Just in time for St.Paddy’s Day – welcome to our Irish edition of our Americans Guide to Eloping in Europe! We have outlined everything you need to know about eloping in Ireland including the idiosyncrasies between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland – commonly known as simply “Ireland”. First, they are two separate countries on one island. WHAT?! Yep. Think of it like West Virginia and Virginia. Close, but no cigar.
Back to the battle of the Irelands.
Four differences between Ireland and Northern Ireland that you need to know before you elope.
Northern Ireland uses the pound sterling (£), the currency also in circulation in England, Scotland and Wales. As of March 5, 2023, the pound sterling is equivalent to .83.
The Republic of Ireland uses a different currency, the Euro. As of March 5, 2023, the pound sterling is equivalent to .94.
Both however accept various credit and debit cards.
The Republic of Ireland (or Eire) is a sovereign state of around 5 million people that’s part of the European Union (EU). The 26 counties of the Republic of Ireland are what’s called a ‘parliamentary constitutional republic’.
Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom (UK) which is no longer a part of the EU. If only TikTok was popular during Brexit, it would make the Raquel-Tom drama seem like a snooze!
capitals of Ireland
Dublin is Ireland’s capital and the largest city on the island of Ireland.
Belfast is Northern Ireland’s capital.
We will explore the advantages of both capitals while building out your dream elopement!! Eloping in Ireland means you have SO much choice on epic locations!
We get this question all the time: Can you legally elope in Ireland? Good news, you can legally elope in Ireland. Bad news, the paperwork does differ depending on which country you elope in. Take notes or ask us for a recap later.
Make it legal in Northern Ireland
- Your elopement needs include an officiant for religious weddings, or a registrar or humanist celebrant for secular weddings.
- You must have two witnesses over the age of 18. (We count if you are keeping it just the two of you abroad!)
- Within 12 months of your wedding, you must give notice – plan for about eight weeks out from your ceremony. Here’s the form you’ll fill out, and you can read about timing here, as well as which documents you’ll need to provide.
- Apply for a UK marriage visa
Full list of marriage procedures in Northern Ireland found here to answer the big question of “can US citizens elope in Ireland?”
Make it legal in the Republic of Ireland
- Your ceremony must be conducted by a solemnizer or humanist associate of Ireland accredited celebrant. Marry me in Ireland has celebrants that can make your wedding ceremony legit.
- Take place in a location with an address or an identifiable landmark that the public can access. Heads up: if you are married on private property in Ireland, it will not be valid in the US.
- Have two people present who can be witnesses (us again if you need!)
- Give notice of your marriage at least three months before your ceremony and apply for a marriage visa.
Additionally: You’ll need to meet with the county registrar (in the county your ceremony will be) 4-5 days before your ceremony and provide a Civil Letter of Freedom to Marry during a 20-minute meeting. Make sure to have your US Birth Certificate with you!
Too much admin? Let us help.
We recommend either a) let us do the heavy lifting for you, or b) getting legally hitched in your state, then exchanging vows and rings when you are eloping in Ireland! The great thing about getting married in the states is it removes the need to have a physical address for your elopement celebration, making your elopement options just about limitless! This by no means takes out the fun of an Irish wedding, check out different Irish Traditions you can incorporate to make your wedding all berries and cream.
Elope in Ireland
No matter where you elope in Ireland, pricing fluctuates given the time of year, how long you stay, and where you’re traveling from. When you’re eloping in Ireland, you need to think about for travelSince we are frequently asked how much does it cost to elope in Ireland, we broke down a few costs you can estimate. For example, a roundtrip plane ticket from JFK to Ireland will run around $1,200 per person, and one week for two people could average approximately $2,100. You can plan on spending about $120/day for a hotel or $160-$490/day for an entire home vacation rental.
If you want to travel via Irish Rail, it’ll be $48 for two train tickets. Traveling by car, you can expect to spend about $100/day on a rental car and gas if you’re traveling to a new town every day or so. Note: you can save $ on a rental car if you choose a manual vs. an automatic! Food can be your largest variable expense so make sure you plan ahead to save on cost or stick to a budget.
When to Go
So – when should you visit Ireland? If you’re looking to cut costs, plan a trip from Jan 1 – April 1 or September 17 – December 16. The absolute cheapest time to visit Ireland is late January and early February. Make sure to check out Ireland weather trends to help you decide when to visit! Summertime can be absolutely beautiful, but you’ll be sharing many of the same spaces with tourists. Don’t worry – we can help navigate unique, private spots in some of the most frequently visited locations if it’s important to you to elope in busier months!
