Ever wondered what are the best wedding venues in Belfast? Fancy having a more Urban wedding? We decided to share some of our favourite venues in Belfast City.
In the last few years Belfast City has become increasingly popular for weddings. New restaurants, galleries, hotels, and bars have opened, offering all kinds of exciting possibilities for couples wanting an urban wedding. From photographing weddings, we’ve got to know some of the best Belfast wedding venues really well. As our couples often ask us advice on venues we’re excited to share some of our favourites with you to help with your planning.
Since 2001 Belfast has been divided into quarters, based on its historical past. That would suggest 4 distinct districts but for eccentricity’s sake, we’ve actually got seven quarters!
We’ll start off with one of our favourite areas in Belfast: Queen’s Quarter. As the name suggests, this quarter takes in Queen’s University and its surrounding area in South Belfast. Queen’s itself is a licensed wedding venue, hosting both ceremonies and receptions for graduates of the University. If the weather is good, you can have your drinks reception in the quad before dining in the Great Hall. They even have nearby accommodation available for guests during the summer months. If your tastes are less grand and more quirky and cool, the Queen’s Film Theatre is a great option. You can even bring some popcorn along and screen a film of your choice at the wedding.
Fancy having your first dance surrounded by dinosaurs? Want to show your Mammy a Mummy? The wonderful Ulster Museum is set in the heart of Belfast’s Botanic gardens giving you a great mix of urban cool and gorgeous greenery. The building itself is stunning inside, with a selection of different rooms catering for both small, medium and large weddings. The food is especially worthy of mention - provided by the Yellow Door catering company.
If a restaurant in the Queen’s area is more your thing, check out Deane’s at Queen’s. The food is everything you’d expect from a Michael Deane restaurant, and the place has wonderful staff and a relaxed vibe. Deane’s also host weddings in their other venues around Belfast, catering for up to 150 guests.
Moving in closer to the city centre, did you know that Led Zeppelin first performed Stairway to Heaven in the Ulster Hall? It also happens to be one of Belfast’s coolest wedding venues. Just imagine saying your vows in front of their famous Grand Organ, on the same spot where the Rolling Stones and the Beatles once played. The hall itself is perfect for both ceremonies and receptions. For smaller weddings, the nearby Harlem cafe caters for up to 100 people. Its quirky, fun decor is really charming and their food is excellent.
Staying with music venues, we absolutely love the Empire Music hall as a wedding venue. It’s Victorian interior is absolutely perfect for evening receptions with an abundance of character. It’s one of our favourite venues anywhere for evening receptions thanks to the wonderful stage setup and tiered balconies.
If you love the character of the Empire, then you’ll absolutely adore the unique bohemian style of the Cabaret Supper Club at AMPM. If you’re having your ceremony in City hall, AMPM is only a few steps away. They have a large roof garden for your drinks reception and the main dining area is like stepping into the Great Gatsby.
There are plenty of great hotels and airbnbs in Belfast for your guests, but if you’re after a venue with accommodation you have a couple of great options. The Fitzwilliam is a luxury 5-star hotel in Belfast, located in a central location with superb transport links. Their reception room for weddings is located on the 9th floor and offers amazing views of Belfast. Their food is fantastic and (more importantly?) they have an impressive selection of delicious cocktails.
Ten Square is right on the doorsteps of City Hall. You can have your prep, ceremony, reception, and accommodation all under the one roof if you book into this boutique hotel. Malmaison, conveniently located near the Albert clock and the big fish, is another cool hotel offering you a super stylish venue for your prep, ceremony and reception. It's only a couple of minutes by car from the Titanic quarter. Some grooms (and maybe brides) will particularly love the option of having a snooker table in their room as they get ready.
In the heart of Belfast’s cathedral quarter, the Merchant Hotel also offers an all in one solution for your wedding. The hotel is huge and luxurious, but still manages to have a lot of character. We love the views over Belfast from the roof garden, and if you’re lucky enough to stay the night, make sure you make a visit to the rooftop hot-tub. If you’re feeling really extravagant you can book their Rolls Royce to take you around some Belfast landmarks for your photos. Alternatively, you can take in the Cathedral Quarter’s sights (and pubs) on foot.
Also in Cathedral quarter is the Oh Yeah Music centre. The centre was opened in 2008 by Stuart Bailie to both nurture and celebrate the Northern Irish music scene. As well as offering their main hall for weddings, they’ve got a great roof bar from which which you can see many of Belfast’s famous landmarks. Your guests can learn some NI music history from the various historical exhibits and you can even book a musical bus tour of the city.
Nestled away in St.Anne’s Square is another one of our favourite venues, The Mac. This cultural hub opened in Belfast in 2012 and is home to some of the most exciting art exhibitions in the country. If anywhere signifies change and regeneration in Belfast it is the Mac. You can have your wedding reception in one of the upper halls. Your guests will love wandering around the building and getting a real taste of art and culture.
