First Steps to Planning a Destination Wedding: A Dublin Wedding Planner’s Guide

So you’re engaged! Congratulations! Once the champagne has been popped, and you’ve shared the news (and the ring!) with friends and family both near and far, you may be feeling a little overwhelmed. What next? Where do you even begin to start planning your Irish destination wedding? As a Dublin wedding planner, it’s my job to put you at ease and get you on the right track towards the beautiful, heartfelt wedding you envision – without the stress! Whether you’re Irish and coming home for your big day or have dreamed of a wedding on the Emerald Isle, the same process of destination wedding planning applies. Here are the first seven things I recommend you do after getting engaged.

A word about Coronavirus: Weddings are, of course, an evolving picture at the moment. That doesn’t mean you can’t start your wedding planning! However, it does mean that you may need to be more flexible, and keep up to date with the latest Coronavirus wedding guidelines in Ireland.

Agree on a budget

Setting a budget may not be the most exciting task, but it’s so important to get it out of the way right at the start. Your budget will affect all the rest of your wedding planning decisions, so setting those financial parameters is vital. Talk to your parents (if applicable) and ask them if they’d like to contribute, as well as any specific things they’d like to pay for. And, as this will be a destination wedding, don’t forget to factor in travel costs and currency conversion fees.

Select the perfect location

Of course, the key to planning a destination wedding is choosing the right location! Even if you’ve already narrowed it down to the island of Ireland, there are so many options to choose from! Each has something special to offer. As a Dublin wedding planner, I’ve created beautiful celebrations across both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, including in Dublin city itself. I’m always happy to advise clients on the best Irish wedding venues, as well as logistical elements like connecting from major airports. While you don’t need to settle on a venue straight away, it’s a good idea to narrow the search to a particular area.

Dublin Wedding Planner Guide to Planning a Destination Wedding

Choose a date range

Wedding venues in Dublin and nearby counties often get booked up well in advance, so it’s a good idea to start thinking about dates early on. The exact date of your destination wedding might depend on availability and other factors, but you can start by deciding on a month or season. Be sure to consider bank holidays and other special dates in the Irish calendar, as they can be busier and more expensive. And, while you can never entirely predict the Irish weather, it’s still a good idea to look into what you might expect at different times of year in the location you choose.

Organise your guest list

It’s important to let guests know about your destination wedding in Ireland well ahead of time. So drafting the guest list is definitely a priority! Start by writing down a list of your ‘must-have’ guests. This will be your minimum headcount. From there, create additional lists of people you would like to invite, as well as their partners and children (if you will be inviting them). One advantage of having a destination wedding is that there is less pressure to invite acquaintances and co-workers. A smaller guest count may also give you more flexibility with changing regulations due to COVID-19. Even if you decide to invite more people, keep the original lists as a reference, in case you have to make cuts later on.

Hire a wedding planner

Planning a destination wedding from abroad can be complicated. That’s why it’s so important to have a Dublin wedding planner on the ground to help. A knowledgeable and experienced team will help to match you up with the right vendors, guide you through the wedding planning process, and create a little bit of magic along the way! And, while the internet can be a great resource, there’s really no replacement for local contacts and knowledge. A wedding planner will also help save you time and money, as well as a few sleepless nights!

Dublin Wedding Planner Guide to Planning a Destination Wedding

Plan a visit (if possible)

For couples planning a destination wedding in Ireland, I always recommend making at least one trip – preferably around the same time of year as your wedding. This will allow you to visit Irish wedding venues, meet with key vendors in person, and get an idea of local places and activities that you might like to share with your guests. Of course, travel may not be an option right now. Virtual venue tours can be the next best thing. This is another area where having a Dublin wedding planner can really help. A venue scout on the ground who knows your taste and requirements is invaluable!

Research legal and religious ceremony requirements

There can be a lot of paperwork involved with destination weddings! In Ireland, your marriage license application must be lodged at least three months before your wedding date, so it’s advisable to get all the documents in place as soon as possible. If you’re wanting a religious ceremony, there will be additional requirements and forms to complete. Be sure to check on the exact requirements of your church.

Of course, there are many more wedding planning tasks and decisions to come for your Irish destination wedding. But for now, take it step-by-step and enjoy the process!

