A Special Report is content that is edited and produced by the Special Reports unit within The Irish Times Content Studio. It is supported by advertisers who may contribute to the report, but who do not have editorial control.

Getting married? Say ‘I do’ to the perfect wedding

Choose the right venue and make the best day of your life all the more special . . . and don’t forget the honeymoon

“Hosting your ceremony and celebrating your wedding reception yards from one another minimises the moving pieces and allows your guests to virtually forget about their car keys for the day,” says Rose McMillan, a wedding planner at Galgorm Spa and Golf Resort in Co Antrim.

“Hosting your ceremony and celebrating your wedding reception yards from one another minimises the moving pieces and allows your guests to virtually forget about their car keys for the day,” says Rose McMillan, a wedding planner at Galgorm Spa and Golf Resort in Co Antrim.

 

You’ve found your perfect partner – now comes the hard part, finding your perfect venue.

“Choosing a destination is no easy task and couples are now more than ever spoiled for choice when it comes to a venue, from barns to castles, hotels and even music halls, the list goes on,” says Rose McMillan, a wedding planner at Galgorm Spa and Golf Resort in Co Antrim.

Galgorm

There are a range of considerations to make, she suggests, including not just how pretty the venue is but the kind of onsite amenities it offers, the levels of customer service you can expect and ensuring optimum accessibility for guests. A full-service resort wedding will tick all these boxes and more.

Convenience is important too and Galgorm offers 122 rooms including suites, deluxe, superior and standard rooms, as well as cottage suites, log cabins and Red Oaks Residence – a private residence that is part of the hotel’s estate and which accommodates up to 12 people.

Having everyone stay in one venue gives peace of mind, McMillan says: “With fewer moving pieces, there is less chance of mistakes being made.”

That includes having the ceremony on site. Galgorm has three ceremony spaces, and reception suites, each a lovely setting for a civil ceremony or exchange of vows.

“Hosting your ceremony and celebrating your wedding reception yards from one another minimises the moving pieces and allows your guests to virtually forget about their car keys for the day,” she says. The time saved all round can be better put to use for wedding photography and the hotel has a number of trusted suppliers it can suggest.

Its Phantom House ceremony space is a traditional coach house-style venue amid rolling woodlands, with Aga fires and a private balcony overlooking a river. Galgorm also offers its beautifully designed Ghost House venue as well as its new Chandelier Garden, the property’s first outdoor ceremony space, which is surrounded by a wall of greenery.

For more, visit galgorm.com

Castlemartyr Resort

At the other end of the country, Cork’s elegant Castlemartyr Resort is another beautiful option. The 18th-century manor house and its 220-acre estate is a HSE-registered venue for civil ceremonies. As well as its magnificent Capel Suite ballroom, with floor-to-ceiling windows, giant chandeliers and mood lighting, it offers a number of smaller, more intimate options.

Castlemartyr’s Capel Suite ballroom has floor-to-ceiling windows, giant chandeliers and mood lighting.
Castlemartyr’s Capel Suite ballroom has floor-to-ceiling windows, giant chandeliers and mood lighting.

It also gives you an opportunity to celebrate your wedding outdoors, with its 13th-century castle ruins as a stunning backdrop.

This year, Castlemartyr has introduced new wedding menus, including vegan and vegetarian ones. Dishes include sweet potato and coconut lasagne with roasted asparagus, carrot spring roll and mustard cress and basil velouté, or Mediterranean vegetable tian with roasted artichoke, rocket salad and crispy topinambur and tomato dressing.

Equally tasty is its newest initiative, a chance to see your romance on the silver screen. Called Your Wedding Story, it’s a guaranteed blockbuster.

The hotel has teamed up with the stunning new art deco Regal Cinema in the nearby seaside town of Youghal.

Couples that book their wedding at Castlemartyr before March 31st are invited to a private screening of their wedding video, when they receive it from their videographer, with their family and friends, complete with Prosecco and light bites.

For more, visit castlemartyrresort.ie

Honeymoon

The wedding venue isn’t the only location you’ve to think about. Where you spend your honeymoon is every bit, if not more, important. Photograph: iStock
The wedding venue isn’t the only location you’ve to think about. Where you spend your honeymoon is every bit, if not more, important. Photograph: iStock

Of course, the wedding venue isn’t the only location you’ve to think about. Where you spend your honeymoon is every bit, if not more, important. “Your honeymoon is the chance to enjoy the trip of a lifetime, where every single detail is of the absolute finest standard,” says Michelle Anderson of Topflight.

With a unique mix of mountains and lakes, golden sandy beaches and quaint cobblestoned streets, she reckons Italy is a particularly romantic option.

“Magical boat trips on the glistening Mediterranean waters – Prosecco in hand – the opulence of an unmatchable five-star hotel experience, the most prestigious and exclusive Michelin-star restaurants – whatever way you choose to celebrate your vows, Topflight can ensure that your honeymoon is an absolutely idyllic start to your married life,” she says.

“As Ireland’s Italian specialist, no one knows better than Topflight that, what with its sun-soaked, balmy Mediterranean climate, historic and enchanting art and architecture, and its captivating stretches of idyllic coastline, Italy is unmistakably one the best choices in the world for your honeymoon.”

Topflight can create a honeymoon that is unique and personalised for you and your partner, she points out. “Your honeymoon doesn’t have to be a standard package, which is why Topflight offer tailormade Italian holidays,” she says. These allow you choose from a range of Italian destinations, carefully selected accommodation and unique Italian excursions and experiences.

For example, a 14-night stay in Amalfi and Sorrento, staying a week each at two different four-star hotels, the Club 2 Torri Hotel and the Hotel Minerva, on a B&B basis in June, costs from €2,299 per person. Or stay five nights each in Lecce and Polignano a Mare, in Puglia, from €1,499 per person.

Access to Topflight’s 24/7 overseas concierge service is included as standard. “Booking your tailormade honeymoon with Topflight means that as well as having a fully customised itinerary, you are, of course, under Topflight’s protective wing from the moment you book until the moment you return home,” Anderson says. If only married life came with such guarantees.

For nore, visit topflight.ie

Undercover wedding

The dress gets all the attention but don’t neglect what lies beneath, says lingerie expert Susan Hunter.

The dress gets all the attention but don’t neglect what lies beneath, says lingerie expert Susan Hunter.
The dress gets all the attention but don’t neglect what lies beneath, says lingerie expert Susan Hunter.

“The dress dictates the lingerie you wear so bring the dress, or a photo, when you’re shopping for it.

“Do not get any alterations made to the dress until you have your underwear. Your shape changes quite radically depending on the foundations.

“Get what suits your body type and be mindful of engineering. Of course, you should pick something gorgeous but if you have never gone strapless before because nature was generous when it came to handing out bust or body, it might be best to avoid strapless, backless or skin tight on the most photographed day of your life.

“Smooth and plain is good but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t feel fabulous from the inside out, so pick the best lingerie you can. Pure silk is always a winner.

“Bottom line, get your priorities straight – the dress lasts one day, your lingerie sets the tone for the rest!”