How to make a big deal out of a small wedding

For many couples, planning a wedding can be a stressful time. From menus to photographers to cars, wedding planning is a job in itself. Opting for a simpler wedding with fewer guests can help alleviate the stress and allows couples to have more time for one another in the lead up to the big celebration.

A more selective guest list does not mean less fun will be had. Fewer people can mean a more personal celebration. The intimate wedding can also come across as much more romantic and spontaneous! Here are a few ideas on how to make a big deal out of a small wedding...

Top secrets for a good night’s sleep

In need of more shut eye? Are you longing for a morning when you can wake up feeling rested and ready for the day? 

Seven to nine hours is often cited as the recommended daily dose of sleep for adults but, for some, the bare minimum can even prove difficult. This might be down to an overactive mind, hectic work schedule, busy household, a spate of insomnia… or all the above!

Hygge-lovers Andrew & Lauren celebrate their big day at Dufferin Hall

“I completely fell in love with Dufferin as soon as I stepped foot in it and knew it was the perfect venue for the cosy wedding I had envisaged,” says bride Lauren.

Newlyweds Andrew and Lauren Blair had a cosy and very personal wedding at Dufferin Hall last September after getting engaged on a romantic break in Iceland. The couple had been dating for two years before tying the knot and chose Dufferin Hall to gather together their nearest and dearest after a ceremony at a nearby church.

A Fairy-tale wedding with personal touches for Grace and Matt Evans

Grace & Matt Evans got married in a lovely autumn wedding on Saturday 19th November and chose to have their special reception among their closest friends and family in Dufferin Hall.  Their romance budded while working in Tesco during university nearly 14 years ago, and they have since lived together in London and now Dublin.

Beat the January Blues

It’s January and that time of year when many of us may feel a need to have those cobwebs blown away after Christmas and New Year celebrations. For some, January might even be a “dry” month and, although the darker and colder nights may make this decision a bit challenging at times, there is still lots of potential for it to be a fulfilling month.  We promise!

Wishing you a Very Local Christmas

Finding the Christmas gift ideas running a bit dry? Is the thought of walking around shops filling you with dread? There’s nothing we love more than supporting local, innovative enterprises when it comes to purchasing gifts for the Christmas season, and with such a rich selection of food and drink, art, handicrafts, and experience available for us on our back step, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t all support local business this Christmas season! Read on for some of our favourite locally sourced gift ideas…

For the Gin Lover

The gin trend has really taken off in Northern Ireland in recent years, so if you are buying for someone who can’t get enough of the good stuff then a gin-related gift is a guaranteed win (assuming the recipient is of legal age of course). You could either buy a bottle of Shortcross Gin, a gin carefully crafted not far from Dufferin at the Rademon Estate Distillery in Downpatrick or, if it’s a hardcore gin fan you are buying for, a tour and tasting at Echlinville Estate in Newtownards—the home of Jawbox gin and other crafted alcohol—could be a winner. For any wine enthusiasts in your life, a unique wine tasting hosted by JN Wines or a hamper of unique varieties would be the bow on top of any connoisseur’s tree.


Time away doesn’t need to include a long-haul flight and currency exchange.  Treating a loved one to a night at Dufferin Coaching Inn will certainly bring a smile to their face on Christmas Day when they unwrap their gift voucher. If you’re keen to spoil a special someone even further, then you could also throw in a luxurious treatment at nearby Pure Day Spa or a lovely dinner at the hidden gem of a restaurant, the Smuggler’s Table, located in Killyleagh.

Call or email Dufferin Coaching Inn to order your Christmas gift voucher. We can either send you an e-voucher by email or print out a version and sent it 1st class post. Do also ask if you would like to add a personal note to your voucher. 

Food Inspired

Buying someone an experience they can enjoy post-Christmas and New Year is always a good way to ward off any January blues, especially when there is food is involved! We reckon a voucher from our list of local places to eat will earn you some serious brownie points.  Another local institution is Hanlon’s Greengrocers in Downpatrick, located at Market Street in Downpatrick, and are known for their outstanding local food hampers at Christmas time, while closer to Dufferin Picnic Delicatessen is a must-visit to stock up on tasty treats to last through Christmas.


