Posted by Karie on Jun 14th 2008 03:22 pm
My friend Melody studied abroad in Ireland when we were in college. There she met Allan, who introduced her to Niall, who introduced her to Neil. Niall & Neil spent the summer after college in the U.S., so we were part of the crew responsible for showing the Irish boys a good time in California. That was a great summer.
Over the last several years, we’ve all done some back-and-forth and met more of each other’s friends. In 2003, Niall, Jay & Dave made the trip from Ireland for our wedding, and now, it was our turn to go celebrate the marriage of Niall and his beautiful bride, Karen. Of course, Melody (along with her mother) also made the trip from California for the big day. Even though I only lived a few hours from Melody in California, I hadn’t seen her in years, so this was going to be a great reunion all around.
Unfortunately, the Spanish postal service is not known for its efficiency, so our invitation never arrived. I finally got the “are you coming?” email from Niall a couple weeks before the wedding. “Of course we are! I already have a flight & hotel booked! So where exactly is the wedding?” The directions I got in response were something like “leave Dublin, turn left at the split, and go around the pub.”
It wasn’t until the day before the wedding that I realized the church was an hour outside of Dublin, and there is no public transportation to that area. Within minutes I get a text from Niall that “a guy called Damien will pick you up tomorrow at 1:00.” I have never met Damien, and I wasn’t sure how much information he had about where we were staying, what we looked like, etc., but sure enough, Damien was outside waiting for us at 12:55.
Come to find out, Damien is a cousin of the bride, Karen. He barely knows Niall, and we barely know Karen, yet he came out of his way to pick up two strangers and drive us all the way to their wedding. That’s just the way these people are. Sure, I’m blessed to know really great Irish people (both in Ireland and some living in the U.S.), but I get the impression that such friendliness and generosity is just part of their culture… or maybe a result of the Guinness, I’m not sure. Either way, you can basically make a new best friend there every day. Including the Groom’s brother, who after 5 minutes of conversation invited us to visit his home in Bermuda. I’m sure he extended the same invitation to everyone at the wedding, but Scott warned him that the scary thing about us is that that we will actually show up!
So the wedding was in a quaint little chapel in the countryside of Kilbride. It was simply perfect. Niall never stopped smiling (then again, that’s just how he is), and Karen looked absolutely stunning. After the wedding we headed to the Dunboyne Castle Hotel for the reception. All in all, the entire event lasted 13 hours for us, and another hour or two for some of the diehards.
I was curious to see what (if any) customs would be different from a “typical” American wedding, but we are all really pretty much the same. Here are the few differences that I noticed:
- It seems the wedding is a bigger deal for everyone. For example, being on a Thursday afternoon, most of the 150-ish guests had to take off work. Yet no one handled work calls on their cell phones in the hallways, and very few left early because they had to work the next day. In fact, many people stayed the night at the hotel where the reception was and made a long weekend out of it.
- There was no easy-listening background music during the five-course dinner, just the sound of our own voices… and I assure you there was never a lull. We made friends with everyone at our table and half the table behind us in no time.
- Clinging your utensils against a glass does not mean the bride & groom are supposed to kiss.
- The bride & groom cut the cake, but do not feed it to each other.
- The groom does the Moon Walk. (Or was that just this groom?)
- There was no last dance, but about 2/3 of the way through the dancing, everyone gathered in a circle around them on the dance floor while they danced to a song that I’m guessing is called “Congratulations”, which kinda reminded me of Happy Birthday.
I had originally planned to rent a car and drive up to Belfast for a day or two after the wedding, but I don’t know what I was thinking. When we got back to our hotel at 3:30am, Scott decided there was NO WAY he was going to get up early and drive a car on the “wrong” side of the road to a city where we knew no one and had no place to stay. Besides, this wedding was the main reason we came to Ireland, so we nixed Belfast for now, but will definitely be venturing to Northern Ireland next time we’re in the area.
Instead, while most of the other wedding guests were still recovering, we took a train to Howth, a little fishing village just outside of Dublin. Apparently there are some really nice hikes with beautiful views on a clear day, but it wasn’t really a clear day, so we just wandered around the town and hung out in a café, where we discovered the wonder that is Eaton Mess.
We headed back to town and met up with a large group for dinner. I don’t know why I thought we could go to dinner with a group of people (most of whom we didn’t know), and make it back to the hotel at a reasonable hour. Of course we didn’t. But, we didn’t come here to sleep anyway. We came to celebrate Niall & Karen’s big day, see some old friends, and make some new ones, and that’s exactly what we did. Maybe next time we’ll go kiss the blarney stone, and all those other things that good tourists are supposed to do, but this time around, we didn’t much care about any of that. Seeing some familiar faces and having lots of laughs was better than anything else we could’ve asked for. Oh yeah, and catching a few rounds of the Street Performers World Championship competition was pretty cool too.
To Niall & Karen: We are truly honored that you would invite us to share in this special occasion. Thanks for going to such great lengths to make us feel comfortable and keep us laughing for days. You are such a wonderful couple, and we are so happy for you!!! See you soon in either Barcelona, Dublin, San Diego or Bermuda!