Allison & Johnny: August 5, 2015: Maynooth, Ireland



When I was little, I used to dream of being a teacher.  As I got older, that dream became more clear, and alongside it- the desire to coach.  I loved sports, I love kids, and I wanted to inspire young adults to be good people.  As life would lead, I ended up as a teacher in a large school district in Northeast Indiana.  I landed my job as a Special Education teacher, and while browsing the school job openings, saw a posting for a junior high cheerleading coach.  My new husband (not as in I had an ‘old’ one, but ‘new’ as in we were just a few months married) was traveling a lot for work and it seemed like a good way to get to know some people, keep busy while he was gone, and cheerleading has always been a passion of mine.


Little, SO little, did I know that deciding to apply for that ‘extra’ time filler job with my friend would grow to be one of the most influential things I’ve ever done in my life.  Little did I realize how much coaching influences YOU as the coach- perhaps even more than you inspire the athletes.  I coached an amazing group of girls from their 6th grade tryout until their junior year of high school- where, in a heartwrenching and tear-filled conversation, I had to inform them I was moving to Illinois.


Those same girls are now adults.  Young, vibrant, beautiful, doing amazing things adults.  And I am their proud momma, that’s for sure.  I love those girls and think of them all the time.  As I said- they shaped me and are a part of me and will always remain a part of me:)


And now that these girls are adults- they’re also to the age where they are starting to get married!  I’ve been so honored to shoot three of my girls so far- and I have 3 more coming up this year!  I’m SO SO excited.  And when Allison, my beautiful, fiery flyer contacted me about shooting her wedding, I was elated.  And then she dropped the ball- ‘it’s in Ireland.’  Wait, what?  Did you say Ireland?  IRELAND.  IRELAND.  I cried.  I really did.  I cried.  I cried because I was so happy for her, so happy for me, just so so happy.


Allison has always been a special one to me.  She reminded me a lot of myself in high school.  She was vivacious and adorable with a huge smile- but I knew as her coach she was a perfectionist and pushed herself SO hard- probably more than anyone should.  She is stubborn and driven and- in no other words- an incredible human being who is wise well beyond her years, inspiring, cultural, historical, and genuine.  I adore her.  She’s an old soul with charm, character, and distinctivity.  Ironically- exactly how I pictured Ireland before I got to go!


As the plans started to come together- I was so incredibly excited for this opportunity!!!  My husband and I were set to head on a 5 day Ireland vacation- with a wedding in the middle:)  I plan on blogging our Irish adventures later- but this post is dedicated to Allison and Johnny and their amazing wedding day!


Allison and Johnny attended graduate school at the University of Ireland-Maynooth.  This enchanting castle was just a few miles outside of town.  It was just as picturesque as it looks.  As we pulled in the gate the first day, tears were rolling down my face.  I just couldn’t quite wrap my brain around how I got this lucky to be doing something I love, for someone I love, at a place so magical.


The castle was complete with incredibly beautiful grounds.  My favorite was the ‘roomba-esque’ lawnmowers everywhere.  Allison told me that she instagrammed #barberstowncastle once and 90% of the photos were of the lawnmower!  This place had it all- fountains, lilypads, vines growing up the sides, a Jaquar sitting out front.  It had rooms upon rooms upon rooms with 4-poster beds and bidets!   We arrived the night of the rehearsal- so I grabbed my camera and immediately started photographing.  I had to. Rain was projected the next day (it’s kinda projected every day) and I wanted to capture as much as I could while it was gorgeous out!!!


We set off for the rehearsal.  The wedding was to be held at a perfect Catholic church in the countryside of Maynooth.  Stone walls surrounded the small quaint church.  As we walked in, Allison was up front with her family.  She saw me and came running down the aisle and we embraced- and I cried.  See- I shoot weddings every weekend.  And I love everyone of my brides.  But when it’s one of the girls who are a part of your life- it’s just an incredible feeling- and such an honor.  It was one of the moments when I’m old and looking back on my life- I think it will rank up there.  At that moment- as I was hugging her- I just thought to myself- ‘I’m here…in Ireland…about to photograph the wedding of this dear girl.’  Call me cheesy if you will- but it was a moment!


Total side note- but a Catholic wedding ceremony in an Irish accent is pretty amazing.  Just saying.


The rehearsal dinner was held at a traditional Irish pub- ‘O’Neill’s’ 🙂  We had strogonaff and Irish beer and AMAZING company!  It was an absolute blast!!

The morning of the wedding, I met Allison and her girls in her suite.  Keep in mind I’ve known her mom for years, her older sister was one of my cheerleaders too, as was one of her bridesmaids!  So it was so much fun:)  We laughed, told stories, and just had a great time together:)))  The ceremony was perfect!  Then it was off to photos:))  Johnny and Allison wanted to start at their campus- which reminded me SO much of Hogwarts!  It did start to rain right when we got there- so it was a just a few quick ones- then back to the castle!  We worked quickly and stayed only on the castle grounds.  That’s the thing about Ireland- you truly can capture INCREDIBLE landscape photos- but it’s also your wedding day- and the Irish way is to just relax, sit back, have a drink, and be with family and friends.  Particularly when they’ve literally traveled the world to be with you that day.  So that’s what we did.


The reception was, hands down, the coolest experience.  We were all seated at one long table in the castle dining room that was exactly that- a legit castle dining room.  Dark walls, huge thick long table, suits of armor guarding the doors, and long velvet curtains.  Waiters dressed in the typical garb (my favorite I called Hugh Grant and he pretty much hated me).  The bride and groom were led in by a bagpipe song, we gave toasts and ate and ate and ate, and then, the curtains opened to reveal a dance floor and an Irish band.  They sang Celtic songs, taught us all Celtic dances and traditions, and we had an incredible evening.   I actually said to Chris (my husband) at one point- ‘this is one time that I KNOW my pictures won’t even come close to showing this place justice.’  It was that incredible.  More incredible than any photo or video ever could.  It was the perfect Irish reception- and I’m so thankful I got to be a part of it!!!


Thank you, thank you, thank you Allison and Johnny and your families for having me as part of your day!  I hope it was just as incredible for you as it was for me!!!  Love you guys so, so much!


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