On 22 May 2015, Ireland voted in favour of marriage equality, meaning all couples - regardless of gender - can now legally marry in Ireland. As you might expect, there were celebrations around the country, and more than a few of them ended with proposals! Irish people, we do love a good wedding. It’s a chance to dress up for a day, catch up with distant family members, eat and drink top quality food and wine. But most importantly, we get to celebrate with the happy couple as they embark on a new journey as a married couple. Luckily, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of excellent wedding venues to host these special events across Ireland. From fairytale castles to hidden intimate spots, Ireland offers some of the most beautiful wedding venues in the world. We have gathered together just a small selection from romantic to unique venues and even a few for the more adventurous couples.
Before we get stuck in, I should mention this brilliant web site that is run by a friend of ours and it makes checking the availability at your preferred venue a breeze. WeddingDates.ie for Wedding Planning tools, venues and suppliers.
Luxurious Castle Weddings
If you want to feel like a King or Queen on your wedding day, the obvious choice of venue is one of Ireland’s many stunning castles. Dotted all over the countryside, many have been restored and turned into luxurious hotels or event venues. Here are three of our favourites:Castle Leslie:
Castle Leslie, just outside of Monaghan town, made headlines when it hosted the wedding of one Paul McCartney and Heather Mills in 2002, and has been one of Ireland’s most elite wedding venues ever since. This sprawling castle, constructed in 1870 for Sir Jon Leslie, is still owned by the family and includes exquisite gardens masked from view by the castle as well as 1000 acres of countryside with woodlands, lakes and green hills – perfect for photo opportunities.Dromoland Castle:
For the true romantics searching for luxury and fine dining, look no further than the 5 star Dromoland Castle. This beautiful venue has been welcoming guests since the 16th century and sits on an amazing 450-acre estate.Blackrock Castle Observatory:
For another ‘authentic’ castle feel complete with towers, turrets, ramparts and spiral staircases. If you are looking for a Castle venue for your ceremony within a modest budget, Blackrock Castle in Cork city is well worth checking out. Originally constructed in the 16th century to defend against unwanted boats entering the harbour, the castle sits right at the edge of the water. It offers fantastic views across the river Lee. Away from the hustle and bustle of the city centre, this is a picturesque and secluded spot and also houses a fantastic restaurant and observatory, so you can star gaze before calling it a night.
Small and Secluded Weddings
More and more couples are opting for intimate venues with just a small gathering of their closest friends and family. Not only can it save money in the increasingly expensive wedding business, it also makes the day all the more personal and special knowing that each guest is an important part of the day. There are more than a few spectacular small venues in Ireland that are perfect for wedding parties of less than 100 people.Ghan House:
Ghan house is a charming 18th century family-run Georgian home on the shores of Carlingford Lough, just an hour away from Dublin. The biggest advantage to having your big day here is that the wedding party has exclusive use of the entire complex – combine that with high stone walls, personal attention to detail from the staff, and the natural sociable atmosphere that occurs, and you have a recipe for a fun, family-oriented wedding day. The house is also just a stone’s throw away from all of the buzz of Carlingford town too.The Village at Lyons:
By far one of the most stunning small wedding venue outside Dublin (also cater for larger groups), the Village at Lyons is situated along the lush banks of the Grand Canal in Celbridge, county Kildare. At one stage in its history would seen 90 barges a day pass through the bustling complex. Now, it’s a serene estate with quaint stone buildings, wooden bridges, leafy gardens and endless stunning views both inside and out.Mussenden Temple:
Mussenden Temple is a small, circular, stone building with a domed roof that sits along the wild northern coastline, right at the edge of sheer cliff, on the grounds of the Downhill Estate in county Derry. Built in 1785 and intended to be used as a library, it was modelled on the Temple of Vesta in Italy and can hold up to 100 people inside for a wedding ceremony.Wow Factor Weddings
Every couple wants to make their wedding unique and unforgettable, both for them and for the guests attending their special day. Non-conventional weddings are all the rage these days, with more and more couples opting to hold their ceremonies in wacky locations, with fun themes and activities, and often with non-traditional ceremonies. For the fun-oriented couple who want a truly individual wedding, consider some of the following venues.
