Wedding venues at Scottish castles?
February 17, 2014 2:27 PM   Subscribe

We'd like to have a small, lovely wedding on the grounds or in the gardens of a Scottish castle. The internet leads me down a sweaty, confusing little rabbit hole.

We've got a dozen people who would like to attend our wedding (including us). We initially wanted to rent a private self-catering castle for a week in Scotland in June or July and get married during that week. We've found some pretty cool castles, but none of them will arrange the wedding services for you. They all so far have just handed us a list of photographers, ministers, bagpipers, and kilt rentals and said, "Good luck, lassie!" But, I really don't want to organize the whole thing, it'd be too stressful to do so from across the Atlantic.

Has anyone participated in or attended an easy-to-organize wedding in Scotland such that you could recommend a place or organizer? Our Googling has not yielded anything quite on point. Lots of venues for 50+ people, but nothing small, straightforward, and classy.

Thenk ye!
posted by letahl to Travel & Transportation around Scotland (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I've come across this place in the course of some research for work: Freswick Castle. Not able to give a recommendation or anything but it may be a starting point for a small event.
posted by IncognitoErgoSum at 2:50 PM on February 17, 2014

While vacationing in Scotland, I saw a couple get married at the Monty Python and the Holy Grail Castle - Doune Castle. Here's a link about renting it out.
posted by Chrysostom at 2:56 PM on February 17, 2014

I wholeheartedly recommend Scottish Wedding Planners, who did a great job for my wife and I in '99. They've been in business a long time, and offer a comprehensive set of services. That being said, we didn't take advantage of much of that as my wife and I essentially eloped! We were married at Borthwick Castle, which is unique in that Mary Queen of Scots stayed there, and you can stay in her room!
posted by scolbath at 4:11 PM on February 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

My cousin's wedding reception was in Stirling Castle, which was surprisingly nice and cosy. It would have been done through Historic Scotland.

The thing is, having grown up around a castle, twelve people will rattle around in even the smallest keep. Although there are a few keeps that are used for combined venues, they tend to be cold, quite damp and very un-picturesque. They were military garrisons, after all. Forget any accessibility: narrow twisty flights of steep stairs are the norm.

It's not a castle, but Broughton House is very nice.

(and no-one says “thenk ye”, in the same way no American has ever said “hern-hern”)
posted by scruss at 5:11 PM on February 17, 2014

Not a castle, but still worth throwing into the mix. Crear is ordinarily a high end musical practice and arts space, but it also does weddings. It is a pretty enough, but not stunning building, with a high aspect and a lovely view down to the sea. In midsummer, it gets gorgeous light and you can look out to sea and drink it all in. For small weddings, like yours, they will rent you the place for midweek in summer (but probably not the weekend, when I think they reserve it for larger weddings). They can also take care of most of the things you need, like flowers, photographers, catering and I think bagpipes too.

I have been to a wedding there, and my in-laws are from that area. Admittedly, we got stunning weather, but it was a very nice place to get married - full of light, lovely bedrooms that are not twee and faux-heritage like so many are in Scotland, and a good balance between wedding venue and holiday home. The Kilberry Peninsula itself is a lesser known part of Scotland but very attractive, with a fine pub.

They also have a wee weddings site, although it looks like this is really aimed at *very* intimate weddings. The cottage they recommend is a fab, luxurious place to stay in (I stayed there for the wedding at Crear) but is next to a working farm and not the castle you seek.

If you did go down the route of having a wedding at Crear but still wanted a holiday in a castle, then the Landmark Trust has properties in Scotland, including Saddle Castle ([in]famous for the video of Wings' song Mull of Kintyre).

Alternatively, another place I know of is Lunga House. They cater for small weddings and the coastal setting is beautiful. Like your other venues, it looks like they give you their list of recommended suppliers.

Personally, I wouldn't be too worried about how hard it was to organise myself. In the Highlands and Islands choice is pretty limited: the same florists, pipers, photographers, caterers do the same small selection of venues in any given area. You don't really get much of a choice about who you'll use, which is either liberating or scary, depending on how you see it. Generally these vendors don't need much from you to set up and execute the wedding.

To put this in context: when I got married in London, where there is more of a choice and people expect customisation, my venue supplied a list of 5 caterers - a lot - as well as a DJ, florist etc. We met once with the caterer for a tasting. But every supplier knew the venue. We didn't need to tell the caterer anything bespoke. The DJ set himself up. The florist did her thing. All of them were able to liaise with the venue directly if they had questions, which they didn't because they had supplied weddings there lots of times.
posted by MuffinMan at 2:21 AM on February 18, 2014

Echoing what MuffinMan said about Landmark Trust. If there's a particular property you're interested in, it might be worthwhile to contact them directly to see if they can coordinate or would allow weddings on their site. In Scotland, the officiant carries the license to marry, unlike the rest of the UK, where the location carries the license.

What about National Trust of Scotland and Historic Scotland?

I don't know your particular reasons for wanting a Scottish castle, but if you were willing to consider a beautiful location outside of Scotland, why not the Northumbrian coast of England? Castles... beaches... windswept, rugged beauty... something like this Bamburgh Castle
posted by Grrlscout at 5:27 AM on February 18, 2014

Be aware that June/July in Scotland can be windy, rainy and cold. Make sure your chosen venue is suitable for an entirely indoors wedding. Scotland is beautiful, scenic, and oh so stunning but Scottish weather is unpredictable at best.

I have been to a July wedding at New Lanark (A UNESCO Heritage site) - the location was incredibly beautiful though probably not what you are looking for. It did provide everything on site, the scenery was beautiful & unusual, and everybody really enjoyed themselves .. but it did rain constantly.
posted by kariebookish at 6:58 AM on February 18, 2014

New Lanark is my favourite place in the world. It's much more representative of Scottish life than any castle.
posted by scruss at 10:14 AM on February 18, 2014

Seconding Crear - we got married there last year. It was incredibly easy to organise - the staff were so helpful and friendly. You could just rent the small cottage for you to stay in & to hold the wedding ceremony and also rent another cottage near by for guests - they have suggestions of places near by on their website. We had an amazing day - I can't sing their praises enough!
posted by smudge at 2:01 PM on February 18, 2014

We settled on Castle Lachlan, as it is fairly well known as a nice venue for small weddings. While there is not a coordinator, per se, the coordination process was made pretty easy given the limited options, which the castle manager is happy to provide you with. We rented it for the week and have arranged for most everything but the minister with limited effort. Everyone that has attended weddings there (the caterer, photographer, and the cake maker who was married there himself) says it's lovely, so here's to hoping.
posted by letahl at 7:18 PM on March 20, 2014

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