Winter weddings

Winter Wicklow Gaol Wedding by Aidan Oliver Photography by Aidan Oliver Weldon

When you are contacted by a client and they tell you that they are getting married in a jail well, your eyes open, you ask them “what jail?” and they say “Wicklow Jail”, then you get an idea of the setting for their wedding. 

Evelyn and Chip were doing just that and Evelyn gave me a shout in November to discuss the setting and their plans for the day. I have to say that I was as excited as they were and agreed to meet them at the Gaol to go through the day just as they had planned and envisioned it. If you have ever been inside this building then you would see that the Gaol part is a long rectangular building three stories in height with an open stairs connecting the first floor to the second floor landing. The couple planned to have the wedding ceremony at the foot of this stairs just in front of the large window. The 70 odd guests would line up along the two sides (and two levels) of the walkways which were approximately a metre across in width so any photography would have been restricted. As he works in the film industry Chip mentioned that he was going to install production lights back towards the ceremony area which would allow guests to see the proceedings and I knew that this was going to be spot on (excuse the pun) as the light would be directed on on the couple, the celebrant, the proceedings and the guests would be illuminated with (for the most part) any remaining light, thus creating the perfect mood. Oh, did I mention that Wicklow Gaol is supposed to be one of the most haunted buildings in the world? - I’ll leave that up to your imagination here.

We chatted about a second photographer and agreed that it would be ideal to leave one person focus on the ceremony and a second person float around considering the width restriction on the landings. Having been the second photographer at a Kinsale wedding with my friend and wonderful photographer I knew that Leanne Keaney was the right person to help me out here - thankfully she was available. I trusted Leanne to focus on the ceremony while I was able to nip around and capture other angles. It worked a treat and we both managed to get numerous same shots from different angles which threw a different perspective into the photos.

Chip was getting ready in the Bridge Tavern so I arrived there first. Evelyn was to leave from cell 30 which was located on the second floor, her two bridesmaids Kim and Fiona, would go before her and this was to surprise guests (that at this stage) had lined up all along the walkway to the entrance hall. Chip was well ready as were all the guests. There was an air of excitement and expectation building up. Everyone was mesmerised at the location.

The ceremony was simply awesome, the love that these two people have for each other was very much prevalent and you could see the pure glee in the guests faces as the ceremony proceeded. It was a lot of fun as well as part emotional, a tear was shed by Fiona (Evelyn’s sister) as she spoke a few words. Fiona lives in Australia and quite a few guests traveled from afar to be there hence the emotion. Fiona’s son Ryder looked the dapper part handing over the rings to the beaming bride. 

Post ceremony (and after the kids had shot off all their confetti cannons) I left the very capable Leanne to capture guests mingling and the general ambience of a reception and myself, the newly married duo and Adi headed over to Black Castle to the salty air to capture some couple photos.  I've interspersed a few photos of the reception amid the coastal shots to show what was happening simultaneously. To say it was windy, cold and wet was an understatement but Chip and Evelyn were ready to rock here as well and were fearless; I salute you both for your steadfast determination by the way!!!. We captured the few cracking photos at Black Castle the same scene where (if I remember correctly) Chip proposed to Evelyn.

Back to the Gaol we went for the family photos and the wedding feast and true to form the 8 hour whole roasted pig was very ready and looking a damn sight tasty. Coupled with this fine beast (and the delicious crackling) there was potato gratin and braised vegetables served in a red wine jus plus baby roasties to accompany the meat and also for the vegetarians. Many guests were back up for more and the roast more than amply served all present. A few words were said in the speeches and the DJ was ready to take the wedding party onto the floor with some seamlessly mixed vinyl tunes.

I said goodbye and thank you was presented with one of the wedding bouquets (for my fiancé) and headed back to Dublin, delighted with the days events and chuffed that I was asked to capture this rather unique wedding.

