THE BEST IRELAND ELOPEMENT GUIDE FOR 2021

IRELAND ELOPEMENT GUIDE

My guess is you are here right now on this page because you are thinking about eloping to Ireland. There really is no better place in the world to elope than here, in little old Ireland.  Whether your Ireland elopement will be just the two of you or an intimate gathering of the closest people in your life, I am here to help you through this next epic adventure and make sure you have your most memorable and authentic day ever!

As your photographer, I am here to guide you through the process. I only take a selected number of intimate weddings and elopements a year so that I can give you my full and undivided attention because your day is super important to me. I am invested in my couples and want to build real a connection with you, become friends, get to know you both so you can have the best day ever. I can’t wait to hear about your elopement plans.

Ireland is my backyard; I know all the most amazing and secret locations and I am saving those places FOR YOU!! I know the most stunning trails, time of day to visit to get that perfect light, and any permits you may need. I have a perfect list of vendors I have worked with in the past for elopements that will be more than happy to help you on your journey. Your Ireland elopement is sorted!!

A couple eloping on the cliff tops with their family, over looking Dunluce Castle in Northern Ireland
Ireland Elopement

When to start planning your Ireland Elopement

Planning a wedding right now isn’t the easiest with all that is going on around the world. As it creates uncertainty. In light of this, with the good news of the vaccines rolling out pretty fast and the numbers dropping, I would get planning now. If you are traveling from outside of Ireland and need to book flights, accommodation, etc. I would looking into all that now.

In normal times, I have had couples from the US book to elope here in Ireland in the space of two weeks. So last minute can and is doable. Only if you do the paper work at home beforehand, which I would advise as it gives so way more flexibly in where you can have your elopement ceremony, etc. 

 If you would like to find out more about having your ceremony legally here, check out the requirements HERE. This will give you a better idea of what that entails. 

Giants Causeway Elopement with couple

How do you Elope in Ireland?

Elopements are a beautiful and authentic way to get married. It’s the perfect way to start your adventure together. You can create the day of your dreams with absolutely no hassle from anyone telling you how to get married.

  1. First drop me an email with your rough idea on when you would like to elope, we can arrange a call and start from there!
  2. Once you have set a date booked I will then send you guys an elopement guide with location ideas after getting to know you over the phone or email if that’s what you prefer along with some tips and tricks about almost everything you will need to know.
  3. Come to Ireland and have the best day ever!! Yup, it’s that easy. I am so excited for you!!

Many of my eloping couples choose to either get married the day before they fly to Ireland in their local courthouse or when they get back home. They do all the legal work there where the process may be simpler, so they don’t need to worry about all the legalities in a foreign country. This way they can just relax while having the most beautiful and meaningful elopement ceremony here in Ireland. Don’t let paperwork get in the way of your elopement plans. It’s perfectly fine to do the paperwork another day.

How can you legally get married in Ireland?

In Ireland, you have a choice between a Civil, Symbolic, Humanist, Spiritual, and Religious ceremony. If you are opting for a legally-binding marriage, that will be recognised in your home country, your ceremony location must fulfil two requirements:

  1. It must have a postal address or identifiable landmark (i.e. it cannot simply in the middle of a random field)
  2. It must be accessible to the public
Wedding Photography Dunluce Northern Ireland
Couple hiking on their Ireland Elopement with castle ruin in background

Ireland Elopement Locations

If you are into castle ruins like Dunluce castle, cliff tops, the rugged green Irish scenery with those sheep that you see in the movies, then I have great news for you. The North Coast ( which is pretty much my back yard as I am never away from that place) has all of this and more.  These locations are incredible for your Ireland elopement. They showcase Ireland exactly how you would imagine Ireland to be. I can show you these hidden gems for exchanging your vows, for those truly beautiful backdrops for your photos that you will look back on with so much love and happiness because you had the day you dreamt about. I will be your guide and photographer!  If you want to get some ideas on what I am talking about checking out this blog post on TOP PLACES TO ELOPE IN IRELAND.

Bringing guests to your Elopement?

If you are thinking of having a small intimate wedding of around 25 – 30 people, no problem, some of these locations will also work and are very handy for people to get to. Or if you are hoping for a location with some indoor backup, here are a few locations that I think are also perfect for your small, intimate wedding.

