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Article: How to do a City Wedding

Karen Birney delves into the stylish world of the urban bride, and shows you how to create a glamorous and intimate wedding in the city.

I don’t see a lot of urban Irish weddings on my day to day trawl through the World Wide Web. In fact I’d say about 90% of the weddings I come across are held in the rolling hills of Donegal or beside the roaring Atlantic in Co. Kerry.  Not that this is a problem by any means, and conversely, these weddings persistently turn out some of the most beautiful photographs of some of the prettiest landscapes in the world (even if I do say so myself). But if you’re an avid reader of the blogs (and I sure you are) you may have noticed that I have a certain penchant for all things urban, and for me, a country wedding just won’t do.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I am a city girl. I cannot stress this enough.

I love the secret lane ways and coffee shops, the curious characters, the hectic pubs, the electric atmosphere, the hustle and bustle... So it befalls, of course, that I like city weddings, and that my wedding will be smack bang in the centre of Dublin when it comes around.

It’s possible to have an amazing wedding in the city and surprise surprise, to get stunning snaps too. That is of course, if you do the research and get the right people. I’ve collected a few tips from the professionals on how to get the best from a city wedding without compromise, and compiled them into a handy four page article, as it is my job to research things to do with weddings, and then to write them down for people to read. Badabing.

The P-Word

Mention a city wedding to anyone and the first thing you’ll probably hear is ‘what about parking?’, or ‘will there be parking?’ maybe ‘how much is parking?’ or possibly ‘I CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT MY CAR WOMAN! WHAT WERE YOU THINKING ORGANISING YOUR DAY IN A PLACE I CAN’T FIT MY METAL AND WHEELS?!’ In fact while researching this article the word ‘parking’ was used around 756 times, and all in the same plead-heavy tone.

So, parking; is it as big an issue as everyone makes it out to be? Yes and no. The majority of the time couples hold their weddings in the city because that’s where their families are from and so, they probably won’t be living a million miles away from their chosen venue. Transport in the city is generally good (although ask me that again when I’m waiting for a 41C for a half hour during winter) and if people are local and have an aversion to public transport they can always get a taxi. The obvious pro for everyone here is there’s no designated driver and no one will be tempted to have one for the road. 

A good idea if you have people travelling from farther afield is to have a meeting point when everyone can park, and to have a coach take them to the venue. I LOVE this idea. Another idea I instantly fell in love with is the Dublin Wedding Bus. Now anyone who knows me will know I have a love/hate relationship with CIE, but I came across a wedding a few weeks ago where the couple rode the bus with their guests and honestly, it looked like so much fin and a great way to spend some time with your guests before the meal. Although I can safely say this option is not for everyone.


The other thing couples seem to have a problem with when debating a city wedding is the photos. Now I might say that this fear of city snaps is an extremely irrational one, and it is of course, mainly attributable to a traditional Irish mentality. City photos can be absolutely stunning, IF you have a good photographer. Do your research on this, because if you search through the supplier’s directory you are bound to find several photographers who have done city weddings. Ask them to send examples of their work to you, or to bring it to a meeting, that way you can see their style and if it suits you. 

While you’re best to just go for the city chic feel for your photos, if you’d like to have a few images of flowers and the like (aka the ‘formal’ shots), there are plenty of very well kept parks and gardens in cities across Ireland. Stephen’s Green in Dublin is close to pretty much every venue in the city, or you could go five minutes out of the city to the Botanic Gardens. The Botanic Gardens in Belfast are also just five minutes outside the city.

You can get beautiful vintage-style photos from the city itself though, in Dublin particularly, the little pubs hidden away in side streets make a wonderful backdrops to a ‘Guinness stop off’, as do the cobbled stones of Temple Bar, for something a little grander look to the beautiful buildings near Merrion Square, or maybe even the rooftop of your chosen venue, the photo ops are truly endless.


