I think we can all agree that there is nothing more magical than a love story based in Ireland. And if you can’t — it’s because you haven’t been where I’m about to take you — Dublin’s 5 most enchanting wedding venues according to Michelle Norwood.
A few times a year, Engage!22, hosts the globe’s most exclusive wedding conference. The world’s top innovators and thought leaders in the luxury event industry are invited to gather in exciting international destinations to connect, inspire and set new gold standards for destination weddings. This year, Dublin raises the bar.
With 250 of the highest esteemed wedding planners and event professionals in attendance, you can rest assured every single detail is just… Draíocht (pronounced DREE-oct). An Irish word that means magic, charm, enchantment, and druidism. There is simply no English equivalent to describe the storybook-likeness of the emerald isle’s stunning coastlines, rolling hills, and historic castles. Dublin venues are otherworldly and zap you straight into fable romance.
My childhood bedtime stories of ancient kings and queens have origin and are no longer make-believe. Still stunned by the outdoor scenery, I walk into the magnificent Carton House Hotel; one of the most luxurious hotels in Ireland. The original details of the manor house are perfectly intact, and I feel as if I’ve stepped back in time when the first Irish Aristocrat residents occupied the grounds. I am over the moon to call this timeless Palladian mansion home for the next 5 nights while exploring Dublin’s most enchanting wedding venues.
Whether you’re searching for an intimate affair or a boisterous bash, these next recommendations have it all covered. From cocktail parties to receptions and farewells — I’ll walk you through all hosting possibilities…
Night #1: A roaming cocktail welcome party. First impressions are everything, right? No one understands this better than an eventista like myself. And a world-famous 15th century castle is an exemplary way to get the party started. Just a short distance outside Dublin, tucked away from the city hustle and bustle, the castle is situated in the middle of a lush 560-acre estate. While the age of the castle is unknown, there is evidence it was seized during the reign of King Henry VI.
Rumor has it that when the family who owned the castle would leave on travel, the staff would throw wild parties. As a nod to the past, it’s only customary that Engage!22 do the same.
As one would dream, lawns are well manicured in perfect royal fashion with an 18-hole championship golf course, walled gardens, walking trails, and falconry — guests could spend hours exploring the exterior of this historic estate alone. The inside is even more impressive if you can believe it. Boasting 20 bedrooms, a 180-seater ballroom, and award-winning menus created by in-house chefs, there’s no shortage of hosting possibilities.
Initially intended for grandiose hospitality 600 years ago, every inch still allows for ultimate relaxation or entertainment present day.
Aside from a baroque remodel to the Van Stry and Kentian Rooms by a world-famous Guinness family member, the castle has maintained its original essence despite its many owners. The preservation of such luxury and splendor is what keeps celebs and royalty like The Grand Duke of Luxembourg, Prince Rainier and Princess Grace of Monaco, Fred Astaire, Douglas Fairbanks, Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, Paul Newman and Ronald Reagan, frequenting.
Destination Wedding Planner Pro Tip: Roaming cocktail parties will be all the rage in 2023. Guests can explore multiple places without restriction, assuring a comfortable and unique experience for all.
It’s Night #2 and the locale is a very unexpected venue in the middle of Dublin for a sit-down dinner: Saint Patrick’s Cathedral; the National Cathedral of the Church of Ireland. Never been done before, we are the firsts to ever partake in such an event here. Prior to this moment, the only dining experience I’ve ever had in a church had been limited to snacks and refreshments after Sunday Service.
Looking around at wide-eyed attendees entering the cathedral in awe — it occurs to me . . . they are not just gawking at the skillful architecture. This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for everyone involved.
While I would normally indulge in a 5-star culinary menu, my eyes do the feasting. I’m told Cathedral statistics and tales in which the 800-year-old building was constructed on the site of an ancient well; supposedly used by Saint Patrick himself. And Archbishop Luke, the man to credit for its construction, went blind during the last stage of development and never saw the final stages. I hope he knows the extent of mastery that exists.
The second course arrives, mouthwatering steak with cauliflower, and suddenly I am hungry to partake in what has otherwise always felt forbidden. In this case, it’s a dinner party hosted in a place of prayer. Until recently, the holy site has solely been used for spiritual worship. With goals of restoration, Saint Patrick’s Cathedral announces it will soon be opening its doors for celebratory events, making it a memorable and tastefully unique option for a dinner party.
