Every couple plans a wedding that is completely unique to them, but for the most part all weddings fall into a group of wedding styles
Different wedding styles suit different types of couples, and it's really up to you what sort of look and feel you want for your wedding day. It's not really about whether you want slick, modern geometric decor, or a super bohemian wedding dress - those can be tied in later. Choosing amongst wedding styles and deciding what kind of wedding is right for you is more about what sort of vibe you want to run throughout your celebration, and often where you choose to host your wedding has a big part to play in this. A black tie wedding is going to feel ludicrous if you choose to host it, festival-style, in a field somewhere, and vice versa.
With that in mind, and to help you decide what kind of wedding is right for you, we've broken down the main categories of wedding styles, and what types of weddings and couples they each suit. Ready? Let's go!
Where do we start? How do we work out which of the wedding styles is right for us?
At the very beginning of wedding planning, you probably have a literal tonne of ideas and it can be hard to see how they will all gel together at the end of the day. When you sit down with your partner to start planning, think about the vibe you want for your guests. Do you want a fun, house party style do, or are you immediately imagining an elegant sit-down dinner party affair? Do you see yourself running away to Vegas just the two of you, or getting married on a beach somewhere far-flung and sunny? Can you not imagine having a wedding without your whole family and every neighbour in town?
Whether you have a clear picture in your mind of what it should look like, or you're still not sure what direction to go in, this guide to wedding styles should help you on your way.
1. Black tie weddings
What's the vibe of black tie weddings?
Black tie weddings are usually associated with luxury and elegance. You're talking about high-end, opulent surroundings like a five star hotel, with a dress code to match. It's glamorous, and while it's fancy AF, it's going to be tonnes of fun too.
If you've always dreamed of a fairytale wedding, complete with to-die-for designer wedding gown and a lavish five course feast, a black tie wedding will probably be right up your street. Even if you're not usually one for the finer things in life, some couples just know they want to celebrate in a grand way.
How do you plan black tie weddings?
Because of how important the venue is to setting the scene for black tie weddings, your pool of wedding venues is actually not massive, and you probably have one or two dream venues in mind already. Everything from your invitations to your menu to your entertainment and decor should match up with the formality of the black tie wardrobe you'll be wearing and having your guests arrive in, so keep in mind that every part of the day should be quite sleek, classic and elegant.
Get inspired by these real black tie weddings:
2. Country House weddings
What's the vibe of country house weddings?
Usually considerably less formal than a black-tie affair, couples often opt for a fun, house party vibe in these exclusive use country houses and estates. These stately homes are chock full of character and perfect if you're planning a two or three day celebration, as you'll have the place to yourselves. You can dress country house weddings up or down - go for a classy, elegant garden party or bring a more casual vibe with a house party feel.
Country house weddings are often good for couples who want to get a little bit hands on and make their mark on their venue - we're talking little DIY projects or creating centrepieces to match you wedding theme. Some country house venues are more rough and ready than others, and will require you to bring everything in, including caterers, while others have a whole wedding team on hand, so it's really up to you how involved you want to be.
How do you plan country house weddings?
This wedding style is really about the location around the country that you want, along with how hands on you want to be. Each stately home will have its own character and personality so it's really about the one that fits with you as a couple. Check out this list of some of our recommended country house wedding venues for a start!
Get inspired by these real country house weddings:
3. Hotel-package weddings
What's the vibe of hotel-package weddings?
If you're looking for something all-inclusive, or even something that minimises the amount of faff for you, a hotel-package wedding might do just the trick. It's a little more difficult to create something completely unique and completely you with a hotel-package wedding because of the way those packages are built, but that doesn't mean there aren't beautiful hotels all around Ireland that make gorgeous wedding venues.
Perfect for busy couples, or those who aren't really into the idea of tonnes of DIY and creative input, and particularly perfect for couples planning from abroad, the hotel-package wedding is also often a more affordable option than building from scratch. They are also good for couples with many guests travelling as they are hotels, and have built-in accommodation, which many country houses lack.
How do you plan hotel-package weddings?
The beauty of hotel-package weddings is that once you've decided if you're having a civil ceremony or church ceremony and organised it, and then picked an all-inclusive wedding package at a hotel, you're nearly there. It's worth shopping around for the best package in the various hotels in the area you've chosen, as you'd be surprised the different extras that may be included even in similar looking packages.
Get inspired by these real hotel-package weddings:
4. Castle weddings
What's the vibe of castle weddings?
Castle weddings naturally have an air of grandeur about them, and they really match up with that princess-style idea of a wedding that films are always talking about girls dreaming of since they were young. That's not a bad thing - couples looking for a super classic, traditional wedding will probably find a dream castle to host it in - and a lot of these weddings tie in with black-tie weddings. Castles usually have tonnes of character and gorgeous grounds, so there's plenty to love.
How do you plan castle weddings?
Similar to black-tie weddings, venue is really key here and a lot will start to slot into place once you've found your dream castle. Lucky for you, Ireland is chock full of gorgeous ones, just check out these five to start! After that, just remember if you're aiming for a fairytale wedding, to carry that elegance and formality through every part of the day to get full bang for your buck.
Get inspired by these real castle weddings:
5. Alternative weddings
What's the vibe of alternative weddings?
