ABOVE Cloughjordan House, Co Tipperary, Ireland.
Four weddings and a spit roast pig
The traditional wedding day has had its day. From the trend of marrying abroad to micro-ceremonies followed by big parties, there are nearly as many types of weddings as there are couples getting hitched.
Recent Civil Partnership legislation brought its own changes, not least of which is that the pledge of love between same-sex couples no longer bats an eye. There are more than 160 legal rights missing from Civil Partnership compared to marriage and perhaps it is this difference that has created more unique ceremonies outside the norm.
The other recent phenomenon – that of second weddings – has created a need for something different from the traditional wedding ceremony. Many of these second-time-rounders have taken inspiration from Civil Partnership celebrations.
So whether you’re doing an intimate ceremony with delectable canapés, a mini-festival with a roast hog or indulging in a Michelin-starred meal, here are my favourites for a truly 21st century celebration of love.
1. Cloughjordan House
If ever a gang of people had their green finger on the zeitgeist it is the folk at Cloughjordan House. The age of the formal wedding may be gone, but people still want something special and visually arresting. The 400-year-old house fits the bill with a house party-style offering including outdoor wood-fires to cook Tipperary butchers’ fine produce as well as organic and artisan food from the locality. Then there’s the cookery school, not just for hens you know; break the 21st century mould and have your stag there too.
2. Your back garden
Removing the venue costs from your budget can help keep the price down, but there’s also something special about a family celebration in your own home, or indeed the home of your parents or friends.
There are plenty of good caterers out there, but before you start booking, ask around. Perhaps your favourite local restaurant does catering too. Look for a stamp of approval on a caterer’s credentials. Personally I’ve used Brian Beattie at the Caterers on many occasions and have never been disappointed.
He’s also a Euro-Toque chef which might explain the excellent service and quality cooking.
3. Grow your own wedding
Yes it requires planning, but with a little bit of thought you’ll have a unique wedding that will taste way above the price tag. Inspired by the hoards of people now growing their own wedding flowers, others are growing their own food. It will mean over-planting a bit to ensure you’ve some choice and to mitigate against any disasters. It will also force your hand to decide earlier a limit on the number of guests.
Don’t have a garden? No excuse. Join Michael Kelly’s green army of urban and rural growers through the Grow It Yourself group, featured in this magazine last week. Many city dwellers have pulled together and reclaimed unused land for allotments. It’s a great way to meet people too – maybe don’t tell them you’re planting for your wedding until you’ve actually secured a husband or wife.
4. Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud
For those who want to ring in the changes, love their food and never have to check their bank balance, there’s always Ireland’s only two Michelin star eatery Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud. It may come as a surprise to many, but Ireland’s premier classic dining location happily welcomes bookings for weddings and civil partnerships outside the weekends.
What could be more beautiful than a nuptial meal in the unique setting of a world famous restaurant? The adjoining Merrion Hotel ain’t too shabby either, ideal for the earth-moving first night.
5. Wild side catering
There’s something atavistically thrilling about the sight of an entire pig being spit roasted. Which is the kind of cooking Wild Side catering does.
The catering team has perfected the ancient art of cooking over open fires, meat as well as fish.
It uses Irish beech, ash and oak which flavours the food and the trailing smoke adds to the atmosphere of conviviality. Guaranteed to defrost even the frostiest of in-laws.
If you’re ringing in the changes for your forthcoming nuptials, it’s worth looking at the overall day itself. Why have the ceremony and the celebration on the same day? A fine dining lunch for a small circle followed the next day by a blow-out party with food costs kept to a minimum will satisfy several demands. The combinations are endless and thankfully our food offering has dramatically changed too.
One thing though. If you’re booking your nuptials this year, stay loyal to these shores – and even better, stay local – and save your friends the cost of a wedding afar or abroad.