The country of Northern Ireland is unique and the locations are off the beaten path. Without the crowds you’ll have every location in this country to yourself. The perfect place on earth for your private ceremony. This is a list of the best ‘wow factor’ locations to have an elopement in Ireland, made by a local photographer (me!).
If you’re considering an elopement but you’re not sure where, or if you’ve looked at doing so in Ireland but can’t settle on an answer, I’m answering some of the top questions to help you decide as well as telling which locations are the best. It can also be a great vacation for friends and family to join the celebration.
Is Ireland as beautiful as people say?
Firstly, Northern Ireland has some of the best scenery in Europe, from ancient castle ruins, to stunning rivers, lakes and mountains. You don’t have to limit yourself to one location either, as some of the best spots are close together. I’m talking a 15 minutes drive at the Causeway Coastal Route in Northern Ireland!
What locations do photographers recommend for elopements in Ireland?
If you want to book me for your elopement photography, please click here and let’s see if our dates match up. Here are my top recommendations, scroll past the lists to see some stunning images to get a feel for their personality and how you want your elopement to look. There are mostly outdoor scenic locations that give the ‘I eloped to Ireland’ feelings, but I’ve also included some luxurious castle estate locations too.
Northern Ireland Elopement locations:
- Dunluce Castle
- Dunseverick Castle & Cliffs
- Ballintoy Harbour
- Murlough Bay & Fair Head
- The Dark Hedges
- Kinbane Head
- Hamiltons Seat
- Mountains of Mourne
- Mussenden Temple
- White Park Bay
Donegal Elopement Locations
Dublin Elopement Locations
Republic Ireland Elopement Locations
- Glengarrif Thatched Cottage
- Bantry House and Garden
- Gloster House
- Cliffs of Moher
- Ladies View at Killarney
- Abandoned Menlo Castle
Irelands Number 1 Elopement location is Dunluce Castle
As an experienced photographer, my top recommendation for anyone eloping to Ireland is Dunluce Castle on the Causeway Coastal Route. It is one of the most beautiful spots in Ireland, and offers so much scope, with incredible views. The field that overlooks Dunluce Castle is owned by a local farmer, so permission to enter does need to be acquired prior to your day, for which there is a fee to pay. It is SO worth it! Any good photographer or planner can arrange this for you. See the highlights of an elopement at Dunluce here.
Dunseverick Castle, also on the Causeway Coastal Route, is a lesser known hidden gem, with stunning views of the sunset and easily accessed by walking a short distance. It is peace and tranquil, joining on to the Giant’s Causeway cliff path route which can also be explored whilst you’re there in Co Antrim. The castle itself sits high up with views of the sea on either side. Couples often stand atop a small mound to say their vows, which couldn’t be more naturally perfectly placed!
Ballintoy Harbour offers the most variety for an elopement in Ireland, making it both a bride and a photographer’s dream. Drive down the windy road and park right at the location of the famous Game of Thrones backdrop of Ballintoy, with black cliffs, white rocks, and strange land formations where the sun shines through when it is setting. This fantastic location is complete with several private beaches and a rural coastal cafe!
Murlough Bay & Fair Head
Another not-so-well-known location, and often overlooked by the locals, is Murlough Bay. It is very secluded and so ensures a private wedding, with beautiful views of the sea, huge stones and cliff edges, and plenty of little white sheep nibbling away as you walk through the natural landscape. You’ll not meet anyone while you have your images here.
The Dark Hedges
The Dark Hedges is another wonderful spot on the Causeway coastal route. I grew up not far from here, so can attest to its beauty. With lots of personality and beach tress line both sides of the road, the Hedges is an ideal location to visit, and close enough to some other landmark stops as well. A top tip for this one though; whilst lovely throughout the day and at sundown, the ideal time to visit is sunrise, due to its popularity throughout the rest of the day with tourists. Check out the images below to spot the difference. This is why you should trust your local photographer. Contact me today if you have any more questions about eloping here.
If you’re looking for a popular but private elopement location, you might want to check out Kinbane Castle. It has rugged cliffs, an amazing view of Ratlin Island across the water, and a historic castle and waterfall. Whilst there are a lot of steps before you reach this spot, its beauty outweighs the effort it takes to see it. I had such a romantic picnic here with my now husband.
Do you and your partner love to hike? Have you thought about incorporating it into your elopement? If so, Hamilton’s Seat is for you. You can start off by visiting the Giants Causeway Stones, the most famous formation in Ireland, and then setting off on a 5 mile hike along the cliff path to reach Hamilton’s Seat. The walk is more than worth the views, which are by far the best in Ireland, and you’ll no doubt have the cliff to yourself, safe for the odd backpacker. The cliff formations are some of the best in the world, 100s of times better for your photographs than the Cliff of Moher, which are more famous and often filled with tourists.
