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Plan Your Intimate Wedding or Elopement in Belfast City Now!

7 July 2024 - Weddings

What’s the difference between an elopement and an intimate wedding?

The last few years (and during the pandemic) have made us reevaluate what’s important and weddings have seen a drastic change in priorities. Most people don’t want a traditional wedding with a big guest list which doesn’t reflect their values. I’ve noticed that more couples are opting for a smaller guest list and a wedding day which prioritises their loved ones, interests and gives them more freedom.

Does this sound familiar?

Elopements have become a lot more popular too. While you may usually elope in another country, you can elope in your own backyard. So what’s the difference between an elopement and an intimate wedding?

The main difference is the number of guests. Typically, an elopement should be just the two of you or a handful of guests (no more than 10 people), whereas an intimate wedding would be upwards of 50 guests.

I’m going to showcase two fantastic weddings in Belfast – Mark and Catherine had an intimate wedding with their closest family in the Grand Central; Steve and Sony eloped in Belfast City Hall with ten of their closest friends/family.

Why Belfast?

As a wedding and elopement photographer in Northern Ireland, Belfast is one of my favourite places. It’s such a vibrant city which offers a wide variety of beautiful photo locations and picturesque hotels / reception spaces. It’s the perfect place to plan your dream intimate wedding or elopement. 

Great Belfast City Locations 

  • Grand Central Hotel
  • Ten Square Hotel
  • Parisien
  • The Merchant Hotel
  • The Empire
  • The Waterman
  • Shu Restaurant

Getting Ready

Mark and Catherine were having their whole wedding day in the Grand Central Hotel, so they decided to get ready in separate rooms that morning which makes everything much more relaxed.

While Catherine and her bridesmaids were getting ready, Mark and his groomsmen also hired a hairdresser to make sure they looked their best for this special day!

Steve and Sony on the other hand got ready in their own home and decided to enjoy this time themselves, with their photo coverage starting from the ceremony.


Mark and Catherine had a humanist ceremony in the observatory of the Grand Central – it has an amazing view of the stunning Belfast skyline.

Their family and friends heard their love story told beautifully by Emma Bailie. They shared their first drink together, known as a Quaich. Mark had joked throughout their planning that he was going to drink from a straw – everyone thought he was joking but there was some laughs when he did it on the day!

After their ceremony, they enjoyed some drinks together before getting a confetti shot at the front of the hotel and venturing over to the City Hall for some photos.

Steve and Sony opted for a Belfast City Hall civil ceremony. They arrived together and got some portraits beforehand while waiting on one of their guests to arrive. Sony walked down the aisle with their flower girl, who was in a matching outfit. They exchanged vows and they honestly couldn’t look any happier.

After they walked down the aisle as husband and wife, we got some group photos on the beautiful staircase before heading out to the front for a few more shots.

Photo Locations

Botanic Gardens

These are a real hidden gem in Belfast and are conveniently located beside Queens University and the Ulster Museum, which are also great photo locations. There’s so much variety within the gardens and their two greenhouses, The Palm House and Tropical Ravine, can provide some much needed shelter on a rainy day!

Cathedral Quarter

Cathedral Quarter is full of great pubs which provide awesome atmosphere. Whether you’re looking for some picturesque streets, graffiti art or rustic buildings, Cathedral Quarter has it all.

City Hall

One of the most recognisable buildings in Belfast is great for photos, both inside and out. One of my favourite areas to get some portraits is in front of the Queen Victoria statue so you can capture the grandeur of the building!


After getting some photos around Botanic, Steve and Sony went back to Grand Central to enjoy some drinks with their guests before they went to dinner.

Sunset Rooftop

One of my favourite times of day to photograph is golden hour. By this time, all the main events from your wedding day have passed so all you have to think about is partying the night away. This naturally means that you’re going to be more relaxed, which makes for great photos.

Mark and Catherine (along with a few of their bridal party) headed to a neighbouring rooftop to get some shots with the Grand Central in the background. Mark was initially concerned about missing the arrival of some of their evening guests but I think you’ll agree that it was totally worth it!

Party Time

After having an intimate ceremony and dinner, Mark and Catherine had a bigger party with their friends and wider family circles.

Now, the last thing they had do is have your first dance together as husband and wife. Once this is completed, I love capturing your guests having a blast on the dance floor. Some didn’t even make it to the dance floor but managed to have an awesome time!