Slán go Fóill,


Images by Lisa O’Dwyer Photography and Unikeye Wedding Photography

COVID Honeymoon Ideas in Ireland (And How to Make a Local Honeymoon Special)

Looking for COVID honeymoon ideas in Ireland? With the Coronavirus pandemic forcing couples to adjust their wedding plans, chances are that your honeymoon has also been impacted by travel and financial restrictions. Ireland is currently operating under the EU ‘traffic light’ approach, and has restricted travel to and from various other countries throughout the world. But, while your dreams of tropical beaches (or even strolling down the Seine) might have been put on hold, it is still possible to plan a safe honeymoon trip. In fact, many Irish newlyweds are choosing to honeymoon within Ireland, or taking short local mini-moon breaks with a longer honeymoon overseas planned for later. This not only reduces your risk of exposure to the virus, but eliminates the problem of being stranded due to changing travel rules or having to self-isolate for two weeks on returning home. Plus you’ll be helping to boost the economy, while doing your bit to keep everyone safe.

So what are the best options for a stay-cation honeymoon on the Emerald Isle? Here are ten COVID honeymoon ideas in Ireland that will be memorable and romantic, while still being close to home.

Please note: Travel within Ireland is restricted until 5th March 2021, under Level 5 of the ‘Plan for Living with COVID-19’. As guidelines are ever changing, please check the government’s website to ensure your plans are in compliance with current rules.

Adare Manor wedding venue in Ireland

Book a suite in a luxury city hotel or country manor house. A honeymoon is the perfect time to splurge on a luxury hotel, and Ireland has many of them! Whether you choose city comfort (like the Merrion Hotel in Dublin, which has an on-site spa and Michelin-starred restaurant) or country splendour (Adare Manor is one of my personal faves), you can start your marriage in the most opulent of surroundings.

Live like royalty in a castle. Speaking of opulence, Ireland has its fair share of romantic castles for honeymoon stays. Some double as Irish wedding venues and hotels (for example, Dromoland Castle in Co. Clare or Castle Leslie in Co. Monaghan). Others are self-catering properties, so you can truly play the Lord and Lady.

Hide away in a cute little cottage. Ireland is dotted with the most adorable traditional cottage rentals that are perfect for a COVID-era honeymoon. Enjoy dramatic landscapes on your doorstep, modern comforts and traditional stoves and fireplaces, and plenty of seclusion.

Take a road trip or river cruise. Road and boat trips are great COVID honeymoon ideas in Ireland, as you don’t need to rely on flight schedules or queue up at the airport. Drive your way along the Causeway Coastal Route or the Ring of Kerry, for example, and stay in the many comfortable guests houses you’ll find along the way. Or rent a cruiser and take to the waterways which cross the island.

Go glamping. Camping has rocketed in popularity during Coronavirus, but you’ll probably want something a little more special than a tent in a field for your honeymoon. Fortunately, Ireland has some wonderfully luxurious glamping options, from safari tents with antique furnishings at Dromquinna Manor to space-age transparent domes at Finn Lough. Several Irish wedding venues now also have glamping facilities, so they’re also a great option for wedding guest accommodation.

Make it an island getaway. It might not be Bali or the Bahamas, but Ireland is blessed with some beautiful, remote islands. For example, Inchydoney Island on the Wild Atlantic Way, home to a vast sandy beach and a hotel twice named Ireland’s Leading Spa Resort.

Book a room with a view. For your honeymoon, a great view is a must! For example, at the five-star Cliff House Hotel in Ardmore County, Waterford, you’ll find sea-view bedrooms with terraces and a gourmet restaurant.

Stay in a lighthouse. Want something unusual – and secluded? A lighthouse is a fun option! Ireland has several beautifully renovated lighthouses that now serve and romantic rentals. For example, Crookhaven Lighthouse in Co. Cork or The Lighthouse Keeper’s House in Youghal, which was voted one of Ireland’s top 50 places to stay by the Irish Independent.

Pick a luxurious or unique local Airbnb. Hotels, inns and country estates may allow you to enjoy the comforts of an attentive staff, but there’s something to be said for the independence of an Airbnb rental. Especially if you’re looking for COVID honeymoon ideas! There are so many incredible options, from a luxurious penthouse apartment in Dublin to an eco-chic treehouse in Co. Mayo, or even a converted 19th-century bank with a four poster bed in Clogheen.

Rent a horse-drawn caravan. For something truly different, you can even rent a traditional gypsy-style caravan pulled by an Irish Cob horse. Clip clopping along narrow country lanes is a unique way to see the glorious Irish scenery!

ireland honeymoon scenery

Whichever of these COVID honeymoon ideas in Ireland strikes your fancy, there are a few ways to make a local honeymoon or mini-moon feel extra special.

Turn off your phones. Your honeymoon is all about spending time together, so consider going unplugged for at least some of the time. Imagine you’re out of cell service, even if you’re not! It’s the best way to disconnect from your everyday worries and just focus on one another.

