Offbeat partner: Erica-Anne
Offbeat partner: Steven
Date and location of wedding: Hilton Park, Scotshouse, Clones, Co. Monaghan, Ireland — October 20, 2018
Our offbeat wedding at a glance: My husband and I are great lovers of history, literature, and the arts. I grew up as the child of an actor and an opera singer and Steven's father is also a musician, so we were both immersed in the world of the performing arts from birth. Through my involvement, I began making and putting together my own costumes for some of the shows in which I was involved and for my family for our local Renaissance Faire. I am also an avid reader and love historical fiction, especially. Those interests have since bloomed into a love of historical costuming, especially the opulent gowns of the upper classes in the Victorian Era.
While planning our wedding in our native Bucks County, PA, we had a very specific vision and no where quite ticked all our boxes. We talked about what a dream it would be to run away and have our wedding in Ireland. We brought the idea up to our families, thinking it would be a long-shot, but everyone was quick to voice their agreement.
For our wedding, we wanted to recreate what it felt like to be at a country house party in the Victorian Era. We found the incredible Hilton Park in Co. Monaghan, Ireland and knew immediately that it was perfect. The sprawling Georgian estate is packed to the rafters with antiques and paintings original to the family that still lives in the house today (the 10th generation of the Madden family is currently running the estate!). The Maddens really made us feel at home and completely supported for our whole four-day stay.
Tell us about the ceremony:
I come from and Irish-Catholic family and Steven comes from an Italian-Irish Catholic family so it was important for us to honor our families' traditions and be married in a full Catholic mass. The Catholic mass and wedding ceremony have a bad rep as being long, boring, and archaic so we wanted to make sure we chose readings and music that were meaningful to us, in line our beliefs, and beautiful to listen to.
Some of the musical selections for our Wedding mass included: "Rigaudon-Compra" by Andre Campra, Processional-"Arioso" by Bach, Bride's Processional- "Clair De Lune" by Debussy, Offertory hymn- “Ag Críost An Síol” by Seán Ó'Riada, "The Lord Bless You And Keep You" by John Rutter and "Sé an Tiarna M’Aoire" by Fintan O'Carroll, “Ave Maria" by Bach/Gounod (sung by my father, Rick), "Mo Ghrá Thú, A Thiarna" by Aoife Ní Fhearraigh, "Mendelssohn’s Wedding March."
Having my father sing Ave Maria was a beautiful moment that moved everyone in the church to tears. It was also very special and important to me to have both my mother and father walk me down the aisle. Some wedding traditions we included were: “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue” and a silver sixpence in her shoe (we used an 1860s sixpence). I also had pictures of my grandparents on the heels of my shoes so they were able to be there to walk me down the aisle in spirit. During the ceremony, Steven and I followed the Irish tradition of exchanging gold and silver as part of our vows.
Tell us about the reception:
The whole day was surreal and felt like we had all stepped back in time. The same mixed string trio that played for our Wedding mass also played for our cocktail hour. Steven and his mother danced to “Lullaby” by Billy Joel, my father and I waltzed to “Edelweiss” from the Sound of Music, and Steven and I shared our first dance to “La Vie en Rose” by Edith Piaf. There was a surprise musical performance planned by my mother to have my godfather play and sing my parents' wedding song, “When I Fall in Love” by Nat King Cole.
The food was INCREDIBLE! Fred Madden, the chef and owner, his wife and coordinator Joanna, and their team pulled off an exquisite service. Not only is everything incredibly fresh and local, a lot of it comes from Hilton Park's walled garden! Our menu included: Irish oysters (my favorite food!) with shots of Guinness, an array of canapés, rump of mature Fermanagh lamb, braised leeks and elderberry jus or roast sirloin of Hereford beef, béarnaise sauce and red wine jus, and for dessert, a translucent apple tart with rosemary ice cream. Instead of a traditional wedding cake, ours was made of wheels of Irish cheeses. I also mustn't forget lots of good wine, Guinness, and Irish whiskey.
Following dinner, we had a local traditional Irish band come for dancing, singing, and one hell of a party. Some wonderful moments included the touching speeches from our families and friends, lots of hugs and kisses, and dancing our bustles off.
What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding?
One thing I definitely learned was to pick my battles. We had a very strong vision for our wedding and were determined to have exactly the wedding we wanted, consequences be damned, but really, there should be room for compromise within that vision. I said no to things that, in hindsight, I definitely wouldn't have noticed on the day-of. I was too focused on enjoying myself, really looking around at everything and everyone and capturing each moment in my mind, and, of course, celebrating our love that it didn't really matter if so-and-so wasn't wearing a period appropriate ensemble or what's-his-name didn't wear a hat to the church.
In the end, whether you have people that support your crazy vision or not, what matters is you and your partner's happiness and that the two of you are there to support each other. Work for what you want but don't be so unyielding that any bend will make you break. It's your wedding so ENJOY yourself!
Historical Seamstress for the wedding trousseau: Kelly Cochran Davis • Historical Tailor for the groom's ensembles: Jamie Grace-Duff • Bride's Shoes: American Duchess • Bride's Jewelry: Dames a la Mode • Antique Bridal Tiara: Le Petit Pierrot • Antique Limerick Lace Veil: Cheryl Taylor of Taylor Clarke Bridals • Venue: Hilton Park Country Estate • Flowers: Amelia Madden Raben of Amelia's Garden Flowers • Ceremony: The Church of the Immaculate Conception, R.C.C. — Fr. John McKenna • Photographer: Pawel Bebenca Photography • Videographer: Daniel Corcoran of We As One Wedding Cinematography (formerly Bainis Wedding Cinematography) Mixed String Trio: Sacred Sounds • Traditional Irish band: Oriel Traditional Irish Music