseede Castle, Tralee
The location of Emma's family home, where she got ready for her marriage to Conor, gave a little bit away about what the day held in store for us. From the dining room window you can see, on a clear day, land in four counties: Cork (where the house just about sits), Limerick, Tipperary and Kerry.
Of those, all bar Tipperary would feature in Emma and Conor's wedding day as they would have their ceremony in Cork (in Emma's hometown of Charleville), would celebrate with guests in Kerry (in beautiful Ballyseede Castle just outside Tralee) and would stop for the quickest of sips of Guinness en route from one to the other in Conor's family pub in Limerick's Newcastle West.
By the time I reached Emma's house that morning it was clear the sun was there to stay, the wind was virtually non existant, and there would be no need for umbrellas. Sun cream, perhaps. All in all, it was set to be a great day. And it delivered in spades.
The morning started, as they so often do, very calm. Ably assisted by bridesmaids Sarah, Jennifer and Elaine, Emma looked more bridal by the minute with little stress and lots of laughter.
In reality things never got hectic or stressed or rushed. All seemed to go to plan, at least from where I was photographing, and it was lovely to spend a couple of hours at the house as the time neared for the bride to get dressed and head for the church. An innocent "I do", in response to an equally innocent query from the hairdresser - something along the lines of "do you have lipgloss in your bag?" - did prompt a few tears from the bride as the emotion of the day caught up with her for the briefest moment, but they were happy tears, and only served to illustrate how important this day was to be to Emma and all those around her.
A couple of tissues and a quick touch up of the eye make up, and before we knew it a bride appeared at the door of the living room looking beautiful in her stunning dress.
A quick photo or two in the fabulous front garden of the house, and I was off to the church in preparation for the bride's arrival. Getting out of the car, Emma flashed a quick thumbs up to her gorgeous flowergirls Áine and Emily, who were excited about their role in the big day.
They led the bridesmaid and bride up the aisle as well as any flowergirls ever have and Canon Cotter took charge of a ceremony peppered with plenty of laughter, smiles and perhaps another couple of happy tears.
With vows exchanged and rings firmly placed onto fingers, the formalities of the day were done and dusted and the celebrations could begin. A lovely reflection after communion closed out what really was a nice ceremony and as Conor and Emma greeted guests outside the church I delighted in seeing a disposable camera make a retro appearance in the hands of a guest - a pleasant change from iPhones and digital SLRs that most people use these days to document the day, me included!
Leaving the church in their beautiful vintage wedding car, but not before a sprinkling of confetti to make if all official, we headed for Tralee going slightly the long way round to take in Newcastle West.
Our stop off there was very brief. We literally ran in to the family pub, Conor pulled a couple of pints, they sipped them by the window - incidentally giving me my favourite photograph of the day and one of my favourite ever to be honest - and before you could say Newcastle West we were back on the road headed for the outskirts of Tralee.
Discovering, like many before us, that Abbeyfeale could do with a bypass, we still made good time to beautiful Ballyseede Castle and the sun was shining in all its glory when we arrived.
If you know anything about my photography you'll know that my favourite photos to capture are the more informal candid photos but obviously there is almost always a need to get a few more posed photos. A favourite of mine is the "walk and talk" photo of the bridal party. It's not unique to me by any means - I'm sure almost every wedding photographer does it, mainly because it makes for a great photo, especially when the bridal party nail it like Emma and Conor's crew did. It only works well if everyone stays in line, but with more than a few rugby players amongst Conor's gaggle of groomsmen, there was no difficulty there!
We wrapped up the formal bridal party photos in a beautiful gazebo in the grounds of the castle, and as the bridal party joined the drinks reception I mingled amongst the guests for the usual selection of candid images.
There was just time, before the call for dinner, to gather everyone together quickly for a group photo and as guests gathered in the function room Emma and Conor had a well deserved break I took up position not too far from the door to the room where they sat in the hope of capturing them unawares as they were brought to dinner. I almost got away with it, but Conor spotted me as I clicked the shutter. Think I need better camouflage next time!
Emma was amused by the collection of Taytos left for her - she being a massive Tayto fan - at the top table by a thoughtful guest, and the guests enjoyed what was widely declared a fantastic meal.
The speeches were the perfect balance of funny and serious, and as I left Ballyseede Castle later that evening I had a feeling the "happily ever after" sign on the window sill was spot on.