How To Elope in Northern Ireland – The Ultimate Guide
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Northern Ireland is a hidden gem located in the heart of Europe that offers a perfect blend of natural beauty, history, and culture. It’s no surprise that many couples choose Northern Ireland for their destination elopement, with its breathtaking landscapes, quaint towns, and unique wedding venues.
Whether you’re looking for a romantic elopement on the rugged Causeway coastline or a charming ceremony at a picturesque castle, Northern Ireland has it all. In this elopement guide, we’ll explore some of the best locations, and tips to help make your Northern Ireland elopement an unforgettable experience.
Meet Your Local Northern Ireland Expert
From LIT Photography NI
“And as an Ireland elopement photographer, I want to give you your Irish fairytale. I love where I live. And I love that whilst you’re sharing the most special day of your lives with me, I get to share my home with you. Basically, I’m as much a tour guide as I am a photographer!” – Lauren
Why You Should Consider Northern Ireland For Your Elopement
Eloping in Ireland is incredible as you’re coming to a land of myths and legends. From castles to clifftops; you are spoiled for choice for locations when it comes to your elopement. Along the Causeway Coast of Northern Ireland in particular there are multiple locations located so close together that you can get an amazing variety without any trekking or hiking needed. If you like good food, rugged coastlines and an air of magic, Ireland is the place for you.
Planning Your Trip To Northern Ireland
How To Get To Northern Ireland
Ireland is split into two; Northern Ireland the Republic of Ireland. Whilst there is an official border, which now also splits the island in terms of the EU as well, it’s completely invisible. The only way you’ll know you’re crossing it is by the signs. In the south/ Republic of Ireland, the signs are in English and Gaelic/Irish and speeds are shown in km/h. In the North, signs are mostly in English only and speeds is shown in miles per hour.
You can fly into Ireland through Dublin or Belfast. There are no direct flights from the US or Canada to Belfast, so you require a layover. There are direct flights to Dublin from a few major US cities including New York, Boston and San Francisco.
How To Travel Around Ireland
Public Transport in the North and South of Ireland is neither frequent or particularly reliable. There are buses and trains between major cities, but it is highly recommended that you hire a car if you want to see all the beauty that Ireland has to offer. We drive on the right here in Ireland, and we do have roundabouts. When it comes to those, the trick is to always give priority to the traffic to your right.
In cities like Dublin, Belfast, Cork or Galway you can get an Uber or taxi fairly easily. But when you get to the smaller towns and villages, they aren’t so available, particularly midweek. Consider this when book your accommodation; as it can be worth staying more central if you’d like to hit up the pubs or restaurants.
What’s The Best Time of Year To Elope in Northern Ireland?
Spring in Northern Ireland
Spring (March – May) in Ireland is probably the best time to elope. The season is mild, with temperatures around 12-18 degrees celsius. Though as with any season in Ireland, thanks to good old climate change, it is becoming less and less predictable when it comes to weather. But this time of year brings lots of baby animals to the fields, beautiful blooms and the grass in all its green glory. Apart from Easter (which is the busiest time for local tourists); it’s not as super busy as Summer so you’re more likely to get privacy for your elopement. One thing about Ireland is that we have a lot more sunlight and from the end of March, the sun doesn’t set until around 8pm, and can go as late as 10pm by May. When planning your elopement this matters a lot, as ideally you want that gorgeous golden hour before sunset for the best light.
Summer in Northern Ireland
Summer in Ireland is beautiful, but not as warm as people might hope it to be. You’re never guaranteed heat or dry when it comes to Ireland, especially at the coast. But you can be guaranteed long days in summer. In terms of light, I think it’s the least favourable for eloping in Ireland and school holidays mean that most locations are much busier at this time of year.
Autumn in Northern Ireland
Autumn is full of colour and splendour in Ireland. The days aren’t quite so long and the light is just stunning. Temperatures are starting to drop, but nothing is ever unbearable. And when you elope somewhere like the Causeway Coast, you don’t have to worry about being out in the cold for too long anyway.
Winter in Northern Ireland
Winter light is something to behold in Ireland. The sunset sets by 4pm on the shortest day, but the light is stunning all day. Temperatures very rarely drop below freezing unless during a particularly cold snap which will only ever last a few days. Again, it’s an incredible time to elope as the area is quiet so you basically have a lot of these magical locations to yourself.
How to get married in Northern Ireland
Legal marriage ceremonies in Northern Ireland
There are different regulations for getting legally married in Northern Ireland or the South of Ireland, as they are two different countries.
In Northern Ireland you can get married, but you need a specific visa from the UK. You need to apply for this visa before you give notice to the registrar in the area you are having your ceremony.
