An Intimate Wedding in a Majestic Irish Castle

Real Weddings

“I was enjoying the grounds and watching my guests in awe of the castle making sure everything was going well that I did not have the traditional time a bride usually spends getting ready.”


Bride and Groom: LeShan Barrios and Jason Robert Zaffuto

Wedding date: St Patrick’s Day 2019

Venue: Kilkea Castle

Photographer: Couple Photography


We met in Tampa on a casual night out in December of 2006.  Jason was with my cousin and I was out with co-worker/friend. During the holidays my cousins and I tended to meet up more.  We happened to be out in the same area and decided to catch up. It wasn’t until January 2007 that we met up again.



Our proposal happened during the 4th of July week of 2018. We were at our annual family vacation which is usually at the beach, this year was in North Carolina.  It also so happens to be the year we received notice that the same cousin that introduced us was on his death bed.  Although this was not a celebratory time, Jason felt it was a nudge to stop waiting for the perfect moment.  He felt it was a reminder that life is short and action was needed.



We didn’t intend for our wedding to have a theme or colours.  We only knew we wanted it in the vast greenness of Ireland, I guess that is a statement on its own.  Not sure why, I’ve always had a pull to visit.  Since we first met, I always talked about wanting to go there.  He wasn’t quite sure of why I’d feel this way as neither of us are Irish.  As the years passed (12) he too began to want to make this visit.  So, it was the perfect place for us to celebrate our lives together. As for colours, we just started piecing things together.  First, my mustard coloured wool craspedia bouquet, because I wanted something that I could bring home with me, something I could keep. Then the boutonnieres and of course corsages which I also wanted the recipients to be able to take home.  Of course when I found out our long time friends from the UK with their 2 daughters were coming I had to get them mini bouquets.  These were amazing.  A wonderful lady by the name of Maria Feitshans of Bela Creates Treasures, who I’ve never met in person created them all for me off of pictures I sent her.  I only communicated with her via Instagram, Facebook and her daughter who is a member of the health club I work at.

Then it was my son’s suite that we ordered online the Friday before we left, it was a beautiful burgundy velvet.  We realized Jason had a pair of shoes the same colour and I had a pair as well – bamb.  That same day Jason walked into a store and purchased his hunter green velvet blazer with black lapels, that just happened to be there. That night I ordered myself a wrap and thinking of the colours so far I purchased the best fuzzy fluffy pink wrap!  I then thought I had a thought that vintage hankies would be a perfect gift and it was so fun to gather different ones. The colours of these hankies also seemed to tie in.  I guess you can say I let the colours lead me instead of picking the colours.


My dress was a last minute thought.  No one could believe I had not looked, not even online until the Friday before.  I needed something I could pack, this was my thought.  I went to a handful of places the Friday before and ended up looking online for one of the stores.  I found a dress online, called the store to see if it could make it in on time.  It was a chance I took.  I made it in on time and the seamstress was able to rush an alteration.  I picked it up and packed it in the suitcase the same day. I loved my dress.  It was perfect for me and the scenery of the day.  If I set out to intentionally find this dress I’m not sure I would have been satisfied with anything.


I was enjoying the grounds and watching my guests in awe of the castle making sure everything was going well that I did not have the traditional time a bride usually spends getting ready.  Jason and I sat peacefully having lunch until 1:30, our wedding was at 3. I had an idea of what I was going to do and had my makeup had been purposely packed for the trip.  I threw my hair up in a loose bun, wore a mini tiara and minimal makeup; fuschia lipstick, blush, eyeliner and mascara.



We did not have a bridal party.  It was just us 3, our son, Jason and myself.


