Sally & Damian : Irish Eyes & Sparkler Lines – An International Love Story

Sally & Damian’s wedding will go down in my personal photographic history as being the wedding that I got more chills than I have ever experienced in my life.  I don’t mean cold chills – I mean there was so much love in the atmosphere that it was overwhelmingly exciting type of chills.  I adored these two from our first meeting.  A beautiful Jersey girl and a handsome Irishman (living in Scotland) – both absolutely beautiful and kind souls. This is the wedding I stood on a chair and coordinated an almost 200 person sparkler line to create the photographs you will see below.
Sally did such an absolutely breathtakingly and detailed account of their meeting, engagement, and their wedding day that no words of mine could do it justice.  So here it is – from her own beautiful perspective.
Highlights:
  • International Half Marathon in Edinburgh (the cause of their meeting)
  • A Wedding Date Turned Road Trip Across the West Cost “We grew to be friends planning our road trip, Napa Valley, San Fran, 17 mile drive, Big Sur, Santa Barbara, San Diego. We would stay in the sweetest bed and breakfasts, go on hikes around waterfalls, bike ride across the Golden Gate Bridge, wine taste our way through Napa, walk on the beach, meet friends, and celebrate one of my best friend’s weddings together. It was more like a honeymoon than a first date and we both knew it but we just kept enjoying every moment both knowing he was going back across the ocean at the end of the trip.”
  • When you know. YOU KNOW.  (Brian and I can SO relate to this). “We were sitting at the end of the dock at the beach house, there was just hours before his flight back to Edinburgh. To my surpise, Damian asked when he could see me again, how could we make this work? I think it was then that I fell in love with him. I loved him for believing that our road trip didn’t have to end. He suggested meeting in Paris in October when he would be there for work.”
  • “Damian proposed at Mumm Vineyard  in Napa Valley about 9 months after we started dating. We had hired a limo to take us from winery to winery. He asked me to walk into the vines away from our friends when he got down on one knee. We celebrated our way through a few more vineyards and tastings followed by a delicious dinner in downtown Napa and cigars, more Champagne on the wraparound porch of our bed and breakfast (the same one as our ‘first date’ the year before).”
  • Their amazing getaway wedding at Crystal Springs Resort.
  • Handfasting Ceremony “We did a handfasting ritual with a Tartan to honor Damian’s Irish heritage and his living in Scotland for 11 years before moving to the US to be with me. Handfasting is an ancient Celtic tradition whereby the partners literally join hands to symbolize the agreement between them. An old fashioned hand shake to bind two people before Christian marriage vows. Each cord meant something such as wisdom, passion, renewal, magic, mystery, peace and purity, richness, strength and love.”
  • Their first look in a BIOSPHERE.
  • International Guests & Their National Dress (New Zealand , Australia, Dubai, England, Scotland, Ireland)“We had guests in kilts as well as in traditional Nigerian formal dress.”
  • Sneaking through the back halls and staircases down through the kitchen to go admire the sunset and have some photographs taken.
  • Loch Lommond (THE CHILLS WERE UNSTOPPABLE AT THIS POINT.) “The band learned this Scottish song dating from 1841 just for us. In Scotland the song is often the final piece of music played during a party and people join hands and dance in a large circle formation. Many of our 175  guests joined hands in a huge circle and danced to Loch Lommond not wanting the party to end! Damian & I ended up in the center of the circle and felt so much love and joy at that moment that we have been feeling ever since, especially now as I am pregnant with our first baby.”

I HIGHLY recommend you read their entire story.  You, too, may even get the chills.

 Their total fairy tale love story in Sally’s words :
“One of my friends and an old sorority sister, Christina (she was a bridesmaid) and I had been plotting about running an international half marathon. We had decided on Scotland. We booked our trip and couldn’t have been more excited! I had been to Australia on a 4 month solo trip a few years before and fallen in love with travel and new experiences. I wasn’t a runner –but I was single, excited, 28, and open to trying anything. 13.2 miles was a crazy challenge that I was happy to accept especially since it was going to take me through one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Two mutual friends of mine and Damian named Liz and Kaitlin heard about my trip to Edinburgh and suggested I meet their friend (Damian) who was a ‘great guy and really cute, too’ living in Edinburgh. They said he could show me around the city. I agreed and kind of just forgot about it. He and I arranged to meet on the day I arrived, which happened to be his birthday. He did a great job showing me around his beautiful city.

We had lunch, walked through beautiful gardens, including historic sites like the medieval Edinburgh Castle,  happy hour with his friends to celebrate his birthday, more drinks, and a late dinner. We walked arm &arm through am old historic graveyard that was somehow scary and romantic at the same time! He was a perfect gentlemen and gave me a kiss on the cheek at the door of my hotel. We said goodnight and he wished me luck on my race. I couldn’t tell if he was interested in me or if he was just being a good tour guide!?  I thought he was special, different than the guys back home. But I thought ‘oh well, he lives in Scotland.’ 

