Where to choose as your wedding venue is one of the most important decisions you’ll make during your wedding plans. There are so many factors that come to play when it comes to the best spot to suit your style and needs. Some couples are lucky enough to have had a venue in mind even before they got engaged – whether it’s the spot of their first date, their first weekend away together, where one set of parents were married, or just the local hotel that’s housed all your family’s special occasions for forever. For others its not so simple, location, size, budget and reputation all come in to play but one of the things you might not even know you’re looking for is a venue with what we call ‘the wow factor’. The wow factor can be anything from the perfectly manicured gardens to the sweeping staircase to the floor of the ballroom, but trust us, when you see it, you’ll know.
Here are some of our favourite venues around Ireland with ‘the wow factor’.
Royal Marine Hotel, Dun Laoghaire, Dublin
The Royal Marine Hotel in Dun Laoghaire Dublin is set on four acres of garden and is overlooking Dun Laoghaire Bay. Not only has it got views over one of the most picturesque areas in the whole of Dublin, it also houses one of the most beautiful Victorian staircases in the city too! Obviously the location gives this beautiful venue its ‘wow factor’ and there’s no denying the wedding photos taken outdoors will be magnificent, however if your day happens to fall on a cloudy one, there are plenty of fabulous photo opportunities indoor too.
The Royal Marine caters for all styles of wedding celebration, whether large or intimate, formal or casual, a marquee, a soirée, a luncheon or even a civil ceremony.
Dromhall Hotel, Muckross Road, Killarney, Kerry
If being greeted by the spectacular sweeping staircase in the foyer of Dromhall Hotel doesn’t give you goosebumps, well, we don’t know what will. Dromhall Hotel is located in one of the most beautiful areas in the whole of Ireland – Killarney, County Kerry – already giving guests from near and far a celebration experience of a lifetime, but stepping in through the doors of the hotel’s breathtaking marble lobby is a whole other breathtaking experience and a real ‘wow’ moment. A family owned and managed hotel, Dromhall’s reputation for fine dining, friendly and professional service and the most luxurious surroundings is evident in its five decades of success as both a warm and welcoming hotel and a palace for brides and groom. The regal Shelbourne Suite caters for large weddings of up to 300 guests, while the impressive Deerhunter Suite is ideal for more intimate affairs and personal civil ceremonies.
Castle Leslie Estate, Glaslough, Monaghan
www.castleleslie.com – Photo by Brenda McGuire Photography
You want the wow factor? Well Castle Leslie Estate has it in spades. From the acres and acres of undulating Irish countryside that surround, to the house itself, there’s not a single part of this impressive estate that won’t have you feeling like you’re living a fairy tale. Privacy abounds in this perfectly secluded estate in Monaghan, which is still very accessible from either Dublin or Belfast, and the photo opportunities are endless. Castle Leslie Estate is still in the hands of its founding family, is steeped in history and full of character and charm.
Avon Ri, Blessington Lakeshore, Burgage, Wicklow
Avon Ri’s setting on the shores of Blessington Lake is nothing short of picture postcard perfect. The surroundings are certainly the biggest draw to this fabulous venue, which make for the ultimate backdrop to wedding photos (and are definitely every photographer’s dream!) The ‘wow factor’ for us however, really comes from the stunning ballroom, which takes full advantage of the hotel’s inspiring setting with floor-to-ceiling windows letting natural light flood in. The peaceful, neutral tones throughout the building allow for a relaxing atmosphere in a serene and pleasant setting which all come together to form an intimate, luxurious affair.
Bridge House Hotel, Tullamore, Offaly
The beautiful family run Bridge House Hotel has over four decades of experience in planning wonderful wedding celebrations in Tullamore, Co. Offaly. Guests will be wowed as they enter the magnificent ballroom where staff are waiting to cater for any need. For the bride and groom, the secret garden is the special feature that will enchant. Created especially for weddings, the secret garden is a haven for wedding photos and provides a beautiful Romanesque setting for the couple to spend a little time alone while their guests mingle during the drinks reception. A perfect setting for a very special part of the day that you’ll treasure forever…
Kenmare Bay Hotel, Kenmare, Kerry
The quaint town of Kenmare is one of Ireland’s prettiest towns, and the fabulous Kenmare Bay Hotel, with its gorgeous mountain backdrop, is one of its special treasures. The drive to Kenmare Bay Hotel is an amazing experience in itself, and the stunning surroundings are bound to leave couples and their guests breathless. While the picturesque surroundings, the charming town and the lavish interiors of Kenmare Bay could all be considered a ‘wow factor’, we think it’s the fabulous, friendly service from the staff at Kenmare Bay that makes this venue truly special. Kenmare Bay focuses on the personal touch, and they go out of their way to make you feel like the only bride and groom in the world! Their suite of leisure facilities and cosy cottages are also sure to be a hit with guests!
The Dunloe Hotel, Beaufort, Killarney, Kerry
The 5 star Dunloe Hotel simply oozes style and sophistication and is guaranteed to impress even the most discerning of couples and guests. With views over the famous Gap of Dunloe and the River Laune, there’s no shortage of breathtaking backdrops for wedding photos. The wow factor of The Dunloe couldn’t be whittled down to any one thing however – everything from the ultra romantic walled gardens, the luxurious interiors and incredible food prepared from the finest local ingredients makes for a fairy tale wedding celebration. If you’re blessed with the sun on your Big Day, an al fresco reception on the spacious terrace with panoramic views of the surrounding parkland will be an experience every lucky guest will remember for a lifetime.
Inchydoney Island Lodge & Spa, Clonakilty, West Cork
Need we add anything to the pictures above? Inchydoney Island Lodge is a ‘wow’ wedding venue, full stop. Perched on the shores of the Atlantic in West Cork, Inchydoney’s simply spectacular surroundings are most couples’ dream backdrop for their wedding day. Luxurious interiors await inside, as does fabulous service and the most sumptuous wedding feast. As they say themselves – ‘a special place for a special day’.
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Former editor, current contributor, (she just can't let go!) Karen enjoys writing fashion but is known to dabble in decor from time to time. Her favourite section on the site is the Real Wedding section, followed closely by the Health & Fitness forums.