Wedding planning can often turn into a stressed-out nightmare, but for one couple who just celebrated a year of married bliss, Ireland provided the perfect combination of ease, beauty and family history for a day they’ll treasure forever.

Kristine Dunn, 38, and Carl Thomason, 41, from Emmett, Michigan, were married on July 5, 2016 at the parish church in Lattin, County Tipperary – the same part of Ireland her ancestors left for America as Famine-era immigrants in the 1850s. 

Dunn had made several trips to Ireland in the past and was raised with a deep appreciation of her Irish roots.  When it came time to choosing a wedding location Ireland seemed a natural fit – and her fiancé, with a mostly Welsh and Italian background, was totally on board.

“I wanted to get married in the church where my ancestors came from.  I thought it would be very meaningful and it truly was,” Dunn, a respiratory therapist, recalled during an interview with the Irish Voice.

The Church of the Assumption in Lattin, and parish priest Father John Egan, welcomed Dunn and Thomason, especially given the Dunn family links to the area.  The couple, engaged in the fall of 2015, was planning a trip to Ireland anyway, and the chance to combine an Irish getaway with the biggest day of their lives was too good to pass up.

“This was the first marriage for both of us, and we really thought we’d go for something special,” Dunn says.  “It doesn’t get any more special than Ireland.”

Father John Egan signs the church registry with Kristine Dunn and Carl Thomason.

Father John Egan signs the church registry with Kristine Dunn and Carl Thomason.

The nuts and bolts of coordinating a wedding from more than 3,000 miles away was much easier than she anticipated. Dunn reached out to an Irish-based planner for guidance but it turns out professional assistance wasn’t necessary, especially as Dunn and Thomason, who works with the Ford Motor Company, were never married before.  The local registrar needed to be notified of intent within 90 days of the wedding, and Egan handled all of the other church necessities.  

“I thought it could have been so much worse, but really it was so easy,” Dunn recalled.  “I stayed in constant contact, making sure everyone had what they needed from us.  Everything was surprisingly simple.”

Their Irish dream wedding was attended by 35 family members and friends from America. Dunn traveled with a dress she bought at home, and afterwards the couple hosted a party at a nearby restaurant. The sun-splashed day went off without a hitch.

“We all felt a real sense of history.  My godparents came and it was their first trip to Ireland. Everyone thought it was so meaningful. It was like we could feel the presence of our ancestors in the church, looking down on us,” Dunn said.

Egan’s warmth, she added, made the day even more memorable.  “I just can’t say enough about him, how kind and nice he was to us and how happy he was that we were coming home, so to speak, to celebrate our day,” Dunn said.

Egan, a native of nearby Moyne and a priest for nearly 50 years, was taken with the couple’s wish to connect with their long-ago ancestors.

“I thought it was a lovely idea,” he told the Irish Voice.  “They had a terrific day that will mean so much to them in the future. There was no stress like happens in so many big weddings. I think more American couples should do what Kristine and Carl did.  It would make their weddings even more special.”

The newlyweds broke away from their guests for a few days after the wedding to enjoy an Irish honeymoon before returning to Michigan for a further wedding reception.  Ireland was always close to Dunn’s heart, and now it’s a place she and her husband will never forget.

“We’ll be planning another trip back in the future.  We’ll be connected to Ireland forever,” she said.

Read more: My dream honeymoon in Ireland – taking my great-grandmother’s ashes back home