Updated 3 February 2021
Northern Ireland has an incredible selection of venues, with hotels having always been the most popular option for years. I’m having a hotel wedding myself, so I can understand the appeal, but if you’re wanting something a little different. Something that you can really make your own, then look no further than this blog.
Picking Your Wedding Venue
When it comes to choosing your wedding venue, where do you start? I honestly think it’s the hardest part of wedding planning because it dictates the rest of your wedding planning process. There are so many options, so many price ranges, and it’s the biggest expense, so it’s pretty freakin’ scary. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- How many guests?
- Do you want a church wedding, civil or humanist?
- If you want a church wedding, how close is the nearest church? Travelling between venues wastes A LOT of precious time on your wedding day.
- What type of food do you want?
- What is a realistic budget? Don’t just think about the meals, look at hire costs, decorating, evening buffet, wine etc.
What I would say is key when selecting your venue, is great service. You can have the most epic surroundings, but if the service doesn’t meet the same levels of the style, that’s what you’ll remember. The selection I’ve put together come highly recommended by my own experience and that of real brides. If there’s a venue you think I need to add, let me know in the comments.
Working at Larchfield was one of the highlights of my year in 2019. Of course because it’s a beaut setting, but I just loved how amazing the team were and how the day just flowed.
Larchfield is a stunning estate with a number of options when it comes to your ceremony and reception. You can get married in their stunning gardens, or inside the cosy barn. They offer Plan A and Plan B options so that you can aim for an outdoor ceremony with the comfort of knowing it can be changed if good old NI weather intervenes.
Here are 3 other reasons I love Larchfield:
- No corkage – you can supply your own wine and bubbly for your drinks reception and dinner.
- Accommodation on site.
- The greenhouse is just epic, and perfect for photos on a rainy day.
Drenagh House is simply exquisite in every way. With exclusive use of the estate, and the option to have your ceremony in the stunning Walled Garden, it’s a gorgeous choice. The staff and team there are also absolutely fabulous. You are in good hands with the planners, including the lovely Hannah and on the day you’ve got Trevor making sure everything runs smoothly. I put together a styled shoot to show off the incredible inside of the house, you can check it out here.
I also shot my first wedding there in 2020, under the most difficult of circumstances and the team went above and beyond for my couple. It was the most stunning day with a twilight ceremony in the Moon Garden. I can’t recommend this venue enough.
The Wool Tower is a venue just full of so much character. So easily accessible, and with accommodation within this actual restored woolen mill in Broughshane. I fell in love with this place the second I set foot inside, and the service matched the setting. Again, there are amazing opportunities to make a budget stretch with different catering options available. And the setting has so much character that decorations can be as minimal or as extra as you want. This place as most definitely a highlight of my calendar this year.
In 2020 they offered ceremony only options when restrictions prevented receptions. And with on site accommodation, it really has it all. I highly recommend this venue and truly adore working there, the team make it a joy!
The Arcadia in Portrush is set in the most incredible location. Literally right on the sea overlooking the beach in Portush. It’s one of my favourite venues with it being in my hometown, but also because of the number of locations open to you for photos. You’re within walking distance to make the most of the entire town of Portrush or just 5 minutes drive from Dunluce Castle. It’s a smaller venue, perfect for an intimate wedding. The room itself is bright and lends itself so beautifully to quirky personal weddings. You can bring in your own caterers for your meals so the possibilities are endless. Tapas? Food Trucks? Pizzas? You can really make your wedding your own at the Arcadia.
This is where I got married myself in 2020. It wasn’t my original venue, because we had initially had a much larger guest list, but one thing I’m thankful to Covid for, is forcing us to cut out numbers and allowing us to get married at this stunning venue. Tanya and Sheelagh were absolutely amazing throughout everything and on the day especially. Nothing was too much trouble despite all the extra stress of restrictions.
My favourite part though was standing at the top saying our vows and looking out to the sea and all the surfers below. It was like standing in the ocean…magical!!
