How to Dress Up a Church Wedding Venue

Many couples planning a wedding in Ireland have their hearts set on a traditional church wedding. Whether it’s in a quaint country parish, a grand cathedral, or even a chapel on the grounds of your Irish wedding venue, there’s something unique about exchanging vows in a church wedding venue. One reason is that churches are often very beautiful architecturally, with features like high ceilings and stained glass windows. You’ll want to make sure that you dress up a church wedding venue in a way that highlights those features instead of overwhelming them.

How to Dress Up a Church Wedding Venue

One key question I often hear is: does the Catholic church in Ireland allow wedding decorations? The answer is yes, but the rules depend on the parish. While there are some aspects to having a Catholic wedding in Ireland that are the same across the country (such as the paperwork required), other elements like music and décor are left up to local priests to decide. Some will ask you to follow specific guidelines for how you dress up a church venue. The most important thing is to talk to the parish priest and find out what they will allow. In fact, this is true for other churches too, although the Catholic church can be a little more conservative. But that doesn’t mean you can’t dress up a church wedding venue and add your own flair. I’ve designed many beautiful church weddings over the years! So here are some of the best ways to dress up a church wedding venue and make it extra special.

Make an entrance. One of the most effective ways to decorate for a church wedding is to create a big impression at the entrance. A lush, ornate floral arch is always stunning, especially the way it contrasts the ancient architecture of a historic church entrance. (It’s no wonder this is something you often see at royal weddings!) Plus, because it’s on the outside of the church building, there’s often a little bit more flexibility to be extravagant with your blooms. Of course, an arch isn’t your only option. You can also place beautiful arrangements on either side of the door, or style additional elements like lanterns, candles, or wreaths. If your church has stairs up to the door, place decorations on each step to line the walkway.

Church door with lanterns and greenery

Line the aisle with greenery. One reason why greenery works well in a church setting is that it’s often more subtle than flowers and also goes well with the existing décor. You can keep it simple, wrapping railings or pillars with foliage or having swags of greenery going down the aisle. Or, if the church allows, you could bring the outside in with potted plants or small trees lining the aisle. Bundles of eucalyptus also always look lovely at the end of each pew.

Use candles in creative ways. Candles and churches are a natural match. There’s something particularly romantic and peaceful about candles lighting a beautiful old church! You can place just a few candles or candelabras around the church, or place dozens of candles on the altar steps for a stunning, light-filled display. Candles are also great for lining the aisle. You don’t have to place them all along the aisle, just in small clusters with a floral arrangement at strategic spots. Hanging candles can also be beautiful if the design of the church and their regulations allow.

altar arrangement

Focus on statement arrangements. If you’re limited with how much décor you can bring in, it’s a good idea to work with your florist and have them focus on 2-3 key arrangements. Place these strategically so that have maximum effect, and use unusual areas like a balcony as a floral focal point.

Keep pew decorations natural. We’ve all seen pictures of weddings from the ‘80s or ‘90s with big gauze bows or other decorations tied to each pew. While this is one way to add décor to your church, it can end up looking a little dated. Natural embellishments like greenery, small posies of flowers, or even simple arrangements of grasses or dried flowers can add a lovely touch, while still being classic and timeless.

How to Dress Up a Church Wedding Venue

Ultimately, the best way to dress up a church wedding venue is to work with a great florist and wedding planner, and use the church itself as your inspiration!

Slán go Fóill,


Images by John Ryan Photography, David Willems, Christina Brosnan, Doreen Kilfeather, DK Photography, Fred Marigaux

Ireland Church Wedding Guidelines You Need to Know

Once you’ve decided on a destination wedding in Ireland, one of the next big decisions is the kind of ceremony you plan to have. There are several options, but many of the couples I work with still opt for a traditional church wedding. There’s something very moving about two people committing themselves to one another through a shared faith in a sacred space. And, of course, there are many beautiful churches, chapels and cathedrals in Ireland that provide an incredible backdrop for a ceremony. But there are certain Ireland church wedding guidelines to be aware of. These will be different from one religion or denomination to the next and from one parish to another. But here are some of the key points you should note as you plan your Ireland church wedding.

Local vs non-local weddings. It’s much easier to arrange an Ireland church wedding if you’re already a member of a congregation and wish to be married in your parish church. However, if you’re not local, it can be more complicated. Some churches will allow non-locals to have their ceremony there but may require you to arrange your own priest. This is because many priests and ministers prefer to perform ceremonies only for couples they know. Other churches will not grant the request at all. It’s important to contact the church you want early on in your planning process to find out what their policy is.

