5 Luxury Venues for a Small Wedding in Ireland

We often think of weddings as great big parties with lots of people, but more and more couples are now opting for a small wedding in Ireland instead. This is partly due to the Coronavirus pandemic making micro weddings the norm for the next while. But even before COVID-19, smaller weddings were on the rise. And why not? Bijoux celebrations create a lovely, intimate feeling and allow you to spend quality time with each of your guests. They also allow you to splash out on elements like the food, photography – and venue! And, while the Emerald Isle is home to huge castles and sprawling estates, you’ll also find many gorgeous options for a small wedding in Ireland. But that doesn’t mean giving up any of the beautiful spaces or five star service you’d expect from a large-scale event. Here are five luxurious Irish venues perfect for an intimate wedding.

Please note: Venue capacities quoted below may not reflect changes due to COVID-19 safety guidelines. Please contact individual venues for their most up-to-date information and guidance.

small wedding in Ireland Clonwilliam House

small wedding in Ireland Clonwilliam House

Clonwilliam House

Nestled atop the Vale of Avoca in County Wicklow – the ‘garden of Ireland’ – Clonwilliam House is a stunning Georgian property known for its exclusivity and impeccable style. The property combines boutique countryside charm with the amenities of a luxury hotel, including six sumptuous bedrooms, a personal butler, an underground swimming pool, and spa treatments. The house, which plays host to only a limited number of weddings each year, boasts a mix of classic and contemporary décor, with pastel hues, decorative plasterwork, open fires, and sparkling candelabras. With no guest minimum, the dining room is the perfect location for a chic small reception, although larger parties can be accommodated in the barn and stables.

small wedding in Ireland Waterford Castle

Waterford Castle

If you’re dreaming of a castle wedding in Ireland but want to make it an intimate affair, Waterford Castle is your venue. This fairytale 16th century castle is set on its own 310-acre island, accessible only by private ferry. Couples are able to book exclusive use of the castle and its 19 stately bedrooms and suites, making it the ultimate in privacy, security, and luxury. And yet it’s only 90 minutes away from either Dublin or Cork. With a variety of rooms, the award-winning resort caters to intimate elopements right up to events with 120 guests.

small wedding in Ireland No. 25 Fitzwilliam Place

No. 25 Fitzwilliam Place

For a micro wedding in Dublin, you won’t find a more stylish venue than the ultra chic No. 25 Fitzwilliam Place. Set in the heart of the city, along the Georgian mile, this beautifully-restored period venue specialises in smaller weddings, hosting up to 60 guests. The décor is gorgeous, the food is divine, and the views from the floor-to-ceiling sash windows make this a truly special city wedding venue.

small wedding in Ireland Virginia Park Lodge

Virginia Park Lodge

Foodies: this one’s for you! Virginia Park Lodge is a former 18th-century hunting estate that was taken over in 2014 by Michelin star chef, Richard Corrigan. Set in beautiful Cavan countryside, and decorated in a style best described as ‘homely luxury’, the venue unsurprisingly has a strong focus on food. All wedding menus are exclusively designed by Richard Corrigan, incorporating fine seasonal produce sourced from local suppliers and the Lodge’s own extensive gardens. While larger Virginia Park Lodge weddings take place in the glass-walled pavilion, the beautiful Marchioness banqueting room hosts smaller weddings for up to 90 guests.

small wedding in Ireland Bantry House

Bantry House

Bantry House in West Cork is a charming setting for an intimate destination wedding in Ireland, an exclusive space that offers complete privacy. The true country house experience! Built in the early 18th century, this fine historical home is set within lavish tiered gardens, overlooking beautiful Bantry Bay. The views are incredible, and the house itself is home to an impressive private collection of art and antique furniture. It has a maximum capacity of 100 guests (a marquee can be erected for larger weddings) and six carefully-restored bedrooms, with additional accommodation available nearby.

These are just a few of the amazing venues available for a small wedding in Ireland. I’m always happy to help guide my clients to find the perfect one for them, so if you’re considering a micro wedding, do get in touch!

