Dating back to the 18th Century, the Glenlo Abbey Hotel & Estate is one of the most remarkable 5-star hotels in Ireland, where old-world charm meets contemporary elegance. this majestic venue was the location for Maura O’Donovan and Christopher Dolge's Ireland elopement on the 18th of May 2023. Capture by ID Photography, their special day is filled with stunning details!

Christopher and Maura when they were both 11 years old when he transferred from another school. Childhood sweethearts, Christopher is Maura's first and only boyfriend! "We broke up because, while I, spent the majority of summer break visiting family in Ireland I was only able to talk to Christopher for about 5 minutes a day on my granny's desktop computer" Maura, being her selfless and dramatic self, did not want to hold Christopher back from having the "summer of his life " back in 2009. The pair remained in contact through high school and college, eventually finding their way back together. Christopher always tells people he "asked Maura a hundred times to date him and she finally gave in."

Christopher orchestrated an unforgettable surprise to propose to Maura. He knew that he wanted to propose to Maura while on their annual trip to the mountains of Asheville, North Carolina that they take with Maura’s family every year for Thanksgiving. Maura’s mum, Kristen, told Maura that she had finally set up a photoshoot for her and her girls when they went to Asheville. As they embarked on what Maura thought was just a mother/daughter photoshoot, Maura's mom and sister excused themselves, leaving the couple alone with the photographer, who asked Chris and Maura if they wanted to take a photo together while they waited for them to come back. That was Chris’s cue, He dropped to one knee and popped the question leaving Maura utterly stunned.

Because she was planning the wedding from the US, Maura had to rely on pictures from social media to book a hairstylist and makeup artist. She was able to do a trial with her makeup artist just a couple of days before the wedding. "I told her that I knew I wanted an elevated, natural makeup look with a bronzy, warm glow. She took that and created the makeup look of my dreams by giving me a glowy, polished look and enhancing my blue eyes to make them pop. I feel like Eilish created the perfect balance of giving me a look where I still looked like myself but also felt glam enough for my wedding day!" Since she was only in Ireland a week before the wedding day, Maura did not get a chance to do a hair trial. "To be honest, I still was not sure whether I wanted a low bun or ponytail on the morning of my wedding. I asked Niamh to help me decide what she thought would look best and I am so glad we decided to go with a low, ponytail with big, structured waves. I showed her a few inspirational pictures but otherwise fully trusted her to do whatever she thought would look best and choose a hairstyle that would complement the low back of my dress." For her wedding perfume, Maura wore Joe Malone Poppy. Chris wore Bleu de Chanel.

As a very indecisive person, Maura knew that finding her wedding dress was going to be difficult. She knew that she wanted a dress that was simple, elegant and timeless. After looking at other brides who had gotten married at Glenlo Abbey or similar venues across Ireland for inspiration Maura discovered British dress designer, Susan Neville. Since she lived in the US, Maura was sceptical that she would be able to find a bridal salon anywhere close to that carried Susan Neville gowns. Much to her shock (and good luck!) Susan Neville happened to be having a trunk show at a bridal salon called, Ladies of Lineage, that upcoming weekend! "As soon as I saw the Susan Neville gowns, I knew right away that they looked like they were made to be worn at a place like Glenlo Abbey, it just fit in with my venue so perfectly! I had tried on a few classic gowns before but felt that something was missing. When I tried on my dress, the refreshing neckline and elongating sleeves were just the details I had been looking for! I felt like my dress was effortlessly elegant and I knew it was the one as soon as I put it on!"

"I knew that Glenlo Abbey has exquisite fabric, luxurious decor and vibrant, patterned wallpapers throughout that would serve as the backdrop of our photos. This is why I kept coming back to the idea that each bridesmaid should have the same moss-green colour dress." She was worried that if there were too many different patterns and variations in colour of the bridesmaid's dresses it could clash in pictures with the different wallpapers around Glenlo Abbey. Each bridesmaid was able to choose the length, style and fabric of the dress that they liked the most and the dress that they felt the most comfortable and beautiful in!

The couple were originally hoping to have the ceremony outside in the courtyard at Glenlo Abbey. Maura knew that since they were in Ireland in May, the chances of it raining were high but she was still optimistic that it would work out and that they would somehow get lucky. Her granny even buried the Child of Prague in her garden the night before! It wasn't until about two hours before the ceremony that the venue coordinator, Kate, told the couple that none of the vendors were able to set up outside because it started pouring rain and had become so windy. She asked if they would be willing to move the ceremony indoors to the River Room and assured them that it would still be just as beautiful. It worked out perfectly! For the ceremony, Maura & Christopher worked with Clara from Coastal Ceremonies who took care of every last detail. "I cared about our ceremony and had put a lot of thought into how we wanted it to go. Clara was such a professional and she was so knowledgeable about ceremonies and what did/did not work and we immediately felt so relieved! We had several Zoom meetings with her to plan our civil ceremony, covering every last detail of our twenty-five-minute ceremony."

Maura grew up going to Galway every summer to visit her dad's family and would always stay with her grandparents who live right down the road from Glenlo Abbey. After she brought Chris to Ireland for the first time, he fell in love with Galway as well and knew it would be the perfect place to get married someday. There are so many stunning wedding venues across Ireland but when the couple looked at venues outside of Galway it felt more like they were having a destination wedding in an unfamiliar place rather than bringing friends and family to their favourite place. "Just thinking about all of the transportation arrangements that would have to be made to have our wedding in a remote location in Ireland had me very overwhelmed. Once we narrowed down the location to Galway it made choosing the venue very easy! Maura’s grandparents celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary at Glenlo Abbey, making the venue even more meaningful and special to us." The interior of Glenlo Abbey felt intimate, and full of tradition/history while the exterior felt like classic Ireland with the golf course and green landscape. They had the most amazing food and the staff at Glenlo made the couple feel like royalty on the day of the wedding! They took care of every last detail.

The pair chose the Bentley Boys because they had such an extensive playlist and a wide range of songs that they were able to play. Maura & Chris wanted to play ‘crowd pleasers’ songs that every generation could sing along and dance to all night! They had a 4 piece band for four hours, followed by a DJ for 2 hours. "Our guests raved about the band and the dance floor was packed all night long!" Mary O’Neil played the harp during the ceremony and as Maura walked down the aisle. They also had a resident pianist from Glenlo Abbey play during the cocktail hour.

About the best decision, Maura had to say,  "I was very indecisive about whether or not we should do a ‘first look’ or save the moment of the first time Chris saw me in my wedding dress when I was walking down the aisle. Before we got dressed and ready, we chose to do private vows that morning before the ceremony with just the two of us. I was in my pyjamas and Chris was in his sweatpants. It felt very “us.” It was such a special, intimate moment that just the two of us got to share before the craziness of the wedding day began. Plus, we still got to have the moment of Chris seeing me in my dress for the very first time when I was walking down the aisle."

About the worst decision, Maura had to say, "Since we had a 100-person guest list and a week full of celebrations, I had time to speak with each guest and thank them individually for coming. However, Chris and I wanted to say a few words to all of our guests, thanking them for travelling all this way and thank a few certain people who helped us coordinate everything. We got whisked away to take more pictures with people and we didn't want the band to set up too late. So, before we knew it, the moment was gone to be able to give a speech thanking a few people and that is something I wish I would have prioritized."

- Gráinne