Hook Lighthouse, on the edge of the Hook Peninsula in Wexford, is a unique and beautiful place for a wedding. It’s Ireland’s oldest operating lighthouse and one of the oldest lighthouses in the world, and has breathtaking views of the coast too. Standing for 800 years and counting, the lighthouse is steeped in history and one of the most interesting examples of medieval architecture in the country. Guests will love hearing about its intricate past and how the keepers saved ships from certain doom during stormy or misty weather.Inish Beg Estate:
If a lighthouse or camping ground doesn’t work for you, how does holding your wedding on your own private island sound? Inishbeg is a privately owned island estate available for exclusive use for weddings. With various accommodation choices for guests including self catering cottages, and a number of idyllic locations to choose from for the ceremony itself - a boat house, landscaped gardens, or even the woodlands on the island are just a few options – you and your loved ones can take over this secluded island and do what you want, when you want.Mount Druid:
Mount Druid in county Westmeath is the most alternative wedding venue in all of Ireland. The parklands boast around 200,000 leafy trees, with various quirky accommodation choices dotted around the grounds including yurts, Scandinavian huts and a converted loft (but there are plenty of other choices a few minutes’ walk away for those who like their creature comforts). You can have your ceremony in a tin chapel, your drinks reception in the boat house by the lake, and dinner and dancing in the barn.
If you opt for an outdoor wedding in Ireland, one thing’s for sure; you’re very brave! Our ever-changing weather makes holding a wedding outside a big gamble, but if it pays off, you’ll certainly have a magical day. While the weather is constantly unpredictable, the outdoor locations on offer are consistently stunning, so the only thing that could potentially spoil your big day is rainclouds – and that’s easily fixed with an umbrella or two!The Cliffs of Moher:
The Cliffs of Moher must be one of the most breathtaking locations in the world to get married. With spectacular view over the Atlantic as far as the eye can see, it is difficult to imagine anywhere more memorable to exchange your wedding vows.Brigit’s Gardens:
One of the newest venues in Ireland for weddings, Brigit’s Gardens in county Galway is an excellent choice for both indoor and outdoor weddings. Inspired by all things ancient and Celtic, it has four magnificent gardens based on the four festivals of the Celtic calendar year, with an ancient fairy fort, crannog, calendar sundial, and plenty of walking trails among the grounds. If the weather turns against you there are also a number of indoor options.Lakes of Killarney:
County Kerry is often touted as having the most beautiful scenery in all of Ireland, with the lakes of Killarney and the surrounding national park topping the lists of places to see. A wedding ceremony by the stunning lakes, with looming mountains in the background and woodlands bursting with wildlife all around, is the stuff dreams are made of. There are a number of luxurious hotels in the vicinity of the lakes to enjoy the party afterwards, too.Mount Juliet:
You won’t find a more fairytale like location for a wedding than Mount Juliet. This Georgian manor home with lush vines creeping up its outer walls sits in the heart of the midlands in county Kilkenny, perched on top of a hill with rolling countryside all around. The 1500 acres surrounding the estate includes a stud, hotel, residential properties, and a must for any golf fans – a 72 par golf course designed by Jack Nicklaus himself. Inish Beg also above
City Slicker Weddings
While many people prefer to get away from it all and enjoy natural surroundings and a quiet, peaceful atmosphere on their wedding day, there is also a lot to be said for a city centre wedding. You’ll get swept up in the buzz of people and activity, have no need to arrange things to see or do for your guests, and most people won’t even have to travel too far to make it to do the day. These three locations in Dublin are just some of the superb venues on offer in the city.Smock Alley:
In one of Dublin’s busiest districts, Temple Bar, Smock Alley is a charming venue right in the heart of the action. Originally built in 1662, it was the first custom-built theatre in the city, and was later converted into a church. In 2012 it went back to its theatre roots, but kept its spellbinding stained glass windows and charming brickwork. It has three different event spaces for various sized weddings, and can also provide a full dinner menu.Christchurch Vaults:
There’s no more fitting place for a city wedding than Dublin’s oldest and most beautiful structure, Christchurch Cathedral. The vaults of the cathedral are regularly used for formal events, all of which are lit by candlelight to give a truly unique atmosphere surrounded by intricate stone carvings. Naturally, the vaults have excellent acoustics too for when the music and dancing begins.Triskel Cork
Right in the heart of Cork city, this early Georgian church host small wedding receptions throughout the year. This stunning church was deconsecrated and lovingly restored to it's former glory in 1978.Hibernian Club:
In the very heart of Dublin city centre, just opposite St. Stephen’s Green, is the luxurious Hibernian Club. This premier townhouse has superb views of the park and the hustle and bustle of the city, with even more beautiful interiors including the Card Room with its domed glass ceiling. The perfect spot for a serene day hidden away from the chaos of the city outside – with more than a few gorgeous photo opportunities on offer in the green itself.
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