How to recreate Clodagh McKenna’s intimate garden wedding style

McKenna says her wedding was the 'happiest day' of her life
How to recreate Clodagh McKenna’s intimate garden wedding style

Left: Clodagh McKenna with husband Harry Herbert at Highclere. Right: The bride enjoying a pint of Guinness with guest Iain Sterling. Pictures: Imedla May and Laura Whitmore

Television chef Clodagh McKenna married English aristocrat Harry Herbert at the weekend in an intimate ceremony on the grounds of Highclere - best known as the setting of Downton Abbey.

McKenna, 46, who was born in Blackrock, Cork City and also lived in Kerry Pike, has lived with her fiancé in England for the past five years. Their home, Broadspear House, is located on his Hampshire estate, beside Highclere Castle, where Herbert grew up.

Their wedding was attended by family and friends including singer Imelda May, Love Island presenter Laura Whitmore and her husband Iain Stirling, composer Andrew Lloyd Webber and actor Richard E. Grant.

May, who sang during the church ceremony and later during the reception, wished the happy couple “infinite happiness”.

“I’m so glad I could share your truly magical day with you. It was so special. Thank you for having me be a part of it. I love you both,” she wrote on Instagram. Whitmore shared some snaps from the day too, describing it as a day of “food, drinking and dancing with so many friends.” She included a video of a trad session surrounded by guests, led by May and singer Niall McNamee.

McKenna says her wedding was the “happiest day” of her life. Pictures and videos shared on social media of the wedding preparations and the celebration itself show a rustic, homely decor with mountains of flowers and food.

It’s a wedding trend that has grown thanks to restrictions imposed during the pandemic but one that those in the industry can see lasting.

Annie Dunne of ​​A.D. Event Design, which creates bespoke intimate weddings, says smaller events with more personal details like McKenna’s wedding are here to stay.

“Whilst Covid may have acted as a catalyst, I believe intimate weddings are becoming far more popular and will be here to stay well after restrictions are lifted. Couples are finding many positives to an intimate wedding,” Dunne says.

“Smaller weddings allow couples to celebrate with their closest friends rather than having to spit their time between hundreds of people. Couples can zone in on personal details and spend more on certain aspects of the wedding such as food, flowers, entertainment or whatever is important to them.” 

Dunne says a smaller wedding is more enjoyable for many brides and grooms.

“An intimate wedding is a less stressful experience for couples which in turn creates a relaxed atmosphere for everyone to enjoy on the day.” 

McKenna’s wedding took advantage of her countryside home and focused on details like the local produce which made its way onto the menu, including aioli from her own hens and Dorset sea bass. This is a trend Dunne has seen growing.

“I have found that most couples are booking either country houses, private gardens or having a marquee wedding at home in order to work with current restrictions whilst creating a memorable and truly unique day. The events that I produce are always bespoke to the couple, which has definitely leant itself to intimate weddings where couples want to spend on the things that matter to them.

“One trend I am seeing is that more and more couples want a menu that really focuses on the food. Previously, food at weddings could be a little mundane resulting in a menu offering beef or salmon. Now couples are putting a greater emphasis on local seasonal produce which in turn creates a unique menu with wine pairings to match. Having a garden wedding at home gives couples the freedom to customise their own day.” 

And customise her day McKenna did. She shared photos on social media of her baking soda bread and carrying cabbage as she prepared for their guests in an impressively hands-on way.

Professional photographs were taken on the day by Hugo Burnand, who also photographed the royal wedding of Britain’s Prince William and Kate Middleton. Queen Elizabeth II is the groom’s godmother and has met with McKenna previously.

The newlyweds jetted off on their honeymoon today. McKenna shared a picture of a congratulations card she received from the crew onboard their flight from London to Ibiza.

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