Destination Wedding Planner Pro Tip: Unexpected venues are on the rise. COVID forced the industry to get creative with alternative celebrations and couples to become open-minded. In turn, we’ve seen peak interest in places you’d least expect.
Night #3. The Gala. A regal and fanciful evening at the K Club that could be best used for a reception or any celebration for that matter. A one-of-a-kind resort that encourages “glamorous escapes and/or luxuriant relaxation,” their words, not mine. And they could not have said it better. K Club is a hideaway that’s just a stone throw away from Dublin. Notorious for its reputation of embracing the good life.
It’s a place that excites with a number of activities, pampering services, and dining options. At The K Club, there is always something to celebrate.
The Saffron House dates to 1215, after the Anglo-Norman invasion of Ireland. However, with a lot of care, it still remains today and makes up the east wing of the hotel. The estate is massive, but even with endless corridors, I eventually make my way to the back terrace of the Kildare Estate. This area, among a host of choices both indoor and outdoor, is designated for luxury weddings.
We gather under a clear top tent that provides a majestic backdrop of manicured lawns, waterways, and tree-lined avenues. A rain shower gives a gentle pitter-patter above. Then, quickly turns into a thunderstorm, which only adds to the romance and charm of Ireland considering the quick passing. Under cover, we are all delighted, dry, and comfortable enjoying nature’s show.
Destination Wedding Planner Pro Tip: Whether you’re going for an intimate affair or bold celebration, picking a venue that naturally has jaw dropping interiors and landscaping is key to make things look effortlessly extravagant in original form.
An optional gathering; ‘A Day in Dublin’ over the finest china. All good things must come to an end, so what better way to say farewell to your wedding guests than with ‘Art Tea’ at The Merrion 5-star hotel – the most lavish afternoon tea in Dublin. Afterall, your celebration should end as thoughtfully as it started.
They call it ‘Art Tea’ for a reason. Yet another delectable feast for the eyes and mouth. The talented Chef Paul Kelley creates pastries inspired by the paintings that hang in the hotel’s collection. My sweet tooth and love for art are satisfied with delicious treats influenced by William Scott, J.B Yeats and Louis Le Brocquy. Vegan delights are also served for those with dietary restrictions.
I wander through the drawing rooms before taking my seat again. Hot Chocolate is usually my morning drink of choice. However, the teas selected by the in-house tea master are far too good to pass up. The barista recommends I have both; so, I do while flipping through a complementary Merrion Art Collection Catalog. Drinks are equally as intricate as the pastries. Everything is art here. The walls and food talk. They do the entertaining.
Destination Wedding Planner Pro Tip: Let your venue do the entertaining for you. Pick a place that sparks conversation, piques interest, or playfully educates. Hosting can be exhausting, but in the right setting it can be easy. Let yourself participate in the fun.
Refer to my stay in the timeless Palladian mansion.
Venues are listed in order of events, not by likeness. It would be impossible to rank these unique experiences against one another. The list is curated in order of events: a welcome party, dinner, reception, and farewell – covering all bases and making Dublin the perfect place to have your destination wedding.
Want to see more? Get a closer look into Engage!22 to see exactly how we celebrate.
Hosts: @thekclubireland, Fairmont @cartonhouse, @luttrellstowncastleresort with @MeetInIreland
Event Planning: @tarafayevents
Art Direction, Event Branding, Gifting Curation + Packaging, Attendee Book, Menus, Agendas, Nametags, Signage: @TPDDesignHouse
Event Design: @gk_design_ltd
Stage and Lighting Design: @gorilla_design_ltd
Entertainment Day 1: @ElanArtists
Entertainment Day 2 + 3: @ALRMusic
Welcome Party and Day In Dublin planning: @BruceRussellEvents
Production and Sound: KCLS & @cavs_ireland_
Event Crockery: @Whitehouse_Crockery
Graphic Design + Show Director: @TrishaHay
Social Media Director @Samantharoberts
Speaker Hair: @ShawnLeech
Speaker Makeup: @realnamediva
Photo Director: @corbingurkin
Video Director: @samengfilms
Video Team: @danielshackleford
Final Video Editing & Video Team: @currentfilms
Photo Team: @BenFinch @theomilophoto@megannollphotography @Serenajae @joshgoodencinema@artedevie @ashleyludaescherphoto @storyofeve
Photo Booths: @bangabooth
Custom Napkins: @mydrap_northamerica