If you are buying for an adrenaline junkie or outdoor enthusiast, then an experience booked in with Clearsky Adventure, Strangford—from rock climbing and archery to sea safaris and glamping—is sure to wow them on Christmas day and give them something to look forward to into the New Year.


We are lucky to have so many unique makers, producers, and entrepreneurs in Northern Ireland with unique offerings to sell, so this Christmas when you’re planning your Christmas gifts, be creative and think local!





Walk before the leaves fall

With winter just around the corner and autumn foliage at its peak, a walk down the wondrous greenways and paths dotting County Down is the perfect way to enjoy autumn in its splendour while the leaves are still above you.  Here are some of our favourite places to enjoy nature’s displays this autumn.

Local treats just the trick for Halloween fun

Bobbing for Apples, Trick-or-Treating, and scary stories may be some of the memories that come to mind at Halloween time, and whatever you love about All Hallow’s Eve, there’s plenty on offer in our local area to help you and the family make the most of this magical holiday. These top activities and attractions all taking place in Dufferin Coaching Inn’s neighbouring towns and villages are a must for the family during the Halloween season. 

Dufferin talks food with Johnny McDowell of Indie Fude!

Dufferin Hall recently teamed up with Indie Fude and the Hans Sloane Chocolate & Fine Food Festival to host ‘An Irish Cheeseboard’ - an event which included a pairing menu featuring local cheeses accompanied by chutney, oatcakes, and - of course - complementing locally-sourced drink.  The sold-out event packed Dufferin Hall’s event space and acted as a boost to the popular Chocolate & Fine Food Festival in Killyleagh.

Chocoholics get set for the Hans Sloane Chocolate & Fine Food Festival!

Killyleagh plays host to some pretty fabulous events throughout the year but we’re really excited about the Finnebrogue Artisan Hans Sloane Chocolate & Fine Food Festival taking place from September 23rd to 25th.

Anything and everything to do with chocolate will be happening that weekend but don’t miss out on our top five things to do!

Best boutiques for a County Down wedding!

We love seeing wedding guests dressed their best for special days and nights of celebration spent at Dufferin  Hall.  Although high-street stores stock the most on-trend fashions, we prefer visiting some of the small independent boutiques located across County Down to browse their exclusive collections of occasion wear!

Skiffie Worlds to set sail in Killyleagh!

The Skiffie Worlds Festival 2016 is to set sail on Strangford Lough, Co. Down, later this month - just a stone’s throw away from Dufferin Coaching Inn! The festival, which will take place from 24th – 30th July, is a colourful celebration of coastal rowing and will bring with it the St Ayle’s World Championship races which will be held at the stunning Delamont Country Park over five days.

Chocolate & Fine Food Festival will offer something ‘sweet’ for all ages

Thousands of chocoholics and enthusiastic foodies from Northern Ireland and beyond are set to descend again this year on Killyleagh town centre to celebrate the 2016 Finnebrogue Artisan Hans Sloane Chocolate & Fine Food Festival, 23rd – 25th September.  Sponsored by artisan producer Finnebrogue, based in nearby Downpatrick and famous for their outstanding quality venison and sausages, among other favourites, this year’s festival will be the largest one yet, with over 15 chocolatiers and nearly 40 local artisan food producers scheduled to set up camp at the historic Killyleagh Castle for the weekend-long festival.

2016 Wedding Flower Trends: Dufferin Asks the Expert

Seen on centre pieces, in the bridal party’s hair, atop wedding cakes, and on the lapels of grooms and fathers of the bride, wedding flowers are an essential element to the big day. But what about the hands behind those fabulous floral arrangements? We caught up with leading County Down florist Gillian Mee from Flowers by Mee in Killyleagh to discover this season’s biggest floral trends, tips, and blossom inspirations.

County Down's BBQ Hot Spots

With so many stunning backdrops to dine outdoors near Dufferin Coaching Inn, we recommend grabbing a picnic hamper and hitting the Great Outdoors to enjoy some dining al fresco whilst visiting.  Here’s a round-up of our favourite local BBQ and picnic spots in Killyleagh and surrounding areas where you can relax and enjoy a taste of summer in Northern Ireland.