Best places to elope in Northern Ireland
Belfast is your urban option. As the capital, the busy city offers a lively historic city center, the famous Titanic Quarter, fun pubs, excellent museums, hundreds of street murals, beautiful gardens and green spaces, Victorian architecture, and a growing tourism industry. Independent Travel Cats leaves no cobblestone left unturned in their Belfast guide. We will also chime in that when we visited Belfast, there was a British scotch ale on the menu. The bartender joked that we shouldn’t hold it against the beer that it was British. So cheers to the jolly Irish and cheers to excellent beer!
The Belfast set up reminds us of our 2 Day Costa Brava elopement. Day 1 was all about the wedding magic and day two was exploring the city together. Belfast is a great place to wake up, enjoy some (Irish) coffee, book a taste & tour, and pop by St. George’s Market.
At Honeybee Weddings, we geek out on elopements that lead us to this opportunity for conscious tourism. We are soaking in the culture, the sites, the smells, the sounds, all these things. When you’re able to travel to another country, you are learning about more than just yourself through this adventure. You also learn more about others and other cultures. You’re able to take it all back to your home and kind of have that stay within you. Eloping in Ireland means waaaay more than just a vacation, it’s the adventure of a lifetime.
Two and a half hours from Belfast is Horn Head. There are great options for eloping in Ireland, but for us, Horn Head in Northern Ireland is thee spot. First – it has those dramatic cliffs that just set our souls on fire. Then there is the green countryside with rolling hills and ancient stone fences. The hands down friendliest people. Last, of course, – the sheep. Yep, sheep everywhere, and we love them. Call yourself bo peep in white and let’s get some photos with our fluffy friends.
The area surrounding Horn Head is adorned with stone circles, stone tombs, and markings etched by ancient Celts in the Stone Age. An elopement at Horn Head could mean a sandy beach with the ocean and cliffs in the background or a ceremony overlooking the waves – the options are endless, and the views from the lookouts are breathtaking.
You can even take an adventure drive to see the area!
We are suckers for a good cliff shot. There is nothing like watching couples say their vows on top of a cliff with vast possibilities around them. If you haven’t seen it yet, check out our Carlsbad Cliff Adventure Session for some cliff inspo! The cliffs at Horn Head are 180 meters tall so you feel on top of the world with breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean.
We won’t let you leave Horn Head without cruising 30 minutes to Glenveagh National Park.It is the second biggest park in Ireland and it’s full of forests, pristine lakes, the Glenveagh waterfall, rugged mountains and the fairytale-like Glenveagh Castle. There’s also plenty of wild animals if you want a break from the sheep. There are so many opportunities for hikers at all levels to explore Northern Ireland’s beauty.
Only an hour away from Belfast, nestled along the coast is Dunluce Castle. You can take photos post-ceremony or get married in the field overlooking the medieval castle! You’ll need a small permit to do so, which we would definitely make happen for you. Pro tip: it closes at 5pm and visiting the castle costs roughly $8 per person, or you can walk the grounds for free.
Any GOT fans here? The Dark Hedges are featured in season 2, episode 1: ‘The North Remembers.’ Now, if you’re not a Game of Thrones fan, fear not – this romantic, tunnel-like avenue of intertwined beech trees planted in the 18th century will not disappoint. Imagine having a ceremony nearby at Dunluce Castle or overlooking the coast, then taking gorgeous photos on the avenue of trees – you can even have an intimate vow reading with just the two of you surrounded by the magnificence of the trees! We are ready to be part of your unique journey eloping in Ireland!
Another trip only an hour away from Belfast! Get ready for this wicked-cool area: Giant’s Causeway and the Causeway Coast. This World Heritage Site is so unique, we couldn’t believe our eyes when we first saw it. The roughly 40,000 massive black basalt columns, or hexagon-shaped rocks, and surrounding coastline looks like an area found at the edge of the world.
This area is truly unique and shouldn’t be missed whether you take photos after the ceremony, have an intimate ceremony-for-two, or visit on your honeymoon. If you’re planning a visit after your ceremony in Ireland, you can walk around and soak in the views on your own or take the audio tour to hear the Irish legend of how the rocks were formed. It’s our FAVORITE place for adventure session photos
Offering rugged cliffs and breathtaking views, Kinbane Castle and Dunserverick Castle offer exquisite elopement options near Irish ruins. Both castles provide opportunities to have a Northern Ireland wedding overlooking the castle and coastline, then explore the Causeway Coast! If hiking is your jam (can you tell it’s ours?!), you won’t want to miss the North Antrim Cliff Path, which offers 5 miles of hiking along the coast, farmland, and Dunseverick Castle.