Research back-up options. Some couples are heartbroken when they find the church they have fallen in love with isn’t available or doesn’t cater to non-local weddings. So it’s a good idea to research other local churches and create a shortlist of two or three in the area that you can approach.

church wedding entrance arrangement

Choose the right date. Traditionally, most churches in Ireland would not conduct wedding ceremonies on a Sunday. However, this Ireland church wedding restriction has eased a little recently, thanks to the high demand for weddings following the COVID-19 lockdowns. Check with your priest or minister to find out which dates they are available (these usually will also not include religious holidays).

Pre-marital course. Some churches (especially the Catholic church) require that couples complete a pre-marriage course in order to marry in the church. You will need to provide a certificate to show that you have taken part.

Music restrictions. Traditional churches often have limitations on the music that can be played at your wedding, i.e. hymns and classical music. It’s important to discuss and agree your choices with the priest or minister ahead of time.

Wedding ceremony bride and groom

Photography. A wedding is a solemn and sacred ceremony in any church. So, while most celebrants understand the need for photography, it’s important that it doesn’t distract from what is taking place. Many churches have restrictions like no flash photography or no moving around once the ceremony begins. Some don’t allow any photography or videography at all. Ask about the rules and be sure to communicate these with your photographer and videographer.

Dress code. Some churches have a dress code in place. For example, necklines should not be too revealing, shoulders should be covered, head coverings, men should not wear shorts, etc. Find out whether the church has any rules around dress and communicate these clearly to your guests.

Financial contribution or fee. Traditionally, couples make some financial contribution to the church where they marry but payment can vary from one congregation to another and is often donation-based. Ask what is expected and if there are any additional fees (for example, a fee for the organist).

As I mentioned before, Ireland church wedding guidelines do vary quite considerably. Every church is different, so the best thing to do is make contact early to avoid any confusion or disappointment!

Slán go Fóill,


Images by Christina Brosnan, Doreen Kilfeather

Tent Wedding Décor Ideas

Want to create a wedding venue from the ground up, make a big impression on your guests, showcase the scenery around your wedding venue, and protect against bad weather at the same time? Then a tent wedding may be the perfect option for you! While marquee weddings themselves are nothing new, the last few years have seen tent structures reach new levels of design, comfort, and versatility. The sky’s the limit when it comes to tent wedding décor ideas! Because a tent essentially gives you a blank canvas to work with, you can create something truly unique. Whether you’re planning a destination wedding in the grounds of an Irish castle or a small celebration in your family garden, and no matter what wedding style or vibe you want to create, there’s a tent for you. I’ve planned and designed some stunning marquee wedding ceremonies and receptions – here are just a few of my favourites to give you some tent wedding décor ideas of your own!

Tent Wedding Décor Ideas

If your marquee reception is taking place on a site with amazing views, you’ll want to make the most of it. A clear tent will not only avoid competing with the surrounding scenery, but make it part of the attraction. Think: watching the sunset and dancing under the stars – all while being protected from the elements. Clear tents also reflect candlelight beautifully, creating a warm, intimate glow. One of the best ways to optimise a translucent tent, however, is to use hanging décor like this striking hanging floral installation we created for one of our weddings. Puffs of pink dried grasses and gypsophilia took on a floating quality, like whimsical clouds, drawing the eye upwards. We paired these elevated floral installations with low centrepieces on the tables, creating lots of space on the tables.

Tent Wedding Décor Ideas

A classic way to add softness and sophistication to a tented reception is to include draping. You get the feeling of a spacious, elegant lounge, opening up onto the outdoors and creating a beautiful flow between indoor and outdoor spaces. For this reception design, we paired white drapery with beautiful tiered chandeliers, wrapped with trailing strands of greenery. The leaves were beautifully whimsical, while the candles created a romantic ambience. On the tables, tall centrepieces in glass vases filled with bunches of green grapes reflected the greenery above – the best of modern and natural aesthetics combined.

tented reception décor

For this garden reception, it was all about bringing focus to the centre of the tent, with white draping and maypole garlands of flowers and greenery gathering together into a lavish central halo, punctuated by a stunning crystal chandelier. It looked amazing! Again, this was all about drawing the eye upwards to a focal point, emphasising the marquee’s height and shape. At the eye level, tables were adorned with lush arrangements in shades of purple, with pastel taper candles and toile napkins adding a special touch. The wedding took place during COVID restrictions, so we also used greenery to mark gaps between different parties at the long tables and mirror the garlands at the top of the canopy without feeling clinical.

Tent Wedding Décor Ideas

Biophilic design, or bringing the outdoors in, is very much a theme when it comes to tent wedding décor ideas and here we executed the concept to perfection! Making the most of the natural light from this glass structure, we created multiple installations of flowers and greenery, giving the whole space the feel of a greenhouse or conservatory. When you’re using a tent structure, one of the best ways to make it more natural is to wrap metal or wooden poles in greenery, turning them into lush vines that climb up from floor to ceiling. We also hung lavish displays of ferns and greens, interspersed with crystal chandeliers, hung from vine-wrapped cords. Not only did it look gorgeous, it also helped to make the space feel more intimate by filling in some of the negative space and ‘joining’ the tables to the high ceiling.

