Destination weddings in Ireland and DC/MD USA. Your Irish wedding planner – styling and coordination to die for weddings since 2006. Based in Dublin and Maryland.

Why Ireland is STILL the Perfect Choice For Your Destination Wedding

Photo courtesy of Awake & Dreaming Photography

Your biggest decision when planning your wedding will be where to host it. Couples go back and forth between options, weighing concerns like cost, availability, does it come close to what they were envisioning, guest list, and more. It can become quite daunting quickly, and what starts off as an exciting time turns into a nightmare. Unfortunately, many couples have that experience compounded with family opinions and pressure to host an event that ends up being more reflective of their own tastes, rather than couple’s. For these reasons, more and more couples are opting to host a destination wedding.

Hosting a destination wedding affords you some major advantages. First, it allows you to pick a place that speaks to YOU. Maybe it’s a place you’ve visited together, maybe it’s on your bucket list, maybe it holds some ancestral or spiritual meaning for you. Second, it mitigates cost. Adding the travel element to your wedding day will immediately affect your guest list; now you don’t have the pressure to invite your dad’s clients or your great-aunt Martha from Cincinnati whom you met twice in your life. You can invite the people you really want to be there for your special day. Third, you’ll be surprised to find that hosting your wedding abroad can actually be far more affordable than hosting it at home. Mrs 2be recently surveyed over 2400 couples about their Ireland weddings in 2014. The average amount spent was €19,635 (equivalent to $21,361 USD. If you include the honeymoon, the amount rose to €24,490.  Compare that to a recent survey The Knot did where they found the average American couple spends around $35,329 (and that does not include the honeymoon).

With more and more couples looking abroad for their big day, Ireland often comes into the top of their list. People are getting more information about this gorgeous country from seeing shows like Game of Thrones and Vikings.  Even some of their favorite movies they’ll find were filmed on the Emerald Isle (Star Wars, Braveheart, The Princess Bride just to name a few).  Now the prospect of hosting a destination seems exciting. And we definitely agree!

So why Ireland? Part of what makes Ireland unique to other destinations is the convergence of so  many positive attributes that make it a dream destination wedding, which we’ll explore in more detail in this post. It’s rather incredible that you can find a destination that is (a) beautiful,  (b) well staffed with talented and dedicated people who (c) understand weddings so well and (d) are excited to welcome you and celebrate with you. Your guests will be forever grateful to you for inviting them to experience this special place.

Spectacular Scenery & Irish Hospitality

The absolute #1 reason why Ireland is the destination for your dream wedding is the combination of the three main factors that make for a memorable and spectacular wedding: location, trustworthy venues,  unique details you can’t do anywhere else.

First and foremost Ireland has some of the most incredible natural scenery in the world. Time and time again visitors come from all over the globe to see the soaring Cliffs of Moher, curious land formations at the Giants Causeway, and the picturesque impossibly-green Irish countryside. Add to that epic castles, haunting ruins, colorful sleepy seaport villages with Irish music playing at every corner, and bustling cities brimming with hearty food and local spirits, and you literally have a feast for all of the senses. You will have so many options to choose from to host your dream wedding day: fairy tale castles, expansive gardens and grounds of estate homes, charming green countryside with soft grassy hills, gorgeous turquoise water of the Atlantic, sandy beaches, soaring cliffs, sleepy bays and ancient stone circles. These are simply unique places that cannot be found anywhere else in the world and instantly distinguish your wedding day from everyone else. “Your guest will find your wedding memorable! It will be different and it will be remembered for all the right reasons,” says Sile, one of our lead planners.

To host your wedding also requires a dedicated venue and team to execute your day. Irish hospitality is bar none.  I challenge anyone to find a more dedicated people, sensitive to your needs, and willing to work hard for your special day. They will do literally anything within their power to make sure your entire stay in Ireland (not just your wedding day) surpasses what you were expecting.  Recently we had a wedding where spring onions were needed; the head of the venue jumped into his car, ran to the local store to pick some up and drove right back to make sure every single detail was perfect.  Chefs who custom create menus with dietary restrictions in mind, florists who will brave the sloping hillside and roadways for that perfect bloom and foliage, cake bakers that will drive your cake from one end of the country for your wedding are just but a few of the lengths the talented vendors we work with have gone to for our clients. Our lead planner Michelle Johnstone Clark says, “Simply put, we’re the best in the world. From the moment you arrive in Ireland everyone makes sure you are having the best possible time. It doesn’t matter if your wedding is 2 or 200 people; you are the priority and people go above and beyond.”

