Your Big Day

Real wedding: A bohemian style big day at Killyon Manor

Róise and Aidan's eclectic wedding was inspired by the laid-back atmosphere of the family manor in Meath

It was 'love at first sight' when Róise first clapped eyes on Aidan at Mulligans pub in Stoneybatter.

Róise, from Galway, had been at a charity event for the marriage referendum's yes campaign and stayed to have a drink with a friend who was due to meet Mayo man Aidan after. As soon as her Aidan arrived, the two talked as if they'd known each other for years, forcing their mutual pal to eventually give up trying to interject in their conversation and 'leave them to it'.

As a new couple. they broke all the dating rules within the first few months of meeting each other. They 'enjoyed breaking every one of them' so much that it wasn't long before they took the next big step.


Aidan popped the question in the pub where they first met and the two tied the knot the following summer in a humanist ceremony in the woods at Killyon Manor. Their big day was inspired by the alternative wedding venue and its laid-back bohemian owners Roland and Zoe Purcell.

Their wedding photos are by Pawel Babenca.

The Proposal

As the majority of engagement stories go, Aidan's proposal plans didn't go wholly unnoticed by his bride-to-be, and Róise admits she did get a little impatient when he changed his plans last minute before they were due to meet for dinner. Of course had she known then...

The couple planned a dinner in Mulligans however just before they had to leave, Aidan said he'd to run a work errand and when he returned seemed slightly unnerved. When they sat down to dinner, Aidan asked Róise if she was happy, and if there was anything she'd change about the two of them as a couple. "Of course not I love everything about us" she responded, registering a bit of a panicked look on Aidan's face.

"I could see his eyes were dilated and there were beads of sweat on his brow," said Róise. "He asked ‘are you happy’ and I said ‘Im so happy’. At that point he said ‘Well I think I could make you happier’ and as I looked across he went to stand up and it suddenly dawned on me what he was doing. I grabbed him and said ‘No no no no’ and he sat back down and said ‘will you marry me’ and I said ‘yes yes yes’. I told him at that point it was enough for me to know that he would have kneeled down in front of everyone in the restaurant to show his love for me. "

He later revealed to Róise that he had been called out to Dun Laoighaire as her engagement ring was ready to be picked up. "He had particularly chosen a vintage band and had new diamonds set into it because he knew how much I loved old things that had stories. I couldn’t stop looking at how the diamonds sparkled. We spent the evening talking about how lucky we were to have found one another, and how much we looked forward to spending the rest of our lives together."

The Venue

As a creative type, Róise wanted to do a DIY wedding to have a personal touch in her own big day. She scoured the country for alternative wedding venues that allowed couples to plan a wholly unique day, but most of all wanted something 'more off the beaten track'. When she came across Killyon Manor in Meath she knew she'd found something different and contacted the owners of the house.

"They were so laid back," she said, "we didn’t visit any other venue. We totally fell head over heels in love with the place and it really spoke to us. Killyon Manor only does four weddings a year and they had only started it a few years previous. We loved that it wasn’t a commercial enterprise."

The Theme

Reflecting the atmosphere of their laid-back family home venue, the couple went with a bohemian theme and added some luxurious touches. "It was very important to us that the theme was driven by the estate which was a beautiful manor house still full of grandeur but was lovingly decorated in ethnic, and eclectic furnishings from the owner’s travels," said Róise. "The owners were true bohemians in their attitudes to life and their lifestyle. The grounds were beautifully wild, green and native so we wanted to ensure that everything was congruent. The majority of décor used were all natural materials/fabrics. "

Using pieces from Etsy, Ikea and Penneys the couple added their own touches to the decor They got some second hand couches and dotted them around the venue to give it a more intimate feel after the meal.  

The Dress

Róise wore a gown by Adrianna Papell which she had shipped from online US-based wedding boutique BHLDN. "I had faith that when I saw my dress I would know it," said Róise. "I had it tailored to me by Celine from All Alterations service who was an angel in disguise. We made some changes to the lower part of the dress to make it more of a fitted look. When I put that dress on to walk down to the woods I felt like a queen!"

The Bridesmaids & Groomsmen

Róise's bridesmaid wore an ivory cotton skater dress from Lavand at Asos, to which Róise added a ribbon. The shoes were from Penneys. The couples four-legged bridesmaid, Bobby the German Shepard, wore a flower garland from H&M. Aidan and his groomsmen wore a navy blue half moon waistcoat by Noose and Monkey at asos, his shirt was by Massimo Dutti and his trousers were by Selected Homme.

