Set on 100 acres of parklands and gardens, with the magnificent backdrop of Dún a Rí Forest Park, Cabra Castle is a popular venue for couples looking to immerse themselves in the rich history of Ireland. Dating all the way back to the 1700s, it was the stunning location for Katie Lockhart's wedding to Dane Wanniarachige on the 10th of August 2023. Capture by Francis Meaney, this gorgeous summer destination wedding is a stunner!

The couple met in their first term while studying medicine at Trinity College Dublin, in  2015. Following a dinner hosted for first-year medical students, Katie & Dane met while chatting with a group of friends later in the evening. They then got to know each other through study dates, dinner dates and many shared pints of Guinness. 

After university, the two moved to Maine (USA) to complete their family medicine residency. There in October 2021, Dane proposed while on a hike to see some waterfalls in rural Maine on the Appalachian Trail. In their excitement, the pair got lost on the hike back but did eventually make it to a celebratory dinner later that night!

A big thing for Katie was her hair, having naturally thick curly red hair, it was not an easy feat to keep the curl and volume while taming down the more natural/frizzy look. Her stylist Emma was great about getting her to exactly what she wanted. After a straight blow dry she curled it and then added in some extensions to maintain the volume that had been lost from blow drying, Katie ended up with a more sophisticated version of her natural hair which we love! "I am extremely lucky that my cousin Chloe Lowry is a make-up artist who has done my make-up before and was able to perfect all our looks- and then party with us all night too!" For her wedding day fragrance, she wore Chance by Chanel, a floral-zesty fragrance, stirred by invigorating notes of grapefruit and blood orange.

Katie was quite confident in the style that she wanted, something with an A-line, either off-white or ivory, and likely very sparkly! After doing her research she determined that a Berta dress would fit those parameters and headed off to Verona Bridal in Belfast as they are the only stockists of Berta dresses in Ireland. Although she ended up falling in love with a  Milla Nova dress and not going with Berta after all!

The pair knew they wanted tuxedos but were struggling with the process given the wedding was in Ireland and the groomsmen were travelling from different parts of the world. Katie & Dane ended up going with Aston Formalwear because they were able to accommodate the tricky situation and were able to get all the tuxes perfect even though the first fitting was only a few days before the wedding!  

Katie's sister was her maid of honour and her two best friends Natasha and Amy played the roles of bridesmaids. The group knew from the start that they wanted a pink or rose gold colour but were open to different styles. "These particular dresses turned out to be our favourite as the butterfly sleeves and pleated skirt looked great on everyone, the colour was perfect with the flowers I wanted, and the light shimmer in the dresses complimented the sparkles in mine."

The ceremony was perfect! Set outside on the stunning balcony veranda, the couple were blessed with the perfect weather, 23 degrees and sunny (Not what you would expect from Ireland!). Reverend Lorraine McCarthy put everyone at ease, even when there was a slight hiccup and Dane forgot to bring Katie’s wedding vows to the ceremony. "We loved having our friends and family involved through readings and lighting of the unity candle, and then exchanging our vows - it felt very personal and intimate to share these feelings with our loved ones." At the end, there was a traditional hand-fasting ceremony where the couple's hands were bound together to represent their bond for life.  

When they started searching for a venue, Katie & Dane's biggest priority was having a lot of accommodation as they had so many loved ones traveling from the USA and  Canada. They also had had multiple family members request a castle venue so that was on their list as well! "Cabra Castle seemed to tick all of our boxes but the main thing that sold them to us after visiting was how amazing the staff were they really couldn’t do enough to make our day perfect." One of the highlights of the venues was being able to have the whole day all in one place, there was the gate lodge for the bridal party to get ready in and cottages for the groomsmen, and then the ceremony and reception were all on-site. The couple was also able to host welcome drinks the night before and a BBQ at Cabra the next day. "Given our family were able to stay throughout this time it was so special to be able to celebrate and spend the entire few days together."

For entertainment, the couple found Parcel of Rogues, who played traditional music during the drinks reception, through Katie's sister Megan who is a wedding planner and strongly recommended them based on great reviews from some of her couples.  Manouche boys had previously played at the bridesmaid Natasha’s wedding and the couple raved about how great they were! 

Regarding the best decision the couple had to say, "100% without a doubt our best decision was having late-night karaoke!"

Regarding the worst decision the couple had to say, "Katie ordered 100 tequila shots at the end of the night which led to some headaches the next morning"

- Gráinne