“Get ready, because this is the best you’re going to feel for the next five days.”
November 23-December 3, 2013
Those were the last words I heard before dozing off into a slumber in the car driving from Galway to Sligo in Ireland last November. My friend, Matt, his brother, Sean, and I were traveling across Ireland all week, ending the trip with a family wedding in Sligo, Ireland. My experiences in Dublin, Cork and Galway were only a glimpse into the craziness that was to come with the wedding, and my body wasn’t nearly prepared.
Never have I met more hospitable and welcoming people than his family in Ireland. They cooked us a fantastic, mouth-watering Thanksgiving dinner and gave me fair warning of what I got myself into that weekend. Apparently in Ireland, the craziness begins three days before a wedding, and they still go strong a few days after the wedding too! We went to the local pub, where Dennis, the bartender, knew my name within minutes, and everyone was dancing and singing. Matt’s cousins, uncles, aunts, grandparents, everyone, were out on the dance floor, celebrating and letting loose.
Every night following managed to get crazier and crazier as more relatives arrived in town and anticipation and excitement over the wedding began to build. By the time the wedding came around, I had no idea how I was going to physically manage the festivities. But I am 1/4 Irish, and damn it, I was going to make his Irish family and my Irish family proud.
The ceremony took place in a beautiful, old church adorned in breathtaking stained glass windows. The ceremony gave me chills, as the bride, in her beautiful, lace wedding dress, floated towards the altar, making her way to her soon-to-be husband. The priest delivered a sermon fit for the couple, humorous and light-hearted. After the ceremony, all of the attendees spilled into a tiny pub nearby for a hot cup of tea… Or a pint for the impatient.
After a long, winding drive through the Windy Gap, and after a bout of whiplash from falling asleep in the back of the car, we arrived at the reception at the stunning Diamond Coast Hotel in Enniscrone. The hotel suited the wedding reception perfectly. It overlooked the coast and was modern, classy, and ready to host a wild and crazy bunch.
The reception kicked off with some hot whiskey and champagne, moved quickly to Carlsberg at the table, then the wine was poured with the meal. Dinner was served shortly after, and afterwards, we occupied the bar while the dance floor was being prepared. During that time, we taught his uncles the beauty (and the dangers) of red bull and vodka, and we learned a thing or two about how to drink whiskey “like a true Irishman.”
By the time the dancing started, I was in full force. The band played incredible, acoustic versions of popular EDM tracks, and everyone, including the older guests, had their fists pumping and feet moving. Fast-fowarding to the end of the night, my feet hurt, I was sweaty from dancing, and I desperately needed to go to sleep, but I couldn’t stay away. This wedding had blown all other weddings out of the water… And raised the bar for all weddings to come, including my own.
So, should you ever be asked to attend a wedding in Ireland, here is what you should expect. Expect to be on your feet from 12:00 pm to 5:00 am in heels. Expect to be expected to hang with the boys the entire time and expect to fail miserably. Expect to participate in Rock The Boat (see Youtube video below for reference.) Expect to not understand a single word the wedding party says during their speeches. Expect to be in the presence of the most wonderful, most charming, most fun-loving, family-oriented people you will ever meet. And expect to leave with enough memories to last you a lifetime.