The Food

The couple had Challas Roast for their catering and chose their Springbok Menu for their guests. On arrival they served bubbly and tea and coffee and canapés including “Biltong” (dried cured beef), smoked salmon roulade, mushroom tapenade and charcoal BBQ nibbles served on palm leaf plates.

They had a relaxed BBQ for their main meal, served alongside rosemary baby potatoes and green leaf and pasta salads. At 10pm the couple put on a hog roast for hungry guests and the next morning served up a breakfast of African sausages, rolls and relish, teas and coffees for everyone staying at the venue, and all those staying close by.

The Flowers

The flowers for the wedding were by Bella Botanica. "Sylvia created them for me out of two mad conversations we had where I was trying to explain my vision," said Róise. "She listened and took it all on board and I cried when she brought them to the bridal suite. I was trying to capture the blush in my wedding dress against fabulous organic dark greenery on the estate i.e. pines, laurels, lush grass. The bouquets surpassed all my expectations. Sylvia agreed with us prior that we use some flowers from the estate as our garland at the front arch of the chapel for our ceremony. Aidan and some of his groomsmen on the morning of the wedding went to collect a beautiful ivory flower we had found on the estate for Syliva it was called Philadelphus 'Belle Etoile'. They put them in buckets water for her."

The Cake

"This was an interesting experience," explained the bride. "One of my former colleague’s brother went to study in Lyon as a master patisserie chef and had just returned to Ireland. Eric Nolan started out in his mothers' kitchen making petit gateaux for orders on Facebook. He called his business URBN cakes. As his popularity grew exponentially he opened up a stall at the Honest to Goodness Fair and then got his own industrial kitchen there. Eric did our petite gateux’s for our dessert table. As he had just been training in France, he explained that the croquembouche was the traditional French style of wedding cake. We loved the idea and he decorated it with the same flowers from our bouquets."

The Invites

"The stationary we used was by Little Press they are a small Australia company based In Perth. It was white ivory letter press, with beautiful writing on thick ply paper. The type we chose was Aquarius. When I saw them on Pinterest I knew they were for us because they were presented with rose quartz, and some eclectic bohemian objects and I fell in love with them. Emily the owner was so helpful. They were also nearly a third of the cost of letter press in Ireland. They did a ceremony invite and a cheap afters invite to aid cost saving but keep the theme."

The Stand-out Moments

"Our favourite moment," said Róise, "was sitting down together at 4am in the front sitting room of Killyon Manor going through each of the highlights of the day;1. Me crying when I saw the flowers in the bridal suite, 2) the sky clearing and sun coming out for the ceremony (with 30 minutes to go!) 3) Walking down  with my bridesmaids 4) Seeing each other at the woodland ceremony with all our family and friends, both of us hugging my son Cian after the ceremony outside of the woods (Aidan insists that he is our son now), getting hugs and congrats from all our guests outside of the woods, getting our photos taken, family photos, making our way up to the top table, the speeches, and dancing with our friends and family as a married couple, and getting time with our friends. Watching Cian enjoy our wedding with his friends, and bobby the dog playing with the guests during the ceremony while wearing her flower collar."


When the couple were let down by one of their bar men, Aidan and his best man stepped up to make the cocktails. "They had to use their quick thinking and purchased orange juice as the main mixer," said Róise. "The cocktails were yellow. If I could change it I would have made them Peach Snapps, and bitters and 7up. Because they would have had a gorgeous colour that would matched in more with the colour pallet."

The Advice

Aidan's advice: "Be involved, and don’t be afraid to change your mind if you don’t like something, people will try and push you certain ways that suit them. Its your wedding, its your choice, it will be your bill! And make sure to do the legal paper work early - Lombard house can be confusing at the best of times."

Róise's advice: "If you want to test the strength of your relationship and your sense of self, and your family relationships and your individuality then this is the wedding for you! It was a lot of stress coming up to the event, and getting the venue ready and we could not have achieved it without each other, and the support of our friends and family. However the sense of achievement and accomplishment was immense. It was amazing to be able to say to our guests that everything they saw was chosen by myself and Aidan. "

"I would also advise not to panic and start going over the top, because costs start to mount very quickly when this happens. Stay true to your values and beliefs and what it is all about. Also if you want to be an alternative bride and wear a non-traditional wedding dress I would encourage you to look at show-stopping gowns!"

The Honeymoon

We flew into Porto and stayed in the Yeatman Hotel. It looks out over the whole river and the town of Porto. We traveled north to stay in a Quinta da Bouca d’Arques near Viana do Castelo and hiked in the Serra de Arga.  We then went to the Douro Valley in Portugal to stay in the six senses resort there.