I want to start of this post about a dream vow renewal with a reflection, a soapbox moment, and then a seriously happy ending. I may throw a few photos in for fun, too.
I cannot stress the importance of vetting any photographer you're going to work with and understand their capabilities, dedication to service, and work ethic--ESPECIALLY when it comes to your wedding photos. Actually, this goes for any and all types of professional providers. Enter the epitome of character, talent, knowledge, and service--Allie! I met Allie three years ago after we moved to England. She’s a force to be reckoned within the beauty industry, and the definition of what it takes to run a successful business that puts clients first, takes responsibility, and understands the importance of continual professional education and growth. She's one of my woman crushes for sure, and I've learned a lot about how to run a banging business from her. She has a passion for what she does and for helping others, which I appreciate more than anything. She and Joe are two of the most caring, genuine individuals that I’ve met, and they're unbelievably even better together. Plus they’re fun as hell! It's going to be nearly impossible to top this experience.... Buuut, you're welcome to try! ;-)
Allie told me the story of their wedding photography nightmare when I first met her, and I couldn’t believe it. Five years ago, they hired a photographer to capture their entire day. From how they described it, it was full of Irish influence, lots of love and fun, and a lot of personal details. Annnnd then every brides’ nightmare happened—he lost their wedding photos. Long story short, a hard drive crashed and the photographer all but ran away from the situation without offering to refund the payment he accepted for a product he wasn't able to provide, didn't offer a reshoot, and barely apologized. I can't imagine the devastation on their end, and I'd had it in my head from the beginning that I wanted to go take wedding photos for them.
At the beginning of the year, she asked me if I was interested in coming to Ireland with them. I'll never say no to a destination session, and getting to be there on the trip of a lifetime, creating stories that will never (ever, ever, ever, ever) die and memories that I'll always laugh about. The plan was to take some wedding portraits, eat some cake, and drink some Guinness, in no particular order. We walked away from that trip with so much more. I was witness once again to Ireland’s incredible hospitality, only this time I was with amazing friends that were more than deserving of the royal treatment they received on their “wedding day”.
We flew to County Kerry, Ireland. Sounds familiar, right? It's one of my favorite areas in the world. This was my third trip! The benefit of that was that I'd seen the locations on my other solo trips and WISHED I had clients to put out on a cliff, next to the lake, on the beach, and in the personable pubs. GUESSSSS WHAAAATTTTT! We did all of that and more!
Alright, alright, alright. Enough talking. Here we go! But first, do me a favor and click this link to set the mood! Our first stop was one of my favorite little spots just outside of Killarney. The spots sits on the edge of the lake, where we faced some chilly wind and warm poses.
After that we moved on to my favorite spot, Lady's View, which I could have spent the entire day admiring the golden light pouring over the mountains and the wide valley below if it wasn't for the rain that moved in shortly after we got there.
One of the things that I enjoyed about working with these two was the amount of thought they put into the details, but the complete freedom that they gave me with photos. So when I asked if we could pull over on the side of the road for some shots and some skipping through sheep poop next to an abandoned house, they were all for it. Well, so maybe it wasn't as much "skipping" as it was dodging poop, but their go-with-the-flow energy was a dream and gave us some really cool shots!
Next up, we needed to put these beauties in one of Kerry's most beautiful features: Those massive rolling hills and valleys!
We decided to stop and take a break at a pub, where we grabbed authentic Irish coffees and enjoyed the sun as it came back out. We stumbled onto Dan Murphy's Bar in Sneem, our bartender was inviting and congratulated Allie and Joe with a glass of champagne. As if that wasn't cool enough, she invited them behind the bar to pour their own pint of Guinness--Who needs Dublin! While we were hanging out, Joe gave Allie her gift. For their five-year anniversary, the traditional gift is wood. Joe is a phenomenal wood worker, so he had ordered wood from Ireland and made this AWESOME empty box. I may or may not have known a secret at this point. But wait, what's with the heart-shaped hole in it? ... Keep reading!
When we left, we headed to Derrynane Beach at the recommendation of our bartender. We all envisioned sweet, airy, beachy photos.. What we got instead was incredibly high winds, rooster hair, and almost swept out to sea. I'm not even kidding, but it was hilarious!
And then there was that one time that I mentioned where we were almost lost to the mermaids.. Make sure you scroll through these shots below! They were brave enough to climb out on this giant rock for me. I promise that when they were out there the tide wasn't even wrapping around the rock, but when it decided to come in, it jumped about twenty yards up the beach! I laughed and kept shooting as Allie and Joe got drenched, not realizing that the same wave was about to hit me while I kneeled in the water about five seconds later. Luckily, Danielle (my epic assistant, bro, and travel buddy) was behind us shooting behind-the-scenes video (Yeah. It's all on camera!) and was able to sprint and grab my phone and camera bag before they both got washed away. It was a freak wave that definitely gave us something to remember. Even though we were all soaked, we kept shooting and got the great shots above with the flowing dress, the hand-fasting knot, and those soaked and salty beach strolls.
We stopped at one of my secret spots later. If you've watched any of my live stories on my facebook page, you may recognize this location! It's across the harbor from Portmagee (home of the best crab claws that I've eaten while living overseas). Another incredibly gorgeous location with insanely powerful winds.
Finally, it was time to head to our last spot, a castle we had spotted from the road the day before. After some research to find the name and way to it, we headed to Ballycarbery Castle. For about twenty minutes we were heartbroken, because despite recent posts online about visitors having access to the castle, it was closed off with a ton of signs and an electric fence. Not wanting to trespass, we decided to follow the road and hope to find someone we could ask for permission because Joe kind of had a big surprise for Allie and THIS was the spot! We found the owner, got permission, and made our way up to the castle ruins that we had entirely to ourselves.
BACK STORY! Joe had messaged me a few months ago telling me that he had a ring and was planning on proposing to Allie again. It's another long story, but he had to saw the first ring off of her finger.. Talk about trust! Anyway, We had decided to give her the empty box earlier in the day to set her up for this huge surprise. After finishing our shots, he dropped down on one knee holding a platinum claddaugh ring in another handcrafted box--this time it was a heart-shaped box that fit perfectly in the first box he gave her. She had no idea and she cried! Bonus points to Joe for wanting to save the ring for the end of the day in case she cried her makeup off!
It was perfect!
Wipe your tears, I'll wait. Now it's party time!
After an epic dinner shout-out from the live band, an incredible dessert, and more free champagne, these two were invited up for their second first dance! I had just enough time to get my camera out and grab some of my favorite shots of sheer joy and happiness. After that, we took their wedding cake into a pub, made ourselves at home at the back of the empty bar, and grabbed some drinks. Completely unplanned, the band began playing the actual song Allie and Joe danced to at their wedding! It was dark, private, and close to pulling even more tears. It wasn't long before they were dragged to the front of the bar where the band was playing, and we had an instant wedding reception! The entire bar circled around my two favorite people and cheered them on as they danced more, shared cake with the entire bar, and got continued marriage advice and well-wishes from everyone.