Alternative weddings is an extremely broad category, mostly because it's really all about creating a wedding that reflects you as a couple. Many of them are held in unusual or unexpected venues, or have quirky elements running throughout. Alternative weddings usually suit couples looking for something a little bit different, and most definitely a lot less traditional.
How do you plan alternative weddings?
This can be difficult, as it really depends on what you're planning. Looking at a venue that isn't usually used for weddings? Get in touch early to see what's possible before you set your heart on it. Thinking of planning a day that's truly you in your back garden? It may be harder than you think, but that's no reason not to do it. In fact, start with this advice piece on backyard weddings. Looking at a venue that's regularly used for weddings, but just want to really make it your own? Scour Pinterest for ideas and then have a good long think about what's important to the both of you, and how you can incorporate that into you day. And remember - traditions are just traditions, not laws. If they don't suit alternative weddings, don't include 'em.
Get inspired by these real alternative weddings:
6. Festival-style weddings
What's the vibe of festival-style weddings?
Festival-style weddings are just growing and growing in popularity, and we're not surprised. The super relaxed vibe is hard to beat, and sure don't most people associate festivals with having a deadly time? If fun is high on your list of priorities for the day, this might be the path for you. Boho brides also often find festival-style weddings suit them down to the ground.
How do you plan festival-style weddings?
Set the tone - even if you're bringing a festival-style wedding to a 'regular' venue, you can really bring that festival feel through more casual food options, colourful decor, etc. Some couples go all in on the festival theme and provide ticket-style invitations and festival lanyards as programmes so it's up to you how much festival you want to bring!
Get inspired by these real festival-style weddings:
7. Marquee weddings
What's the vibe of marquee weddings?
Couples looking to plan alternative weddings often also are really into the idea of marquee weddings or tipi/stretch tent weddings, and they usually want to put their own stamp on the whole thing. Marquee weddings can also allow you hold your wedding in some venues where their main ballroom is too small for your guestlist numbers, so you get the best of both worlds there.
How do you plan marquee weddings?
Depending on whether you're planning a marquee wedding attached to a venue that usually caters for weddings, and whether your venue has a marquee or you need to rent one, really determines how complicated it's going to be to plan your marquee dream. Be warned - some couples think marquee weddings are cheaper than average, or than renting a standard venue, but the costs associated often add up so do your maths before you choose this style of wedding for budget reasons. This post on planning a backyard wedding may be a good place to start!
Get inspired by these real marquee weddings:
8. City weddings
What's the vibe of city weddings?
If you're looking for a more contemporary, urban feel to your wedding, a city wedding is probably for you. City weddings are usually for couples who want something super fuss-free, who might have a smaller guestlist, or for couples who don't necessarily want their wedding to feel like a wedding - maybe a super extra night out is more your thing. And bonus points if you already live in the city you're planning a wedding in - the whole planning process is all that much simpler if so!
How do you plan city weddings?
While there are hotel venue options in cities that are worth looking at if you want a more traditional style wedding, many couples planning in cities opt for restaurant venues or slightly more unusual spaces, like art galleries. It's really about finding the venue that suits you, and then you can get on with planning the photo tour you're going to go on to get all those deadly city wedding portraits.
Get inspired by these real city weddings:
9. Destination weddings
What's the vibe of destination weddings?
Think of it as your wedding mashed up with going on holiday with all your friends and family - all your favourite people in one place, with the added bonus of a massive party to celebrate your love. Many Irish couples opt for beach destination weddings, opting for the kind of gorgeous weather you could never count on at home. European destinations like Portugal, Spain, Greece and Italy are popular, but of course you're not limited to seaside destinations. The world is your oyster!
How do you plan destination weddings?
Well, firstly you need to pick a destination. Some couples combine their wedding and honeymoon, so perhaps start with a destination you'd love to honeymoon in too. Look at some of our destination wedding guides and honeymoon roundups for inspiration, and take a look at these destination wedding legalities to start! Many couples feel they have to hire a planner who is on the ground in their destination to make sure all the finer details are taken care of, and this can massively simplify finding a venue, but if you're big into travel planning anyway, it might be right up your street to plan yourself.
Get inspired by these real destination weddings:
What's the vibe of elopements?
Does the idea of hosting a wedding for 200 of your nearest and dearest bring you out in hives? Whether it's a heap of family drama, thrifty ideals or an adventurous, non-traditional streak, eloping might be the dream solution. Just you and your husband or wife to be, a location you love, and only worrying about what the other wants? It sounds ideal to some!
How do you plan elopements?
While you can elope to pretty much wherever you want - the end of the earth or down the road from your house - most couples will usually choose a destination of sorts. If that's in Ireland, the same legalities to make your wedding valid apply as they do to a big traditional wedding so it's not quite as simple as deciding in the moment you want to be married tomorrow. You can of course go the well-trodden elopement path and do a quickie wedding in Vegas, but in general if you want to plan a destination elopement, you'll need to check the legal requirements for non-residents in the destination, and then check how easily that marriage is recognised once you come home. After that, what the pair of you do all comes down to what you decide would make your elopement special for you. Psst - Copenhagen is on the up and up if you're looking for a European destination that doesn't make the legal bit too complicated. Read our full guide here!
Get inspired by these real elopements: