Who doesn’t love a good wedding? The celebration, the great food, the friendly faces. However, a lot of detail goes into attending such an event. You have to RSVP, get a gift, find an outfit and – sometimes – travel.
It’s one thing if you’re taking the highway to the next town over. It’s very different, if you’re taking a 737 to the other side of the Atlantic. Sure enough, that’s exactly the situation Nicole and her husband Paul faced in the summer of 2014.
The couple’s good friends were engaged to be married on the west coast of Ireland. As wild as it is beautiful, this rustic region offers so much from the iconic Cliffs of Moher to the beloved Ring of Kerry. Its scenery has inspired writers, musicians and artists alike. Once you set your sights on the area, it’s easy to see why.
Happy to say they would attend, Nicole and Paul were delighted to have the upcoming event on their calendar. To think of all the places they might see and things they might do!
“We had always wanted to visit Ireland but had never gone before,” Nicole said. “This was the perfect opportunity to see a beautiful country and celebrate our dear friends.”
But then reality began to hit as more time went by.
“We realized this was going to be much more than a wedding. We weren’t very familiar with Ireland. Where were we going to stay? What were we going to do there? How would we get around? These were all things we needed help with planning,” Nicole said.
Luckily for Nicole, Crystal Travel was there to provide a sense of direction. Senior Travel Expert and Ireland connoisseur Bridie was happy to help. Though she’s lived in the greater Boston area most of her life, Bridie is originally from County Galway. No stranger to the travel industry, Bridie has been with the company since its opening in 1985. Though years have passed, Bridie’s love of sending people to her home country has only deepened.
“I love my home country, and I’m so lucky to have the opportunity to introduce so many people to her for the first time,” Bridie said. “I get to share its culture and unspoiled scenery with people and really give them a genuine look at everything Ireland has to offer.”
Nicole had heard of Crystal Travel before receiving the wedding invitation and Bridie came highly recommended. This wasn’t Nicole’s first experience with a travel agency, but she quickly learned not all of them are alike.
“Compared to Crystal Travel, the other place we booked with in the past was much less personable,” Nicole said. “They simply booked our flights and hotel and that was that. Bridie really wanted to know the type of trip we were hoping for. She was so thorough.”
“Everything she did was perfect,” Nicole said. “We would tell her something we wanted or weren’t interested in seeing and never had to remind her. It was exactly the kind of care and attention to detail you’d want in planning a big trip.”
Nicole and Paul knew they wanted to fly into Shannon as well as see the Cliffs of Moher and the Jameson Distillery. Something else to take into consideration were accommodations.
“We didn’t want to stay in cookie-cutter hotels,” Nicole said. “We told Bridie we wanted to stay in boutique-type accommodations.”
To stay in those places, the couple would need a travel expert who was just as unique. Bridie delivered. She recommended two to three places for the couple per area they were visiting.
“All the accommodations were wonderful! Truly beyond any expectations I had!” Nicole said.
But to make a vacation truly great, it’s important to have a way to get around. Nicole and Paul thought about taking public transportation but didn’t want to go that route. Instead, Bridie found them a great deal with an automatic rental car.
Before the couple knew it, the time of the wedding had come. With flights booked, accommodations reserved, activities scheduled and wedding gifts purchased, it was time to go. But peace of mind didn’t stop with the booking process.
“All of Bridie’s information made me less nervous to fly to Ireland,” Nicole said. “I’m a nervous flyer, so that’s big for me. Especially when you’ve got a long flight and you’re crossing the ocean. Her help made things so much better.”
“I liked the way Bridie mapped out everything on our trip,” Nicole said. “Before we left, she sent us a package with what we were doing, Ireland info, maps, coupons. Everything she did was so in-depth.”
When it came time to seeing their friends say “I do”, Nicole and Paul were happily delighted.
“The wedding was unreal! Everything was incredible from going to the church to celebrating afterword,” Nicole said.
Various moments of the day stand out in Nicole’s memory. The wedding party’s parade throughout the town. Taking a drink each time someone said “Thank you”. And a cocktail hour that “puts any other one [she’s] seen to shame.”
Any experience in a new culture leaves a lasting impression in its own way. Maybe it’s the music. Perhaps it’s the entertainment. Or, maybe it’s the people. In Nicole and Paul’s case, it was all the above and then some.
“I couldn’t believe how late an Irish wedding goes,” Nicole said. “It was fantastic! The music, the singing, the dancing. Not to mention the incredible friendliness and hospitality.”
Perhaps Nicole’s favorite part of the Irish wedding happened the very next day. As tradition has it, a day-after party is held to continue the celebrations with loved ones.
“I liked that idea so much, I decided to do that for my own wedding,” Nicole said. “And I never would have known about it if we hadn’t gone!”
“There’s something about a destination wedding,” Nicole said. “You’re there to celebrate this amazing new chapter in a couple’s lives. You also experience a whole new adventure. The food, the people, the culture – everything is different and exciting. I absolutely fell in love with Irish weddings and Crystal Travel made it so easy for us to relax and enjoy the whole thing.”
The wedding wasn’t the only adventure Nicole and Paul had during their time in Ireland. They spent time sightseeing and exploring. While the couple originally wasn’t sure of what to see and do along the Emerald Isle, Bridie gave them a wide range of suggestions.
Apart from Galway, Nicole and Paul saw many other gems along the West coast.
“Killarney was my favorite,” Nicole said. “There are so many things to do outdoors, and it’s so beautiful.”
Another area they really liked was Cork. An Irish cultural hub in its own right, Ireland’s Second City is full of history and liveliness from corner to corner.
“It’s a really easy city to get around and there’s just so much to see and do,” Nicole said.
The couple left Ireland with incredible memories and a yearning to go back for more. “There are still so many places we want to go visit,” Nicole said. “There’s never enough time! We really want to go back to see Kilkenny.”
When the time comes to plan that next trip across the pond, the couple said they know the first person they will contact.
“Bridie made everything so stress-free,” Nicole said. “All we had to focus on was having a great time. We can’t thank her enough and will certainly reach out to her again.”