Derry IE Londonderry
Let’s talk about Derry! Renowned for its buzzing atmosphere, Derry annually hosts several world-class festivals including Derry Halloween (Europe’s largest Halloween Carnival), The City of Derry Jazz Festival, City of Derry International Choral Festival, Foyle Cup International Youth Soccer Tournament and IMBOLC International Music Festival.
Activity Alert: Enjoy Stand Up Paddleboarding along their 400 year old city walls! This is another great stop for a two day elopement.
You’re keeling me with the beauty of Achill Island! Keel is the village on Achill Island in County Mayo, Ireland where you’ll stay for this elopement destination. At the family run- Achill Cliff House Hotel, you dine with a beach view and stay in close proximity to all Achill Island has to offer. The beach is a beautiful place to share your vows. There is a 5.4 walkable mile loop around Achill featuring beach stretches ensuring you will find a place that is perfectly you!
Honorable Activity Mentions
Horseback Riding: Have you dreamed of galloping on the beaches? In northern Donegal is Dunfanaghy, a small seaside town on the shores of Sheephaven Bay. That offers plenty of horseback riding options to fit your vision.
Kayaking: Join a guided coastal sea kayaking trip exploring Lough Swilly in beautiful county Donegal on the Wild Atlantic Way. See dramatic mountain scenery and discover tranquil coves, catch sightings of marine wildlife as you travel along the captivating Wild Atlantic Way. One of the many joys of this trip is observing the varied birdlife as you paddle along this coastline.
Less of an activity and more of a wedding experience, get glammed! ALX services bridal hair and makeup across both Ireland and North Ireland. She supports LGBTQ and takes international bookings.
Best places to elope in Ireland
Eloping in Dublin Ireland
There are options in Dublin! You can enjoy an urban adventure like Belfast, or you can explore just outside the city (30 minutes) and have your ceremony on the epic Howth Cliffs. Not only are the cliffs gorgeous, but there is a fair amount you can do to elevate your ceremony from vows to true exploration together.
The Irish Road Trip breaks down 5 Howth walks with difficulty and maps. If you want to get real wild, the Howth Head Peak features SURF BOARDS that locals use to dive into the water. Talk about taking the plunge with this elopement.
Have your ceremony (and splash?!) in Howth then return to Dublin to celebrate your marriage! The Crazy Tourist has some great recommendations:
1. Party like the Irish at The Temple Bar. Although the history of the bar dates back to the early 1300s, it still remains popular to this day due to its famous red exterior, its great location in the heart of the city, as well as being a huge part of Dublin’s central nightlife scene.
2. Drink Inside a Restored Cathedral at The Church. The Church used to originally be called St. Mary’s church; however, it closed in 1964 and was eventually restored and converted into a popular bar and nightclub in 2007.
3. Take a Walk over Ha’penny Bridge. Its name was derived from the price pedestrians had to pay (a “halfpenny”) to cross the bridge back when it was built in 1816. Today, it has become one of the main “monuments” or structures that identify Dublin
4. Read a Book at Trinity College Library. Its most famous section, known as The Long Room, has been known to resemble the Jedi Archives in Star Wars.
While these are just a few of the places to explore, how great would the photos be? Did you and your love bond over books – let;s check out Trinity! Do you enjoy a Guinness together – let’s give a real celebratory toast with Irish laughs. Eloping in Ireland means enjoying soaking up the day with walks and talks – the Ha’Penny Bridge is truly picture perfect. Let’s capture YOU while eloping in Ireland!
Galway is truly a getaway. Galway’s food scene includes incredible cafés, bistros and fine-dining restaurants that are kicking the culinary ball right out of the park. Summer is the best time to visit as Galway hosts the International Arts Festival, FIlm Fleadh, and International Oyster Festival!
Have your ceremony at Salthill in Galway for a seaside view. Tradition dictates that you should “kick the wall” at the end of the promenade for good luck!
Long story long, there are so many options for eloping in Ireland- Northern or Republic! OR BOTH! Our two day elopement is made so you don’t have to decide these things! We are here to learn your story, pull together how you show your love with the right location, and make your elopement as an American smooth. Join us, it’s all Guinness and rainbows over here!