James O’Neill and Bryan O’Sullivan, who own a London-based interior design business called Bryan O’Sullivan Studio, met eight years ago, “like many modern love stories,” through the app Grindr. “This topless Adonis popped up on my phone, and right away, I was hooked,” James says. Six years later, Bryan proposed over the intercom on a flight from Colombia to Miami on New Year’s Eve.
Once engaged, the two started thinking of their event aesthetic and gravitated toward a super glamorous look, without any of the stuffiness or traditionalism. To help design the whole July wedding weekend, they hired Kate O’Dowd, of Love & Gatherings, and Toni Wall and her team from Wall2Wall PR flawlessly executed the logistics.
After seeing more than 25 wedding venues in Spain and Italy and coming up short, the grooms-to-be turned their attention back home. “We always knew that if we were to get married in Ireland, it would have to be at Ballynahinch Castle, which is a place that means so much to us, due to a strong family connection,” James says. “It’s a magical and authentically old school Irish hotel in the wilds of Connemara—we actually refurbished much of it in the year preceding the wedding, which made it extra special for us to be there.”
To walk down the aisle, Bryan had always dreamed of wearing a Tom Ford tuxedo, and he went for it with a classic look. James is a self-proclaimed peacock and wanted something extra special. Inspired by a Gucci tuxedo he’d seen years prior, James had similar embroidery worked onto a 1930s tuxedo for a truly unique, one-of-a-kind ensemble.
In a woodland clearing on the riverbank overlooking the castle, the groomsmen in tuxedos and the bridesmaids all wearing white, gathered and preceded the couple to the altar. “If anyone were to have peered into the ceremony location, it would have looked like there was a cult wedding going on on the banks of the river,” James notes. “We figured, what’s a wedding without a wedding dress…so why not have ten?”
Then the grooms walked with their mothers to “Keeping the Dream Alive” by German pop group Frieheit. “I had heard it one year into dating Bryan and knew, then, that it would play at our wedding,” James says. During the ceremony, largely formatted by their friend, Niall O’Driscoll, chosen guests sang and read poems. And at one point, a traditional Celtic handfasting ceremony was led by their friend, Katie Culleton. “Without sounding corny, it really and truly was one of the most beautiful experiences I have ever had.”
After being announced as a married couple, a “love procession” began back down the aisle and to the reception, led by their friend, Jack Ford, and to the tune of Madonna’s “Like a Prayer.” Back on the terrace, everyone enjoyed cocktails and canapés before moving to the tent in the walled gardens.
Walking into the space, people were delightfully greeted to candlelight, gorgeous florals, huge disco balls, a neon sign, and rows upon rows of refined and joyful tablescapes. Once the delicious seated dinner had concluded, Charlotte Church and her Late Night Pop Dungeon surprised the crowd with an entertaining musical performance, “followed by a wildly raucous immersive drag show by Sink the Pink.”
The following day, everyone rejoined under the tent for a barbecue picnic with traditional Irish music by The Whileaways and show tunes from “Ireland’s young Liberace,” Jack Patrick Healy. And the celebratory weekend ended with a wild rave in the quaint castle bar.