Slán go Fóill,


Images by Lisa O’Dwyer, Christina Brosnan, Clonwilliam House, Waterford Castle, No. 25 Fitzwilliam Place, Virginia Park Lodge, Lisa O’Dwyer

10 Irish Drinks for a Wedding Bar

Whether you’re planning a destination wedding in Ireland or want to give a nod to your Irish heritage from afar, having Irish drinks at your wedding is a great way to do it. After all, the Irish famously do like a tipple! Fortunately, you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to Irish drinks. Our beverages, from stout to whiskey, are distributed and enjoyed across the world. So whatever your taste, you’ll find something to tickle your fancy. Here are ten Irish drinks to consider adding to your wedding bar.

Irish Whiskey

First on the list has to be Irish whiskey, as we produce some of the world’s finest! The Gaelic term for whiskey is ‘uisce beatha’ (pronounced ish-ka bah-ha) which translates as ‘water of life’. Common types include single malt, single grain, and blended whiskey, and many of the most popular brands (such as Jameson, Bushmills, and Tullamore Dew) are household names. With so many to choose from, a special Irish whiskey bar is always popular with guests, but other options are having a whiskey toast, serving whiskey-based cocktails, or enjoying a whiskey tasting menu as part of your meal.

Irish whiskey bar


There are actually several delicious Irish stouts available (including Murphy’s and Beamish), but Guinness is certainly the most famous. It has been brewed at the Guinness Brewery in St, James’ Gate, Dublin, since 1759. Including Guinness on your bar menu is an easy way to add a touch of Irish flair to your wedding. Another option is to serve Black Velvet, a cocktail made of half Guinness, half champagne.

Irish Drinks for a wedding bar Guinness

Bailey’s Irish Cream

Another very famous Irish export is Bailey’s, an indulgent cream liqueur with a creamy, chocalatey taste. Bailey’s only uses cream from Irish cows in their product, adding an extra level of authenticity. Serve it as an after-dinner liqueur, either straight or chilled over ice. (If you’d like to try a different Irish cream, Coole Swan made in Co. Meath is a great option! It’s made with Belgian white chocolate and single malt whiskey.)

Irish Coffee

Another after-dinner favourite, Irish coffee is a delicious mix of hot coffee and Irish whiskey, and sugar, topped with freshly whipped cream. It makes a great dessert addition (or alternative, for some guests) but could also be served during cocktail hour to warm guests up on a chilly day.

Irish Drinks for a Wedding Bar

Apple Cider

There’s nothing quite like a cold Irish cider on a sunny afternoon. Bulmer’s/Magner’s is the most popular brand, and can also be found quite easily outside of Ireland. In winter, swap out cold cider for a hot spiced cider, which is also a great option for warming guests up after time outdoors.

Irish Drinks for a Wedding Bar

Irish Mist

Irish Mist is a whiskey liqueur made right here in Dublin. It’s warm, sweet, and aromatic, and is a good addition to cocktails as well as a stand-alone drink. Ingredients include aged Irish whiskey, honey, heather, and aromatic herbs.


Pronounced ‘put-cheen’, poitín is a drink distilled from malted grains or potatoes and milk whey. It’s essentially the Irish equivalent of America’s moonshine and was illegally produced for over 200 years, often in rural regions. It was legalised in 1997 and in 2008 was granted Geographical Indicative Status. It’s very potent (although not as potent as the original version!) but makes a great addition to a cocktail. A fun brand to include in your wedding bar would be Straw Boys Poitín, named for the boys who would crash weddings for a drink and a dance, bringing good luck with them.

Irish Wedding Bar Gin and Tonic

Dingle Gin

The Emerald Isle may be better known for whiskey than gin, but the gin market has seen a rapid expansion in the last few years. So if gin is your tipple, you’ll find plenty of options to include in your wedding bar! The best known is probably Dingle Gin, which is proudly produced in Co. Kerry, and uses botanicals from the local landscape like rowanberry, fuchsia, bog myrtle, hawthorn, and heather. It’s a wonderfully refreshing drink – perfect for a summer destination wedding in Ireland!

Irish Wedding Bar


Mead has a long association with weddings in Ireland. In fact, the term ‘honeymoon’ comes from the tradition of newlyweds sharing the malted honey beverage through the first month of their marriage. It can be served either warm or cold. And, while it’s too sweet to be to many guests’ tastes, it makes a meaningful traditional alternative to a champagne toast to the couple.

