The Three Most Important Things When Booking Your Photographer... Price, Price & Price

Ciaran O'Neill

There are many decisions you have to make when planning your wedding. Choosing the right photographer is one of the big ones. We think the easiest way to choose who is right for you is to consider three things, price, price and price. Let me explain.

What price do you put on stunning photos of your wedding?

Some people don’t really care about their wedding photos. That’s ok. Maybe its not their first wedding, maybe they think it won’t be their last LOL. But some of us really, really do care about our photos. Most brides (and maybe grooms) have an image of how they will look, how their reception room will look and how the whole day will unfold. Imagine, after all that effort, after having the best day of your life, after the anticipation of seeing your photos, imagine being disappointed! What if the photographer didn’t capture the emotions, the fun, the excitement, the romance? What if the photographer just didn’t capture YOU? What would you do? What could you do? There’s no second chances. You can’t redo it. What would you give to go back and change things? Only you can say. Only you can decide what price you put on these photos, these memouries that you will share with your children and grandchildren. What price do you put on stunning photographs of your wedding?

What price do you put on peace of mind?

Planning your wedding can be very stressful. One way to reduce the stress is to book people you know you can trust, then leave them to do their thing so you can move on to the next task. Most good photographers will have premises you can visit to see their work. It may be on the high street and even an industrial area. If not, they should at least have a dedicated area in their home for you to call at. Most wedding photographers start their career on a part-time basis. This is a great way to gather equipment and portfolios, get insurance and most importantly gain experience in the many, many situations that occur on a wedding day. This of course should be reflected in their price. You shouldn’t be expected to pay a professional level price for someone learning their trade. Similarly, if a part-time photographer claims to have many years experience you have ask yourself why they haven’t gone full-time. If their work or home life conditions change will your wedding still be their top priority? You need to know they will be there and produce the photographs you asked for. What price would you pay for peace of mind?.

Bride laying on a wall at Castle Archdale Ruins - Tips for choosing your wedding photographer

And finally...the price!

Bride looking out car window as her Dad watches on - right before she is going to walk up the aisle

There’s a saying, “You can have good, you can fast or you can have cheap. You can sometimes get two of these but you can never get all three!”

So, are we good? Well, we’ve won more awards at Ciaran O’Neill Photography than anyone else in Northern Ireland…ever. It’s not unusual that customers shed a tear when they see their fabulous wedding photos for the first time. Are we good? Damn right we are!!

Are we fast? We usually have a “Sneak Peek” within 3-4 days and the full wedding ready to view within 7-10 days (yes that said “days” not weeks). Once you have selected your images we can have your stunning handmade Italian album in your hands within 5-6 weeks. Is that fast? It’s probably the fastest in Northern Ireland.

We are cheap? HELL NO!! We shoot 80-100 weddings every year. Our most popular dates book up 18-24 months in advance. We use the best equipment and only provide the ultimate in quality products to our customers. We work from a three story building, all of which is dedicated to our photography business and giving our customers the level of service they expect. Are we for everyone? Definitely not. We know some people would prefer to pay a few hundred pounds and take their chances. I guess that’s the price they are prepared to pay.

I hope this this was of help to you in choosing your wedding photographer. If you would like any more details on our services please click the link below.

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Fabulous First Communions

Our Best Ever First Communion Portraits Offers

First Communions are such an important time for all our children. A beautiful First Communion portrait allows you to freeze a moment in time, preserving the memories of this particular stage of their lives. They grow up quickly. We can also include family portraits to help capture these moments before they’re gone forever.

Best Ever First Communion Offer

Get your First Communion Portrait shoot and £100 to spend on prints or something for the wall for only £75

Click the link at the bottom to book now (Limited availability)

Fashion City Photoshoot, Dublin.

Another fabulous photoshoot for JC Fashions in Fashion City, Dublin

At today’s photoshoot we had not one, but two stunning models both called Sarah (that didn’t confuse things). It was a pretty full on day with almost 200 outfits to be shot. We got there though and I think the girls did an outstanding job.

Top 5 Irish Castle Wedding Venues

Top 5 Irish Castle Wedding Venues

We love castles!