Supplier List

Main Photographer: Aidan Oliver Photography

Second Photographer: Leanne Keaney

Ceremony and Reception: Wicklow Gaol

Flowers - Austen Flowers

Pastries & sweets - The Rosie Apple Bakery

DJ - Funky Funktion

Margaret and John's BELLINGHAM CASTLE WEDDING by Aidan Oliver Weldon

It was Jenny Phelan who initially recommended me as a photographer to Margaret and John (M & J) last year. I had photographed Jenny's wedding the year before - thank you Jenny!. Time sure does fly as a wedding photographer particularly when you relate weddings to years. 

I headed to Balbriggan for the morning bridal preparation photos and it was a fresh November morning with a promise of some sun in the late afternoon - fingers were crossed and batteries were charged. The morning flew as it always does not before Margaret received a beautiful gift of a watch from John. I captured the essence of this busy but calm morning before heading to St Peter and Paul's Church for the ceremony.. The 'congratulations' took place in the hallway of the Church as it was lashing rain and people hugged, shook hands then headed straight for their cars. Margaret was glad of her winter stole I can tell you, and I caught a tearful moment when she hugged a familiar person she knew - there is a story there alone. 

We headed on to Bellingham Castle for the afters, a nice spin up the M1 then take junction 15 off for Castlebellingham. Bellingham is a sister Castle of Cabra Castle and is owned by the Corscadden Family. If you are familiar with both castles then you will know that each castle has an Irish Wolfhound with a name synonymous to each, Bellingham's being Ferdia, Cabra is Oscar. Those dogs have the life indeed. M & J were greeted with champagne, an open fire to warm the bones and I did smell the perfume of mulled wine in the air. I left them there to say hello, thaw out and headed around the castle for a look, so see what was prepared and to capture the little things accordingly. I remember speaking to Patrick Corscadden later telling him that I had my debs in this very place in 1988 and I'll say it again, it looks every part a fantastic place to host the ideal wedding reception. So much space, character, nooks and crannies and the very best service which is key. Both Ciara and Patrick are at the coal face when it comes to setting good standards. I always judge a venue on how they look after the photographer, wouldn't I?. 

We did go outside for a few shots around the grounds, M & J did not mind the cold, and the nearby river Glyde set the stage nicely for some shots around the gardens. Johns uncle provided a great focal point for the bridal party to enjoy a laugh while on the bridge. The fire escape was also used for some off the beat photos - something different as they say. Back inside and I moved around capturing guests, their expressions, animation and the general happiness that encapsulates the archetype wedding. 

Two of my favourite photos of the day were 1) The portrait of Margaret under the arch, and 2) the photo of John with the lads surrounding him, just like a 21st Century (Anno Domino) Don Corleone. I captured the  speeches, left them all to it and headed back to Dublin with a big smile on my face. On the way out I noticed that the signing frame I had created for the couple had been filled out nicely - you just never know what a colourful comment might appear on such a frame, particularly by a character guest, a good few of whom were now sitting down enjoying the banter. 

I was delighted to send M & J the images of their wedding while they were away on honeymoon in Cape Town - they were very much thrilled. Margaret and John, I wish you the very best for your future together. 


Photography: Aidan Oliver

Videography: Edithouse films

Reception: Bellingham Castle

Wedding Journal Show, Citywest, Dublin, 10th & 11th January 2015 by Aidan Oliver Weldon

Here are a few of our postcards we exhibited at the recent Wedding Journal Show in Citywest, 10th and 11th January 2015. We had the privilege of photographing the event for Penton Publications along with manning a busy stand which was thoroughly enjoyable. We slept three days later when all images were handed over.

The postcards went down a storm, they were something different and the general feedback was extremely  positive from couples. They commented on the quality of the imagery along with the fact that it provided a talking point, particularly as I used famous photographer quotes from such as Ansel Adams, Tim Walker, Alfred Eisenstaedt amongst many more. 

The purpose of the postcards was trifold:

1) to show some beautiful imagery across the photographic sphere of weddings 

2) to enable me to take down details from couples who had not booked a photographer 

3) to meet at some date in the future over a coffee (on me...) to discuss each wedding 

What a show, what quality suppliers and what a weekend!. Well done to all who exhibited...