8 Expert Wedding Planning Tips From The Inishowen Gateway Hotel

Blending seaside beauty and surrounding rolling green hills, this Donegal wedding venue offers the most stunning backdrop for your special day.

The dedicated team at the Inishowen Gateway Hotel hold their fair share of experience in hosting memorable wedding days for each of their valued couples. For any bride or groom, the early stages of planning can seem daunting, but they don’t have to be! Sinead Bradley, wedding coordinator at Inishowen Gateway, shares below her top tips for couples beginning their wedding planning journies…

1. Decide on your budget

Before you book anything, sit down together and decide on a budget.

Put down everything you both want to include as part of your wedding. Things to cover include:

– Number of guests (1st thing to decide on as it will impact the venue choice and so overall budget)
– Preferred venue
– Preferred band plus ceremony music and pre reception music
– Preferred photographer
– Rings
– Outfits including dress and accessories for bridesmaids and groomsmen
– Wedding cake
– Wedding cars
– Flowers
– Make up and Hair
– Drink options for guests
– Favours, add on entertainment such as singing waiters
– Room dressing options

Including everything now and your preferred choices means you can make a realistic budget based on what is important to you both.

If the band is more important than the photos you are left with, then you will prioritise the spend on a big band and vice versa. Price your items out now at the start of the process.

If you are both hoping for a small wedding to keep costs down, then the number of guests is only one way to ensure costs are low, your preferred photographer or band could cost a lot more than you thought.

2. Decide as a couple what is important to each of you and be open to the others choice

Great food and a great band is what your guests will take away as memories. You don’t want hungry guests left waiting too long for their meal (our team of chefs use a private kitchen to prepare and serve your food so we are ready for the time you say).

If ensuring your guests have plenty to drink is his preference and an expensive room dressing entrance is hers, then decide together where to spend. Doing this will remove any fall outs closer to the date as you have made it clear that you really want it.

Everything else is up to you as a couple whether to spend high or low.

3. Let your venue handle as much as possible

Room dressing, centrepieces, table plan, master of ceremonies (for announcing you both into your reception) and room reservations – let the hotel handle all of this on your behalf. Our team have so much experience in putting the details together so use it to your advantage.

Set up your guests with an online booking code so they are sure to get the date and venue correct and hand it out as soon as you announce your date (or consider using save the date cards and print on them). We can set up a Wedding page for you as a couple with relevant details you want guests to know about such as afterparty details.

Don’t handle room reservations on your own as this alone can cause an enormous amount of pressure the week of the wedding.

The Inishowen Gateway Hotel works with an entertainment agency to supply top quality bands and wedding entertainment which is available to couples at a reduced rate. We also offer wedding packages with your band and wedding cake included. These packages are so popular with couples we have extended them into 2021. The agent handles the band booking and contract on your behalf, again reducing the stress for you.

4. Know your suppliers

Use friend and family recommendations for good suppliers and be sure that who you choose you feel comfortable with . Be sure you have the trust with them to bring your vision to life so using companies that come recommended is a good place to start.

5. Order of the Day 

When choosing where to go for photos keep your location en route to the hotel to save on time if possible. Communicate this location in advance with your photographer.

A good photographer will anticipate this and have suggestions ready before you ask. You do not want to be arriving at your venue at 6pm with dinner booked for 5.30pm.

You will want to have time to mingle with your guests and enjoy a drink before your meal and also to check into the Bridal Suite and have some alone time.

6. Use Social Media to your advantage

Set up a Wedding Board on Pinterest to save your favourite looks and colour scheme. This is a great help as you can get overwhelmed with information so having a place to organise your ideas is really useful. Also trends can change fast and pinterest keeps you in the loop with new suggestions.

Decide on a hash tag now for you both with your names and get it out to friends and family, especially if you are having an engagement party, great for the Hen and Stag parties to share images and then for the day itself (or you may want separete tags for each). In years to come having a shared hashtag means you can easily review all those amazing images that tell your story as a couple.

Set up a email address for you both to direct all your wedding related emails. You will be attending wedding fairs and getting quotes through so having a wedding related email address helps to keep that information together in one place.

7. Look after the out-of-towners

For guests travelling for your wedding then ask your venue to reserve a number of rooms only for them to book. Here in the Inishowen Gateway Hotel we can set up a private page with code for access by your guests. These can be personalised with your details and images.

Don’t book for your guests, encourage them to book directly to avoid having phonecalls in the run up to the wedding day itself. It sounds straight forward but we see it alot, guests forgetting to book, assuming you have booked, cancelling or amneding their stay..the list goes on.

On the day of arrival consider a small welcome bag for each room and include water, local maps and activities they may want to do. It is a lovely touch and means you will be well remembered as being a perfect host.

8. Enjoy the planning process

You only plan to do this once (get married we mean) so enjoy it. Delegate where possible to your Bridal Party (useful to have the Groomsmen responsbile for paying any outstanding balances on the day so you dont have to think about it). When you look back in years to come you will want to have fond memories of your day and the lead up to it, you don’t want to remember a stressful time.


Learn more about weddings at the Inishowen Gateway Hotel and check availability for your ideal wedding date here.

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