Megan and Niall met when she left the US to study abroad in Scotland. They were in the same hall of residence, and became part of the same tight-knit group of friends. After knowing each other for a few years, they started dating. She had no idea she’d met her soul mate and would eventually make a life with him in Ireland. Together, they navigated college, started careers, and had two children. When it was time to get married, they traveled to Yosemite National Park, a majestic location where they could celebrate with family and friends.
Ceremony location – Sentinel Beach, Yosemite National Park
Ceremony flowers – Flower Crush
Bridal headpiece – Le Touquet
Bridal earrings – Ruby Robin Boutique
Reception venue – The Redwoods in Yosemite
Reception flowers & cake – Sweet Dreams Cakery
Catering – The Smokin Burrito
Megan’s Godmother is a priest, so she performed the traditional Episcopalian ceremony, and the couple’s two small children were part of the service. They wanted an outdoor location that would truly reflect the awesomeness that is the creation of Earth for their guests to contemplate while watching them get married.
Megan is from Indiana, so they wanted to get married in the US. She is extremely close to her parents, and it was important they were able to drive to the wedding. I’m so glad her parents were able to attend, and they enjoyed themselves so much. Sadly, Megan’s father passed away a few months after the wedding. The family is cherishing the photos and holding onto happy memories.
A majority of their guests were traveling from the UK and Ireland, so the bride and groom wanted a destination that could easily turn into a vacation. Yosemite was a bucket list destination for Megan and her parents, and she and Niall fell in love with photos of autumn in the park, so it was the perfect choice.
Megan wore her mother’s wedding dress, which was hand-made by Megan’s grandmother in 1973. The dress needed an update for the 2019 bride, so long sleeves were converted to short sleeves and the neckline was slightly lowered. Her bridal headpiece had dried orange blossoms, which were a traditional Victorian flower for bridal headdresses. Her earrings were Queen Anne’s lace (Irish wildflower) sprigs encased in resin, so she had a bit of Ireland with her on this special day.
What does Megan love about Niall?
“Niall is six years older than me, and St. Andrews was his second time in college, so he had the ‘older & wiser vibe’ and was always willing to instill life advice. What I love most about him now is how dedicated he is to me and the kids. Plus he is still super interesting to talk with; conversation is never boring with him!”
What does Niall love about Megan?
“Megan had the fortitude to see what could become possible beyond college, and the depth of will to bring it about. She has continued to apply that perseverance despite the unavoidable loneliness that comes with becoming a parent, and has never stopped improving herself and the world around her. I am very proud of her!”
Megan’s modern vintage-inspired jacket was adorned with her grandmother’s broach, another sentimental “something old.”
Wedding Planning Tips From Our Irish Friends
“As we live in Ireland, logistics were our biggest concern. We didn’t opt for a hotel wedding, so we ended up with a build-your-own style wedding which meant we had much more control over details, but we were going to need multiple vendors to handle each aspect of the ceremony & reception. We aimed to keep the number of cogs in the wheel as minimal as possible. For example, in addition to the food our caterers provided rental, setup and breakdown of all silverware, glassware and plating needed for the reception as well as a bartender. Our cake and reception decorations came from the same vendor. And Dawn was not only our photographer but also our wedding planner in many respects as we knew nothing about Yosemite before planning our wedding and she knows everything.
“The second concern was ensuring that our guests had a truly American experience and got to appreciate Yosemite; we wanted to submerse them in some aspects of American culture. What is more American than National Parks? The Redwoods in Yosemite gave them a chance to stay in cabins within the Park which is such a unique experience, and the bus tour of the valley floor we organised for our guests gave them a small look at the park as well as some of its history while we were getting photos taken with Dawn and Mark. And our caterers, a Mexican-BBQ fusion, gave our guests a taste of cuisine most of them don’t have much experience with.”
Why did they choose The Redwoods in Yosemite as their venue?
“It was a reception venue and accommodation all in one! We were able to rent cabins for our family and guests within easy walking distance of the event center. We rented one of their large luxury cabins (El Capitan) for us & immediate family to stay in and this is where we hosted a welcome BBQ the night before the wedding once all our guests had arrived. It was also our plan B ceremony venue if the weather prevented an outdoor ceremony. Our wedding weekend happened over the power outage but our cabin, El Capitan, had its own generator so we were able to carry on with our Sunday night welcome party and have showers and hot coffee for our guests without power (not all cabins had generators) the Monday morning of the wedding. The main event center had a generator so our reception wasn’t affected that evening by the lack of electricity in the region. The staff at the Redwoods were extremely helpful. They provided all the tables, linens and chairs for the reception. We didn’t hire a DJ but used the event center’s audio equipment and Spotify to play our own wedding playlist for the dinner and dancing. It worked so well and saved us a lot of money!”
The bride and groom met in Scotland and both their families are Scottish, so to honor this they incorporated the following: Thistles (the flower of Scotland) were put into the bridal bouquet, the flower girl crown, all boutonnières, the dinner table center pieces, and the wedding cake. Niall and his father wore the Douglas tartan tie; Megan’s father and brothers wore the Bean tartan tie, and Niall’s brother-in-law wore his Browne tartan tie. A few of their Scottish guests wore their family kilts, which is traditional Scottish wedding attire.
They flanked their wedding cake with pictures of their parents cutting their wedding cakes, an Irish wedding tradition. The cake knife they used to cut their wedding cake was the one Megan’s parent’s used at their wedding. At the reception, they had a lantern memorial for Niall’s mother, who passed away 24 years ago.
What was their experience like with Dawn Kelly Photography?
“Great! Highlights from start to finish: In the planning stages Dawn suggested reception venues, helped us sort out the park permit, and worked with us to create a wedding day timeline both by email and WhatsApp calls. On the day, Dawn and Mark were professional, friendly, and a pleasure to spend time with. Getting our pictures taken was more fun than anticipated – we’re both camera shy – and all the photos turned out AMAZING. After the wedding, Dawn was good to keep us in the loop via email regarding the timeline of photos; gave us lots of previews; accommodated our wishes of keeping photos of our children private; went above and beyond sending prints to my mother and flowers after my father’s passing, and her presentation of our photos when they arrived is so elegant.”
Thank you Megan and Niall! It’s clients like you that make it all worth it. We wish you many lifetimes of happiness!