  • Larchfield Estate located on the North Coast which is right near all the stunning locations for your portraits including Dunluce Castle. Larchfield is a family-run, exclusive venue.  The 600-acre countryside haven grants exclusive use to couples for their wedding day, with stunning indoor and outdoor ceremony and reception options.
  • Bovagh House isn’t technically a wedding venue, it’s an air b&b but its Historic Georgian Manor House is set in the idyllic countryside surrounded by fields, acres of woodland. It is right next to the iconic locations that are perfect for your elopement photos, like the Giants Causeway, Dunluce Castle, Dark Hedges the list goes on. It is ideal for small wedding groups to stay and celebrate afterwards with dinner.
  • Gougane Barra Hotel Nestled in the Derrynasaggart mountains in a unique location on the lakeside in Co Cork. This location is insanely magical. You can choose to either have your ceremony in the little tiny chapel or outdoors amongst the forest. Then celebrate back at the hotel with a pint of Guinness.
  • Belle Isle Castle – This is the ultimate fairy-tale castle for small intimate weddings. A 17th-century castle on an idyllic island in Northern Ireland’s Fermanagh Lakelands, Belle Isle is an enchanted setting for civil wedding ceremonies and receptions. The castle itself is the embodiment of romantic, old-world charm.
Northern Ireland Elopement Photography
A couple eloping in forest

What’s the best time of year to have your Ireland Elopement?

There is no right or wrong answer here. But I would always say no matter where you plan to get married, sunrise or sunset would be the best time for those beautiful soft light shots. As the Irish weather is so unpredictable all year round (that’s is not a bad thing) that means you can get married here at any time of the year which is awesome. I personally love all four seasons here. If you are into moody, dark shots I would get married in the winter. Be careful about the tourist season and the location you have chosen. For example, if you are hoping to get married at the Giants Causeway or the Cliffs of Moher, I would choose off-season so you have fewer people about.

If you choose to elope at sunrise it can be quite cold depending on the time of year BUT….there is virtually no one around, especially if you want to check out locations like the dark hedges beforehand ( one of the most popular locations with tourists)  Also bear in mind, here in Ireland over the summer months of May, June, and July, sunrise is at around 4.30-5 am. For sunset, you have a bit longer for those beautiful soft light shots. Again, here in Ireland, sunset in the summer is around 10-11 pm depending on the weather.

Things to consider when Eloping in Ireland

The weather

The weather here in Ireland is known for always raining, but truth be told, yes it rains here, but not as much as one might think. It tends to have little showers, long showers are quite rare. We rarely get full days of nonstop rain.

We have such mild weather, no extremes which make every season a perfect time to visit Ireland. We can have very mild weather in the winter and sometimes cold wet days in the summer.  You never really know what you are going to get, so keep this in mind. The beauty of our weather is, you might have four seasons in one day which can make some pretty epic photos.

The Scenery

I may be biased, but Ireland is truly one of the most stunning places in the world. With the rolling hills, dramatic cliffs, endless fields of green with sheep dotted over them as well as the beautiful beaches, quaint villages, and not forgetting the wonderful charming castles. It probably took me living in various places around the world to finally come back home to Ireland to really appreciate this beautiful country I was born in. For such a small country, we have an incredible amount of locations to explore and still to discover. This is why I think Ireland is the number one place to go to for your magical, adventurous Elopement.

What to pack?

Choose layers that are easy to put on and take off when the temperature changes. Take a sweater (even in summer), waterproof clothing for all outdoor activities, sunglasses, comfortable walking shoes. Because the weather tends to change quite quickly here, I would suggest you bring suitable shoes for walking in. Heels are a really bad idea, especially if you plan to do a little hike, walk through muddy fields, jump some fences, etc. This is something I can help you with and dive a little deeper into.   

Here are some tips about what to expect from the weather in Ireland by season, it may help you decide when to have your Ireland Elopement.

Spring

Spring is one of my favourite times of the year here in Ireland. Apart from the obvious, all the flowers coming to life, which changes the look of the scenery. The cows and sheep are out amongst the rolling hills of green. The weather is usually so beautiful, the evenings are getting longer, so you have a little longer to hike and explore. April and May can be warmish here, sometimes they tend to be the warmest months. It’s also a great time to visit Ireland as there are no crowds, minus Easter where the schools are off and everyone is out, so if you want the place to yourself as much as possible avoid Easter time.

Summer

Our summers run from June to August, which can be the hottest months, they can also be quite wet, but again, we rarely have a lot of rain, just a few showers followed by rainbows. We get about 18 hours of daylight, it gets dark around 11 pm. If you were to elope in the summer, I would suggest you have it later in the day for better light. Not only is this better for your photos, but it’s also a better time for more privacy. Most tourists will be back in their airb&bs or out at the pub or restaurant.

Autumn

Autumn is my favourite time of year here in Ireland. The sun is still out, warm but with that crisp cold feeling in the air.  It’s quieter, kids are back in school, the landscapes are alive with reds and gold. It’s a stunning time of year to elope here in Ireland.