Irish Wedding Cocktails at the Westbury Hotel

Signature Cocktails

Of course, signature cocktails are always a great addition to any wedding bar menu! It’s especially fun when the cocktail names or ingredients have personal meaning to the couple or pay tribute to the wedding destination. Some appropriate Irish drinks for cocktail hour include the Irish Mule (a Moscow Mule with whiskey instead of vodka), the Wild Irish Rose (whiskey, grenadine, lemon juice, sugar, and soda), or the Irish Kiss (whiskey, peach schnapps, ginger ale, orange juice). Or why not create your own? The bar staff at the best Irish wedding venues are always happy to customise cocktails for couples.

Here’s to all our favourite Irish drinks. Sláinte!

Slán go Fóill,


Images by Lisa O’Dwyer, Kieran Harnett, Doreen Kilfeather, Story of Eve

Same Sex Weddings in Ireland

It’s hard to believe that almost five years have passed since same sex marriage became a reality in the Republic of Ireland. I still remember the sense of pride and elation I felt when the country voted in favour of marriage equality in the 2015 referendum! And with same sex marriage now also legally recognised in Northern Ireland (as of January 2020), LGBTQI+ and same sex weddings are finally a reality across the whole island. Here at Tara Fay weddings we are huge supporters of marriage equality, and we love helping all our couples make their dream day a reality, whoever they choose to love.

The Marriage Act 2015 applies to civil ceremonies, which can take place in a huge variety of venues across Ireland. For example, castles, hotels, manor houses and museums. You can also opt for a Humanist ceremony for same sex weddings in Ireland (which can include outdoor locations). If you would like to get married on a private estate (ceremony venues must be open to the public), you can also choose to have a small legal ceremony and follow it with a symbolic ceremony in a location of your choice. Windswept cliff tops, fields, woodlands… wherever your imagination takes you!

While same sex weddings in Ireland are identical to opposite sex weddings in the most important way (i.e. legal status), it’s up to you how traditional you want your celebration to be. In fact, LGBTQI+ couples often feel less restricted when it comes to the details of the day, allowing us to create a day for them that feels completely personal. You make the rules! Here are a few elements to consider.


What to wear

Two tuxes? Two dresses? Matching or not? The answer is: whatever will make you feel incredible. There are a huge range of options, from dresses to suits to uniquely complementary ensembles. The most important thing is that each of you feels comfortable and confident. And, while you can choose to wear the same thing or matching versions, there are also lots of other ways to make your outfits coherent, from colours and fabrics to the flowers you carry or the accessories you wear.

The ceremony

Heterosexual Christian wedding ceremonies have a number of traditions, and many are defined by gender. For example, the bride’s family sit on the left, and the groom waits for the bride at the top of the aisle. With same sex weddings, you get to build the ceremony that best fits you as a couple. For example, you could walk down the aisle together, or towards each other from opposite directions. You also don’t need to include heteronormative phrases in your vows. Write your own, and personalise your ceremony with readings and music that you love.

Wedding traditions

There are lots of other wedding traditions that are defined by gender, and you can reimagine these exactly as you wish. For example, you can dispense with the bouquet and garter toss, or turn it into something new. You can have bridesmen and groomsmaids, a shared wedding party, or no entourage at all. You might also choose to have a first look, or to get ready together. It’s your wedding; your rules. And the same goes for your pre-wedding events, like hen parties and stag dos!

Whatever you decide on, remember this is your love, and your relationship that is being honoured. And, while all couples struggle with the expectations of family and friends, the most important thing is to focus on what matters to you as a couple.

I can’t wait to welcome more gorgeous couples home to Ireland for their same sex weddings in 2021 and beyond!

Slán go Fóill,


Images by Eric Kelley

The Dos and Don’ts of Planning a Destination Wedding in Europe

Dreaming of a destination wedding in Europe? Who could blame you! There are so many options for romantic European weddings, from ancient castles in Ireland to sunkissed villas in Italy or France. Whatever you’re picturing, planning a perfect destination wedding in Europe isn’t as difficult as you may think, especially if you have an experienced local wedding planner on board. But before you start packing your bags, here are a few important dos and don’ts to consider.

