Ireland Destination Wedding TipsWords by Annie Byrne
I make no excuses or ever deny it – I love it in Ireland and I love helping couples get married here. The scenery is unsurpassed, the people welcoming and the place is just great fun! When the weather is good here, there is no place better and, even when it’s not, you get the romance of the rolling hills, dramatic cliffs and seascapes, foggy mountains, fantastic castles and manor houses.
Although planning a destination wedding may seem daunting, it generally won’t be as intense as you would expect at home. Ireland is a very laid-back country, so below are some Ireland destination wedding tips!
1. Know Your Marriage Laws
It is easier than ever to get married in Ireland. You do have to give three months notice to the state registrar, but that paperwork can be done by post. You will also need to meet the Registrar of Marriages in person about five days before your ceremony, but that can also be done on a shorter trip over to suss-out locations and vendors. Also, it’s important to know where you can get legally married. Your ceremony can be indoors or outdoors, but it must be at a public place with a postal address. Happily, marriages in Ireland are legal and valid in all of North America and Western Europe.
2. Celebrate the Cultural Differences
Infuse Irish culture into your wedding. Irish weddings are not too far removed from what North American brides would expect, but there are subtle differences. For example, hand fasting ceremonies (literally tying the knot!), carrying a horseshoe, ringing bells at your recessional or having a harpist for your ceremony. Really embrace the Irish traditions, don’t just plan an American wedding in Ireland.
3. Visit Before W-Day
Whether your intention is a scouting trip, taking care of legal details or meeting vendors booked by your planner, come over at least once. Twice if you can afford, but once should be enough to get the picture of what your day will be like. I also advise couples to be here a bit earlier than their guests where possible to have that time together before all the action and activities begin. Once your guests arrive, everything should be done with regards to the wedding, so you can relax and enjoy!
If you can’t visit in advance (many of my couples do not), I suggest extending your stay while here for your wedding and get to know the area. Many couples book their venue for the night before and night of their wedding only, leaving early the day after the wedding. This gives very little time to actually get to know and enjoy the area that they have just created the best memories of their lives in. Don’t move on too quickly!
4. Get Local, Professional Help
Get help locally, but make sure they are pros. Whether you hire a local wedding planner or have a family member or friend living where you would like to host your wedding, you really will need someone on the ground to help research, meet and book local vendors. Your Aunt Maureen in Donegal would love to help, but does she know your taste? Budget? Is her wedding planning experience from 30 years ago? Hire professionals who are enthusiastic, easy to connect with and get in touch with. You will need to be able to communicate easily with them from abroad. Your supplier should understand your needs and the wedding process.
5. Give Your Friends and Family Notice
Ireland is on everyone’s bucket list and you obviously want the people nearest and dearest to you to attend your destination wedding, so give them plenty of notice. Spread the word early and send out save the dates about eight months in advance so they can plan, save and get the time off. Create a wedding website with information on the local area, travel and accommodation info, along with sample itineraries to get your guests excited about the trip. You can also start a Facebook group to talk about the wedding and everyone’s vacation plans while in Ireland.
6. See the Sites
Plan a vacation in addition to your wedding and tie them in together. There are amazing locations all over Ireland and you want the full experience, so choose a location that has lots to do in the area. Your location should have great activities for your guests, things to do and sights to see. Some good references are: Discover Ireland and Discovering Ireland Vacations.
Hopefully these tips will help in your decision to host a destination wedding in Ireland! Every couple I have ever helped create their wedding has thoroughly enjoyed their time in Ireland. I know you will too!
Annie Byrne is the founder of Aislinn Events, a planning company that specializes in Ireland destination weddings.
Photos courtesy of (in order of appearance): Dasha Caffrey, The Lou's, Andrew O'Dwyer, E & M Photography (4th & 5th), K Photography (6th & 7th), Poppies & Me (8th & 9th), Savo Photography (10th) & White Cat Studio (11th).
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