You’re getting married! Yes!! And you are thinking of an outdoor wedding in Northern Ireland? But how does this work? Where to start in planning an outdoor wedding in Northern Ireland? What about the weather? This blog has all the answers, as well as some of the legal bits and bobs you need to tie up.
Can I get legally married outdoors in Northern Ireland?
YES YOU CAN get married outdoors in Northern Ireland!! Hooray!! How freakin’ exciting.
There are 3 different types of legal wedding in Northern Ireland.
- Religious ceremonies performed by an ordained minister or priest or religious officiant.
- Humanist wedding ceremonies performed by accredited Humanists UK.
- Civil ceremonies performed by a registrar.
Which type of ceremony you have will impact where you can get married outdoors.
Where Can We Have an Outdoor Wedding In Northern Ireland?
So this depends who is marrying you. If you are having a religious or Humanist ceremony in Northern Ireland, you can get married anywhere the officiant agrees to. However, there are some caveats, as you will need permission from the owner of the land you are getting married on. For the most iconic locations in Northern Ireland, this will typically be the National Trust or the local councils, who will require extra paperwork and fees. There are a few privately owned locations though, which are incredible. Or you can do the symbollic part of your ceremony in one location and do the legal signing elsewhere.
If you are having a civil wedding in Northern Ireland, you can get married outdoors ‘as long the location has been licensed by the council as an approved place (couples will need to contact the registration office in the district in which the marriage is to take place in order to discuss the suitability of the location for the marriage and the action that may be required)’. For a list of licensed venues click here, but also be sure to check in with your local council as this list may not be as up to date as necessary.
10 popular licensed outdoor venues in Northern Ireland include:
- Harry’s Shack, Portstewart
- Antrim Castle Gardens, Antrim
- Hillmount House, Larne
- Larchfield Estate, Lisburn
- Drenagh House, Limavady
- Kilmore Country House, Glenariffe
- Ballyscullion Park, Magherafelt
- Lissanoure Castle, Armoy
- Glenarm Castle, Glenarm
- Ivory Pavillion, Galgorm Castle
These are all council licensed venues, but it’s important you double check with your local council as to whether they will permit them being used for outdoor ceremonies.
Best Locations To Get Married In Northern Ireland
If you are having a religious or Humanist ceremony, you can get married anywhere in Northern Ireland with permission from the landowner. You really are spoiled for choice for where to get married. Northern Ireland is the best place in Europe for elopements and intimate weddings. Here are some of my favourite elopement locations, and for more details on them head to my elopement guide here.
- Dunluce Castle (inside the castle is owned by the Department of Communities; the field outside is privately owned).
- Dunseverick Castle (run by National Trust)
- Murlough Bay (split between National Trust and privately owned)
- Kinbane Castle (Department of Communities)
- Giant’s Causeway(National Trust)
Get Married On The Beach in Northern Ireland
If you live or are travelling to the Causeway Coast and Glens area of Northern Ireland, you can get married in a civil or religious ceremony on any council maintained beach in the borough, with permission from the council. This normally requires a short risk assessment being completed.
5 beaches you can get married on in Northern Ireland:
- White Rocks Beach, Portrush
- Downhill Beach, Castlerock
- East Strand, Portrush
- Cushendall Beach, Cushendall
- Runkerry Beach, Portballintrae
How To Legally Get Married In Northern Ireland
So there is a key factor in when and how you get married in Northern Ireland and that’s giving your notice to get married. Typically you must give atleast 28 days notice to get married in the 12 months before your wedding. You must do that at the council district in which you are getting married.
If you need to download the Marriage Notice Form you can do so by clicking here.
If you are not a resident of Northern Ireland, you will need a specialist visa to get legally married here. You will need to have evidence of booking your wedding (an invoice from your photographer, planner or officiant should be enough) in order to apply for your visa, but you will need to have your visa before you can apply for your marriage certificate. You can send copies of all the documents to the registrar in advance, but you will need to make an appointment to bring the original documents to the registrar before your ceremony. This means you will need to be in Northern Ireland a day or two before your wedding.
What About The Weather For an Outdoor Wedding In Northern Ireland?
Does it rain all year around in Northern Ireland? Yes it does. Are you guaranteed a dry outdoor wedding in Northern Ireland? Short answer, no. But what you can be sure of is there are always options. Typically, there are always breaks in the weather here. I’ve shot outdoor weddings in every month of the year, and we’ve always found a way. Have couples got wet? Yes, sometimes they have. But they have embraced it and it’s been incredible. Your wedding, and your wedding photos are your story. If rain is a part of that, that’s ok.
If you really don’t want to get wet though, most of the bigger venues have inside options that you can quickly to change to. Or allow time in your schedule so that you can wait it out a bit if necessary. Flexibility is key.
But truthfully..I recommend you go with it. But some clear or white umbrellas and some blankets, and embrace whatever mother nature has in store. You won’t regret it.
Will A Small Outdoor Wedding Be As Good As a Big Wedding?
YES YES YES!! Will it be different? Yes! Will it be less? NO.
Your wedding is about the start of your marriage. Your commitment to the love of your life. It’s a celebration of the love you both share. Ultimately it’s a promise to each other to stick together no matter what. And right now, that’s even more special. It will be amazing. It will be intimate. It will be focused on all that truly matters…each other and your future together.
How To Include Family and Friends in Your Intimate Wedding or Elopement.
There are so many ways that you can include your friends and family in your intimate wedding.
- Ask your family and friends to send an email to your officiant or one of the witnesses. Get them to read them out during or after the ceremony.
- Get your friends or family to send you something special to have with you. It could be your something old, borrowed and blue; a hair pin; a chain for your flowers or a garter. For the groom it could be some cufflinks, a tie pin or some socks. Something that has come from them.
- Have your photographer/videographer capture the ceremony so that you can have a watch party when this is all over.
All Inclusive Outdoor Wedding Planning Services Northern Ireland
So if you check out my elopement guide, you will see that I have experience of planning outdoor weddings here in Northern Ireland. I have worked with so many incredible vendors, and have been planning elopements for a while now. I am delighted that more local people will be making the most of our local scenery and would love to help you plan your day.
Packages including hair, makeup, flowers, Humanist celebrant and photography start at £3500. Contact me here for my elopement pricing guide.
Intimate Wedding Photography Packages in Northern Ireland
It has never been more important to have these memories captured. If you are planning your wedding, please get in touch. I will help in any way I can…from a distance of course.