Looking for information about castle weddings in Ireland? Then you’ve come to the right place! Of course, every couple should feel like royalty on their big day, but your name doesn’t have to be Meghan Markle to make the palace wedding dream come true. In fact, if you choose to have an Irish destination wedding, you’ll have your pick of castle venues. From one end of our beautiful island to the other, the landscape is dotted with castles and stately homes, many of which have been turned into world-class luxury hotels and event venues. And, whether you’re a history buff or not, they make for an amazing setting for the celebration of your marriage.
What makes castle weddings in Ireland so special?
Castles are unique settings. They’re places with character and soul. Each has its own rich heritage – you’ll be celebrating your union in a place that has hosted kings and queens, knights, lords, and ladies over centuries! Each castle in Ireland for a wedding also has its particular architecture, décor, and setting. Not only will you be able to wow your guests, but you’ll be able to offer them a truly unique experience.
Castle weddings in Ireland combine the best of old and new. Lots of people imagine that castles are dark inside – maybe even a little spooky! But you may find yourself surprised when you step into the interior. Many have been modernised and are as fresh and luxurious as any top hotel. And you can expect to be treated like royalty too, with top-notch service and fine dining.
The photography opportunities for a castle wedding are unparalleled. There really is no more dramatic and impressive backdrop to your wedding pictures than a fairytale castle, whatever the season! Most castles have numerous areas both indoors and on their estates that make for stunning, frame-worthy images.
Most castles offer exclusive use. In fact, several of them require it. This allows you to really make the property your own and create an event that flows beautifully from one part of the estate or castle to the next. Most castles in Ireland for a wedding are licensed for ceremonies in several locations on the property and also offer accommodation, so you can keep everything in one convenient location.
Top 10 Castles in Ireland for a Wedding
Ashford Castle, Co. Mayo
When it comes to castles in Ireland for a wedding, Ashford Castle is the ultimate fairytale venue. With incredible views, truly exceptional service, sumptuous interiors, and a variety of estate activities from falconry to river cruising, it’s no wonder that the hotel has scooped so many international awards. The best part is that this iconic property has multiple ceremony and event spaces, both inside the castle and on the 350-acre estate, making it easy for guests to migrate from one portion of the day to the next. Even the dungeon has been known to transform into a unique afterparty venue! Ashford Castle is available to hire for exclusive use and will accommodate up to 160 guests.
Castle Leslie, Co. Monaghan
The magnificent Castle Leslie Estate, nestled amid 1000 acres of undulating Irish countryside, including native woodland and glimmering lakes, is one of the most sought-after castles in Ireland for a wedding. Still in the hands of its founding family, it features authentic original interiors, an array of beautifully appointed guest rooms, delicious food, and impeccable service. The castle itself can accommodate weddings of up to 70 guests, with larger events taking place in the beautiful Pavilion overlooking Glaslough Lake. Castle Leslie is also only 80 minutes from Dublin and an hour from Belfast, making it a good option for couples with guests travelling in.
Dromoland Castle, Co. Clare
Originally the seat of the descendants of one of the last High Kings of Ireland, Dromoland Castle is now an amazing luxury hotel that has welcomed celebrities and dignitaries from Bono to Nelson Mandela. Magnificent scenery, sumptuous interiors, a championship golf course, and elegant French-inspired fine dining add to the unforgettable experience. The venue is also incredibly versatile, offering a wide range of ceremony and reception spaces of different sizes, from a charming walled garden to the magnificent Brian Boru Hall.
Kilkea Castle, Co. Kildare
This 12th-century property provides a quintessential setting for castle weddings in Ireland. In fact, it’s one of the oldest inhabited castles on the island! Kilkea Castle is just an hour from Dublin, nestled on 180 acres of woodlands and gardens overlooking the Killeshin Hills. Extensive renovations were completed in 2018, ensuring that the castle’s historic legacy lives on in a super luxurious 140-bedroom resort and spa that will wow your guests. Be it an intimate party or a grand affair, this extensive estate boasts no fewer than nine event spaces, including the impressive Baronial Hall, with its original stone feature wall. The rose garden makes for a particularly lovely ceremony location, with the castle as your backdrop as you say “I do”. Kilkea Castle has a one-wedding-per-day policy, and it can be booked exclusively for your wedding.
