Summer may still be the most popular season to get married, but there’s no doubt that winter weddings in Ireland are something special and magical. Think crackling fires, twinkling lights, mulled wine, soft snow falling outside, and the frost making everything sparkle. Not to mention that Ireland has some spectacular winter sunsets! Many of my favourite Irish wedding venues really lend themselves to an atmospheric winter destination wedding, from castles and country houses to smart city hotels. And, if you’re Irish, there’s the added convenience of family members and friends who may already be travelling home for Christmas.
Of course, every season has its challenges, and winter weddings in Ireland are no exception. With the chilly season right around the corner, I thought it was the perfect time to share some advice from an Irish wedding planner. Here are a few of the things I’ve learned to consider when planning winter weddings in Ireland.
Winter wedding venues
Irish weather is unpredictable no matter the season but, rain or shine, it will most certainly be chilly. So it’s important to choose a venue that’s suited to a winter destination wedding in Ireland.
Look for cosy indoor spaces. When choosing a winter wedding venue, look for one with indoor spaces that will be beautiful and functional. You’ll want to keep outside time to a minimum. A venue with big windows showing off those snowy views is the best of both worlds.
Find out how the venue is heated. It’s important to ask how the venue is heated. Most venues will have heaters or open fireplaces but churches and chapels often do not, so you may need to arrange for some heaters to be brought in. The same applies if you’re considering a marquee. For heritage venues like castles and manor houses, find out if there are any problem areas.
Visit the venue at night. It gets dark pretty early in Ireland during the winter months, so it’s important to see what your wedding venue will look like after dark. Also bear in mind that many venues – especially hotels – are decorated for Christmas during December. If possible, visit during the same time of year as your wedding so you get a clear picture of what the venue will look like.
Consider accessibility. Driving conditions can be difficult in winter, especially if there is snow or ice to contend with. Take this into account when you choose your wedding venue. Ideally, pick one where you can have everything in one place and where there is accommodation for the guests as well.
Plan for bad weather
As I mentioned, Irish weather can be unpredictable. You may have a perfect sunny winter day but it might just as easily be pouring with rain. That said, very few of the winter weddings in Ireland I have planner or attended have been seriously impacted by the weather! The key is to be prepared, plan ahead, and get your timings right.
Winter wedding photography
Plan around the light. It starts to get dark around 4pm during the Irish winter. This makes the light an important factor in planning your wedding photography. You might need to plan an earlier ceremony or schedule your couple shoot for earlier in the day (I love a first look!).
Plan both indoor and outdoor photo locations. Those gorgeous snowy outdoor pics are an incredible addition to your wedding album. But you should also scout out some indoor locations that will work, to minimise the time spent out in the cold for you and your bridal party.
Hire an experienced photographer. It takes extra skill and experience to handle a the lighting issues that come with winter weddings. So it’s important to hire a pro, who knows exactly what they’re doing. Be sure you see their full portfolio before booking and ask them about their experience shooting winter weddings in Ireland.
Consider your guests’ comfort
Keep them warm and toasty. It’s key to make sure that your guests are comfortable, whatever the season, but in winter it’s especially important. Advise them to dress appropriately for the weather. Seat older guests away from doorways and drafty areas. Serve warming drinks like mulled wine or Irish coffee. You may also want to provide blankets or pashminas (these can double as a wedding favour!).
Save the reception line for later. Greeting your guests outside the ceremony is lovely but it can be oh-so-cold! Instead, wait until you’re indoors at the reception. Ask the celebrant to announce this during the ceremony to avoid confusion.
Organise a coat check. A coat check is always a welcome courtesy for your guests. Your guests will be able to layer up when needed but then be able to relax without worrying about where to put their possessions.
If you’re considering a winter destination wedding in Ireland and want to discuss the options available, then do get in touch!
Slán go Fóill,