You can get legally married outdoors in Northern Ireland by a registered Humanist or Religious Celebrant. These celebrants normally charge for their services, but will guide you through the process and connect you with the registrar. A registrar is different from a celebrant. The registrar organises your paperwork, whilst your celebrant conducts your ceremony. You then return the paperwork to the registrar who will give you your marriage certificate.
Getting legally married will require you to be in the area a couple of days before the ceremony. You will be able to send copies of your documents in advance, (passport, birth certificate etc) but will be required to bring the originals with you and present them to the registrar in person before the ceremony.
A lot of couples opt for a symbolic/Celtic ceremony and perform the legal paperwork at home to save any hassle or the requirement for a special visa as the visa process can be difficult and an added expense.
LGBTQ+ Marriages in Northern Ireland
LGBTQ+ couples can absolutely get married here and on the whole the island of Ireland is so incredibly welcoming and safe. Northern Ireland has a slightly different reputation, and unfortunately there are a network of vendors who won’t work with LGBTQ+ couples. You can normally tell by look at their feed if they are inclusive, and so most of us will make it very clear that we are to make it much easier for couples to differentiate. It’s something that many of us here in Northern Ireland are working on improving.
Top Northern Ireland Elopement Locations
How to choose perfect location for your elopement
When it comes to choosing an elopement location, there are a number of factors to consider. Are you wanting a legal ceremony? In Northern Ireland, whilst getting married outdoors is legal, you do require permission from the landowner. A lot of the popular locations are owned by the government or a charity called the National Trust; who have their own restrictions when it comes to weddings and shooting.
Most locations don’t require permits yet so for the majority you can just rock up and shoot. But when it comes to your ceremony, you’re going to want some privacy so the lesser known spots are always best.
How to avoid the crowds
Sunrise is always a good time to get some privacy for your elopement. So if you’re up for an early morning, it will be worth it. Also, avoid Summer. It’s a really busy time along the coast. Never elope on a weekend, no matter what season. Monday to Wednesday is always best as everywhere is much more quiet.
3 Top Elopement Locations in Northern Ireland
These can be the more well-known ones or general areas that are likely to come up when people are searching for elopements in this area:
- Dunluce Castle – a stunning ruin on the Causeway Coast of Northern Ireland. A local farmer hires the field overlooking it so it guarantees privacy and you can get legally married here.
- Kinbane Castle – if you don’t mind the steps on the climb back up, Kinbane Castle is another castle ruin on the Causway Coast of Northern Ireland.
- Dunseverick Castle – there’s not much castle left at Dunseverick but there’s a gorgeous little mound and views for days. Also, absolutely no hiking required, just maybe some sheep to share the spot with.
How much does it cost to get married in Northern Ireland
The average cost of a basic elopement, for just the two of you and including photography, hair, makeup, bouquet, celebrant and hire of Dunluce Castle is £4500. With the current exchange rate, there is a huge benefit to eloping in Northern Ireland. Everything is so much more affordable and you can have the most magical day. If you add accommodation and flights on to that, along with the trip of a lifetime around Ireland, you could easily elope in Ireland for around £8000.
Biggest Northern Ireland Elopement Planning Mistakes Couples Make?
- Not allowing for the extra long days we have here. We have so much more sunlight than people realise so they don’t account for things like dinner and eating.
- Underestimating how popular it can be, and whilst the benefit of getting married here is no hiking, it also means that you want to avoid the tourist traps.
- Forgetting about things like tide times and the direction of the light and don’t realise that locations lose the light earlier because of cliffs and mountains in their way. It makes the biggest difference having this information.
- We’re a very small country and as such we don’t have the same infrastructure or systems as many others. Things like transport and accommodation can be nuanced.
- Finally, paying vendors. In the south they take Euros, but in the north they take Pounds. A lot of vendors don’t take card payments so require bank transfer or money to be wired from the US.
What is the benefit of working with local vendors in Northern Ireland?
There are so many benefits of working with local vendors in Ireland; particularly around the coastline. From the knowledge of tide times and sun positions; to the little back roads that help you avoid the traffic. Most local vendors in Northern Ireland know each other, so we can get things sorted and changed for you in a matter of minutes. We also can predict things that others may not foresee. For example, last year there was a heat wave during the summer, which meant the Causeway Coast was rammed with people, meaning spots that would typically be fine were super busy. We had to change the ceremony location and time at the last minute to ensure privacy and to avoid the masses of traffic along the coast. And the couple were able to have the place to themselves.
We also have great knowledge of things that will make your elopement and trip that extra bit special. Whether it’s securing you reservations at the best restaurants or knowing which Airbnb is closest to where you want to be. We also work better together, meaning you get the best rates when you work with a local collective.
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