The next day, Damian called our hotel room – by this time Christina had landed. She answered the phone but couldn’t understand his thick Irish accent and when he asked for me she actually told him that no one by that name was here, because she couldn’t understand him. Luckily he didn’t given up. Damian’s friends were running the ½ marathon and he had went to cheer them on. He also found me at about mile 10 when I was looking like hell and running up one of the many hills. Christina and I had on American bandanas and were hard to miss. He took us out for drinks later that night to celebrate our run and again we had a great time. Christina and I were off for the Isle of Skye the next morning and that was the end of that, or so I thought.

  We said our goodbyes. Little did I know, after that weekend and when I was back home, we would keep in touch through email and he told our mutual friends how he had was interested in me but thought I might not feel the same. My friends knew I was also interested in him. We both thought, maybe we missed an opportunity but went on with our lives in NJ and Scotland.. Months later he sent me a message offering to be my date to a wedding I was going to in San Diego later that summer. He had actually remembered a conversation we had on his birthday in Edinburgh where I mentioned the occasion and wanting to do a road trip from San Francisco to San Diego, last stop the wedding in San Diego. He had never been to California and thought it sounded like a great trip. I thought he must be kidding, but was happy to go along with his offer. He wasn’t kidding and booked flights over a few days later. I was SO excited. My friends thought I was crazy, his friends thought the same of him. They said, you barely know him, what if you don’t get along? We both had funny feelings that wouldn’t be the case. We grew to be friends planning our road trip, Napa Valley, San Fran, 17 mile drive, Big Sur, Santa Barbara, San Diego. We would stay in the sweetest bed and breakfasts, go on hikes around waterfalls, bike ride across the Golden Gate Bridge, wine taste our way through Napa, walk on the beach, meet friends, and celebrate one of my best friend’s weddings together. It was more like a honeymoon than a first date and we both knew it but we just kept enjoying every moment both knowing he was going back across the ocean at the end of the trip. 

I fell in love with Damian at the end of our Pacific Coast Highway road trip from San Francisco to San Diego. It might have even been before that trip –I was in love with the idea that this handsome man would take a chance like this, that could really be amazing or horrible and go on vacation with a girl he had only met twice. We started out the trip as polite friends and we ended as so much more.  He and I both had an eerie sense of calm that life was unfolding as it should. The trip was technically our first date, I had butterflies. (I still feel butterflies.)  Someone joked at that San Diego wedding that Damian and I would get married. We laughed like it was a silly thing to say even though I thought to myself that it was probably true. It was a trip like I had never had before.  I was prepared to leave it in California but I couldn’t imagine going on a date with anyone else after what we had experienced. How could anything top the Napa Valley wine train, Hiking to a waterfall in Big Sur – camping where the redwoods meet the ocean, Exploring Alcatraz, riding bikes over the golden gate bridge? I didn’t know what to do next. I’d leave it to my mom and sisters to ask the hard questions! Damian loved my family and answered all the questions in the right way. We were sitting at the end of the dock at the beach house, there was just hours before his flight back to Edinburgh. To my surpise, Damian asked when he could see me again, how could we make this work? I think it was then that I fell in love with him. I loved him for believing that our road trip didn’t have to end. He suggested meeting in Paris in October when he would be there for work. Well, I didn’t need to be asked twice to go to Paris. I quickly agreed and we decided that we would take this seriously and try to make it work somehow.  On the way to the airport, he called the airline and changed his flights so he could stay with me longer. I knew then that this was it. We did Paris in October, he came to NJ for Thanksgiving, I went to Edinburgh for NYE, then he came back in April to celebrate his birthday in Cape May and Atlantic City. In June we went back to San Francisco, this time for his friend’s wedding in San Francisco. This time we went north instead of south. Damian proposed at Mumm Vineyard  in Napa Valley about 9 months after we started dating. We had hired a limo to take us from winery to winery. He asked me to walk into the vines away from our friends when he got down on one knee. We celebrated our way through a few more vineyards and tastings followed by a delicious dinner in downtown Napa and cigars, more Champagne on the wraparound porch of our bed and breakfast (the same one as our ‘first date’ the year before), and made phone calls home to share our good news. That day was probably the best day of my life second only to our wedding day; both days we danced and laughed and drank good wine, and ate good food and the happy day seemed to go on and on! :-)”

Their magical wedding day in Sally’s words :

“We wanted our wedding to be a CELEBRATION of LOVE. Love is everything in this life and I wanted that to be the take home message. We also wanted everyone to be ready to PARTY 😉 The wedding was our public declaration of our desire to share the precious lives we have with each other. Choosing a partner is one of the most important choices we make in this life and we wanted to celebrate big choosing well!