But the hospitality goes beyond just your venues and vendors. In general the Irish people are warm and inviting. They welcome you to their beautiful country and are on every level the best hosts you could ever hope for. From your wedding day down to the local pub, they are always there to help and tell a story and make you feel like you belong there. Sile concurs. “The well wishes couples receive from everyone they meet –from the minute they land in Ireland until they leave — really impresses upon our clients. That infectious positivism and genuine blessings really help to set the tone for not just their wedding day, but their entire stay in Ireland, and really creates this incredible positive space to get married in.”

The Irish Advantage

Destination weddings certainly have their advantages over a domestic wedding. But what is it about Ireland specifically apart from its natural beauty and hospitality that makes it a better choice than somewhere else?

From a logistic standpoint, it’s really a slam dunk choice. The country itself is very navigable: well kept major highways and roadways connect the entire island, you have major airports in all corners for easy flights, easy-to-read maps and road signs, and public transportation and taxis for hire make navigating the larger cities easy. Compare that to other countries where you have one major airport or unreliable transportation and you can have a recipe for disaster especially if schedules are tight. This extends to your wedding day and days leading up to it. You want your guests to travel easily and access your event(s) comfortably. To make it even easier than that, Waterlily Weddings is happy to help coordinate travel for you and your guests on the day of your wedding so you can relax and enjoy every moment of your wedding day.

From an aesthetic perspective, it really gives you a lot to work with to custom create a spectacular wedding day. You have so many locations and backdrops to choose from to enhance and customize your ceremony and pictures. Compare that with let’s say a beach wedding in Mexico and you have one shot, one set of colors and textures to work with and that’s it. In Ireland, you have a variety to inspire you and work with so you can create a multi-layered event that feels rich without having to pay the money for it. Things like ruins, cliffs, flora, cobble stones, buildings, signs all can serve as props to enhance your pictures. The rich history of Ireland also give a breadth of periods to work with aesthetically: ancient Celtic, medieval, Georgian, Victorian, turn-of-the-century, vintage, mod, urban just to name a few. This helps to give your wedding day a context in which the elements can be expressed. 

Another huge positive for hosting your wedding in Ireland is the opportunity to really bond together with your guests in a way you can’t somewhere else. “In the states for example,” Michelle says, “everyone will gather and for your wedding day for that six or so hour concentrated period. They will be clamoring for your attention, taking you away for every little thing, and distracting you from enjoying your wedding day.  By hosting a destination wedding, and in particular in Ireland,” she goes on, “you’re coming in for multiple days; this gives you opportunities to bond together before your wedding, gives your guests something else to see and do the day of your wedding so the morning of you can spend it focusing on yourself and enjoying it without distractions.”  In particular in Ireland no matter where you choose to host your destination wedding, there are plenty of activities and sight-seeing for you and your guests to partake in both in the days leading up to and day-of your wedding. We can help you plan your wedding celebration trip so it all works towards your wedding day serving as the apex of the entire trip. We can help you coordinate your rehearsal dinner, activities, welcome events, and more that will all be consistent with your wedding theme and what you want to accomplish while in Ireland that gets everyone excited for your wedding day, taking all the pressure off of you from playing “travel agent” for your friends and family. 

But perhaps the biggest advantage Ireland has over others is its very welcoming and inclusive nature. “Nobody feels excluded,” Sile says. Everywhere you go you are greeted with a big smile and warm handshake.  The people enjoy having you there and are excited to share their culture and history with you. And this extends to your wedding day as well. Being one of the first European countries to legalize same-sex marriage, it is a place that will wholeheartedly embrace you and your wedding celebration.

Why Not Host My Wedding At Home?

Hosting a destination wedding affords couples one invaluable thing: control over their day.