Tent Wedding Décor Ideas

Tents aren’t just for receptions! A rainy day didn’t stop the guests at this wedding from enjoying the beautiful Irish countryside scenery while the couple exchanged vows. Using an open-sided tent sheltered them from the weather while also providing scenic views of the venue. Again, we used natural design elements to reflect the outdoors, with tent poles wrapped in green and white garlands and an altar that looked like a tiny meadow. Even if the weather is in your favour, an open-sided tent is a good option for an outdoor ceremony, as it will create shade and allow airflow while still making the most of the sunshine.

Tent Wedding Décor Ideas

Now this was one for the books! For this wedding at Adare Manor, we designed a tented reception within the Walled Garden. The gated entrance was covered with pink orchids, creating a magical secret garden feeling, opening up into a glamorous space complete with water features, ornate mirrors, and romantic draping. We used a variety of low and tall table arrangements, as well as living trees placed between the tables, to create a true spectacle!

I hope you enjoyed these tent wedding décor ideas! Be sure to take a look at the Gallery for more examples of our work.

Slán go Fóill,


Images by Doreen Kilfeather, DK Photography, Paula O’Hara Photography, Aspect PhotographyKieran Harnett, John Ryan Photography

What Do I Need to Know Before I Book a Destination Wedding During COVID?

Even though the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect couples planning their weddings in 2022, we’ve come a long, long way in the past two years! Destination weddings, especially, are finally back on the table after travel restrictions and shut-downs forced couples to marry closer to home. This is definitely the season we expect destination weddings to make a comeback! But which questions do you need to ask before you go ahead and book that faraway destination wedding during COVID? And where can you find the answers?

Here’s everything you need to know before booking a destination wedding during COVID.

coronavirus wedding signage

What are the latest COVID restrictions for weddings in Ireland?

As of March 2022, most restrictions on weddings have been lifted by the Irish government. There are no restrictions on guest numbers for both indoor and outdoor venues, and no curfew. Live music and dancing is allowed, rules around the number of adults to be seated at a table no longer apply, and masks are no longer required. Those with symptoms are still required to isolate and test.

If you’re travelling or returning to Ireland, you will need to provide a vaccine certificate where no more than 9 months have passed since your last dose, proof of recovery from COVID-19 in the last six months, or a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of arrival.

Can I ask unvaccinated guests not to attend my destination wedding in person?

While many couples feel uncomfortable demanding that their guests are vaccinated, others are setting what is being called a ‘vaccine boundary’. This is your choice, but it’s important to communicate it clearly and graciously, emphasising how important your guests are to you and showing empathy and respect. If necessary, you can also include them in other ways, such as broadcasting the ceremony on Zoom or via social media.

When should I send my destination wedding save the dates?

During COVID-19, we’ve learned how quickly things can change and had to be flexible enough to accommodate postponements. It’s possible we may need to work around this again in the future. I know some couples are nervous about sending out save the dates and invitations early because of this. However, if you wait, you also run the risk of guests making other plans or accepting other invitations (remember, it’s a wedding boom year!). So the rule for sending out destination wedding save the dates at least 6 months before the wedding still stands.

floral arch garden

When should I book my wedding vendors?

As early as possible! Venues are filling up fast and so are the calendars of service providers from planners to floral designers. When you find someone whose work you love and who is available on the date you want, don’t hesitate. Decisiveness will save you from missing out!

How do I keep up to date with the latest COVID restrictions and advice?

It’s a good idea to check government websites in your destination (you can find the Irish government website here) but don’t be afraid to ask your wedding planner and venue for updates as well.

How many people should I invite to my destination wedding during COVID?

While restrictions on numbers in Ireland and many other destinations have been lifted, it might be smart to keep your guest list smaller, with a maximum of 60 people. Rules can change overnight, as we have seen, and a small guest list lowers the chance you’ll have to uninvite anyone or postpone. The good news is that, for many couples, a destination wedding would be more intimate anyway. A smaller group is a lot easier to co-ordinate and it means you can splash out on guest experiences and spend more quality time with everyone who attends.

How do I protect myself from financial loss in case of postponement or cancellation?

It’s important to work with vendors who have destination wedding experience as well as solid contracts. Always read the terms carefully before signing and ask questions if you need to. Discuss COVID cancellations with your vendors so that you understand exactly what will happen should things change. Discuss all the scenarios and agree on deposits, fees, and notice periods, as well as whether being unable to travel to your destination is included in the cancellation terms. After signing, obtain written confirmation of any changes.

These are the key questions around booking a destination wedding during COVID. If you have any more, don’t hesitate to get in touch!

Slán go Fóill,


Images by Doreen Kilfeather, DK Photography