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First Published: 12th June 2015

Real Irish Wedding Sarah and Sean

Real Irish Wedding at the Europa Hotel, Belfast


bride and groom outside the europa

Real Irish Wedding at the Europa Hotel, Belfast

bridal party at harland and wolff

For this couple who met and got engaged in Belfast, the iconic city centre was a natural choice for their wedding day.

Sarah and Sean met at Belfast’s famous nightlife hotspot, Limelight, and there was definitely a spark of love at first sight. One year later, they found themselves in the exact same venue when Sean spontaneously popped the question and the rest is wedding history. The next day the couple went ring shopping and began the epic task that could daunt any newly-engaged couple- wedding planning.

What made you choose the Europa as a wedding venue?

We already knew how great the service, food and people were so it was a natural choice. We met with James McGinn (General Manager) and once we’d chatted through the day with him we knew it was the right place for us. We couldn’t go wrong with a great hotel, yummy food and some fantastic characters!

You’ve mentioned lots of great things about the Europa, but what’s the one thing that stood out the most for you?

If I had to pick one it would be the amazing view of the Belfast skyline from the penthouse. But if I could pick another one it would be the staff. The hotel has a great team who made all of us feel like royalty.

Springtime Wedding at the Europa Belfast

How did you choose your wedding photographer?

We met Paschal O’Shea through family. Initially he did our engagement shoot in Co. Fermanagh and once we saw the shots we knew it had to be him again. We loved how unusual and artistic his images are.

The Europa is an amazing backdrop- you must have some lovely pictures! Which one is your favourite?

Our favourites would be the ones taken on the roof. It was a city wedding and we wanted to embrace that, not hide it. It was a strong feature for us.

How long did you plan the wedding for?

We planned for two years and it was super stressful at times but all worth it in the end. We wanted to hand-make a lot of the things to make it personal, things like confetti and favours, so this made it take a little longer. But we would do it all over again.

Springtime Wedding at the Europa Belfast

What was the menu like?

We had a smoked salmon roulade with edible flowers and a wheaten scone to start. Then for the main, a chicken stuffed with white pudding served with asparagus, pea puree, celeriac, sweet potato tartlet, carrot, and a taragon sauce. Finally the best for last- a chocolate fondant with Glastry Farm honeycomb ice-cream. The food was amazing and the chef did a great job.

Springtime Wedding at the Europa Belfast

Did you follow any specific wedding trends, themes or ideas?

Our wedding was an unusual mix of vintage and comic book to suit both our personalities. The cake was half-Batman and half-vintage, and the menus were all comic book styled. We had vintage wild flowers, vintage China and the bridal party were all dressed in vintage-style dress. Pinterest helped us a lot, and blogs, but we interpreted it our own way. Heart-shaped confetti came from vintage books, and our favours were sachets of wildflower seeds, tea, and personalised rock.

Tell us about the dress!

I wore a white-rose, full-length Ivory lace gown with waist embellishments from Pronuptia. I added a cathedral-length veil with jewelry and a headpiece designed and made locally by K Bird Tiara. My shoes were Agnes and Norman.

Springtime Wedding at the Europa Belfast

First dance song?

An acoustic version of Everlong by the Foo Fighters.

If you could give other couples any advice for their wedding day, what would it be?

Take time to enjoy your day and make sure to have a little time for yourselves. Stop to see if your family and friends are enjoying themselves and get a band if you can afford it- you can’t beat the atmosphere live music gives! We loved our band- Peach!

What were the highlights of your wedding day? 

All of it! Getting ready that morning, the ceremony, the pictures we took and some of the places we shouldn’t have been taking pictures- like under the Harland & Wolff cranes. Spending time with all our guests, the great meal and the hotel’s stellar hospitality. And of course, the craic in the evening and all the dancing!

Springtime Wedding at the Europa Belfast

If you could relive just one part of the day, what would it be?

Can’t I have all of it?? If we really did have to pick then it would be at the ceremony when we saw each other for the first time and then said our views. We were lucky enough to have a civil ceremony and a blessing performed by my cousin.

Springtime Wedding at the Europa Belfast

All images provided by O’Shea Photo Art. 

For more information on holding your wedding at the Europa, please visit hastingshotels.com/europa-belfast or call 02890271066.