When clients ask us what our photography style is we say “Think of a stunning Irish castle, that’s our style.” Drama, romance, partying with your guests, those cherished, intimate moments with your partner. That’s our style and that’s the style of all the best castles in Ireland.

While planning a wedding can be stressful, it’s also one of the most exciting times of your life. Choosing your venue is one of the most important decisions you’ll make. If you’re dreaming of a fairytale wedding in a castle, look no further than Ireland. Irish wedding castles are some of the most breathtaking venues in the world, with their rich history, stunning architecture, and picturesque surroundings.

We have photographed fabulous weddings in most of the best castle venues in Ireland so here’s our top five, in no particular order.

Castle Leslie Estate is a most breath-taking venue for your wedding celebration. Nestled on 1,000 acres of undulating Irish countryside, dotted with ancient woodlands and glittering lakes this is one of Ireland’s best wedding castles.

You will be spoilt for choice for photo opportunities both inside and out with the lake and jetty, to the Billiards room and the Conservatory. Every corner oozes an almost forgotten age of Irish castle grandeur. Castle Leslie link.

Darver Castle is one of Ireland’s best wedding castle venues. It is situated on 50 acres of fine parkland and wooded grounds in the rolling countryside of County Louth. A beautiful private estate steeped with history and romance. This Irish Castle has been lovingly restored by the Carville family, who continue to care for it.

On arrival you’ll be greeted by the staff and almost always Mary, one of the owners. Their amazing personal service starts here and lasts throughout your day.

The extensive gardens are full of photo opportunities not least my personal favourite, their old stone archway.

Inside is equally as beautiful with every nook and cranny offering endless creative opportunities. Darver Castle link.

Another of our favourites, Bellingham Castle is an elegant 17th Century Irish Castle nestled in the medieval village of Castlebellingham in County Louth. Available for exclusive hire, Castle Bellingham allows you become King or Queen of your very own castle.

Bellingham Castle is the perfect backdrop for the most amazing wedding photographs.

Inside is just as stunning. There are a host of rooms for your guests to wander through and more importantly, for photo opportunities. My personal favourite is the tiny little alcove hidden beside the Buttery Kitchen – you’ll know it when you see it! Bellingham Castle link.

Well known as one of Ireland’s best castle wedding venues, Cabra Castle Hotel boasts a proud history dating as far back as 1760. Its long history lends a mature, cultured air to the castle which can be felt as you stroll along the castle’s magnificent hallways and stairwells.

Photo opportunities are plentiful. From the magnificent fountain at the front door, through Mitzi’s Garden and on to the elegant entrance staircase, you will be surrounded by beautiful backdrops.

Once inside you are greeted with the grand staircase leading to a host of beautiful rooms on the first floor. These rooms are ideal for quiet bridal portraits and even larger family and friend group shots. I

As wedding photographers covering all of Ireland we consider Cabra Castle Hotel to be one of our closer venues at only 80 minutes drive away. Cabra Castle link.

Wedding Castle Venue

As the centrepiece of a 350 acre estate and woodland in County Armagh’s stunning Slieve Gullion, Killeavy Castle is one of Ireland’s “newest” castle wedding venues. The recently renovated castle provides intimate surroundings while the newly built hotel area gives a thoroughly modern feel. It is truly the best of both worlds.

The wonderful staff are always on hand. Of all the magical areas in the grounds, one of my personal favourites is the tunnel from the old area to the new. It is always bathed in beautiful flattering light from the garden. Its always a winning shot for our brides too.

No matter which Irish wedding castle you choose, you’re sure to have a wedding day that you’ll never forget. From the breathtaking photographs to the luxurious accommodations, Ireland’s castle wedding venues are the perfect backdrop for your fairytale wedding. Killeavy Castle link.

Castle Leslie Weddings

Castle Leslie Weddings

Castle Leslie Estate is a breath-taking venue for your wedding celebration. Nestled on 1,000 acres of undulating Irish countryside, dotted with ancient woodlands and glittering lakes this is one of Ireland’s best wedding castles.

It is one of the last great Irish Castle estates still in the hands of its founding family. Since the 1660s the distinguished and somewhat individual Leslie family have lived on the Estate. They have welcomed everyone from politicians to poets, ambassadors to ufologists to world renowned celebrities.

