My name is Frances Stynes and I married my long-term partner Thomas Cleary. We have been together through thick and thin for 29 years and decided in 2018 to make it official.
We were living together for years and Thomas went to the USA for a motivational 3 days with business friends of his, I won't forget the date or year because when he was over there 1-day 9/11 happened and it send America into chaos. He didn't get home for another 5 days.
When this was all happening, he realised there are not many things more important in life than relationships, and he bought a solitaire diamond ring with every penny he had left and proposed when he got home. We had a German Shepard at the time, and when he knelt the god ran over and jumped on him, so it wasn't very romantic, but funny! The dog thought that there was a game going on, and she wanted to be involved.
We booked Butler House for the 14th May 2018. I am not into weddings and the big dress and all that jazz, hence the length of time it took us to get there. I wanted a Civil Ceremony, and was looking for an intimate venue where close friends could enjoy each others company. There were 16 guests, and we know every one of them over 30 years, so it was lovely. Even though I am not into weddings, I still wanted it to be a memorable and special day.
I started looking for country house so everyone could stay the night before, most of our guests were coming from Dublin, and some from Manchester. I wanted a special place for them to stay, and after looking at several houses and small hotels in Kilkenny and the surrounding area I visited Butler House. Walking from the Castle side through the garden to the house did it for me, and when I spoke to the Wedding Planner that was it! We booked Kilkenny Castle for the Civil Ceremony.
We all met in the bar in the basement, had some Champagne, and walked through the garden to the Castle for the ceremony, it was lovely.
I didn't want very official photos, so I asked the Photographer to be like a fly on the wall and just keep taking photos - I as delighted with what she produced.
As I said, am not into wedding dresses, and being the wrong side of 59, I didn't want a 'fancy' dress. I bought a vintage inspired dress (1920's) from America and altered a hat I already had. A very close friend of mine is in hospital after a very serious brain tumour she had years ago, she is in a wheelchair and cannot travel. She sent me a beautiful bouquet of flowers the day before the wedding, so I made a small bouquet and Thomas wore one of her flowers, so she was there in spirit.
The most memorable part was walking through the garden over to the castle, and sitting out in the garden as a group afterwards.
Even though it wasn't a big wedding, I wanted everyone who came to have a unique experience, and we got that with Butler House and Kilkenny Castle.
I cannot praise the staff in Butler House enough, they went above and beyond duty to make our day special. The food was beautiful, it was served to perfection and we had a wonderful day. Booking and organising the event with Butler House could not have been easier. Even though I didn't want muss fuss but wanted it special, it was all understood and taken on board by the team.