Where to hold your ceremony in the city really shouldn’t be a problem as there are several churches in the city, more than likely there will be a city hall. Most hotels will also be fully licensed to hold religious ceremonies and if you are looking to have a civil ceremony, the registry office will often be located within the city centre.

Advice from the Professionals

“Less is more. Keep your look simple and minimal, the city is inspirational in itself, and that will show through your photos.” - Rachel Sandall, Editor.

“Be sure to organize parking space outside the church for the Bridal car.” -Getaway Wedding Cars.

“I love doing City weddings and particularly where the couple walk from ceremony to venue. You can get some lovely shots of them walking through town and the crowd’s reaction to them. Invariably you'll have lots of people shaking their hands, wishing them well and getting a photo with the couple. At the last city wedding I did I got a lovely shot of the couple looking in the window of a risqu lingerie shop in Temple Bar - they loved it when they saw it.” -Mike Burke, Mike Burke Photography. 

 “I know a couple that did a walking tour of the city the day after the wedding. It went down a treat with guest from far and near.” -Bride and Joy.

“Most hotels have some kinda parking. Churches often don't and usually it's far away. Hotels often charge for parking and this has to be calculated when working out the costs. They may also have limited parking so no room at the inn for all guests and suppliers. Brides looking for their church should factor in parking and security into their wedding plans.” -Martin, Wedding DVD.

City Venues

Hastings Europa Hotel, Belfast.

Caters for...Ten in a private suite, up to 400 guests in the Grand Ballroom.

Parking? No onsite parking . NCP multi-storey car park located beside and hotel offers valet parking for guests.

Accommodation? 272 bedrooms and suites. 

Photos? City Hall, Titanic Quarter, great views of the city from garden-esque balcony on third floor.
Botanic Gardens five minutes in car.

Ceremony? Hotel is licensed to host wedding ceremonies. Civil services in nearby City Hall.

 Stephen’s Green Hibernian Club

Caters for...Any number up to about 100.  As it is a house rather than a venue it suits the weddings to the rooms.

Parking? Complimentary parking space for the wedding car, evening parking for overnight guests with agreement from the RIAC, Dawson Street. Several other car parks close by. Meter parking available on St Stephen’s Green free of charge between 7.00 p.m.  - 7.00 a.m.

Accommodation? 12 bedrooms in the house.  Complimentary bedroom to the bride and groom.  Possible to book all of the rooms for the weekend of your wedding. For overflow rooms there is a special arrangement with the Fitzwilliam Hotel beside.

Photos? St Stephen’s Green park on doorstep.  Five minute walk from the Iveagh Gardens, the Grand Canal and beside Grafton Street.

Ceremony? Registered for civil ceremonies in the Club. Five minute walk from University Church, The Unitarian Church, St Anne’s on Dawson Street and Trinity.  Fifteen minute walk to the Pepper Canister Church.

The Shelbourne, Dublin

Caters for...  Up to 350 wedding guests for dinner and dancing in the Great Room. For a more intimate wedding, Adams, St Stephens and Constitution Suites cater for smaller wedding parties. 

Parking?  - Valet car parking available at €25 per day 

Accommodation? - 262 bedrooms including 19 suites. 

Photos?  - The historic nature of the hotel lends itself beautifully to photographs and the location next to St Stephen's Green also provides a fantastic back drop for wedding photographs.

Ceremony?  -  Licensed for civil ceremonies and located close to University Church and the Unitarian Church. 

Thomas Prior Hall

Caters for... Up to 200 on round tables.

Parking? Enough to cater for the whole wedding. €1.50 per hour, up to a max of €8 that covers you for overnight.

Accomodation? 304 rooms. Hotel offers a discounted wedding rate of €89 room only, held in a block for wedding guests. If rooms sell for cheaper on the day (ie €79) the hotel honours that rate for all wedding guests.

Photos? Front garden with a large fountain. Close to the hotel is Herbert Park.

Ceremony? Licensed for civil ceremonies.

urban bride

Photo by Studio 33 Weddings

Main image by Magda Lukas

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