Denice Kenny loves her job at the picturesque Landmark Hotel in Carrick-on-Shannon, Co. Leitrim. As Wedding Manager at the hotel, she knows how important her role is in bringing the dreams of couples to fruition on one of the most important days of their life.
Mayo born and bred; Denice started working in a restaurant in Swinford at the age of 15. After attending college in Sligo, she joined Days Hotel in Castlebar as restaurant manager, before moving to Breaffy House Hotel in Castlebar, where she held a variety of roles including restaurant manager, duty manager, banqueting manager and wedding co-ordinator.
Denice recognises that a wedding day is one of the most important days in most couples’ lives, and she uses the extensive experience she’s gained over the years in the sector to her role as Wedding Manager at the Landmark Hotel.
“I’ve seen everything”, Denice smiles. “You’ll always get couples who love to do something different. When I talk to couples, I’m very level-headed. The most important thing is never to say no to them. If you do that, they get very defensive. But because of my experience, I can give them good advice. If they have an idea for something that’s out of the ordinary, if it’s been done before I tell them how it’s worked and how it hasn’t worked. I’ll always try new, exciting things, but I think I’ve done them all now”, she laughs.
When couples come into the Landmark, Denice shows them around. The hotel is private for the wedding; something that is valued by couples. “When you can describe it as private, couples love that”, she says. “I run through all the packages. Every couple has different needs. I help them to find the package that suits them the best”.
Word of mouth is an important factor in couples selecting the Landmark Hotel for their big day. “We are renowned for the quality of our food”, explains Denice. “From feedback from friends or relations who have attended weddings here, they know the food and service is excellent”.
“We offer the traditional meal options, but what the Landmark is known for is the boxty with black pudding”, she continues. “It’s one of the most popular starters here, it’s tasty, it’s a real Leitrim dish. Nine out of ten couples will go with the boxty option.”
The Landmark’s picturesque setting on the banks of the Shannon is a very popular wedding destination, particularly in the summer months. The hotel hosts around 50 weddings a year.
Weddings at The Landmark
When guests arrive at the hotel on the day of the wedding, they will enjoy a drinks reception either in the private Mallard Bar, or in the pre-function area. There is also a reception room that is private on the day for the bridal party. “It’s a lovely area for them to enjoy some time with the bridal party”, Denice enthuses. “One thing about the big day is that the bride and groom never get to enjoy time with the bridal party, so it’s lovely for them to be able to have this opportunity for them to mingle and enjoy a drink together. And a bit of touching up! I always find that the following day, the bride and groom mention that the room was gorgeous, they loved the chance to relax and enjoy and have that bit of downtime.”
Denice has experienced the rise in popularity of couples opting to have a civil ceremony, and the Landmark has the capacity to cater to these needs. “We transform our pre-function area into a ceremony room”, she explains. “The altar is positioned in the centre of the room. It’s lovely, it’s not traditional, and all the guests are all around the couple.”
She continues: “Civil ceremonies are more prevalent now, a lot of couples are opting for that. For 2023, I think 75% of couples are looking for ceremonies in the hotel. One reason is that there are people who have been married before. But there’s a new age of younger people that church wouldn’t be their forte. And then a lot of people like the idea of having everything in the hotel, so you arrive to the hotel at 2pm and you don’t have to move again for the rest of the day.”
Another area of growth is same sex marriages. “They’re the very same as any wedding”, smiles Denice. “They’re good fun, they do like to go a little bit extravagant, and that’s what you love. They push the boat out.”
Denice understands the importance of being on-the-ground on the day of the wedding. She says: “I’m always here on the day of the weddings. I won’t lie, I still get nervous with every wedding, but I think that’s a good nervous. If you become complacent and sit back, something will go wrong. It’s important to be always on your toes. Expect the unexpected, 100%! And dealing it with a smile. You can solve everything, and I suppose that’s where couples do relax so much because Denice will do it – and I will. It’s all about making their day stress-free.”
New plans for weddings in 2023
For 2023, the Landmark have exciting new developments planned for their wedding business. As Denice explains: “We’re going to be launching new packages for 2023 and we’re going to have a wider budget for different couples. We’re going to offer new ideas for couples bringing memory walls in, different add-ons for them that we’ll include into the packages to bring new excitement to couples and personalise the experience more for them.” Other add-ons planned include a Whiskey & Cigar bar, a Gin reception, grazing tables, a Champagne tower, Cocktail intervals, and more.
While always looking to the future, Denice values the traditions and personal touches that the Landmark offers.
“Ciaran Kelly, the hotel’s owner, still comes into the reception to say hello to the bride and groom. It’s a lovely, small touch that makes it special. There’s a sense of intimacy and connection about a rural wedding versus an urban one”, she smiles.
Denice is passionate about her job, saying: “I love what I do, I love the buzz of the day, and the planning of the day, and looking after the couples. The real reward is the following morning when I come down to reception and they’re standing there, and they give me a big hug to say thank you. It’s the best feeling, you feel ‘yay’!”
Long may it continue.