Your welcome will be just as warm as their customer service and attention to detail is second to none.

You will be spoilt for choice for photo opportunities both inside and out. From the lake and jetty to the Billiards room and the Conservatory, every corner oozes an almost forgotten age of Irish castle grandeur.

Continue reading for our lowdown on Castle Leslie Weddings…

Bride & Groom standing outside Castle Leslie with a horse and carriage

The Hotel & Grounds

Castle Leslie grounds are so beautiful! Thanks to their picturesque scenery, including the stunning lake, woodlands, and gardens – the photo opportunities are limitless. The estate has been carefully maintained and preserved, (check on the garlic field during the summer!), making it an ideal location for couples who love the outdoors and nature. Additionally, the architecture and history of the castle add to the charm and appeal of the grounds.

The famous lake
Bride & Groom cuddle beside the lake at their Castle Leslie Wedding
Bride & Groom standing at the boat house
The boat house
A newly married couple smooch under an umbrella
Sometimes you have to embrace the weather to get photos outside
The castle provides so many angles for creative and dramatic photos

The interior of Castle Leslie is no less impressive – with luxurious and elegant interior design, which includes ornate furnishings, antique decor, and intricate details. Pockets of light appear from almost nowhere – creating soft, sensual lighting and giving us as photographers so many possibilities. The castle has been carefully restored and renovated to preserve its historic charm while also incorporating modern amenities. The attention to detail and quality craftsmanship can be seen throughout the castle, from the grand staircase to the cozy sitting rooms. Additionally, the castle has a rich history and is filled with interesting stories and artefacts, adding to its unique character and appeal. Whilst you’re enjoying your photos – your guests will be enjoying one of the most unique and intriguing settings Ireland has to offer.

Couple stand on the staircase looking out the window
The main staircase is quite stunning

"The castle has a rich history and is filled with interesting stories and artefacts, adding to its unique character and appeal."

— Ciaran O'Neill Photography

Gardens & Outdoor Opportunities

The grounds are so extensive that it would be easy to get lost. The key for us as photographers is to keep the photos within walking distance. The lake, the boathouse and the front of the castle are all easily accessible. Staff will come with us if we need an umbrella carrier or they will hand deliver champagne and canapés as part of their incredible 5 star service.

The jetty during winter - the mist creates a dramatic visual effect
Bridal party standing outside Castle Leslie
The bridal party standing just beside the fountain at the back of the castle
Bride getting ready in one of the rooms at Castle Leslie
Bride getting ready in one of the rooms at Castle Leslie
Groomsmen laugh with each other

"You will be spoilt for choice for photo opportunities both inside and out."

— Ciaran O'Neill Photography

Photo Opportunities Further Afield

St Salvatores Church

Horse and carriage await the bride and groom

350 years old – the church of St Salvator sits on the estate and is the perfect place for an intimate ceremony. It was in the international news when Paul McCartney was married here in 2002.

Bride and her father walk up the isle

Outdoor ceremony & after hours

Castle Leslie has long attracted visitors to this isle – we have had the privilege of shooting an ‘elopement’ wedding there only recently. 50 American’s descended upon these lands to share with their love birds the experience of an Irish Castle Wedding.

When the rain breaks for a minute - it is possible to have an outdoor civil ceremony
Groom and his father in law playfully grab each other before the first dance
Don't worry, this man is a lumberjack by trade!

Bellingham Castle Wedding - Colleen & Seán emerge through the foliage as the sun shines on them

Bellingham Castle Wedding - Colleen & Seán

Our Wedding Journey...

Look at those two smiling faced. You would never think they they had to deal with musicians and the DJ letting them down and the wedding cars breaking down on the day. But they took it all in their stride and didn’t let it spoil their day. And what a day they had. I have to say we laughed and had fun all day long, even during the showers. Here’s what Colleen and Sean had to say about the special day.

How did you first meet and get together?

We had mutual friend circles in younger days but finally met officially in 2016 after matching on Tinder! Seán suggested bowling for our first date and although neither of us were too good at bowling, the date went well and as they say. The rest is history!
We bought our house in 2020 and Nessa our black Lab has kept us busy ever since.