Kinnitty Castle, Co. Offaly
If you’re looking for a regal atmosphere, Kinnitty Castle has it in spades. This striking gothic revival castle will provide the idyllic setting for your wedding, and an unforgettable one for your guests! Set in the foothills of Co. Offaly’s Slieve Bloom Mountains, the castle’s interiors are filled with history and period details like wood paneling and antique furnishings. The castle offers luxurious accommodation in its 37 bedrooms, each with high ceilings and roll top baths. But the highlight is your wedding reception in the medieval-styled Great Hall of the O’Carrolls, which, according to local legend, even has its own (friendly) ghost!
Lough Eske Castle, Co. Donegal
Lough Eske Castle may have a history dating back to the 1400s, but today it’s the epitome of effortless modern elegance and luxury. Set in woodlands on the shores of a tranquil lake, in the shadows of the Blue Stack Mountains, it’s worth visiting for the sheer natural beauty of the surroundings alone. (Needless to say, the photo opportunities for the big day are endless!) But what really makes this storybook castle special is that it’s one of those rare venues that has a truly personal approach to service, making couples and their guests feel like kings and queens from the moment they arrive. They cater for weddings both intimate and grand, tailoring everything to your requirements.
Luttrellstown Castle, Co. Dublin
No list of top venues for castle weddings in Ireland would be complete without including Luttrellstown Castle, just twenty minutes from Dublin city and airport. You’ll struggle to find a more glamorous backdrop than this one. After all, if it was good enough for the Beckhams… The castle is offered on an exclusive use basis, so you’ll be able to enjoy all of it, from the private parklands and lake to the stately library. So whether it’s an intimate ceremony for 40 or a large-scale affair for 180 that you’re planning, you’ll have your pick of ceremony and reception spaces, including two impressive ballrooms and a 35,000sq ft, three-story alpine lodge-style clubhouse.
Markree Castle, Co. Sligo
This authentic 17th-century castle will make you feel like you’re in line for the throne! Markree Castle is located in scenic County Sligo on the Wild Atlantic Way, and is one of the largest privately-owned castles in Ireland. Inside, the Gothic architecture is spectacular, with vaulted ceilings, stained glass windows, dramatic arches, handcrafted cornicing, and an impressive staircase leading to the Grand Hall. The castle is only hired out on an exclusive-use basis, so couples and their guests can enjoy the castle, gardens, and incredible views in absolute privacy.
Slane Castle, Co. Meath
If a beautiful Irish castle with a rockstar pedigree just twenty minutes from Dublin sounds like your kind of thing, then Slane Castle is the perfect venue! Situated on the banks of the River Boyne in Meath, the estate is something of an institution, having hosted acts including Bob Dylan, U2, Queen, and David Bowie at its annual festival. There are a number of stunning spaces, including the circular King George IV Ballroom, with its arched windows and intricately detailed ceiling, which can be used for a ceremony or small reception. With exclusive use of the property, you’ll also be able to host up to 24 guests in the ten sumptuous bedrooms, with additional accommodation available nearby.
Waterford Castle Hotel, Co. Waterford
For couples with privacy and exclusivity at the top of their must-have list, Waterford Castle is an ideal choice. This romantic gothic-style castle is situated on its very own island, only accessible via private transportation. With 310 acres of parkland, a golf course, and self-catering cottages, you and your guests will feel like you’ve escaped to a world of your own and can enjoy a number of pre-wedding activities like clay pigeon shooting, falconry, and lawn croquet. The castle itself has nineteen impressive bedrooms and can accommodate up to 120 guests for your ceremony and reception.