DO visit the location in advance

One of the best things about having a destination wedding in Europe is that there is a location to suit every couple. From beachy Mediterranean settings to vibrant historic cities, to cosy country retreats. The internet is a great place to start scouting venues, reading reviews, and swooning over images. But if at all possible, make sure you visit your destination before booking. (Plus, it’s a great excuse for a romantic getaway!)

DON’T choose a difficult-to-reach location

When picking a European wedding venue, it’s important to think about accessibility for your family and friends. Are there regular (direct) flights? Is there suitable accommodation at a range of price points nearby? You should also make sure that the location has all of the resources you need, otherwise you will have to budget extra to bring them in.


DO arrive a few days before your guests

It’s always a good idea to travel out to your European wedding destination ahead of your guests. This will give you time to settle in, calm your nerves, and get over any jetlag. You’ll also able to squeeze in a hair and makeup trial, and deal with any last minute details.

DON’T limit your celebrations to the wedding day

Having all your favourite people with you on a dream European vacation is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Make sure to organise additional outings or events for the group, so that everyone is able to get a real taste of your host country. If you’re planning a destination wedding in Ireland, that might include dining on some of our delicious local cuisine, visiting an historic site, or enjoying a golf or spa day, for example.

DO embrace the local culture

To make your destination wedding in Europe extra special, you should embrace and incorporate elements of your chosen location. For example, you could reflect it in your menu, your stationery, your wedding design or your ceremony. For an Irish destination wedding, a popular option is to have a bagpiper play you down the aisle. You could also invite Irish dancers to perform at the reception, and serve your guests a selection of fine Irish whiskeys.


DON’T make your destination wedding ceremony your legal one

Of course, it’s possible to arrange for your destination wedding ceremony to be a legal one. But depending on your destination, that can be a tricky and time-consuming process. In Ireland, the registration system can be more trouble than it’s worth, so I would recommend getting legally married in your home country. It also gives you more freedom with when and where your symbolic ceremony or blessing can take place.

DO make sure your guests feel welcome

It’s more important than ever at a destination wedding that you do everything you can to make your guests feel welcome. After all, they’ve come a long way to be with you! Treat them to welcome gift bags at their hotels, and provide them with all the information they need to enjoy their stay. Spend time with each of them during the wedding weekend, and be sure to add a personal touch with a handwritten thank you note to show how grateful you are that they are there.

DON’T try to do it all on your own

Planning any wedding is time consuming and stressful. A destination wedding has an extra layer of challenges. And depending on which European wedding destination you choose, language can also be an issue. That’s why it’s so important to find a team of professionals you can trust. Starting with an experienced destination wedding planner! They will be able to coordinate with other vendors, give you good (local) advice, and help you source those special touches.

Slán go Fóill,


Images by Lisa O’Dwyer and Photogenic Photography

5 Ways to Narrow Down Your European Wedding Destinations List

So you’ve decided on a destination wedding, and narrowed it down to Europe. The inevitable next question is: where? After all, the location of your wedding will set the tone for the whole event, and put into motion so many other aspects of your wedding planning. But with the whole of the continent at your fingertips, how do you find the place that’s right for you? A beach in the Algarve, maybe. A castle in Ireland. An elegant chateau in the Dordogne. Or maybe even a glacier in Iceland? With so many fabulous European wedding destinations to choose from, it can be hard to know where to begin. Here are some things to consider, that will help you turn an endless list of possibilities into a more manageable shortlist.

Decide on a backdrop

The best place to start is with yourselves. What sort of backdrop do you envision? What sorts of places do you love to travel and what are your passions? Whether you dream of mountains or ocean, sun or snow, a secluded country venue or a vibrant city spot, the place you choose for your wedding should reflect YOU. And with so many European wedding destinations to choose from, there really is something for everyone. Sit down as a couple and discuss your dreams and expectations. Then make a list and start researching which locations fit your criteria.


Consider your guests

Choosing a wedding destination is far easier when you have an idea of how many people will be on your guest list. If it’s a larger one, this may allow you to eliminate locations that don’t have enough accommodations nearby, or that are hard to get to. It’s also important to consider the ages of your guests and whether you will be inviting children or elderly people. Creating a first draft of your guest list will give you a lot of information to apply to your destination search.

