Twenty Eighteen. Goodbye to what has been a fulfilling wedding season. Thinking back over the year to the places I travelled for weddings, the people I met and the photographs I captured, I can see that twenty eighteen has been a year for me where some of the ideas and desires that I have had for my work have become a reality, and it’s a great feeling.

Being able to travel with wedding photography was something I had been thinking about for a while. The chance to have a working adventure was an experience I thought I would like and this year I was over the moon to get the opportunity. This summer, there I was, sun burnt and perspiring at an embarrassing rate, in Mallorca, at Finca Fangar for Justin and Sue’s wedding.

Justin and Sue travelled from Hong Kong to get married in, undoubtedly, one of the most beautiful places I have had the pleasure of visiting. I was speechless when I arrived at the finca, not only because I had forgotten my emergency deodorant and dry shampoo, but because I felt so grateful for the opportunity I had been given. Justin and Sue, after their Chinese tea ceremony, exchanged the beautiful vows which they had written for each other, enveloped by the mountainous Mallorcan countryside and serenaded by the distant sound of bells ringing on the necks of goats roaming the surrounding, wild olive tree covered, fields. It was serenely surreal.

As if my gratitude tank wasn’t already filled to overflowing at doing wedding photography in Mallorca, a few weeks later I headed off to the beautiful city of Valletta to photograph the Maltese wedding of Gianluca and Kimberly. This time accompanied by my good (and super talented) photographer friend, Kelly McAllister. If you managed to score an invite to Gianluca and Kimberly’s outdoor, sunset wedding at The Phoenicia Malta, you are probably still high-fiving yourself. There you were, by the infinity pool, sipping away on an infamous Molecular Fusion cocktail, overlooking the historic Grand Harbour and the bastion walls of Valletta. Talk about experiencing the finer things in life. I mean, I even got to meet the president of Malta.

Twenty eighteen was also a year in which I shot quite a few smaller, more intimate weddings. The smallest being fifteen people. Again, this was something I had been wanting to build into my wedding seasons for a while. My reason for wanting to shoot some smaller sized weddings was because of the added flexibility and creative freedom I feel it gives people and therefore gives me. If you want to exchange vows on a cliff edge in Ireland, get married at the top of a mountain in Switzerland or at the waters edge on the Amalfi Coast for example, with a smaller wedding, these things become more feasible.

I am drawn to and inspired by people who aren’t afraid to do things differently. Like Johnny and Kate, who as part of their Dublin wedding took a barge ride on the Grand Canal with their guests before sitting down for a cosy meal together in the stunning boutique hotel, Dylan. And like Aaron and Donna, who, with their adorable daughter Ava, took having a backyard wedding to another level. They converted a tin shed, on their family property, into a rustic retreat for their ceremony before heading to The Pantry for their evening reception. The Pantry is conveniently located across the road from The Dark Hedges - a road of trees which you’ve probably never heard of…

In twenty eighteen, I not only returned to many wedding venues that I adore (Tullyveery House, Rathmullan House, Orange Tree House, Larchfield Estate, Ballymagarvey Village) but I also got to shoot in a lot of venues for the first time, something which really added to the enjoyment of this year. For me that’s part of the beauty of being a wedding photographer in Ireland; experiencing lots of unique and beautiful places.

For Scott and Keira’s Dublin wedding, after a stroll around St. Stephen’s Green for some photographs, we headed to the south side of the city to the Donnybrook district (which I could happily wonder the streets of all day) where I was introduced to the absolutely mind blowing Marco Pierre White, Courtyard Bar & Grill.

If you are getting married in Dublin, and are looking for a unique, chic and intimate venue, do not overlook this place. In fact, if you are going to be in the city, make it your mission to get there for a meal. Treat yourself to the experience. Through the entrance archway you go and just like that, you’re in another world, a captivating fairy-lit, tropical ravine. Whilst I won’t claim to be a culinary or wine connoisseur, I was treated, that evening, to some of the best food and vin rouge I’ve tasted. The things I am subjected to at weddings...

This year I also found myself in some Irish castle wedding venues that I hadn’t visited before. As usual they didn’t disappoint. In the summer I spent the day with Declan & Jenny (and the talented Ricky from Rabbit and the Fox Films) at the stunning Castle Leslie. Declan & Jenny managed an outdoor ceremony overlooking the lough. It was touch and go weather-wise, but the rain stopped, the umbrellas went down and the sun put its hat on, literally, as Jenny made her way up the aisle.

A few months later, in the Autumn, I travelled the Wild Atlantic Way to Sligo to photograph Stan & Lauren’s Irish destination wedding, who had travelled from Chicago with their family and friends to get married in the recently renovated Markree Castle.

On arrival, I veered off the main driveway (a few times) looking around myself at the stunning Irish landscape that surrounds the castle. It’s a sight to behold. Whenever I go to a castle wedding, I know that I am going to be impressed, I mean, it’s a castle. But the interiors of Markree Castle are just something else. It has all the elegance, history, charm (and antiques!) that you would expect in a castle, and then some. The bridal suite / majestic cavern which is tucked away at the end of a flag stoned corridor, in the oldest part of the castle, is one of the greatest feats of interior design my eyes have seen, evidenced by the amount of pictures I unashamedly took of it on my phone.

Keeping with the castle theme, Jonathan & Katherine invited myself (and the wonder that is, Clive from Pigmint Film) along to The Ivory Pavilion at Galgorm Castle, Ballymena, to photograph their Spring wedding. This is a fairly new wedding venue in Northern Ireland and one that I expect to become very popular. A nice alternative to a marquee wedding, the modern glass pavilion, sits inside a walled garden adjacent to the castle. It’s really lovely.

Just a stones-throw away, in the metropolis of Broughshane, I was treated to another unique wedding venue. If you have always wanted to get married in a 200 year old woollen mill then look no further. Timmy & Lydia had their wedding reception in The Wool Tower. Steeped in the natural character of the mill’s old stone and rafters, it’s a rustic wedding venue I am happy to be returning to in twenty nineteen.

Another delight I hope to return to in the not too distant future is The Millhouse in Slane. I was here in the Autumn for Kevin & Cosima’s wedding. Set on the banks of the River Boyne, this County Meath wedding venue offers, both, elegance in its Georgian manor house and ruggedness in its old corn mill, where Kevin & Cosima had their ceremony. It’s one of those unique venues that has a little bit of everything, including the loveliest of staff.

To echo what I started with, this wedding season really has been so fulfilling. Looking back over the years images has given me a renewed sense of gratitude for the opportunities I have and continue to get. Thank you to every single couple who makes it possible.

Goodbye Twenty Eighteen!

Esther x