The knot-tying setting of your dreams mightn't involve a steeple, an aisle or even room enough for a dance floor. And all the better, we say.? Jo Linehan seeks off-the-radar, truly original (so original, you might be the first!) urban wedding venues.
Have you ever visited a city, a town, a room even, and felt utterly at home? For no reason that you can put your finger on, other than it just being you. It happens rarely but, when it does, it all fits. It's no wonder we search for that certain something in our wedding venue. We want to marry in a place where our friends and family can share that feeling; somewhere that encapsulates how we want to remember this monumental shift in the course of our life.
Marriage licensing restrictions loosened significantly this year, with the Civil Registration Amendment Act 2012 coming into law. What this means for venue- seekers is a whole new world of nuptial possibilities, making the most unconventional settings a reality. The new legislation has a few dictums, naturally, (appropriate insurance, health and safety approval, vetting and approval by a civil registrar, well ahead of the big day) but otherwise, virtually any place you're dreaming of is on the table.
Going the non-traditional route has an excitement to it that makes the prospect of getting hitched even more alluring, especially to those who've previously shunned the convention of it all. Inviting your guests to a place that's never before been used as a wedding venue says so much about you as a couple. You get to redefine what a wedding venue is; put your stamp on it (not just choose one of four set stamps available for a set price). Go forth and explore a new frontier in wedding venues. Just keep your findings to yourself.
Zeitgeisty go-to space for everything from art exhibitions and installations, to film screenings and parties, The Mart is a creative's dream wedding venue. The Mart's team ethos is to create a perfect space for you and 100 guests, using design, video and art performances to bring the space alive. You can wed in one of two large spaces, then party until late - BYOB with food by their fine-dining pals, Dux & Co. We love that it's a blank canvas; just imagine it kitted out with your own blooms, lighting and furniture.
The Mart, 190 Rathmines Road Lower, Dublin 6; mart.ie.
For Party Animals
Asian-inspired diner fare and imaginative cocktails, teamed with three floors and two DJ booths, make Damson Diner the self-contained, good-time emporium. We love the neo-funk d?cor, complete with indoor greenery, neon fixtures, selection box of stop-and-stare artwork and sleek stairways, doubling as a no-fuss place to get convivial with your nuptials. Book the place out to seat 100 for food, or squeeze in 150 for cocktails and nibbles, if you're into more of an after-party vibe.
Damson Diner, 52 South William Street, Dublin 2, 01 677 7007; damsondiner.com.
For Culture Vultures
Temple Bar's Meeting House Square is just about the coolest space under a brollie for an urban wedding al fresco. Have a private ceremony in the spacious square, before sitting down to a meal from celebrated on-site restaurant NEDE. The square holds 400 seating and up to 800 standing (should you fancy inviting everyone you know) but smaller parties work, too. Bands and performances are de rigueur, so you'll have your choice of entertainment until 2.30am, but we recommend projecting your favourite movie onto the walls of the Gallery of Photography.
Meeting House Square, Temple Bar, Dublin 2, 01 677 2255; meetinghousesquare.ie.
For Art Lovers
Looking out from the Lewis Glucksman Gallery, it's easy to see why it was nicknamed the ?floating gallery?. This modernist tree house sits serenely amid UCC's wooded campus, offering a secluded, art-filled space to entertain 130 guests, while downstairs, the gallery's Fresco Bistro and Eaterie will cater for your party with a menu of regional suppliers. Designed by the resident Malaysian head chef (who has a reputation for creativity), the wedding breakfast will be as original as the setting.
Lewis Glucksman Gallery, University College Cork, College Road, Cork, 021 490 1844; glucksman.org.
For History Lovers
The restored, 17th-century Smock Alley Theatre has to be experienced to be understood; between the multi-tiered theatre (formerly a boys? school) and the stained-glass-windowed banquet hall, it's a spacious nook along the banks of the Liffey. The acoustics for music here are unparalleled and it's fully licensed too, so you and 250 guests can wed and celebrate until 11pm. Dine on a candlelit banquet (think fresh fish, local cheeses and decadent desserts) with excellent wines. Plus, the cobblestones of Cow's Lane make for quite the photo backdrop.
Smock Alley Theatre, 6/7 Exchange Street Lwr, Dublin 8, 01 677 0014; smockalley.com.
For Cosy Features
Hatch & Sons has become a foodie favourite for its rustic, city-cottage vibe and good-food credentials. Wed here in the cosy, subterranean rooms, before dining with a party of 40 (80 divided between two rooms; 120 for drinks and nibbles) on a hearty selection of locally produced, homemade food, all of which has a story behind it. Between the food and the service, it's so homely you may not want to leave (and party durations can be negotiated). Be sure to make your toasts with their Stoneybatter beer.?Hatch & Sons Irish Kitchen, The Little Museum of Dublin, 15 St Stephen's Green, Dublin 2, 01 661 0075; hatchandsons.co.
Jo Linehan @jo_linehan