Scotland Castle Wedding Venues
August 8, 2019
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A scouting trip isn’t always possible for couples planning a destination wedding, but it’s certainly preferable. Especially if you’ve never been to your chosen destination! After working at Destination I Do for eight years and dating my fiancé for 12 years, I finally found myself engaged and planning my own wedding away in 2018. There are two things my fiancé and I agreed on right away – that we wanted a destination wedding and that Scotland was our dream destination! More specifically, we targeted Aberdeenshire, a.k.a. Castle Country, in the northeast of Scotland.
Shortly after getting engaged, I began to do research on Scotland destination weddings and came across Tartan Weddings – a Scottish, New York-based wedding planner who specializes in Scotland destination weddings. After talking with Lisa Bauer of Tartan Weddings on the phone, she graciously invited me to join her on an upcoming trip to Scotland…during which time I could tour Scotland castle wedding venues and meet with potential vendors. Over the course of a few days, I crisscrossed Scotland’s “Castle Country” in search of the perfect wedding venue.
Below you’ll find my impressions and reviews of various Scotland castle wedding venues! There are dozens more amazing options, but these are the ones I visited firsthand. I’ve also included some general tips for getting married in a Scottish castle.
6 Scotland Castle Wedding Venues
Fans of HBO’s “Game of Thrones” will love Wardhill Castle’s ties to the show. Two of the show’s stars, Kit Harington (Jon Snow) and Rose Leslie (Ygritte), hosted their reception on the estate! Like many of these recommendations, Wardhill Castle is quite remote in Aberdeenshire and will become a home-away-from-home for you and your guests. The castle is for exclusive-use only and is unique in that it’s privately owned. You’ll deal directly with the owners’ family for your booking and all your event’s details. The main house sleeps 16 and the cottages sleep an additional 10 people. Glamping is also available. The walled garden is a beautiful spot for tented receptions and I recommend the on-site Bothy Cottage for the wedding night! Have more wedding guests than Wardhill can accommodate? Not to worry – Glengarry Castle Hotel is only 10 minutes away.
Dalhousie Castle Hotel:
This is the only Scotland castle wedding venue I personally toured that wasn’t exclusive-hire only. Dalhousie Castle Hotel is also less remote than the other options listed here. It’s only eight miles outside Edinburgh, but you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time. The 13th century castle has 35 bedrooms – some with romantic four-poster beds. There’s also an on-site chapel that’s beautiful for weddings and if you’re visiting for a special occasion, be sure to book one of Dalhousie’s themed four-poster suites. A dinner in the hotel’s Dungeon Restaurant is also a can’t miss! You’ll enjoy white glove service amid candlelight and under the barrel-vaulted ceiling.
Located on a whopping 400 acres in Aberdeenshire, Fasque Castle boasts beautiful gardens and lots of wildlife. It’s available for exclusive-hire and features 18 bedrooms and various cottages across the grounds. The castle itself can accommodate 42 guests and an additional 18 guests in the cottages. While Fasque’s interiors are a bit awkward for receptions, in my opinion, it’s charming interiors make you feel like you’re in a castle. Examples include a hidden door in the library, bathrooms in turrets and round rotundas. The on-site chapel is beautiful and can accommodate ceremonies for up to 100 people. Personally, I would host a ceremony in the sunken garden and a tented reception on the grounds.
Located between Edinburgh and Aberdeen, you’ll find Turin Castle. This privately owned castle is available for exclusive-use and features 10 bedrooms, sleeping a max of 20 guests. It was built in 1659 and has lovely gardens and gathering areas. The interiors are bold and no two rooms are the same. The strongest selling point of Turin, in my opinion, is its Managing Director Yvonne. She runs the castle with a deft hand and deals with all her guests firsthand, whenever possible. She loves to surprise guests with special touches like fireside whiskey tastings and homemade brownies.