Mountains of Mourne
Another option is the Mourne Mountains, which is a small hike to stunning views and beautiful colours in all seasons!
Slieve League Cliffs
The Slieve League Cliffs is a far wilder options if you’re keen to do a bit of walking. It is very remote, just you and the elements, whilst the wild waves of the Atlantic crash against the rocks hundreds of feet below. You can drive to the cliff edge and hike up a little for amazing views.
Mussenden Temple and Downhill Demesne allows you to wander the beach below, or hire out the temple from the National Trust and get married indoors.
White Park Bay
White Park Bay is the most picturesque beach in Ireland. It has several viewpoints which showcase the beauty of the cove along the Causeway Coastal Route, before walking down to the sandy beach edge and white cliffs. It is also worth planning to visit Dunseverick Castle ruins and falls as they are both just a short walk away. The cove that swoops around each side is breath taking. You’ll even see cows up close grazing along the beach edge. My best memory here was finding a fossil with my primary school friends, or actually it might be lighting a camp fire from flint in my early twenties with my fellow students on my art course. Toasting marshmallows is a go!
If ruins, castles, wind, and the general outdoors isn’t your thing, check out some luxurious castles and other indoor venue options in this blog post.
What kind of weather should I expect?
When is best to elope to Ireland is entirely dependant on your preference. If you are looking for those dramatic, dark, magical shots, you probably want to brave the autumnal or winter months, as long as you also don’t mind rain, which is common in December and January. If it does rain on your wedding day, just try to embrace it and incorporate it, allowing your photographer to add more emotion and energy to the image. I tend to shoot at sunrise and sunset during winter elopements in order to make use of the softer light. On the contrary, if you’re hoping for blue skies and butterflies, summer is for you. Regardless of what you decide, Ireland is quite mild all year round, and it is rare to experience any extreme weather conditions seen around the world.
What preparations do I need to make?
It is a good idea to hire a planner for your elopement, who can take the pressure off and give you the best advice. However, some people prefer to get fully involved in the planning process and would rather do the research themselves. If so, a top tip is to seek out your photographer first. Wedding photographers are usually very helpful when it comes to suggestions for locations, timelines, and other vendors, and they know what will work best with the style you are aiming for.
For flowers, I would recommend a statement bouquet that will stand out against the natural Irish backdrop of hills and beaches.
Irish Elopement and wedding suppliers to get your started!
- Tiffany Gage Photography
- Betty Williamson (Planner)
- Peach Perfect Weddings (Planner)
- Kathryn’s Flower Barn
- The Rose Hip and Berry (Florist)
- Victorian Floral
- Wedding Celebrant Sandra
- Dear Oliver (Elopement Video)
- Nigel Ivy Film (Elopement Video)
Where should I stay in Ireland and how do I get around?
If you are looking for an authentic stay, it is a good idea to check out some of the Air BnB’s in the area. Some top suggestions for you to browse through are;
- Red Oaks Lodge at Galgorm,
- Aurora Log cabins Bushmills,
- Old Flax Mill causeway coast,
- Limepark Cottages
- Ballylinny Cottages,
- Portrush Golf and Beach luxury apartment,
- The Old School House,
- White Rocks Beach House on the Causeway Coast,
- Wee Bush Cottage in Bushmills, and
- Cabin by the Coast, Portrush
The public transport is not the best, especially for long distance travelling. Your location might be several hours away from Dublin or Belfast airport, and so the best option is to hire a car for your stay. Not only does it give you the freedom to explore at your own pace, it is the fastest and most convenient way to get around.
Please don’t forget to get yourself travel insurance, it is always a good idea and you never know when it will come in handy!
What about the legal stuff and officiants?
If you are planning to have a legally-binding, recognised religious or civil elopement ceremony in The Republic of Ireland, your elopement must be performed by a registered solemniser or Humanist Association of Ireland accredited celebrant, and must take place at a location with a postal address, or at an identifiable landmark, accessible to the public (not private property). You must also have 2 people, aged 18 or over, as witnesses. If you are eloping without guests, your photographer(s) or videographer(s) can act as witnesses. You must give notice and apply for a marriage license at least 3 months before your ceremony.
For Northern Ireland, your elopement must be done by an officiant for religious weddings, or a registrar or humanist celebrant for secular weddings. Again, you must also have 2 witnesses who are at least 18. You must give notice of your marriage within the 12 months of your ceremony, and the minimum is 28 days before and apply for a UK marriage visa.
However, if having a legally-binding ceremony abroad is too much fuss, it can be less stressful to sign the dotted line at home, saving the exchange of rings and vows to be enjoyed in Ireland at your chosen stunning location.