Eloping in Northern Ireland offers a magical and romantic experience surrounded by stunning landscapes, historic castles, and vibrant cities. Whether you’re a local looking for something different, or planning a destination elopement, Northern Ireland provides a picturesque backdrop for your intimate celebration. This guide will help you navigate the process and make your elopement in Northern Ireland truly unforgettable.
1. Choosing the Perfect Location
a) Coastal Charm
Consider exchanging vows against the backdrop of Northern Ireland’s dramatic coastal scenery. Locations such as the White Park Bay, Murlough Bay, or Ballintoy Harbour offer breathtaking views of the rugged coastline.
b) Historic Castles
Northern Ireland is home to (and perhaps best known for) numerous historic castles, each with its own unique charm. There are numerous ancient castles dotted around the coast, such as Dunluce Castle, Kinbane or Dunseverick. These provide a fairytale setting for your elopement ceremony and stunning videography opportunities.
c) Lush Countryside
Escape to the serene countryside for a more secluded and intimate elopement. My own personal homeland of the Mourne Mountains is a beautiful spot. The lakelands of Fermanagh are an underrated gem that also provide some gorgeous scenery.
d) City Life
For a more urban (or less outdoorsy) elopement, there’s always Belfast City Hall. This option is for civil ceremonies only, but provides the perfect starting point of a night in one of Belfast’s many lively pubs.
e) Further Afield
While there are plenty of amazing spots for an elopement in Northern Ireland, it’s not a far trip across the border to places in County Donegal. One of my favourite spots is Fanad Lighthouse, which allows for an indoor option for a classic Irish rainy day! Other popular spots include the Cliffs of Moher or Killyon Manor.
2. The Best Time To Elope
Northern Ireland is known for its unpredictable weather. Be prepared for rain and wind, even during the summer months. Consider items such as clear umbrellas or bridal jackets to keep you warm and dry!
My favourite time of year is the spring. This is usually our dryest season, with mild temperatures and pleasant weather.
Summer can also be nice and warm, but a lot of elopement locations can be bustling with tourists during the school holidays (July and August). It’s probably better to avoid this peak time. However, we do have very long days in the summer, so if you want a summer elopement, I’d recommend an evening one. The sun doesn’t set until after 10pm during the summer solstice!
Ireland is just gorgeous in the autumn. The leaves turn red, the days are a bit cooler and the most amazing sunsets happen.
Winter mightn’t seem ideal, but you get some amazing winter light, and the most popular spots around the province are usually a lot more free from tourists.
Whenever you decide to have your special day, I usually recommend having your ceremony close to sunrise or sunset, to a) get the best light and b) avoid tourists.
3. Legalities and Paperwork
One of the great things about Northern Ireland is the ability to get married ANYWHERE (as long as you have the landowners permission, of course). Religious and humanist ceremonies can take place anywhere but civil ceremonies must take place in a licensed venue.
To legally marry in Northern Ireland, you must submit a Marriage Notice Form to the local Registrar at least 28 days before your planned elopement date. Both partners must complete the form, and a fee is required. If you are visiting Northern Ireland to marry or form a civil partnership you will also need to include the following with your marriage / civil partnership notice application:
- passport with relevant visa
- immigration status statement (if applicable)
A registrar/celebrant/minister must be present to officiate the ceremony and legalize your marriage.
Of course, all this paperwork can be avoided by simply having a symbolic ceremony for your elopement. Many couples, especially those coming from abroad, often choose to get legally married before coming over to Northern Ireland, and then celebrate it officially over here. This does take much of the stress out of planning, and doesn’t make the day any less special.
4a. Why you should consider using local vendors
While it might seem like a good idea to bring your vendors with you for you, choosing local vendors for your Northern Ireland elopement offers numerous advantages that can enhance the overall experience and make your special day even more memorable. Here are a few reasons why you should consider using local vendors –
- Local vendors are intimately familiar with the unique landscapes, venues, and hidden gems of Northern Ireland. This local knowledge allows them to suggest picturesque locations for your ceremony, stunning backdrops for photos, and even hidden gems for post-elopement adventures. Northern Ireland’s weather can be unpredictable, and local vendors are well-versed in adapting to changing conditions. They can offer valuable advice on weather-appropriate attire, backup plans for outdoor ceremonies, and other considerations to ensure your day goes smoothly.
- Established local vendors often have strong connections with other professionals in the industry, such as florists, celebrants, and musicians. This network can streamline the planning process, creating a cohesive and well-coordinated event.
- Opting for local vendors aligns with sustainable practices, as it reduces the need for long-distance transportation of goods and services. Choosing local vendors also contributes to the local economy and supports small businesses. It allows you to be part of the community, fostering a sense of connection and shared celebration.
- In the event of unexpected issues or last-minute changes, local vendors can respond more swiftly and effectively. Their proximity allows them to provide on-the-ground support, ensuring that any challenges are addressed promptly.
By choosing local vendors for your Northern Ireland elopement, you not only benefit from their expertise and personalized services but also contribute to the authenticity and success of your celebration in this enchanting destination.
4b. The best local elopement vendors in Northern Ireland
Planning your Northern Ireland elopement is all about assembling a dream team, and I’ve had the pleasure of working with some fantastic local vendors. These folks aren’t just skilled at what they do; they’re passionate about creating unique, authentic experiences. From beautiful florals to mouthwatering cuisine, these vendors know how to make magic happen. Having collaborated with various excellent vendors during my time as an elopement videographer, I’ve seen firsthand how they turn dreams into reality.
- Planners – Peach Perfect, Rayne & Roo, A Perfect Day NI
- Photographers – LIT Photography, Caragh Isla, The Martins
- Celebrants – Claire Shearer (Humanist), James T Clarke (Religious)
- Florists – Tortraits Floral Design,
- Hair & Makeup –
5. Celebrate Local Style
After your elopement, celebrate with a traditional Irish meal or raise a toast with a glass of whiskey. Embrace the local culture and create lasting memories.
Finally, savour the adventure of eloping in Northern Ireland. Whether it’s exploring the Causeway Coastal Route, sharing a pint of Guinness in a local pub, or simply taking a romantic walk along the coast, relish the beauty of this remarkable destination.
Eloping in Northern Ireland promises to be an unforgettable and deeply romantic experience. With its awe-inspiring landscapes, rich history, and warm hospitality, this destination is perfect for couples seeking an intimate and magical wedding celebration.
Remember, your elopement is a unique expression of your love, and in Northern Ireland, you’ll find the perfect canvas to paint the beginning of your lifelong journey together.