It’s been a year since Prince Harry and Meghan Markle exchanged their vows in Windsor, and as the Duke and Duchess celebrate their first anniversary, many brides and grooms-to-be are busy planning their own special day.
Whether it’s a small and simple gathering, a rip-roaring rave-up, or a truly decadent do, Northern Ireland has the perfect wedding venue for you. The region has an abundance of options for varying tastes and budgets, ranging from rustic barns and old castle ruins to elegant country houses and luxurious hotels.
Wherever you choose to say “I do”, you can be sure that you’ll have memories to last a lifetime.
Saying your vows is the most important part of the big day, so why not do it with a beautiful backdrop? The Old Castle Ruins in the Crom Estate in County Fermanagh are surrounded by ancient woods and peaceful islands, making it an incredibly romantic place to tie the knot.
Meanwhile, the cliff-top Mussenden Temple at Downhill Demesne in County Londonderry combines fabulous clifftop views with an intimate, tranquil venue. Couples can exchange vows in the temple overlooking the Donegal coastline, and enjoy photo opportunities in the nearby gardens at Bishop’s Gate or Hezlett House, a 17th century thatched cottage.
The traditional white wedding isn’t for everyone, and if you fancy something a bit more boho, check out the Field of Dreams in Bangor, County Down. This venue, set in 36 acres of countryside with five lakes, caters for both ceremonies and receptions. You can exchange your vows in the open air or in a canvas marquee by the lakeside, then dance the night away in a Scandinavian-style wooden chalet. If you fancy laying on some quirky activities for guests, archery and clay pigeon shooting are available.
If you like the sound of a rustic barn with a luxurious twist, Larchfield Estate near Lisburn (half an hour from Belfast and just two hours from Dublin) could be the setting for you. Ceremonies can take place in the 19th century stone barn or rustic stables, or outdoors in the flower-lined walled gardens. In addition to the walled gardens, there’s also an orangery and courtyard for your drinks reception. Finally, guests can spend the night on-site in a cosy cottage or even a restored Swiss Army truck.
Slieve Donard Resort and Spa
The sumptuous Slieve Donard Resort and Spa in County Down enjoys spectacular views of the Mourne Mountains. The hotel also overlooks a beach at the foot of the mountain range, making it ideal for windswept photographs after your ceremony. And there’s even a helipad, should you wish to arrive in real style.
Galgorm Spa and Golf Resort
Elsewhere, the Galgorm Spa and Golf Resort in County Antrim offers a Bells and Whistles package for brides and grooms who want a lavish day. It includes use of a Rolls Royce Phantom, signature cocktails, a five-course banquet and much more.
The five-star Culloden Estate and Spa in the Holywood hills near Belfast has 12 acres of gardens and overlooks Belfast Lough, providing ample photo opportunities. Sweet-toothed guests can enjoy extras including a chocolate fountain, a popcorn trolley and a gourmet ice-cream cart.
As seen on TV
Game of Thrones fans are well catered for when it comes to weddings in Northern Ireland. The Georgian farmyard of the Castle Ward Estate in County Down was used as a location for the Stark family’s Winterfell. The estate has a selection of indoor and outdoor spaces for weddings, including the restored Windsor Garden of seasonal plants and exotic flowers, which can accommodate wedding ceremonies of up to 170 guests.
Alternatively, you could opt for a wedding at the Dark Hedges in County Antrim. This photogenic avenue of 18th century beech trees doubled as the Kingsroad in Game of Thrones. In addition to this famous site, the Dark Hedges Estate has a number of venue options including a Great Room, a Spire at the Bell Tower, a Pantry and a Walled Garden.
Chic City Weddings
The Merchant Hotel, Belfast
A city wedding can be the epitome of chic, particularly when the venue is as elegant as Belfast’s Merchant Hotel. Based in the bustling Cathedral Quarter, the hotel – which combines luxurious Victorian and art deco style - boasts a roof-top garden with panoramic views of the city’s skyline.
Bishop's Gate Hotel, Derry~Londonderry
Meanwhile in Derry~Londonderry, the boutique Bishop's Gate Hotel is a former private members’ club located in the heart of the Walled City. It provides ample photo opportunities on the city’s 17th century walls as well as the nearby Peace Bridge and Craft Village.
Whatever you decide for your big day, we hope you have a fantastic day - and don't forget to share a photo of your special NI Wedding with us! #DiscoverNI