Having a destination wedding rather than one in their home country or home town allows couples to have the wedding day they actually want versus the one their families want them to have,” says Michelle. “When you plan a wedding where you live or even more so in your home town, your subject to your family and friend’s opinions, advice, recommendations, and criticism. We often get clients who abandon their wedding plans because the entire process became completely overwhelming, and they felt the focus of their day was waning.”  Couples are unique and that uniqueness, their personalities and quirks and loves and journey together is what should be the focus and celebrated on their wedding day. Hosting your wedding at home can lead to a lot of unsolicited advice that then changes the shift from what you want to giving in to what everyone else thinks you should have.  “Unfortunately many couples end up in a trap:  if you don’t take your family and friend’s advice, then they feel insulted and it creates bad feelings,” Michelle says. “Hosting your wedding day at a neutral destination stops those conversations dead.”

Part of how those conversations get neutralized in a destination wedding is you’re taking everyone a little bit outside of their comfort zone where they’re an expert and putting them in a new place where everyone starts with a blank slate and can focus on exploring a new environment rather than wedding details. “For many guests you are taking them somewhere they will be quite familiar with, but may have never visited,” Sile says. “You are giving them a reason to take a trip to a place of interest to them that they may not otherwise visit, or for some perhaps is on their bucket list.  There is so much to see and do and experience in Ireland and the Irish have a great way of surrounding interesting places with great places to eat and drink, which means trips are easy to coordinate and really enjoyable for your guests!” They can look forward to planning their trip rather than your wedding!

You Don’t Even Have To Be Irish!

One of the special aspects of Ireland is it manages to appeal to everyone.

We’ve talked before in other posts about how much of today’s marriage and wedding traditions actually originated out of Ireland. From wedding bells to tying-the-knot, there are many wedding traditions that will have a familiarity for you and would be an easy and natural fit for your wedding celebration in Ireland. But even if it isn’t, and you’re coming from a different culture or background, you will still find lots of inspiration in Irish wedding traditions and may be pressed to include one or two on your special day! “Irish traditions are not precious in any way,” Sile says. “This means it is very easy for everyone to get on board with an Irish wedding ‘theme’ and incorporate that ‘something Irish’ into their day.  Whether it is simply wearing a little green, a Guinness/ Baileys/Jameson toast, wearing peak caps, or dancing a jig, all nationalities and cultures seem to feel comfortable joining in. I think this is a huge positive.” We encouraged couples to merge their own cultural traditions into their wedding day, creating a bespoke ceremony that is unique and a clear reflection of who they are.

If you’re curious about incorporating Irish traditions into your wedding day, CONTACT US today for more information and ideas!

Why Waterlily Weddings Is The Right Choice

Waterlily Weddings is your one-stop to execute your dream destination wedding in Ireland.

We help you with everything from conceptualizing your wedding day and details through our talented styling and design team, to finding your perfect location and venue, to pairing you up with the right vendors to execute your vision, and taking care of all of the details in between, all from the comfort of your home.

We are there to support you through the entire planning process, making sure every element is planned to perfection and executed perfectly. We pride ourselves on working with a very talented group of vendors throughout Ireland. Some couples are tentative about getting the same level of execution abroad that they would in the States; we cannot reiterate enough how dedicated and talented the vendors are in Ireland, and how they will work above and beyond to achieve your vision. And our style and design team will work very closely with you to ensure details are sourced and perfectly executed.

We pride ourselves on not only delivering their dream wedding day to our clients, but also for giving them the gift of being able to enjoy their wedding. We take all of the stress out of planning. We are there with you leading up to and on the day to field questions, make sure all is in order, on schedule, and the overall look is polished and consistent with your vision. “Many clients come to us completely overwhelmed with making decisions and have worked themselves into a frenzy worried they are making the right decisions,” says Michelle. “I want everyone to know that it really isn’t that hard. It can be a little scary at first, but that’s why you find a planner to work with that listens to you, understands you and what you want, and can guide you through the planning process.  And at Waterlily Weddings we really pride ourselves on doing just that.

CONTACT US today to start planning your dream wedding day in Ireland! Look through our PORTFOLIO and check back often on the BLOG for our latest weddings, posts, and styling tips!


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