BrookLodge & Wells Spa

Aughrim, Ireland · Prices from $6800 to $15000

What we loved about this venue:

The little decommissioned chapel in the back was a huge selling point. It was really hard for us to find a place to hold our ceremony that didn’t quite have the formality of a church, but still felt really special. The setting next to the creek was gorgeous, and the bridges made for great pictures. The food was key as well—its the same food as the Strawberry Tree restaurant, and focuses on wild and organic (and gigantic portions, and delicious). The staff was all supremely professional. Our day of coordinator was so hardcore she stayed overnight to make sure she would be there on time (due to the massively unexpected snowstorm). The restaurants stayed open the night before for our stranded guests. And the bar was open until 4 a.m. Not like we made it that far, but you know, it was nice to have the option.

Basically they just made it really easy for us. The package wrapped up all the things we didn’t want to worry about in one simple set of things we didn’t have to worry about. The basics were all taken care of for us, and the day went really smoothly.

Tips for working successfully with this site:

Be really organized with the room bookings (we had a lot of back and forth on who was staying in what type of room, since a certain block of rooms is reserved for close family and the wedding party). Trust the coordinators, but don’t be afraid to go over things as much as you need to feel comfortable. Speak up early if you want something nontraditional (like no intro, no dance, etc).

If you want something, ask, they can probably accommodate. Say no to extras because the basics are probably good enough (the prosecco was so good we did not miss champagne, and we could not have managed another course).

And make friends with the resident bartender, and he may give you and your guests lots of free drinks. Or a free bottle of wine.

The drawbacks of this venue were:

It’s expensive—at least, it felt that way to us (85 to 125 per person, including most things). But in the end, we ended up paying up front for a lot of things we probably would have paid for down the line anyway (like extra booze and hotel rooms for family).

And they do a lot of weddings. It does make it feel a bit like a conveyor belt when one wedding departs the day you arrive. But they only do one wedding a day (at least? I guess some actually have multiples? This did not occur to me), and the staff is really, really professional. Also, I got tons of unsolicited positive feedback from random guests on visits, so it makes me think its consistent at least.

Lastly, guests can’t book online for weddings, which was annoying. Hopefully they can change that soon, because it is just silly.

Oh, and the portions were gigantic, which actually made me feel a bit bad since I ate about 25% of my duck breast. But in the scheme of things, not a big problem.

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