Castle wedding venues near Dublin
For couples planning an Irish destination wedding from abroad, it’s particularly important to choose a venue that’s within easy reach of an international airport. That way, you’ll get to spend as much time with your guests as possible! The good news is that there are several castles in Ireland for a wedding that are in easy reach of the capital. Here are ten fabulous castle wedding venues within an hour of Dublin.
- Barberstown Castle
- Bellingham Castle
- Castle Durrow
- Clontarf Castle
- Darver Castle
- Durhamstown Castle
- Fitzpatrick Castle Hotel
- Kilkea Castle
- Luttrellstown Castle
- Slane Castle
Top tips for planning castle weddings in Ireland
While castle venues make for an incredible backdrop for a wedding celebration, I’ve learned over the years that the planning of castle weddings in Ireland comes with unique challenges and requirements. Here are some top tips to help you make your fairytale dream a reality!
Don’t assume you have to have a huge guest list for a castle wedding. It’s true that castles look imposing from the outside (which is all part of the attraction, of course), and are usually able to accommodate large numbers. However, most castles have lots of different event space options, depending on the number of guests. It’s a good idea to compile your guest list before you make an enquiry so that you know what your needs are.
Visit potential castles in Ireland for your wedding in person. Castles are such vast properties that it’s often difficult to really understand the scale and detail of the architecture from photographs. Interiors may also look darker than they are in reality. You get a completely different feel when you visit a venue in person, so be sure to make a trip if at all possible.
Choose a venue that’s accessible to your guests. This is especially true if you’re planning a destination wedding with lots of guests from abroad. Choose a venue that’s close to an airport and main roads, is easy to find, and offers accommodation on-site or nearby.
Ask the venue about restrictions. Castles are historical buildings, often with cultural significance. Because of this, many have restrictions in place (for example, no sparklers). Ask the venue coordinator up-front about their rules, to avoid any issues later on.
Discuss catering options with the venue. Many castle wedding venues in Ireland have in-house catering teams, while others may have preferred external caterers for you to choose from. Don’t let this put you off! Most are happy to work with a couple to create a bespoke menu or adapt an existing one to their preferences. Again, talk to the venue to find out which options are available to you.
Use space cleverly. Think about the spaces available in the castle creatively. Look at all the different options and consider how you could utilise each area for ceremony, dining, or entertainment. If you fall in love with a large space like a great hall, you can still make this work for a smaller guest list with clever use of furnishings and decoration. Your wedding planner can help you come up with the perfect design, one that will have great flow and make all your guests happy.
Work with what you have. There’s often a lot already going on with a castle’s décor, so it’s important that your wedding design highlights these features and enhances them instead of clashing and competing. Look for key colours or textures that stand out and use them as your inspiration. Lean on neutrals to balance out ornate spaces, such as ivory, taupe, or grey. Instead of DIY décor, focus your efforts on small but personal details that will make your guests feel at home, like handwritten notes and welcome baskets.
Embrace luxurious finishes. Castle weddings in Ireland are grand affairs, in halls where kings and queens once feasted. Reflect this in the quality of your finishing touches. For example, crystal glassware, vintage candelabras, fine linens, and gilt-edged crockery.
Accommodation options for castle weddings in Ireland
Anyone will tell you that Irish weddings are the most fun! The last thing your guests want is to have to spend a long time getting back to their accommodation or having to skip the whiskey so they can be the designated driver. Fortunately, most castles in Ireland for weddings have plenty of accommodation, either in the castle itself, on the grounds, or in a nearby village. Booking out the entire castle also gives you the advantage of exclusive use, so you’re able to use different spaces for different parts of your big day. Best of all, you’ll get to stay in the castle on your wedding night, and wake up truly feeling like kings and queens!
Slán go Fóill,
Images by Aspect Photography, Ashford Castle, Castle Leslie Estate, Dromoland Castle, Kilkea Castle, Kinnitty Castle, Lough Eske Castle, Luttrellstown Castle, Emily Doran Photography, Slane Castle, Waterford Castle, Into the Light, Lisa O’Dwyer