Winter

If you are thinking about eloping in Ireland during the winter months, expect it to cold and wet. This can make for beautiful photos, but be prepared for muddy walks and wrap up warm.

A guide to Intimate weddings and Elopements in Ireland 2020
ireland elopement
Ireland Elopement

Your Elopement outfits

This can be one of the exciting parts of planning your elopement. Outfit shopping!

The dress of dreams. So, as elopements are away cheaper than a large traditional wedding, you have a perfect excuse to splurge out on thee perfect dress.  My advice would be, make sure you can walk comfortably in it. Can you hike it up to your knees, twirl, lift it and let it fall, etc. Are you looking for a dress that will create that dramatic effect in the wind? I have a guide on Elopement wedding dresses, you can check it out here for more detail ELOPEMENT DRESS GUIDE.

  • Shoes. If you have chosen to elope on the beach, you may consider going barefoot or sandals. Or if your choice is the mountains, you will want to wear a pair of boots, preferably hiking boots, all depending on how long your hike is.  If you do choose to hike, make sure to wear your boots ( if they are new) to break them in and make sure you are super comfortable in them. The last thing you will want is to get blisters or sore feet. Hiking boots will be perfect for hoping fences, jumping over muddy puddles, and of course, lots of walking.
  • Keeping warm. You may decide to Elope in Ireland during the winter months. It can get pretty cold and windy here especially in January. I have to say, those cold and windy elopements are some of my favourites as I love the romantic, dramatic feel it brings to your images. My advice would be to bring some warm coats you don’t mind being photographed in. Wear thermals underneath your clothing, this will help so much. Another tip, for brides wearing a dress, try wearing some leggings or thermals that match your skin colour if you can. That way you are not worried about whether or not your leggings will show up in your photos. 

Elopement Ceremony Planning

Writing your vows After eloping myself back in 2015, we were in the middle of Yosemite with no wifi. We wrote our vows that morning. It was actually pretty perfect because I am sure if I had access to wifi I would have spent too much time looking at what I am supposed to write. So turn off your phone and get writing. Do it the morning of if you can, the spur of the moment can bring up some funny past memories. Also, get yourself a special book to write this on and keep. This is my regret, we wrote it on a piece of paper, and I have no idea where mine is.

Hiring an officiant This is an important part of your elopement planning. If you are eloping here in Ireland, you might choose to do the paperwork back home before or after you come here, which is perfectly fine.  That way, you can have one of your guests, if you choose to have one, to officiate for you.  Here in Northern Ireland, you can legally marry by having a humanist celebrant marry you. I have more info here in the guide. I have mentioned some celebrants I have worked with in the past that are amazing at what they do.

Do you need a witness to Elope in Ireland?

Again, this depends on what route you plan to go down. If you have decided to do all the legal paperwork at home where ever you are from, then no. This will leave your Elopement a bit more flexible as you can choose to have your ceremony anywhere you wish.

If you do decide to do the paperwork here, you will need two witnesses over the age of 18. That can be your photographer and videographer if you choose to have one.

Accommodation for your Ireland Elopement

Everyone’s Elopement can be so different,  you might come here just the two of you, or maybe you are bringing a few guests and need to hire a home that has room for you all.

Finding the perfect place to stay the night before and the night of your elopement is a must! When my husband and I eloped back in 2015, we stayed in the most perfect log cabin, we have such great memories from there.

I am obsessed with air b&b’s, I love researching them, finding the most unique and quirky places. I love helping my couples find the perfect place to stay when they Elope in Ireland.

Before you book your accommodation, you should consider a few things first

  • How far is your accommodation from your ceremony spot? If you plan to Elope on the North Coast in Northern Ireland, then you are in luck. There are so many amazing air b&b’s to choose from. Just bear in mind how far the drive will be to your ceremony location. There is some beautiful air b&b’s close to Dunluce Castle and Giants Causeway. So I have put together a guide to some amazing airb&b’s, some of which are so unique that it’s an experience in itself to stay there.  AIRBNB GUIDE.
  • If you are bringing guests, you can get a larger house to host dinner in that evening. If everyone chips in you can hire somewhere truly epic, for example, check out this house, it’s an old victorian home that will make you never want to leave. BOVAGH HOUSE this is a perfect example of a beautiful air b&b home where you can host dinner with your guests that evening and maybe even hire in a chef.

When should I start planning my Ireland Elopement? 

Most couples start planning around 6 months out, some plan a year out, but I have had couples book me in as little as two weeks out. That’s the great thing about eloping, there is way less planning involved than a traditional wedding. Once you book me, I will help guide you through everything you need to know about eloping in Ireland and what you need to do in order to make it as simple as possible for you, so all you need to worry about is your outfits and flights!!! It’s that simple.

