In Scotland you can marry anywhere – besides a beautiful loch, in a castle or country house, or on a mountainside. There are a huge number of unique wedding venues in Scotland, no matter your taste. We explore the different factors to consider for your own wedding, plus present a selection of castles, country houses and outdoor locations for you to consider for your wedding ceremony.
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For many couples in Scotland, a castle provides an alternative to having a traditional church wedding ceremony, with many of the same benefits. A historic setting, the suspense of the wait once guests are seated, the drama of the entrance music, and the emotional walk down the aisle.
By choosing a castle wedding venue in Scotland, you have plenty of room for guests and the chance to walk down the aisle in your wedding dress, even if you opt for a long train or veil. Castles also allow you to stay the night after the party and are the perfect setting for medium to large groups who want an occasion that lasts more than one day. A castle wedding has a real sense of occasion and for many is worth the investment of time and money. If you would feel hypocritical marrying in a church due to your religious beliefs, then a castle gives you the best of both worlds as you can choose a ceremony tailored to your beliefs and wishes, in a beautiful, sacred and historical setting.
Many of the castles listed here are popular tourist attractions, so you will need to book well in advance and it might not always be possible to reserve them during peak season. While you can find a castle in the city centre, it’s more common that they’re in a remote location. For these, ensure your guests have plenty of notice to find accommodation and organise travel. One option is to rent a taxi or two yourself to drive guests back to their accommodation at the end of the evening.
Castles in North Scotland
Dunrobin Castle, Sutherland
Dunrobin Castle is a stunning fairytale-like castle situated on the North East coast of Scotland. Its majestic architecture and beautiful gardens provide a breathtaking backdrop for weddings and allows you have your wedding indoors or out, depending on the weather.
Dunrobin Castle features numerous rooms, including the beautiful and spacious Reception Room that can accommodate up to 80 guests, and the larger Grand Ballroom for bigger gatherings. The castle is approximately 90 minutes drive from Inverness, the nearest major city.
Ackergill Tower, Caithness
Ackergill Tower is a unique and intimate venue, set against a dramatic coastal landscape, providing stunning views and photo opportunities. Its private beach is perfect for romantic moments. The castle's luxurious accommodations and fine dining options create a memorable experience for couples and guests.
As with Dunrobin Castle, it’s in a remote location, so make sure this is a practical option for your guests.
Logie Country House, Aberdeenshire
Logie Country House has beautiful gardens and riverside location which offers a tranquil atmosphere for a wedding. The venue's versatility allows for both indoor and outdoor ceremonies and receptions. The house has a warm and welcoming ambiance.
The house has 17 bedrooms, so for medium-sized wedding parties, you and your guests could rent the accommodation for a whole week.
Castles in Central Scotland
Dundas Castle, West Lothian
Dundas Castle is located in a private estate, providing an intimate atmosphere for your special day. The picturesque surroundings include a beautiful rose garden and the 15th-century Auld Keep. The castle has an experienced wedding team which takes a lot of work out of your wedding planning process.
The castle is a half hour’s drive from Edinburgh. If you book your wedding ceremony here, you may wish to organise taxis to drive some of your guests home at the end of your wedding day.
Glenskirlie House & Castle, Stirlingshire
Glenskirlie House & Castle offers a more intimate and private setting for a wedding that some of the venues mentioned above. The castle's elegant interiors, lush gardens, and the beautiful countryside backdrop create a romantic atmosphere. The venue provides flexibility in terms of indoor and outdoor spaces, allowing you to tailor your ceremony and reception to your preferences.
The castle has 14 bedrooms and holds 50 daytime guests and 50 additional evening guests.
The Caves, Edinburgh
The Caves offer a truly unique Scottish wedding venue within the heart of Edinburgh. It is the sub-structure of the 18th Century South Bridge and is rich in history, once housing the French Cavalry and their stables. It has a myriad of vaults, natural rock formations, giving it an evocative feel.
The Caves holds up to 70 guests during the day and 110 in the evening. While the underground location is undoubtedly beautiful and exotic, it doesn’t have natural light, which means it won’t be to everyone’s taste.
Castles in South Scotland
Culzean Castle, Ayrshire
Culzean Castle is in a breathtaking coastal setting, creating a romantic ambiance for your wedding. The castle has beautifully manicured gardens and picturesque terraces, providing ample space for outdoor ceremonies and receptions. The grand interiors add a touch of historic elegance to your special day.
Culzean Castle features a variety of event spaces, including the Oval Staircase, the Armoury, and the Fountain Court. There is accommodation in the nearby Eisenhower Hotel and a variety of self-catering properties. The castle is also easily accessible from Glasgow and nearby areas.