Lissanoure Castle is a stunning Irish Castle based on an estate in Loughguile, County Antrim. I’ve loved working with Moira and her team on a number of weddings so far. Another exclusive wedding venue, Lissanoure has a number of options when it comes to your ceremony. Check out my Lissanoure Wedding Planning Guide for more about this amazing venue.
The stunning Magheramorne Estate is another exclusive wedding venue offering everything you need for your wedding. With 36 ensuite rooms and 40 acres of stunning grounds, it’s a venue that I am so looking forward to shooting at in 2021.
Situated just 35 minutes from Belfast, Ballyscullion Park is an incredible wedding venue and Game of Thrones location. Having shot there a number of times, I have fallen in love with the venue and am always in awe of the wonderful homely feel and excellent level of service. Nothing is ever a trouble for Rosalind and the team. You can instantly tell it’s a family run venue.
Another venue with multiple ceremony options, I’ve seen first hand how quickly the team here can switch from an outdoor to indoor ceremony when needed.The grounds are stunning and accommodation is also on site.
If you’re looking for an intimate wedding venue on the North Coast, look no further. With 3 ceremony spots and the recently renovated barn, holding up to 90 people, this is the ideal spot for a small intimate wedding.
The Tap Room at Hilden Brewery is one of the most unique and quirky venues I’ve shot at. Imagine getting married in an actual brewery…! It is such a lovely setting and the team are fantastic. The wedding I shot last year had an incredible outdoor setting for dinner and everyone had BBQ food. It was so relaxed and such a fun atmosphere.
The Ivory Pavillion is set within the grounds of the stunning Galgorm Castle. Unlike a lot of other exclusive venues, The Ivory Pavillion offers all inclusive wedding packages. There are two options, both including exclusive hire of Galgorm Castle and Ivory Pavillion:
- Essentials Package
- Ivory Package.
There are then further options if you’d like an intimate wedding in Galgorm Castle itself or a bespoke package designed for your needs.
Speaking of a homely feel, Hillmount House is the ultimate in homely. You literally hire this stunning House for the entire weekend and have the best time.
I love the flexibility of Hillmount House and the catering options. My wonderful bride Nicola and her husband Steven hired a food truck for their guests. Such a great way to have amazing food and keep costs down. You have to check out their incredible wedding which was featured over at The Promise. It’s got soo much epic inspo for planning your creative wedding.
A brand new for 2020 wedding venue, this new space looks like something really different. I have a booking for this new venue and I am unbelievably excited to shoot here. Their website says, ‘This exclusive-use venue offers an environment of unabridged luxury. Picture high vaulted ceilings adorned with twinkling feature chandeliers, celebratory planting and marble dining tables. Upon ascending the staircase under a fairy lit tree canopy, statement touches feature at every turn. The top table takes centre stage in front of an iconic fireplace. Tucked behind this is the spacious outdoor terrace exuding romance with views overlooking the lake. Festoon lighting and outdoor fireplace frame your picture-perfect day.’
Based in the hills of Glenariff, with the most incredible views, Kilmore Country House is just wonderful. The house itself has rooms for a number of your guests to stay, with more accommodation available nearby in the village below. The most epic spot for an outdoor ceremony, and so many options for your wedding photography, it really is beautiful.
Oh Harry’s Shack has it all for a laid back, small intimate wedding. Set right on the beach it is an absolute dream for photos as sunset falls in the perfect direction. And the food, oh my word, the food is a different level. Check out my blog on an incredible wedding I shot at Harry’s Shack and tips for planning your Harry’s Shack wedding.
I am dying to shoot a wedding here. My friend Paula @ hello sugar photography shot one here recently and raved about it. Imagine getting married on a ship? In the centre of Belfast, with the epic docks to explore. It is the definition of quirky, alternative and epic.
Finnebrogue woods is such a unique and quirky venue set amongst the trees at Finnebrogue. Set alongside the lake, this venue is absolutely stunning and has it all. It’s perfect for a rustic or boho style wedding and would be the ideal backdrop for any unique wedding.
So there you have it, some of my favourite alternative wedding venues in Northern Ireland. If you’re planning your wedding at any of these venues, or you think there are some others I need to add to the list, please drop me a message. I’d love to hear about your plans. Lx