Located in Aberdeenshire on gorgeous grounds, you’ll find Drumtochty Castle. It’s for exclusive-hire and perfect for couples wanting traditional Scottish interiors and a classic castle exterior. These folks host weddings all the time and their talented staff has got it down pat. You can rest assured that you’ll want for nothing on your wedding day. The main castle includes 11 bedrooms that sleep 23 people – including a beautiful bridal suite. The more modern wings attached contain apartments that can sleep an additional 45 guests. Drumtochty is the perfect example of an exclusive-hire castle having all the wedding-day essentials. The fee includes all your rentals like tables, chairs, gold cutlery, candelabras, etc. The on-site chapel is also breathtaking and makes a great backdrop or ceremony site. Be sure to have your photographer explore the grounds for photo ops like Kiernan Mount.
Located halfway between Edinburgh and Aberdeen, you’ll find Kinnettles Castle. For couples wanting a fairy tale castle as a backdrop on their big day, the exterior of Kinnettles is likely what you’re envisioning. That-being-said, the interiors are recently renovated and have a serious hotel-feel. If you want an exclusive-use castle with modern (by Scottish standards) interiors, then Kinnettles could be great for you. It’s also run more like a traditional hotel, which might be a perk for some folks. It’s set up on a hill with gorgeous, sweeping view of the Scottish countryside. My vote? Host your ceremony on the road leading to Kinnettles with the castle in the background and your reception on the sweeping terrace (weather permitting, of course).
Tips for Getting Married at a Castle in Scotland
Most castles in Scotland, especially in Aberdeenshire, are for exclusive hire only. Meaning you must rent-out the entire castle for you and your guests. (Similar to a buy-out of a boutique hotel.) While this might sound over-the-top or overwhelming, it can actually really simplify matters. Having the castle and its staff at your disposal means the options are virtually limitless when it comes to your event. Also, the majority of these exclusive-use hotels include housekeeping and staff with your rental fee. There are also castle hotels, which are run more like traditional hotel venues in the States.
Know What’s Included:
Unlike a lot of U.S. wedding venues, renting a castle for your Scotland wedding is almost always all-inclusive. It’s not uncommon for the rental fee to include tables, chairs, linens, vessels for centerpieces, candles, table settings and much more. With a lot of the castles being quite remote, it’s incredibly likely they have all the wedding essentials already on-site.
Music is Important:
Don’t be surprised if your Scotland castle wedding venue suggests hiring multiple musicians for your event. You might want classical music for your ceremony, a bag piper for your entrance and exit, a DJ for your cocktail hour/portion of your reception and a traditional cèilidh band.
Embrace Your Scottish Surroundings:
Incorporate Scottish tradition wherever possible – your guests will thank you! Whether this means hiring a company to come out and organize a miniature highland games for your group ahead of the wedding, or hiring dancers to teach everyone traditional cèilidh dances ahead of the reception.
Don’t Bust Your Budget:
Hosting your wedding at a Scottish castle is more accessible than you think! When I visited, toured and met with folks at each of the following castle venues, I was blown away by what was included with the rental fee and how cost-effective it was. Especially if you’ve considered a medium-to-large wedding in the States, you’ll be flabbergasted by what you can get in Scotland for your money!
Get a Scot on your Side:
I can’t recommend hiring a local or UK wedding planner enough. Scotland is such a magical place – with centuries of tradition and folklore. Having someone with a knowledge of tradition and custom will come in handy to ensure you host the most epic of Scottish castle weddings!
My fiancé and I ultimately eloped at an exclusive-use castle and were touched and so grateful for how amazing all of the staff and our wedding vendors were. The wedding industry in the States can sometimes feel as if you’re being nickel-and-dimed for every little thing and we had the opposite experience in Scotland. Everyone was so generous with their time and resources – you’ll likely feel as if you have a new family by the time you’re finished planning your destination wedding in Scotland!
Considering a Scotland destination wedding yourself? If so, I can’t recommend Tartan Weddings enough! Lisa made my own destination wedding dreams a reality and she specializes in planning special occasions all across Scotland! You can read my interview with Lisa and learn more about here business here. Want to see the results of my research? You can find my own Scotland destination wedding itinerary and Real-Life Weddings feature in the Fall/Winter 2019 issue of Destination I Do!