Comlongon Castle, Dumfries and Galloway
Comlongon Castle has a historic charm, complete with turrets and a drawbridge, that provides a fairytale-like backdrop for your special day. The surrounding countryside adds to the rustic appeal.
Comlongon Castle offers several ceremony and reception spaces, including the medieval Great Hall. It has 14 bedrooms, making it suitable for smaller wedding parties, and can accommodate 160 guests for outdoor weddings.
Cringletie House, Scottish Borders
Cringletie House combines the charm of a castle with the comforts of a country house. With beautiful landscaped gardens, the historic building has original features and modern amenities.
Cringletie House features 12 individually designed bedrooms and suites. The house's dining room can accommodate up to 28 guests for an intimate reception. The location, near Peebles, is an hour’s drive from Edinburgh and provides a peaceful countryside atmosphere.
Castles in West Scotland
Inveraray Castle, Argyll and Bute
Inveraray Castle offers a stunning setting with its iconic architecture and beautiful surroundings. The castle's grand ballroom provides a regal atmosphere for your wedding ceremony and reception.
Inveraray Castle features several rooms, including the impressive Armoury Hall for larger gatherings. The castle has 13 bedrooms available and is an hour and a half from Glasgow.
Armadale Castle, Isle of Skye
Armadale Castle has beautiful gardens, historical architecture and modern amenities. The castle grounds include the Museum of the Isles, which could provide an interesting cultural backdrop to your wedding. The scenic location overlooks the Sound of Sleat and offers breathtaking views.
Armadale Castle has options for both indoor and outdoor ceremonies and receptions, which is handy as the Isle of Skye is known for its unpredictable weather patterns. The space can accommodate around 70-80 guests. The castle is relatively accessible by car and ferry.
Eilean Donan Castle, Highlands
Eilean Donan Castle is situated on a small island, creating a dramatic setting for your wedding. The remote location offers a sense of exclusivity and adventure.
The Banqueting Hall is the largest room in the castle and can accommodate 70 guests seated.
Choosing to marry in the great outdoors
There is something very appealing about an outdoor wedding, but whatever the attraction – sentiment, atmosphere or budget – it could well be a false economy to have two hundred guests on a beach without an alternative location in case of rain or wind or both, particularly in Scotland.
While a Scottish wedding in the rain might seem romantic, guests might be elderly or have young children and won’t necessarily feel the same as you do. It’s therefore a wise bride who makes a plan B, so if on the day, the ceremony has to be indoors, you have a space to go to. Even a plain hotel function room can be transformed with flowers and candles.
If you’re looking for a small, romantic getaway then there are literally thousands of options. For larger parties, some ideas for outdoor weddings include:
Harvest Moon, East Lothian
Photo provided by Jen Doherty, wedding celebrant.
The Harvest Moon in East Lothian gives you the chance to celebrate your wedding over a weekend. Choose between getting married on a stunning beach with white sand beneath your feet at their Beach Cabin site, or get married in the woods with majestic trees on either side.
The Harvest Moon is 45 minutes from Edinburgh and with guests accommodated in tree houses, cabins, and cottages, there’s no need to concern yourself with how everyone will get home at the end of the evening.
Loch Lomond, Stirlingshire and Dunbartonshire
Loch Lomond offers breathtaking natural beauty and a romantic ambiance, with several accommodation options nearby, including the Loch Lomond Lodge.
Nestled within the picturesque Scottish Highlands, Loch Lomond creates a dreamlike setting for exchanging vows and celebrating love. The serene waters, majestic mountains, and lush landscapes contribute to an atmosphere of tranquillity and intimacy, making it an ideal destination for a romantic and meaningful wedding ceremony.
If you’re planning an extended wedding holiday, the surrounding area offers a myriad of activities and sights to explore. Couples and their guests can embark on romantic walks along the loch's shores, go hiking in the nearby national park, or partake in water activities such as kayaking or boat tours.
Achmelvich Beach, Highland
Achmelvich Beach is a beautiful location with white sand at the end of a winding single-track road. There have been regular sighting of porpoises, dolphins and even minke whales who might choose to join you on your special day.
The beach is 40 miles north of Ullapool in Northwest Scotland and there are a range of hotels and other accommodation nearby.
North Coast 500
Not exactly a ‘venue’, but a more unusual option than the Isle of Skype is the North Coast 500, or NC500 for short.
It's a circular route and has received a lot of worldwide traction in the media in the last few years. For couples looking to elope, there are many beautiful spots along the coast where you can park up, descend into the sand dunes and get married. Provided you have an open-minded wedding celebrant, this option is as valid as any other.
