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An Intimate Country Wedding at Borris House in Borris, County Carlow, Ireland

Elizabeth Leese and Hunter Hendershot ditched their Texas digs in favor of the Emerald Isle for their intimate summer wedding. The pair had bonded ove

Elizabeth Leese and Hunter Hendershot ditched their Texas digs in favor of the Emerald Isle for their intimate summer wedding. The pair had bonded over their love of travel and their own experiences in Ireland, and when it became clear that they’d each met their match, Elizabeth and Hunter began dreaming of a destination wedding in the Irish countryside. “Hunter and I felt it was very important to have our wedding somewhere meaningful and surrounded by the people we love,” Elizabeth says. The day unfolded at Borris House, the historic home of the Kavanaghs, High Kings of Leinster. “Hunter and I had a jolt of spontaneity when we arrived the day before the wedding and decided to move our ceremony outside, into the Lace Garden filled with varieties of white flowers,” Elizabeth says. The couple exchanged vows under an arch adorned with garlands of eucalyptus and white cosmos, and Elizabeth’s uncle officiated. As a nod to Irish tradition, the couple incorporated a handfasting ceremony into the proceedings. “We had prayed the Irish skies would hold off on the rain, and as my uncle was reading an Irish blessing at the end of the ceremony—‘may the rain fall softly upon your fields’—we felt a single drop of rain,” Elizabeth says. “At the time, I didn’t know why we both looked up and smiled at the same time, but the rain had waited for us.” Borris House’s ballroom welcomed them warmly for the reception, where the soft spatter of gentle rain mingled with sounds of joyful laughter and harp music. Family and friends gathered around a long reception table draped with greenery, fresh lavender and bouquets of cream and peach-colored blooms, with strands of brightly lit bistro lights and paper lanterns casting a warm, intimate glow over the room. Though Elizabeth and Hunter capped their guest list at 30, the dance floor was packed after dinner. “If you think 30 people isn’t enough to fill a dance floor, you haven’t met my family,” Elizabeth says. “We danced to every oldie and classic love song imaginable. And we didn’t leave our humor in the States, because as a long running joke, my mother wore an alien mask on the dance floor that she had scared Hunter with on the day he asked my parents’ permission to marry me.” A tip from Elizabeth and Hunter: “With the small number of guests, we were able to soak up every moment in the most beautiful location. Our advice is to enjoy your wedding—do whatever you can to make sure you can stop and take in the people around you.” —Libby MacCarthy

Bringing a bohemian quality to her modern, romantic wedding gown, Elizabeth wore her hair in a low ponytail. Loose, face-framing tendrils and elegantly undone waves lent a softness to her look. A cluster of small pink and cream-colored roses were added at the base of the ponytail, capturing the essence of the Irish countryside and the beauty of the garden where the ceremony took place.
With Borris House's spacious rooms and charming cottages, Elizabeth and Hunter’s wedding party and guests stayed on-site for the entire weekend. “The house was absolutely breathtaking, and even if we had all the time in the world, it still wouldn’t have been enough to take in the dreaminess of it all,” Elizabeth says. “From the bridal suite, I had a perfect view of the field of horses, and I even had a secret staircase that my bridesmaids and I used to elude Hunter before the wedding.”
Elizabeth and Hunter had originally planned to host their ceremony indoors, but after seeing the historic Kavanagh home, they decided to say their “I dos” outdoors in its lush Lace Garden. The rain held off for the ceremony, with a few drops making an appearance at the end as Elizabeth’s uncle read the line “may the rain fall softly upon your fields,” from a traditional Irish blessing. “At the time, I didn’t know why we both looked up and smiled at the same time, but the rain had waited for us,” Elizabeth says.
Surrounded by an intimate group of their closest family members and friends, Elizabeth and Hunter exchanged vows in Borris House’s Lace Garden. Stone walls, abundant white blooms and verdant greenery framed a small clearing, with an arch of vibrant white cosmos and cascades of eucalyptus and vines at the center. Elizabeth’s uncle led them through an Irish handfasting ceremony and performed an Irish blessing.
Since Elizabeth is a wedding dress designer, making her own gown was an obvious choice. “Upon our engagement, I was graduating, working as a designer’s assistant and finishing my senior collection, but this didn’t stop me from making my wedding dress,” Elizabeth says. The designer repurposed French Alencon lace from her mother’s wedding dress and tacked it to her gown. “I blended my modern taste with the location of the wedding, which resulted in a stark white, silk trumpet-style gown with illusion sleeves and a deep back. The hand-tacked lace softened the edginess for a dreamy, organic look.”
The newlyweds and their guests headed indoors for the reception, sitting down to dinner in Borris House’s historic ballroom. Exposed wooden beams, natural wood floors and stone walls gave the celebration a cozy and inviting vibe. Everyone gathered around a long table to enjoy a family-style meal by candlelight, further heightening the evening’s sense of intimacy.
Elizabeth switched her look for the reception, donning an embellished white silk and Chantily lace jumpsuit with a tulle skirt overlay that she had designed herself. She teamed the look with rose gold Sophia Webster heels and a Vince Camuto cocktail ring.
To complete her postceremony costume change, Elizabeth mixed up her 'do by styling it into a low, tousled chignon, which complemented the youthful feel of her jumpsuit.
Garlands of lush greenery and abundant bouquets of dahlias, roses and foxgloves enlivened the elegant tablescape, while a fresh sprig of lavender at each place setting and stoneware dishes amplified the country charm.
After the ceremony, Elizabeth and Hunter treated their guests to a delicious home-cooked meal prepared by the Borris House staff, followed by a slice of wedding cake. The couple also served a selection of macarons, which were devoured with much delight.
Elizabeth’s penchant for modern design featured prominently in the couple’s wedding cake. Three towering layers of white fondant-covered cake gave way to a textural fondant flower sculpted in the likeness of a hydrangea. Gold paint placed at the edges of the sugary creation added a hint of glamour and drama to the confection.