Document it. Treat your stay-cation just as you would if you were spending your honeymoon in some far-flung location. Take lots of photographs, write a travel journal, and be sure to create a photo book when you get home and not just share the photos on Instagram!

Pack a honeymoon wardrobe. We all love shopping for a new wardrobe before a major vacation, and your honeymoon shouldn’t be any different, even if it’s close to home. Go shopping for some special pieces for day, evening – and the bedroom of course!

Splurge on a few special meals and activities. Even if you’ve been to your local honeymoon destination before, this is the time to act like a tourist. That means splashing out on the best restaurant in town or a once-in-a-lifetime activity like hot air ballooning over the Hill of Tara or learning falconry at Ashford Castle.

Take the time to be in the moment. One of the best ways to really be present on your trip is to set your alarm for a sunrise, a sunset, or a night of starwatching. There’s something extra special about sharing these moments of Nature’s magnificence together, wherever in the world you may be!

Slán go Fóill,


Images by Doreen KilfeatherChristina Brosnan and Lisa O’Dwyer Photography

Pink Retro Urban Wedding Inspiration for a Dublin Elopement

Pretty in pink takes to the streets! The idea behind this styled Dublin elopement was to represent the bride who is stylish and modern, and wants to introduce splashes of fun and playful sophistication into her big day. Perhaps she’s having a city ceremony at the Dublin Registry Office, and taking advantage of all the unique City Centre photo opportunities that a Dublin elopement presents. Perhaps she’s an anti-bride who follows her own path, and who sees her big day as a party that has a wedding attached to it. With a pink gown, a delicate cake, vibrant florals, and gorgeous watercolour stationery, this shoot is as bold as it is pretty and as modern as it is romantic. In fact, it’s one of my all-time personal favourites!

short pink wedding dress and pink veil

city wedding urban style

city hall wedding style

We wanted to feature a confident, stylish bride, so we created two fashion-forward looks for our model. It’s all about expressing personality and then adding in details. For the Dublin elopement registry office ceremony, we chose a bright pink dress and matching pink veil. This was accessorised with the urban cool of dock boots matched with the vintage glam of diamonds and pearls. Specifically, a collection of 1940s diamond and gold bracelets and vintage diamond earrings. All the inspiration you need to rock a little pink on your big day! For the glamorous garden reception, we chose a stunning gold gown with a sparkly veil and paired it with sky-high heels and a diamond necklace with a 20-carat detachable floral centerpiece and contemporary diamond hoop earrings. Each look was matched with a simple bouquet. For the makeup, we chose to have a pale eye with bold lip colour, which looked fabulous!

bride with pink veil and red lip

bright watercolor calligraphy wedding invitation suite

The beautiful Readers Gardens at the Museum of Literature Ireland (MoLI) formed the backdrop for reception décor that was elevated yet playful. Floral motifs provided a feminine touch that was repeated in the place settings, linens, and stationery suite. For the flowers, single blooms were placed in clear cylinder vases, to allow each flower to have its moment. The display included lush aubergine dahlias, pink carnations, celosia and dried honesty for texture, and pink asparagus for some whimsy and fun. We also had Arbutus seed head flowers (strawberry tree foliage) on the tables as a tribute to the Killarney Strawberry tree that is famously part of the MoLI gardens.

garden wedding reception sweetheart table

individual vases for wedding centrepiece

city wedding floral table décor

romantic pink floral wedding cake

If you’re considering your own Dublin elopement, do remember that you’ll still need plenty of time to register with the local registry office. A minimum of three months is required, but there is usually a longer lead time in the busy capital city, so be sure to plan ahead and start getting your paperwork in order as early as possible.

gold wedding dress with sparkle veil

modern bride with sparkle veil and diamond nechlace

glam city wedding style bride and groom

glam city bride gold dress

Dublin elopement city bride and groom

Dublin elopement city bride and groom

Slán go Fóill,


Producer: Tara Fay Events | Venue: Museum of Literature Ireland (MoLi) at the UCD Naughton Joyce Centre | Photography: Story of Eve | Cake: Clare Anne Taylor | Chairs: Total Event Rental | Tablewear: Maison Margaux | Dress: Covet | Flowers: The Garden | Hair: David Cashman | Jewelry: John Farrington | Makeup: Christine Lucignano using Chanel | Menswear: Louis Copeland | Models: Assets Model Agency | Linen Napkins: Stable of Ireland | Shoes: Brown Thomas | Stationery: Sarah O’Dea | Watches: Paul Sheeran, IWC

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