Neasa Cooke and John French
25 May 2014
Inishbofin House Hotel, Inishbofin
Photography by Darek Novak
For Neasa and John, keeping their wedding simple and relaxed was really important, and the help of friends made their special day on the island of Inishbofin intimate and unforgettable.
‘John and I had mutual friends, and we all hung out a lot during the summer of 2004,’ Neasa says, recalling the beginning of their love story. ‘There was always a bit of a spark between myself and John. One night, my best friend took us both aside, separately, and told us to cop on and just get together, as it was painful for everyone else to watch. We did and have been together ever since!’ The pair got engaged in Taormina, Sicily. ‘We went for a nightcap on the balcony of the Grand Hotel Miramare, and we were the only ones there except for a little old waiter in a tux. He delivered two gin and tonics, and then a token ring appeared.’
Neasa, hailing from Galway, spent her childhood holidays in Leenane and Renvyle, so Connemara was a favourite getaway even before she met John. Once they became a couple, they explored the region together, island-hopping around the west of Ireland in the summer. ‘When we found Inishbofin, we thought it was the perfect location,’ Neasa says.
Inishbofin’s strong traditional music scene dictated that the sounds of their celebration should showcase that heritage. After the reception meal, local fiddle player Francis O’Halloran played up at the back bar in the dining room, accompanied by two other local musicians. ‘It really felt like a session in a pub,’ says Neasa. ‘John and his friends DJ’d, which made the whole thing extra special! For this part of the night we moved into the front bar of the hotel, which is perfect for a small party and has a great view of the harbour.’
On the secrets of having a perfect wedding, Neasa has this advice: ‘Do what makes ye happy and works for ye as a couple. What made the day really special for us was everyone’s enthusiasm and love. Nearly everyone we invited came, even from Canada, New York, Berlin, and London. We had fun surrounded by really close friends and family. I just remember lots and lots of laughing and hours of dancing. Without the help of our friends, the whole thing wouldn’t have come together, especially since we were on an island.’
The whole wedding really was a group effort, as Neasa’s bridesmaids made the table plans and the best man made the invites. The wedding party also put together a DIY ‘SWAT team’ that spent the day before and the morning of the wedding fluffing pom-poms—‘Surprisingly, the men had a particular talent for this,’ says Neasa—collecting stones for the aisle and sand for the jam jars, and adding last-minute details that brought everything together.
For their honeymoon, Neasa and John enjoyed some more island-hopping in the western Cyclades of Greece. ‘We went to Milos, Sifnos, and Serifos and had a total ball!’
Photography: Darek Novak – www.PhotoSligo.com
Wedding Gown: Lover the Label, Australia
Heels: Kurt Geiger, UK
Boots: Defined from Buffalo Dublin
Bridesmaids’ Dresses: COS
Groom’s Suit: Linen three-piece, made to measure by Magee, Dublin
Lodging: Inishbofin House Hotel – www.InishbofinHouse.com
Flowers: Go Dutch, Salthill, Galway
Hair: Helen Raftery, family friend