Think about season and weather

Another aspect of European destination weddings to consider is the season, and the weather you can expect during any month. This is especially important if you want an outdoor ceremony or reception. The weather here in Ireland is known for being a little eccentric, so we always prepare for showers, whatever the month! That said, the second half of the year is generally wetter and windier. August and December are typically the rainiest months and we do get plenty of pretty days throughout the year too!


The small print

When planning a destination wedding in Europe, it’s vital that you research the legal requirements. Each country has its own requirements and these often change. Of course, you can also get around this by having a legal ceremony in your home country, followed by a symbolic ceremony at your destination wedding. Also, be aware that if you want a religious ceremony, there are additional rules to follow in most countries and churches.

Guest activities

Destination weddings are more than a single event. They’re a chance to share an experience with your favourite people and explore a beautiful place together. That’s why it’s important to choose a location that has plenty to offer. Fortunately, many European wedding destinations fit the bill, with everything from historic sites to culinary adventures for all to enjoy!

Once you’ve narrowed down your location, it’s time to move on to the next exciting part: venue hunting!

Slán go Fóill,


Images by Lisa O’Dwyer and Aspect Photography

Ireland’s Best Historic Wedding Venues

The island of Ireland has many incredible historic properties. It’s part of our rich cultural heritage. So when planning a destination wedding in Ireland, it only makes sense to enjoy the romance and grandeur of a historic property and share the experience with your guests. Imagine, for example, saying ‘I do’ in an ancient castle. Or a stately country house that has seen generations of parties and celebrations. Historic wedding venues in Ireland are full of character and tradition. And like fine wines, they’ve only gotten better with time!

Here are five of the best historic wedding venues in Ireland.


Adare Manor

Adare Manor is a delightful mix of old and new. This 19th-century neo-Gothic manor house underwent a complete renovation in 2017 that retained the charm of its past while adding five-star modern conveniences. The 840-acre estate is set beside a picture-perfect village in County Limerick, and also includes medieval ruins, elegant parterre French gardens, winding woodland paths and a picturesque river.


Ashford Castle

When it comes to fairytale Irish castles, Ashford Castle lives up to the fantasy every bit. Not to mention an ample dose of five-star luxury! With multiple event spaces within the venue, this 800-year-old castle is as versatile as it is beautiful. It also includes a state of the art spa, school of falconry, and 350 acres of lush green land. It can be booked exclusively for complete privacy and seclusion. One of the most iconic of the historic wedding venues in Ireland!



This magnificent country house – considered one of Ireland’s finest Georgian mansions – is located at the foot of the Slieve Bloom Mountains in County Laois. The secluded estate features over 600 acres of ancient forests and gardens, while inside the property you’ll find luxurious guest rooms, crackling fireplaces, and a 2000-year-old Italian mosaic. Ballyfin is, as Veranda Magazine noted, “like a house party out of Downton Abbey”. What more could a bride or groom wish for?


Luttrellstown Castle

This idyllic 15th-century castle will provide you with the best of both worlds. On the one hand, Luttrellstown Castle is nestled into a secluded 560-acre estate, offering complete privacy and exclusivity. On the other, it’s conveniently located just twenty minutes from Dublin, allowing your guests to enjoy everything the city has to offer during their stay. And the castle was built for gracious entertaining. From the elegant dining halls to the magnificent ballrooms, it’s the epitome of timeless romance.


Powerscourt House and Gardens

Voted one of the world’s top ten mansions and houses by Lonely Planet, Powerscourt House stands at the heart of a vast historical estate. The gardens are also internationally renowned and provide a dazzling backdrop to any celebration. Exclusive use of the house and gardens is available, and ceremonies can take place in the gardens, in front of the ornate Bamberg Gate, or indoors in the ground floor entry hall. Afterward, guests can enjoy a reception in the stately neo-classical ballroom, which features vast ceilings, marble columns, and elaborate plasterwork.

Of course, there are many more incredible historic wedding venues in Ireland to discover. These are just a few of my favourites!

Slán go Fóill,


Images by Eric Kelley, Fred Marigaux Photographer, Ashford Castle, Photogenic Photography, Luttrellstown Castle