Bere Island Wedding in Ireland

Bere Island Wedding in Ireland

Close your eyes and picture this: you have a small legal wedding ceremony in your hometown with just your parents at a cute winery. The next day, you get on a plane and fly across the world to Ireland. You meet up with 11 friends from all over the world at a historic Airbnb on a tiny island. You laugh, you play, you drink Irish whiskey, you cook together, you swim in the freezing ocean, and you make memories that last a lifetime. You also get married (again!), this time on a windy beach with your closest friends, reading your heart-felt, hand-written vows to one another. You cry, you soak it all in, and proceed to drink more beer, play darts, and eat fish and chips in an Irish pub afterward. It’s the best week of your life. Hands down.

This is how my friend Hilde planned her wedding. It was a beautiful way to celebrate with both family and friends. A unique way to keep things intimate and relaxed, but also incorporate a big adventure. It wasn’t big-budget: it was simple and personal. The focus was on quality time with loved ones and each other.

Traveling with Hilde and Dirk and being a part of this day was one of the greatest highlights of my career as a wedding photographer. Hilde is someone I met at a photography conference back in 2016, and she quickly became one of my best friends, who just happens to live in South Africa. She attended my wedding in 2019, and it was an absolute joy to be there at hers, with my husband and my toddler in tow. I will never forget how special this week was, or how lucky I am to have this career.


About Bere Island

Bere Island is a small island in County Cork, Ireland. It’s located off of the Beara Peninsula in Bantry Bay. The island is 11 kilometers long from east to west, and 5 kilometers across from north to south. Bere Island has a population of around 200 people.

“Despite its proximity to the mainland, Bere Island retains that distinct, easy charm of rural places distant from cities and crowds,” says the Bere Island tourism website. “It’s a quiet paradise, of a size that is manageable for walkers and cyclists. Bird watchers and plant lovers will delight at the many species to be found on land and at the water’s edge.”

Bere island is located strategically in one of Ireland’s deepest harbors, resulting in a very unique heritage and history. The depth of the bay results in an abundance of marine and bird life. There are also archeological sites that date back to the Bronze Age, including burial sites, standing stones, tombs, and ring forts. There are many military remnants of British Imperialism, including Martello towers, military barracks, and gun batteries (source).


Getting to Bere Island

You can get to Bere Island by flying into Cork or Dublin. We flew into Dublin, took a train to Cork, rented a car at the train station, and drove the final two hours. Then we took the Bere Island ferry from Castletown-Berehaven (after buying some groceries at the Murphy’s SuperValu in town). The ferry ride is quick and fun!


Bere Island Wedding Photos

Part 1: Dublin

We started our trip with 3 nights in Dublin. My husband, toddler and I had 2 days to explore together before meeting up with Hilde and Dirk and a few more friends. We stayed at the Brooks Hotel near the Temple Bar neighborhood. These are a few places we visited and ate at! I loved using this blog about traveling in Dublin with kids for ideas.

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Part 2: The first few days on Bere Island

We spent 3 days on Bere Island as a group before the wedding day. These days were delightful; we filled our time with walks around the island, lots of beer and whiskey drinking, playing in the sunshine (shockingly good weather!), making art, reading books, birdwatching, and just hanging out together. There were two toddlers with us (my son and one more), so a lot of time was spent on toddler-friendly activities. Our airbnb was perfect for kids and had a ton of great options for our huge group!

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The wedding day - getting ready

Hilde and Dirk decided to get ready separately and didn’t see each other in their wedding outfits until the ceremony. Dirk got ready in the big primary bedroom first with the guys. Once he was dressed, he went downstairs and left early for the beach as Hilde and the girls prepped in the same room afterward.

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Part 3: Ceremony and photos at the beach

We scouted the island for a ceremony location and discovered this stunning little beach with brilliant turquoise water. It was walking distance from the house, but for the wedding day we drove to preserve our nice clothing. The beach is part of an old military range, but every island local we spoke with said it was totally fine to enter through the gate and go there. The dramatic rocks, greenery, and ocean made for such an epic wedding backdrop. It was exactly what Hilde had imagined. They held their ceremony, toasted with champagne, and took photos together on the beach for about an hour here. My toddler happily played in the sand while wearing a tie. It was wonderful.

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Part 4: Reception at Bere Island Hotel

After a quick stop at our Airbnb, everyone reconvened at the Bere Island Hotel for an Irish lunch after the ceremony. The pub was extremely accommodating to our group and made the most perfect food with huge portions and plenty of beer. Dirk played darts, the toddlers played with the pool table, and Hilde smiled from ear to ear as she sat with all her favorite people. It was totally casual and perfect for them.

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Part 5: Traveling to Galway and Cliffs of Moher

The day after the wedding, we packed up and several of us drove to Galway. We spent one night there at the House Hotel in the Latin Quarter. We walked around town, listened to live music at the Quays, bought wool goods, and ate some world-famous pizza at Dough Bros.

The following day we drove to the Cliffs of Moher for photos and birdwatching, and then all the way back to Dublin to go home! It was a lot of driving but so fun to explore more of the Irish countryside with friends.

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Learn more

Did you enjoy reading about this intimate destination wedding and travel adventure in Ireland? Have questions? Want to plan your own destination wedding and bring me with you? Please don’t hesitate to email me and reach out! I am based in Portland, Oregon, USA, but I travel worldwide for weddings and have photographed events in 11 states and 8 countries. I’d love to help you have a wedding as amazing as this one!