We chose Crystal Springs Resort in Hamburg, NJ as the location for our wedding because we loved the natural beauty and rustic elegance it embodied. It was beautiful but welcoming. Our guests were able to stay overnight, some even stayed for 5 days! They enjoyed the golf courses, indoor and outdoor pools, delicious restaurants and outdoor activities. The day after the wedding we laid by the pools and then went across the street to Cava Winery (where we had our rehearsal dinner) for live music and wine tasting with our guests. A relaxing day after was the perfect counter to the formal wedding of the day before.
In our ceremony we chose Celia Milton because we wanted a personalized service that would be a combination of intimate, lighthearted and spiritual.  I also imagined lots of joy, excitement and happiness.
Some of the highlights from our wedding day:

Our personalized ceremony where Celia told our love story, and we had a handfasting ceremony with a tartan scarf that we used for my sisters, Damian’s brother, and my grandparents to fasten our hands together to symbolize our commitment to each other. We did a handfasting ritual with a Tartan to honor Damian’s Irish heritage and his living in Scotland for 11 years before moving to the US to be with me. Handfasting is an ancient Celtic tradition whereby the partners literally join hands to symbolize the agreement between them. An old fashioned hand shake to bind two people before Christian marriage vows. Each cord meant something such as wisdom, passion, renewal, magic, mystery, peace and purity, richness, strength and love.

We honored our mothers with roses during the ceremony for raising us to be the people we are today. Our mothers have  taught them us so much and loved us so unconditionally so as we created our own family, we wanted to do something special for them.

My dad walked me down the aisle to  Elvis Love me Tender. My father is such an important person in my life and Damian has all the qualities I always admired in my father. I loved seeing my dad and Damian both tear up as my dad ‘gave me’ to Damian.

We also broke glass at the end of our ceremony to symbolize the fragility of life, things would never be the same but will be different and better than before. The custom of breaking a glass is an old one and it has many meanings:  seriousness of marriage and that the vows of marriage cannot be reversed, the glass should be the last thing to break between them. The permanence of the broken glass represents a permanent change in the lives of this couple, as well.  Just as glasses are broken and cannot ever be exactly the same as they once were, their lives will never be quite the same. The innumerable pieces of the glass should be a reminder of the innumerable ways we will love each other in the future.

The music on our day was so important to me. We had an amazing band, Mission Dance. We took Dance lessons and danced our first dance, a Rumba to Elvis’  Now or Never and Swing to Elvis’ Burning Love. That dance was so much fun and we loved the lessons we took leading up to the wedding!

Taking our first look pictures in the biosphere pool and on the resort’s life size chess board was so much fun and just got the day off to such a joyful start.

We loved sneaking out of the reception through the kitchen with our amazing photographer to capture some sunset pictures by the infinity pool!

The champagne was flowing big time and I think everyone really enjoyed the toasts at the start of the wedding.

We had a painter at the wedding to paint the scene as he saw it. Martin Hardy was able to perfectly capture a dance scene from our wedding, with Damian & I at the center mid dance turn, and all of our immediate family and guests sprinkled in the frame. It is a gorgeous piece of art we will always treasure that nor hangs in our living room.

We will never forget the energy and magnetic happiness in the room as the night neared to a close during the song Loch Lommond. The band learned this Scottish song dating from 1841 just for us. In Scotland the song is often the final piece of music played during a party and people join hands and dance in a large circle formation. Many of our 175  guests joined hands in a huge circle and danced to Loch Lommond not wanting the party to end! Damian & I ended up in the center of the circle and felt so much love and joy at that moment that we have been feeling ever since, especially now as I am pregnant with our first baby.

After the final song, you (ie: she means me) did a terrific job of assembling our 175 guests into an aisle formation where we had sparklers to light our way out of the wedding and into our married life. We ran up and down the aisle under the light of the sparklers and again felt surrounded by so much love and good wishes along with the occasional sizzle from the sparkler ash! It was an amazing feeling.

 We wanted our wedding guests to feel globally connected. Guests flew in from all over the world, but it is a small world and the things people have in common are so much greater than their differences. We hoped guests would make a new friend or two throughout our wedding weekend. Guests came in from as far as New Zealand (Damian’s brother), Australia, Dubai, England, Scotland, Ireland.. Canada, California, Florida  and I am so thankful for the huge effort made to come and celebrate with us.We had guests in kilts as well as in traditional Nigerian formal dress. Our guests are beautiful inside and out and everyone was at their best on that day. We had a globe guestbook with a sign that said ‘Love makes the world go around.’ Our guests all signed the globe that is now in our new home to remind us of all the love we feel from all corners of the world.  Above all we wanted our wedding to be a celebration of all that is good in our lives, family friends, good food and drinks, feeling that the world is ours and there is so much to celebrate. I think we succeeded in creating a day full of joy and love. We will treasure it as the happiest day of our lives. We are still thankful now over a year later for all the support and love we feel from our family and friends, on 5/29/15 and every other day.