Can we have a symbolic ceremony for our Ireland Elopement? 

Yes, you absolutely can.

Most of my eloping couples choose to sign on the dotted line before they come to Ireland to Elope. A few reasons for this are,

  • You can have your ceremony where ever you wish as you are not confined to the legalities of it all
  • It’s much easier to do the paperwork at home and will make your elopement here in Ireland a much smoother experience
  • You can choose to have a friend officiate for you which is a great way to include your guests if you choose to bring them along with you. Or you can hire a celebrant.

What is a Handfasting Ceremony and can we do this for our Ireland Elopement? 

Handfasting is an ancient Irish tradition. The handfasting ceremony has its roots in ancient Celtic tradition and dates as far back as 7000 B.C. In ancient Ireland, when two people chose to be married, they were brought together to have a braided cord or ribbon tied around their hands in the presence of a priest.  It is a fun tradition to include in your ceremony and this is where the saying ” tying the knot” came from. Couples are now having members of their family tie the ribbons and I have seen couples add a number of ribbons so siblings or friends can help the celebrant tie the knot, which is a great way to include your guests in on your elopement.

Handfasting Ceremony

How much does it cost to Elope in Ireland?

The cost can vary, if you are counting on a photographer, videographer, hair and makeup and florists, permits, wedding outfits, hotels or b&bs plus flights it can range from £4000- £10000. Again, this is all depending on all of the above and if you are including them all, etc. Either way, it will cost way less than a traditional wedding. You can keep your Ireland elopement cost down by keeping it as simple as possible. But make sure to hire an elopement photographer to capture those memories and a once-in-a-lifetime adventure.

What’s included in my Ireland Elopement Packages?

  • Stress-free Elopement planning
  • A list of my vendor recommendations
  • A custom timeline
  • Your photos on an online private gallery

FOR NORTHERN IRELAND ELOPEMENTS my pricing starts from £1400 Get in touch for a FULL PRICING GUIDE.

YOUR CUSTOM BUILT IRELAND ELOPEMENT

I will send you a questionnaire to get to know you both, it asks everything about what you are dreaming about for your day. I will then send you some epic location ideas and help you find that dream location. You will get a vendor recommendation list if needed.  I will help you as much as you need to create your dream intimate wedding or elopement day.

ALL YOUR PHOTOS You will receive all your images in high resolution, all edited with unlimited downloads, with sharing and personal printing rights.

MY TRAVEL IS COVERED IF WITHIN NORTHERN IRELAND.

For all you skimmers

Ireland Elopement Planning Checklist

Location

Choose a place that means something to you. It could be somewhere you have been really wanting to visit for years, somewhere you both visited when you first started dating.

Think about the weather

You will be outside for most of the day, so think about your favourite season and plan ahead.  Are you happy to get rained on as that is a possibility (  makes for amazing photos ) Rain can be romantic, especially if you don’t let it bother you and just embrace it.  Think of the Notebook 🙂 Also, think about the temperature, would you rather it was hot, cold, all of this will help later on when choosing a specific location in for elopement.

The Guest List

Think about if you want a few of your closest friends and family along with you. Take into consideration where you will be saying your vows and if it’s accessible to everyone. Try including your family and friends in your elopement. Maybe one of them can officiate for you. Another can do a reading.

Vendors

Elopement Photographer When doing your research on photographers for your elopement, hire a photographer that specializes in elopements. They can offer planning tips, tricks, and ideas. They should be able to help you find the perfect location for your vows, they will know the right team of vendors to match you up with. Most elopement photographers will be able to help plan and guide your day for you, so all you need to worry about is showing up and having an awesome experience.

Consider a videographer  This also allows your family and friends who were not at the wedding a chance to experience your elopement day with you. if you plan to have a reception party when you get back, this is a great time to share your video or highlights with your guests.

Other vendors As you are eloping you may not need too many other vendors on board, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy the beautiful details from a traditional wedding. From a florist for your bouquet to an MUA and hairstylist.

ARE YOU READY TO START PLANNING YOUR DREAM ELOPEMENT IN IRELAND? 

Lets Talk.  I would love to hear about your Ireland elopement ideas and plans and of course be there to document it 🙂

Also if you are on Instagram make sure to follow me HERE for more adventures.

Elopement Photographer Ireland
Wedding Photographer | Paula McManus
Dunluce Elopement

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3 Comments

  1. I Love your work, Paula! I just sent you an email and hope you are free to shoot my elopement next year! So excited I came across your work 🙂

  2. I am coming to Ireland next year and hoping to Elope in July. Are you taking bookings for 2022 yet? We love your work!

    1. That’s awesome, yes I am taking bookings. Send me an email and let’s chat more!! Thank you 🙂

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