Our ceremony was wonderful and intentional.  We had met with our celebrant via skype.  She was lovely.  We chatted with her about our relationship and she offered us information about different rituals and we were able to select the ones that we thought were the most meaningful to us. We had a ring warming, a time to mention those that were not with us including a candle lighting for them and hand tying.  There was a great effort to make sure each of the guests felt included and part of the ceremony. Many of them had parts to play in the ceremony, a surprise to them the day of.  It truly was a special time that integrated all of us that were in the room.  The guests didn’t realize this ceremony would be a bit different that those they were used to attending. It was held in the receiving area of the castle which made me feel as if the ceremony was held in the palms of kind hands. Warmth, love and joy could be felt, everything was perfect.



We choose our photographer because luckily they were on a list of resources that the Castle sent, along with a few others.  I looked at all of their websites and thought the Couple Photography seemed to have the feel and vibe that matched us the best.  The work I could glance through on their pages spoke to me.  The ladies were amazing and the way they fit into the day was another gift. They were meant to be there. The experience was fun not uptight at all and because they really show how much love they have for what they do. Everyone else has that much more of a good time taking pictures because of how seamlessly they work.  It was play time for us, we really enjoyed it.  The pictures are amazing!



We choose the Kilkea Castle because of its beauty and all it offered.  The Castle offered a wedding coordinator, Elaine Mc Fadden, a robust offering for dinner and breakfast and gorgeous grounds.  The day of, everything exceeded expectations.  All of the food was delicious as well as beautifully displayed. The staff truly are there to create a wonderful experience.  They made us feel as if we were the proprietors of the castle for the time we were there.  Unexpected details added more, such as a selection of dinner menus we got to choose that were placed at each of the guest’s seats. For dessert we opted for an arrangement.  We could not believe our eyes, there were three large 3 tier carriers with amazing bakery treats and charcuterie marble slabs.  We had a feast that was fit for a king.  There were loads of left over sweets so one of the staff took it down stairs to the fire place area and the bar for us.  Little did the guests know that in an hour or so, second dinner was coming.  While at the bar, snacks arrived.  Fish and chips, sliders and nachos arrived while we were dancing, conversing and playing hide and seek with the kids.



One of my favorite parts of the night was realizing that we did have the castle to ourselves.  The kids had so much fun playing hide and seek in the castle and it was pretty cool to think that they were doing that.  Seeing our group of 15 enjoying the night was a fantastic delight.  Our wedding celebration was in the middle of the trip, we had already traveled for a few days, seen some sights and bonded.



A piece of advice for couples is, to think, as a couple what best reflects you?  What experience will enhance what already is and literally tie some connections to your already life together, together.  No matter how crazy people think you are or how persuasive they can be, stick to what will light you up on the day you say “I do.”  Once a commitment is made in the head and heart, it’ll all work out.



We decided shortly after our engagement day that Ireland was where it had to be.  We began actively planning our journey after Christmas 2018. When we booked the castle, food and tour (Emerald VIP Tours) we didn’t know who was coming.  We only knew us three would be there.  By the time the wedding was ahead, we had 7 total, and 2 more jumped in a couple weeks prior. In total 9 of us traveled from Florida, 1 from Arizona, 1 from New Jersey and 4 from the UK.



A friend I made when I was 7 or 8 on a vacation at the beach in Florida was in attendance.  She and her family remained in contact with my family through the years.  They visited a couple more times when we were young.  While I was in college she visited during spring break and even went back to spend a week in college with me.  We lost touch after that, I’m not the best at keeping in touch. When Facebook came around we were able to reconnect.  She had a family now and so did I.  We met up in Orlando, her husband and kids along with my parents, Jason and Lucky.  We had a blast.  Our mates were quick friends and keep in touch still.  One exciting thought for us when planning our wedding was that maybe Clair, Martin and the girls could join.  That would be so great, and they did!  It meant so much to us to have them there and to see our kids playing as we did when we were just about their age.




Venue: Kilkea Castle | Photographer: Couple Photography | Coordinator: Elaine Mc Fadden from the castle | Dress: Davids Bridal Shop | Suit: Mens Warehouse | Cake: Creative Cakes | Celebrant: Miriam Fitzgerald