We went on a mini moon to Boston and Cape Cod that summer and in December 2015  took our honeymoon to Thailand where we explored a beautiful country neither of us had been to before. We explored temples in Bangkok, tasted our way food markets, cooking classes and local culture in Chiang Mai, hiked through the forests and learned to care for elephants while staying at a rescue center called Elephant Nature Park, and finally flew to the islands for some R& R on the gorgeous islands of Phuket and Koh Phi Phi. It was the perfect mix of adventure and relaxation and a great kick off to our life together.”

TheRamsdens_0593 TheRamsdens_0594 TheRamsdens_0595 TheRamsdens_0596 TheRamsdens_0597 TheRamsdens_0598 TheRamsdens_0599 TheRamsdens_0600 TheRamsdens_0601 TheRamsdens_0602 TheRamsdens_0603 TheRamsdens_0604 TheRamsdens_0605 TheRamsdens_0606 TheRamsdens_0607 TheRamsdens_0608 TheRamsdens_0609 TheRamsdens_0610 TheRamsdens_0611 TheRamsdens_0612 TheRamsdens_0613 TheRamsdens_0614 TheRamsdens_0615 TheRamsdens_0616 TheRamsdens_0617 TheRamsdens_0618 TheRamsdens_0619 TheRamsdens_0620 TheRamsdens_0621 TheRamsdens_0622 TheRamsdens_0623 TheRamsdens_0624 TheRamsdens_0625 TheRamsdens_0626 TheRamsdens_0627 TheRamsdens_0628 TheRamsdens_0629 TheRamsdens_0630 TheRamsdens_0631 TheRamsdens_0632 TheRamsdens_0633 TheRamsdens_0634 TheRamsdens_0635 TheRamsdens_0636 TheRamsdens_0637 TheRamsdens_0638 TheRamsdens_0639 TheRamsdens_0640 TheRamsdens_0641 TheRamsdens_0642 TheRamsdens_0643 TheRamsdens_0644 TheRamsdens_0645 TheRamsdens_0646 TheRamsdens_0647 TheRamsdens_0648 TheRamsdens_0649 TheRamsdens_0650 TheRamsdens_0651 TheRamsdens_0652 TheRamsdens_0653 TheRamsdens_0654 TheRamsdens_0655 TheRamsdens_0656 TheRamsdens_0657 TheRamsdens_0658 TheRamsdens_0659 TheRamsdens_0660 TheRamsdens_0661 TheRamsdens_0662 TheRamsdens_0663 TheRamsdens_0664 TheRamsdens_0665 TheRamsdens_0666 TheRamsdens_0667 TheRamsdens_0668 TheRamsdens_0669 TheRamsdens_0670 TheRamsdens_0671 TheRamsdens_0672 TheRamsdens_0673 TheRamsdens_0674 TheRamsdens_0675 TheRamsdens_0676 TheRamsdens_0677 TheRamsdens_0678 TheRamsdens_0679 TheRamsdens_0680 TheRamsdens_0681 TheRamsdens_0682 TheRamsdens_0683 TheRamsdens_0684 TheRamsdens_0685 TheRamsdens_0686 TheRamsdens_0687 TheRamsdens_0688 TheRamsdens_0689 TheRamsdens_0690 TheRamsdens_0691 TheRamsdens_0692 TheRamsdens_0693 TheRamsdens_0695TheRamsdens_0694

Dress: Bijou Bridal Collection, Paramus NJ // Suit: Custom Nordstrom Hart Schaffner Marx // Shoes: Benjamin Adams London ‘Mia’ // Hair + Make Up: Moxie Blowdry & Beauty Bar (locations around northern NJ) // Location: Grand Cascades Lodge at Crystal Springs Resort // Band: Mission Dance, Freehold NJ // Live Painter: Martin Hardy // Bridesmaids Dresses: Adrianna Papell from Suite 201, Ridgewood NJ // Rings: engagement ring and wedding bands: Salvatore & Co, NYC // Flowers: Floral Expressions by Maria & Larry, Washington Township NJ // Officiant: Celia Milton //
Invitations: Minted // Cake: Palermo’s Bakery // Dance instructor: Lauren Faustini of Franklin Lakes, NJ
1 notes + Add comment
  • bastcilk doptb

    on August 18, 2016  6:26 am

    There are some fascinating closing dates on this article but I don’t know if I see all of them middle to heart. There's some validity but I will take maintain opinion till I look into it further. Good article , thanks and we want extra! Added to FeedBurner as nicely