Alternative wedding venues
A castle provides a dramatic and romantic setting for your wedding, and the outdoors gives you unlimited choice. There are plenty of other Scottish wedding venues to consider though, including:
Registry Office Weddings
When thinking about budgeting for the different aspects of your day within the overall wedding costs, a wedding in a registry office would usually be the cheapest indoor option for your ceremony. Whilst you should have the freedom to decorate the room you’ll get married in, you might be restricted by other bookings that day, and some ceremony rooms can be a little lacking in character. Depending on the location and busyness of the registrar there may be a limit to the amount of input and support you get around the content of your ceremony. One way around this is to hire a registry office, but work with an interfaith wedding celebrant who can offer a personal touch and greater flexibility.
Getting married in a hotel
Hotels, residential stately homes and castles are very adept at planning weddings and can often provide you with the ideal place to have both your ceremony of marriage and reception in one place giving a perfect setting and maximum convenience. You don’t have to factor in travel time or transport, and you can get ready, marry, eat, party and sleep in one place. You’ll find they often have beautiful rooms and gardens for your ceremony and photographs – sometimes with unique features like a sweeping staircase, a fountain or a maze. Weddings in Scotland particularly appeal to couples coming from all over the world because there’s such a range of fantastic venues and the fact that celebrities have favoured Scotland really puts Scotland on the map - Madonna famously tied the knot at Skibo Castle, Mark Owen from Take That chose Cawdor Castle for his fairytale wedding, and Zara Phillips (the Queen’s granddaughter) married in Canongate Kirk in the centre of Edinburgh.
Celebrating after the ceremony
Some couples opt for a simple, low-key ceremony and celebration with just very close relatives and friends, perhaps having a meal in a nice restaurant or even at home – clearly this is kinder to your budget, than a big wedding. Others want to share their day with as many people as possible and have a sit-down meal for everyone who attended the ceremony, then invite more people to come and join in an evening reception, often with a more food and a live band.
According to Chloe Hayward, Business Reporter with BBC News, up to a quarter of a million couples get married in the UK each year, and the average cost of the day is over £21,000 (this doesn’t include the rings or honeymoon). Some couples will have spent a lot more, whereas others will have opted for a smaller, more personalised ceremony and celebration on the day so that they can either take an extended honeymoon and go travelling for a year together, or they want to put down a deposit on a house and get a foot on the property ladder.
Choose a venue based on what you want
Some considerations when choosing the ideal venue are:
- What is your budget?
It pays to do some research before you decide on a date and format for your nuptials so you get an idea of the costs of things to start with, rather than have no idea of what’s current or realistic. Do you want to have everything you want quickly and go into debt, or do you want to plan ahead and save up?
- What are your priorities?
If you’ve set your heart on a designer wedding dress, big name wedding photographer and 4* hotel with a sit-down meal for a hundred guests, and have a budget of £6000, you may find you’ve spent half of your budget already on just your wedding dress and your photographer. When Sarah Newman got married, she was prepared to pay whatever it cost for her chosen celebrants (she booked a husband and wife team) and she chose to make a big saving by buying her dress for £50 from Oxfam! On the day she was pretty as a picture and no-one present would have been any the wiser that her dress didn’t cost several hundred pounds! It really does pay to think about what you’ll compromise on and what you will not budge on - decide what’s important to you, be prepared to pay for what you really want, and then budget and save up.
- Who do you want to be there?
Deciding which family and friends to invite can often be hard to decide especially if you’re restricted with numbers, so it might be best to have an ‘A’ list and a ‘B’ list. Also don’t be afraid to have a conversation with people to get early RSVPs then you can invite other people without them feeling offended by being asked last minute.
- Who do you want to organise the wedding?
Having a wedding planner can be a great investment and they can often negotiate discounts, but equally if you have a family member of friend who would be good at planning your wedding, put your faith in whoever’s well organised so you can delegate and then relax on the day knowing everything is taken care of.
- Where do you want the wedding ceremony and celebration to take place?
Travel is easy and it’s now possible to have a marriage pretty much anywhere in the world. Some places will be easier than others in terms of red tape and legal applications, but you can always get married legally with the bare minimum in your country of domicile and then you don’t have to contend with foreign bureaucracy.
When choosing a wedding venue, select one which will hold all your guests and will give you a warm fuzzy feeling on your special day. Balance price, ease of travel and facilities.
Planning a wedding can become all consuming, but at the end of the day, it is your wedding and you decide how to make it a memorable, special occasion for you and your fiancé. It’s your special day, so the considerations of friends and families should come second to your own.