I'm Tonie - my hearts desire is to work with brides who are not afraid of stepping outside their comfort zone for a dance in the rain, a romp under a waterfall or a blustery day that might put wind in her hair!


“My Fairtale is No Fairytaile” – Part III – Planning a Destination Wedding is HARD!

May 21, 2014

Well here we are! Heading BACK to Ireland this morning to shoot a wedding in the very town we got married in last year and on the very same weekend! So, that being said – if you missed Part I and Part II of this series I suggest you start there.

Building a destination wedding is NOT an easy task and I must admit that I am not an expert on this even though I did it. Mainly because I had SO SO SO much help overseas to pull it all together. BUT what I do have is a few tips for brides who have decided to get married out of the country to make things a bit easier on yourself and your guests!

1. LOOSE all/any expectations – RIGHT NOW.

I mean it. If you expect this perfect fairytale wedding, then the ONLY thing you will get is disappointment. This is about one of the only things I did well. I really just thought we would do a potluck (we have family friends in Ireland who we knew would be attending and could bring a casserole or two with them and feed the 10-25 guests I was expecting) and just walk out into the grass in the side yard and have everyone stand in a circle as we exchanged vows! I NEVER NEVER thought that so much magic would be pulled off by our family friends overseas. Due to loosing all expectations, I was practically doing the #thetonieface (yes check out the hashtag on Instagram for that) the whole first few days as I saw how my friends in Ireland had taken my dream pinterest board and literally turned it to life! I did what I could from the states like gather tea cups and saucers, explain what “burlap” was to the best of my ability – which I came to find out is called “Hessian” in Ireland and finally just gave up the idea that we would have music or outdoor lights when I found out how much specific vendors were.  This leads me to point number 2 but the below photo was my “Grandad Sam” in Ireland giving me a lesson on how to get everything done that we needed to do over the next week. He literally told me “Not going to happen Princess, not going to happen..” HAH! The when it did he said in his rustic Irish accent “Aye laddie, you did it. No more words for you.” HAHA! I LOVE HIM!


“The Tonie Face” Pictured here below: (From left to Right- my dad, Me, Dougie – who’s farm we were married on- and my mom!)


2. NETWORK! Find Connections if you don’t have any.

If you don’t know anyone in the places you want to get married, ask your friends if THEY know anyone in those areas. Finding a local who can help you haggle prices, know the in’s and out’s of the city and surrounding areas is KEY to the success of a wedding out of your home country. We ended up getting an INCREDIBLE Irish band that our friends knew of, as well as building out OWN Dance floor on the patio AND little did I know that my friends actually owned sound equipment and set it all up for us with a song play list and EVERYTHING!


3. Don’t be the “Stupid Americans”

By this I just mean, learn about the culture you are going into. Try not to get under anyone’s skin! A prime example of this was thankfully just a story that was told to me and I did not have to witness it, was when the guys and gals split off for the Hen and Stag Parties in Dublin (that’s bachelor and bachelorette parties) and the guys were doing a “quick change” in the parking lot before they headed to their go-cart racing and a security guard came flying up to them yelling at them! Something about being inappropriate and “in decent exposure” and a mention of “you can go to jail here for that” – I PROMISE it was nothing bad… just guys mainly chaining shirts etc… something that in America may not have been thought twice about! But it just goes to show that things are different everywhere! Try to be aware of that and not cause problems that could cause harm to your wedding day… Like a felony for Indecent Exposure! -Glad they dodged that bullet…. I would NOT have been a happy bride hah! Here are a few photos from the Hen party 🙂 I don’t have any of the Stag party…. that might be a good thing 😉



4. Be prepared to WORK and tell your friends the same! Prepare them 🙂

I can honestly say I worked A LOT less than everyone else as I spent lots of time answering questions and making decisions of where this or that should go etc. Which seems to be the case with most brides! I had an ONSLAUGHT of help from my family who went a week earlier than E and I  to pull off the grunt work of cleaning and prepping the farm. Then, when we arrived, instead of sight seeing right away, we went to work putting up the tent, lights, branches and pulling things out of storage to use as decor! If you are not willing to work hard while you are in a foreign country then go ahead and book a planner and perfect venue cause these things are NOT easy to pull off! (SPECIAL shout out to bridesmaids Taylor,Heather and Robin as well as groomsmen Chris & Dylan and JJ, and my on-laws who were there early as well and jumped RIGHT in to help as well!)


When decorating was finally done and we got to slip away to get ready for rehearsal and the dinner, we came back and the tent was perfection! Everyone had put the finishing touches on it and I was SO thrilled to get rehearsal started!  Here is a sneak peek of some of the photos to come of the decor and actual wedding!



5. Create an Itinerary – Give Information out.

This was one of the HARDEST parts for me as I am not (at all) a detail oriented person nor am I good at planning. (Case in point.. we leave tomorrow and we just booked a hotel for the first two nights in Croatia last night… and we have NO idea where we are staying the rest of the trip haha!) But, what I can tell you is, get cell phones that work or set up the app “WhatsApp” on each others phones so you can communicate for free when connected to Wifi with everyone. The itinerary that I did create, helped a bit, but I would make it really clear to people WHEN they are expected to be at wedding related functions and when they are on their own for sight-seeing and exploring! It was a lot of pressure to feel like we were expected to plan everything for people or “show them around”. So the more detailed with information you can be ahead of time the better! Lastly, I recommend having a point person OTHER than yourself (the bride). My sister did this for me and it helped a TON.  Then, give to that itinerary and don’t forget to have fun! Here are a few photos of us having some fun around the farm a bit and in town!



My amazing Dad pulled it off again with this AWESOME time-lapse and fast paced video showing how much work goes into it all! And really this was just the couple days before the wedding! Not even the week before that! The NEXT post will be the actual wedding photos and a little insight to how we got SOOOO many photos at our wedding! Stay tuned… Have any questions on planning overseas? Or anything about flights etc? Feel free to ask in the comments!

Build An irish Wedding Dance from Michael Duchemin on Vimeo.



  1. Brittany Bishopp says:

    Aww Tonie! I realize I’ve never met you, but I could just hug you right now. I absolutely LOVE your passion for Jesus and these awesomely honest and beautiful story of your engagement/wedding so far. I’ve spent a good hour or so secretly reading your blog while at work and I couldn’t be more happy for you. I’m actually from WA, so when I move back next Fall (2015) or visit before that I would LOVE to meet you! You seem like the kind of person who makes friends easily and just brings joy to everyone you meet. God bless you and your hubby! (And ps. I am a big admirer of you as a photographer. You are awesome.)

    Much Love!

  2. Brittny Nesbitt says:

    I love reading these!

  3. Trina Fisher Williamson says:

    Love this! And bon voyage and happy anniversary!

  4. Marlene Grooms says:

    So fun and so happy for you! Just beautiful. Enjoy reading all your posts.

  5. […] DESERVE a short and sweet post where you can just enjoy the images… (read Part I, Part II and Part III at these […]

  6. Aleya Veach says:

    You have such wonderful family and friends!!

  7. Lydia Van Mepp says:

    I always look forward to reading these post when they get posted! 😀

  8. Elizabeth Coppess says:

    I love the picture of Eric with the cows. He is so handsome!

  9. Traci Thompson says:

    The videos your pops put together are great! What wonderful memories he’s capturing for you!

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