Whether you’re looking up in awe at the vaulted ceiling of a grand gothic cathedral or staring in a kaleidoscopic trance through the stained glass of a rural and rustic kirk, nobody can deny the architectural appeal of churches; but with over half of Brits considering themselves non-religious and a quarter aligning themselves with Humanism, nowadays only one in three couples choose to say “I do” at traditional religious church ceremonies. So you’d be forgiven for thinking that church weddings would almost certainly be out of the question for brides and grooms-to-be looking to embrace a non-religious ceremony, but you’d be wrong!
When Celebrant, Tegan Elder, married Gordon & Mandy at a Humanist ceremony in picture-perfect Glen Clova Kirk we were all obsessed with Tegan’s account of her trip to this tiny hamlet in the Cairngorms. Here’s why we’ve chosen Glen Clova Kirk and Hotel as this week’s ‘Incredible Scottish Wedding Venue’:
• Wildly romantic Cairngorms location
• Less than one hour from Inverness & Aberdeen
• Perfectly situated for inspiring photographic opportunities
• Quaint church available for Humanist ceremonies
• Church just a two minute walk from excellent reception venue, Glen Clova Hotel
• Large space to accommodate 120 for ceremony, breakfast and reception
• Ample overnight accommodation for wedding party
• Excellent chefs to design your menu to suit budgets/tastes
Every year, almost two million people succumb to the lure of the wilderness that is the Cairngorms National Park and who can blame them? Over one quarter of the UK’s endangered species make the 4,528km2 of mist cloaked mountains, ancient pine forests and historic straths their home, and city and country dwellers alike are flocking to the Cairngorms in their droves to embrace the simplicity of nature at its finest.
Tucked away into the southeast corner and noted as one of the most peaceful areas of the Cairngorms, wild and wonderful Glen Clova extends eighteen miles into the Grampian Mountains and can only be accessed by way of a ‘there and back’ single track road. Towards the end of this glorious stretch of road lies Glen Clova Kirk and Hotel.
Since 2004, Glen Clova Kirk has been managed by the Clova Kirk Trust who encourage both religious and non-religious wedding ceremonies to be conducted within their glorious little church. Built of Aberdeen granite in 1855 on the footprint of its predecessor, St Mary’s Church, Glen Clova Kirk oozes Highland romance and sits amidst the most stunning of landscapes. The fairly modest and simple interior lends itself perfectly to creative couples on the lookout for an extremely atmospheric blank canvas venue and with permission from the Trust, couples are free to unlock their imaginations and decorate the church to suit their own unique wedding style. Gordon and Mandy decorated the church with fresh flowers and pretty bows and made their vows under a decorative ivied arch at the alter and as you can see the results were beautiful.
After the ceremony, photographers can take advantage of the dramatic Cairngorms scenery in both the pretty stonewalled graveyard and along the charming treelined lane, which follows the course of the Corrie Burn, leading from the church to the Glen Clova Hotel. This two minute saunter makes for the perfect newlywed wander as couples make their way to toast their marriage.
Glen Clova Hotel is the perfect mix of contemporary and traditional, making it an excellent choice for your wilderness wedding reception. Luxury lodges complete with hot tubs and light and airy reception spaces are blended with rustically furnished bedrooms and a cosy bar where a wood burning stove crackles away day and night. Collectively, the hotel and lodges can accommodate up to 84 guests so friends and family can really let their hair down.
The Glen Clova Hotel is owned by a farming family so foodie couples rejoice as delicious produce from the farm is incorporated into the menu for your guests to enjoy. The dining space at Glen Clova looks out over the incredible landscape and comfortably seats 120 for the wedding breakfast. Once guests have enjoyed coffee, they can head into the cosy bar area for a post-dinner drink whilst the hotel team transform the dining room into an excellent reception space where there’s ample room for a DJ or band where couples and their loved ones can dance the night away. For couples in need of extra space, a marquee is available for hire to be erected on the surrounding farmland.
All in all, we were bowled over by Glen Clova and we’ll be fighting each other to get back there to conduct more weddings in 2019!
Couple: Gordon & Mandy
Celebrant: Tegan Elder
Date: May 2018
Photographer: Downfield Studio Photography