Groom getting ready in the morning of the wedding

Tell us about the proposal – where, when, how?

We got engaged in June 2021 on “The Boat Strand” – near Carrickfinn Beach in Co Donegal. We took a drive around the area, stopping at a few places before getting to Trá an Bháid where we went for a dip in the sea. Seán got down on one knee on our way back across the beach. We went to Jack Murphy jewellers to choose the engagement ring a few days later.

Classic portrait of our stunning bride

"We enjoyed every chance we got to visit Bellingham Castle as it such an amazing venue and the staff are outstanding."

— Colleen & Seán

The Wedding Planning...

Where and how did you choose your dress?

I choose my wedding dress from White Blossom Bridal in Warrenpoint. I had a style in mind but ended up mixing a couple of aspects from different Charlie Brear dresses together to create what I wanted. Danielle is the best in the business and I couldn’t recommend her more highly.

Bride kissing her father on the cheek, as they wait in the car before the wedding ceremony

How did you find the experience?

Overall, we found the whole experience enjoyable. We didn’t get too overwhelmed and kept each other level-headed. I loved the organising and really enjoyed the process of designing our stationery myself. I would love the chance to do something like that again!

What was the best part of planning your big day?

We enjoyed seeing everything come together in the last few weeks, all our ideas becoming a reality. We also enjoyed every chance we got to visit Bellingham Castle. Its such an amazing venue and the staff are outstanding.

And the most stressful part?

The most stressful part was probably being let down by musician’s and also our DJ had to pull out only a few days before the wedding. But, everything happens for a reason. We couldn’t have been happier with all the musicians and the DJ we had on the day. They added so much the atmosphere on the day – everything turned out even better than we had planned. Finalising the guest list was also quite stressful!

"It's true what everyone says, it really is the best day of your life!"

— Colleen & Seán

The Wedding Day...

How did the day go?

The day was so exciting and enjoyable from start to finish. We enjoyed every second – the time just flew. The ceremony was lovely and the music added so much. The drive from Mayobridge to Bellingham was enjoyable and probably the only chance the 2 of us got on our own to chat all day.

The reception was lively and everyone got a chance to enjoy some time outside as the sun made an appearance. In the evening, the dancefloor was never empty – the party continued into the small hours! It’s true what everyone says, it really is the best day of your life!

Silhouette of the bride and groom in the church door

Why did you book us as your photographers?

I had followed Ciaran’s work for a long time on social media and knew he is an award-winning wedding photographer. Everyone was easy to deal with from day 1.

Were there any particular photos you loved (or hated!) getting taken?

We enjoyed getting our photos on the bridge out in the grounds of Bellingham Castle. We were probably getting bit tired of smiling for the camera by the time we got out night-time snaps – but so glad we did as they turned out lovely.

Do you think we, as your photographers, helped you enjoy your day?

Ciaran was amazing on the day. He was very easy to get along with and kept everyone laughing. He ensured we got our photos taken in between the rain showers and it worked out perfectly. We never felt rushed or under pressure

Ssssshhh! The secret cove facing The Buttery Kitchen!

Were there any near disasters/funny incidents?

On the morning of the wedding the campervan booked for the groomsmen wouldn’t start outside the house. Eventually they made the journey from Blackskull to Mayobridge in one piece! Also, the VW Beetle broke down en route and had to be replaced in time for the end of the ceremony.
Daniel O’Donnell made a surprise appearance at the reception! Our friends had organised a video message from him which was played after the speeches – some of the photos clearly show how shocked we both were!

Bride looks emotional as her new husband tells a story of how they met

What advice would you give to other couples planning their wedding?

You will probably meet a few hiccups along the way and not everything will go to plan. Don’t get too annoyed and stressed about things that are beyond your control – just keep a level head and remember what the day is actually all about!

Daniel O'Donnell makes a surprise video appearance
Daniel O'Donnell make a surprise appearance!
The bride & groom enjoy their first dance
Colleen & Seán enjoy their first dance as newlyweds to Dreams by The Cranberries

"Ciaran was amazing on the day, very easy to get along with and kept everyone laughing"

- Colleen & Seán