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Dreaming of a destination wedding in Ireland? Organizing a wedding abroad can seem daunting, but with the right planning and a clear timeline, it’s more manageable than you might think! When I planned my own wedding week in Ireland, I created a custom timeline that I’m excited to share with you.

Understanding the Timeline

This timeline is designed to be a guide, not a prescription. Every wedding is unique, and you may need to adjust this timeline to fit your specific needs. While I managed to plan my wedding abroad for 31 people in only 7 months, a longer timeline may give you more choices for house rentals or hotel options. It also gives your guests more time to save, secure passports, and plan for time off of work. 

Month 0:  Financial Planning and Initial Preparations

Soon after your engagement, take a good look at your finances. Determine what you can afford and what you’re comfortable spending on your wedding. Source cost estimates for everything from the venue to the catering, and draft your wedding guest list. You’ll want to be able to give your guests a rough estimate of costs that they can expect, including flights, daily food and incidentals, and rental cars. 

At this time, it’s a good idea to reserve group seats for your flight. Group reservations usually come with a discount and provide concierge assistance. You probably won’t need the final number yet, and you may not even need to pay a deposit. But at least you’ll have the seats in reserve and know the exact cost per person. 

This process took us about a month of back-and-forth emails and securing tentative confirmations from guests. 

One last thing that you’ll want to get ahead of – your identity documentation:  Birth certificates, passports, etc. If you have a passport, make sure it doesn’t expire anytime soon. If you think you might have your legal paperwork in boxes at your parents house, or need to order a passport, now is the time to start hunting down these important documents. You’ll need them for your passport or your marriage license.

6 Months Prior:  Book Lodging and Venue

The Westcove House

Once you have a clear idea of your budget and guest list, it’s time to book your lodging and venue. Ireland offers a range of stunning venues, from historic castles to charming countryside estates. 

We were lucky to book the Westcove House in Castlecove, County Kerry. It consists of a historic, Georgian-style manor house, a garden cottage, and a barn conversion with venue / rec room. The estate sits on an inlet and has a gorgeous view of the ocean, plus lush and wild hills where little lambs roam freely. It was the quintessential Irish experience and I highly recommend checking it out! 

5 Months Prior: Confirm Guests and Book Flights

Next, confirm your guest list and book your reserved flights. By this time, you should know how many adults and children will be attending, and have a good idea as to what their individual travel plans are. For instance, some guests may want to travel there a few days early or late, and will therefore not be included in your flight reservation.

Be prepared to pay for the group flight reservation in full via wire from your bank account. How you pay for it – whether you cover 100% of the costs or have your guests reimburse you – is totally up to you. 

4 Months Prior: Coordinate Travel and Rental Cars with Guests

Four months prior to your wedding week in Ireland, start discussing flight arrangements, accommodation details, and any group activities or tours you might want to plan with your guests. 

Understand that some may be traveling to or from Ireland on different days, while others will want to travel with you. Some may prefer to rent their own car and see the sights on their own, while others may be terrified of driving in a foreign country and will want to stay with the larger group. 

Whatever their wishes, be prepared to accommodate each unique travel plan. This is where it pays to be super detail-oriented. We ended up renting a bunch of minivans (in addition to our own “couples” car for the honeymoon) and planned possible day trips in advance that could accommodate our elderly grandmothers and young niece and nephews. There were also groups that didn’t drink and wanted to stay away from the bar scene, and groups that wanted to bar hop from town-to-town. 

My advice:  Break out the spreadsheets and group folks together with similar travel wishes. Consider also transportation to and from the airport, the terrain at different tourist spots, and how many people your rental cars or vans can actually fit after you factor in luggage. Figuring out these details will cause a few headaches, but being overly prepared with all the possible scenarios will give you the confidence you need to pull off a group trip abroad. 

3 Months Prior: Vendors, Wedding Attire, Honeymoon

Now it’s time to book your vendors, including the officiant, caterers, photographers, and entertainment. Some people will find this short timeline crazy, but it worked for us just fine. We got the sense that the wedding market in Ireland is not as competitive so there were plenty of talented vendors available during the week we needed them. 

As for your wedding attire, we also managed to buy and alter our wedding dresses and suits in just under 3 months. However, this is probably not always realistic. We went to the big box stores and purchased our outfits pretty much off-the-rack. We got lucky with their availability, but you might not find the same luck. 

We also don’t put the same level of priority on flowers and dresses, so we felt zero urgency here. However, you know yourself best. If the wedding dress, florist, and other vendors are very important to you, consider moving this timeline further out. Remember to account for any alterations that may be needed.

Lastly, start planning your Irish honeymoon! Think about where you want to go, what you want to see, and how long you can stay at each location. You don’t have to have the full honeymoon planned out just yet, but do some initial research and see how far in advance hotels and B&Bs are booking out. 

2 Months Prior: Plan your Styling and Book your City Hall Marriage

Timeline to decorate your destination wedding in Ireland

Two months prior to your wedding week in Ireland, shop for your wedding day styling, including accessories, makeup, hair products, decor, and flowers. Remember to keep your budget in check and don’t go overboard on the styling. 

One of my closest friends is a hair stylist, so I didn’t have to worry about hair costs apart from the hair products and flowers I purchased. I consulted Pinterest for updo inspiration and scheduled two trial runs with my friend in the weeks leading up to our flight. 

As for makeup, I knew long ago that I would do my own wedding makeup. (I’ve never had a good experience with makeup artists.) So I started watching YouTube videos for makeup tutorials for redheads and practiced doing my own makeup for months in advance. This took time, but I had a blast learning proper makeup techniques and feel like I gained some valuable lifelong skills here!

If you’re planning to legally marry in the states, now is also the time to book your City Hall ceremony as well. This is also a good time to start finalizing the details of your wedding ceremony and reception.

1 Month Prior: Plan Reception Music and Buy Wedding Rings

If you’re doing your own reception music, start putting together your playlist at least 1 month before you depart. You don’t have to finish it in one sitting. Instead, do some online research or ask friends and family what songs get them in the wedding celebration spirit.  

At this time, you also want to purchase your wedding rings. Shop somewhere local or order online. Most jewelers should be able to get you sized rings within 1 month. However, if you have more time, play it safe and order these further out from your departure date.   

The remaining timeline will feel like a whirlwind of nonstop errands and planning, and will be pretty self-evident at this point. For instance, you’ll probably be finalizing your wedding vows and ceremony timeline with your officiant. You’ll continue practicing your hair and makeup, and making last-minute plans for decor or catering. 

You’ll also want to exchange some USD to Euros, as there’s usually a 1-2 week delay after ordering at most banks and at your local AAA office. Also contact your vendors and lodging to secure final confirmations via email and confirm your wedding day timeline with vendors. Continue planning your honeymoon, and consider booking a couple B&Bs. 

2 Weeks prior:  Final Confirmations and Arrangements

With two weeks to go, plan your wedding day timeline. This includes the order of events, timing for photos, and any other details that will help your day run smoothly. Confirm arrangements and timing with vendors, and send any last info needed to your guests.  

In the final week, start packing for your trip, making sure to include all the essentials for your wedding day. 


Planning a destination wedding in Ireland is a significant undertaking, but with careful planning and a clear timeline, it’s entirely achievable. Use this guide as a starting point and adjust as necessary to fit your unique needs. If you have any questions or need further advice, feel free to reach out. Happy planning!

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