While we’re on the subject of arts and culture, Belfast’s Lyric Theatre and Waterfront Hall are both licensed wedding venues capable of hosting ceremonies and receptions. The Waterfront benefits from its location by the river Lagan and all the photo opportunities that brings. The Lyric theatre is close to both botanic gardens and Lagan meadows, allowing your urban wedding to have some greenery.
We didn’t google to find out, but we might just hazard a guess that Belfast’s Market Quarter got its name from St.George’s Market! This lovely Victorian Market is another gem among Belfast wedding venues. Available only for weekday weddings, we were delighted to have shot the first wedding there this year. It’s also the only wedding where we got to feast on a famous Belfast Bap! If you must have a weekend wedding, check out George’s of the Market - a private restaurant within the building itself. It provides a great elevated view of the stalls as the traders go about their weekend business.
It’s normally not a good thing to end up in jail on your wedding day unless, that is, you book Crumlin Road Gaol as your reception venue. One of the most interesting and perhaps even the most divisive venues we’ve shot in, the Gaol itself is a beautiful building steeped in history. While there, your guests will get a guided tour of the Gaol itself. And we find there’s nothing like a prison guard in Victorian uniform to make guests form an orderly queue for dinner.
Want a Belfast city wedding but not prepared to go fully urban? Malone House, located in South Belfast, is surrounded by huge swathes of gorgeous countryside but only 15-20mins from the city centre. One of the key advantages of Malone House is that you can have an outdoor ceremony there if the weather is good. Not only is it situated in lovely gardens, Shaw’s Bridge, Lagan Valley Park, and Lady Dixon Park are all close by.
What? No mention of Titanic in a Belfast blog post? Oh, ok then… The Titanic Quarter has seen development costing hundreds of millions of pounds and the result is rather lovely! The Titanic museum is a great option if you’re having a big wedding. In fact, Titanic Belfast (befitting its name) can seat anything from 50 to 500 guests! The views from the ceremony room, looking out over the dry dock and famous H&W cranes, are spectacular. And the replica staircase will have your guests taking selfies like there’s no tomorrow.
Also in Titanic Quarter is the SS. Nomadic, the last White Star Line ship in the world. Nomadic actually ferried some passengers out to Titanic from Cherbourg, before it set off on its maiden voyage. Moored in the docks, and overlooking the Titanic museum, it’s an incredible piece of history and a really special location for photographs.
One of our favourite things about Belfast is all the brilliant bars and restaurants we have. We’ve shot weddings in the Hudson and Filthy McNasty’s. Bars such as The Crown, Duke of York, The Garrick, Muriels and Fibber Magees, while not wedding venues provide some really cool backdrops for photos and a nice relaxing pint of Guinness. It’s never a waste of time to factor in a trip to the pub!
If you’re having a small, intimate wedding, your best option could be a restaurant. We’ve had a great time shooting weddings in Made in Belfast and James Street South, and the food is always great. Coppi is one of our favourite restaurants in Belfast. The Ox, Shu, Mourne Seafood, Kitch and the Barking dog are all worthy of your wallet! For Asian cuisine, we love Sakura and Zen, and there are far too many fabulous Indian restaurants to name (but we must give honourable mention to the Archana)
Belfast Marriage laws
Northern Irish laws on marriage are a bit different to the rest of the UK. Civil marriages and partnerships in Belfast can only take place in venues that are council-approved. You can get an up-to-date list of the approved Belfast ceremony locations here. The council advise contacting civil registrar before booking your ceremony venue to make sure they’re available. You can also choose to get married at Belfast City Hall and bask in all the attention and good wishes you’ll get from visiting tourists!
Furthermore, at the time of writing, Humanist ceremonies are not legal in Northern Ireland. Therefore, you're required to have a separate civil marriage at city hall (or approved venue). Hopefully, this won’t be the case for much longer. The only positive about this is that you can have the humanist part anywhere you like, indoor or outdoor.
Wedding Accommodation in Belfast
Don’t be put off a Belfast venue because they don’t have accommodation for your guests. Belfast has some great hotels within walking distance of most venues. It’s also worth contacting a hotel to see if they can do a deal for booking a large number of rooms.
If your or your parents’ house is far from Belfast, it’s a good idea to get ready in the city and stay there the night of the wedding. For bridal prep, and honeymoon suites we have nothing but praise for The Merchant, The Fitzwilliam, Malmaison and the brand new Bullitt. They're brilliant hotels, very central and know how to pamper you and make life easy on the morning of a wedding. We’ve also been in many stunning Airbnb houses and apartments if you would prefer self-catered accommodation.
Hopefully that is enough to get you started planning your Belfast city wedding. No doubt we’ll be updating this blog in future when yet more exciting venues open.
If you're planning a Belfast wedding, please get in touch - we'd love to hear from you.