When it comes to organising a wedding in Ireland, we are blessed with a wide variety of exquisite venues, so deciding where to hold the biggest day of your life is no easy fete. Thankfully, with years of experience in wedding photography, I’m blessed to have visited a great many of them. So, with this in mind, we’re bringing you an insight into some of Ireland’s top venues, talking to the team who work to ensure your day is perfect! In this blog I catch up with Deirdre Hamill, wedding co-ordinator at An Grianan Hotel, Co. Donegal to find out all about your dream An Grianan Hotel Wedding.
Deirdre, when a couple are looking at wedding venues, what question should be top of their list?
The first questions should definitely be: “Will I be the only bride on the day and will I have your undivided attention?” At An Grianan Hotel Weddings the answer to this is always “Yes!” This is so important as I want all couples to know that they are our sole concern on their special day. Many hotels will have two, possibly even three wedding parties on the same day. At An Grianan we pride ourselves on our commitment to every couple and their family and friends on such a special day. I should point out at this stage that this commitment also extends to same sex marriages and civil marriages as well.
There’s something special in meeting with a couple for the first time and sharing in their excitement – helping them plan their wedding, giving them ideas, offering them guidance and support from the day they book until possibly in some cases, maybe two or three years later when I meet with them again, weeks prior to their big day when their planning all comes together.
When it comes to brides and grooms, I treat each couple that I meet as if it was my son or daughter looking for their wedding venue. It’s such a special day in their lives and they want it to be just right and at An Grianan we want to be part of their day.
What is it about An Grianan that makes it such a popular choice with couples?
I would have to say that our staff are our secret weapon, many of whom, including myself have been with the hotel since the first day it opened and this helps. We have a fantastic venue with our much acclaimed circular Tuatha De Danann function room, making it stand out among other wedding venues. Our function room and foyer have been recently refurbished with no expense spared, to ensure that each wedding day is perfection in itself. Our grounds have been prepared for wedding photography and I quite often say to couples that we are a ‘one-stop shop’. What I mean by this is that the hotel affords the convenience of boasting beautiful grounds, meaning couples don’t have to try to find a location between the church and hotel to take photos. This has the added advantage of affording them more time with their guests prior to dinner.
You pride yourself in offering a wedding day that is unique to each couple. What’s the most unusual request you’ve honoured?
I have had many different wedding styles and requests over the years and we strive to accommodate all. Each wedding is unique in its own way, as each bride and groom will bring different ideas and themes with them as they want their day to be ‘different’ than their friend’s/sister’s/brother’s. Just recently we had a ‘Celtic Feast’ themed wedding which was a great success.
Wedding season is now a year long affair. How popular are winter weddings proving?
Weddings are no longer confined to the spring and summer. Many couples love autumn weddings with the vast choice of autumnal colours, which are so welcoming and warm. Wedding photographers are equally pleased with the muted colours and lower lighting levels. We are extremely busy during holiday periods such as Christmas and Easter. Couples try to tie their dates in with friends and family who will be home for Christmas. In fact, the first wedding to be booked with us in any calendar year is New Year’s Eve. Quite often couples will ask: “Do many people get married mid-week, say Monday or Tuesday?”. They are always amazed when I show them my booking calendar.
How flexible are your wedding packages at An Grianan?
We pride ourselves in our adaptable approach to each couple. We tailor each package to suit the individual needs of the couple and of course if a couple wants to change or amend something we will certainly work with them. For example, I have had a couple in the past what wanted to bring in their own chairs, which wasn’t a problem. I have had a couple who wanted to have a ‘pig-on-a-spit’ as part of her evening buffet – again, working with our Head Chef, Ian, we worked with the couple and it was a huge success. If I am being totally honest, if all weddings were the same, I probably wouldn’t enjoy it as much. Each wedding is unique it itself and this is why I enjoy it so much.
Do you cater for couples on a budget? What options are available for couples An Grianan Hotel Wedding?
There is no such thing as a budget wedding at An Grianan. We aim to supply a fantastic day to all our couples. We are very competitive with pricing but we steadfastly refuse to compromise on quality. We do have different pricing schedules for winter and summer months and within that we also have a pricing schedule for Mondays through to Thursdays and for Fridays and Saturdays. I have to say that we don’t get too many requests for weddings on a Sunday but if we did, we would certainly be willing to work with a couple.
Top wedding photo locations for your An Grianan Hotel Wedding:
An Grianan benefits from having beautiful onsite gardens, lots of great inside spots and it’s close to some of the most beautiful locations in the country. Situated below the historic An Grianan Fort and close to nearby beaches you will have no problem finding a location that suits your style. Here are just a few of my favourites for your An Grianan Hotel Wedding:
When you arrive at the hotel you’ll be welcomed by Walter, your An Grianan Hotel wedding co-ordinator and Barney in the Red Coat at the grand entrance. These shots are always fun as the champagne pops!
In front of the hotel looks amazing, a great place for a photo with your car.
The An Grianan Hotel Gardens are beautifully landscaped and they have a range of backdrops which can give variety to your wedding photos. It’s on the doorstep, so if it rains (it never rains in Ireland of course!) you can pop inside and go out again when it stops.
The gazebo is a stand out feature and worth a visit.
The castle backdrop looks incredible, can be brilliant for the couple and for bridal party. The ground is stone, so even if it has been raining earlier in the day you dress will stay looking great.
Here’s a few images from a few years ago – the door is now the darker colour seen above.
In the front of the garden this circle with stones is a nice feature.
The walk-way to the gardens makes for a cool photo.
The wedding couple statue looks great and I love the floral arrangement which looks beautiful in every season.
In the summer this little arch is surrounded by flowers.
Inside the hotel you have the bridal suite, the hall towards the Old Church Restaurant (which is one of my favourites), the window in the restaurant and the staircase which all look amazing.
One of the things which is such a bonus for photographers is the veranda over the entrance of the hotel. If it has been raining we can take your family or bridal party photos there.
At sunset we can do a sunset shot if it’s not raining. Here’s just a couple of spots around the hotel.
An Grianan Hotel is great from civil ceremonies too.
Near the hotel The Grianan of Aileach is a hillfort atop the 244 metres (801 ft) high Greenan Mountain in Inishowen in County Donegal, Ireland (Wikipedia). It’s one of the best locations in Ireland for photography and if it’s a clear day you’ll get amazing views and backdrops for your photos.
St. Mura’s Monastery – Only a short drive away from the hotel is this ruin which looks amazing in photos.
Fahan Marina and Lisfannon Beaches are 10 minutes drive from the hotel. The beach at the marina is one of my favourite locations and it’s very sheltered from the elements.
There are so many beautiful churches nearby the hotel for your An Grianan Hotel Wedding with Burt Chapel echoing the circular shape of the fort and the hotel.
I hope you enjoyed this guide to your An Grianan Hotel Wedding. It’s an amazing location for a wedding and I always look forward to capturing weddings there. If you’re having an An Grianan Hotel Wedding please drop me a line! Happy wedding planning!