When considering cavernous subterranean passages, your mind most probably, and quite understandably, drifts off to thoughts of troglodytes and terror, but when Norrie Rowan discovered a warren of passageways and chambers underneath Edinburgh’s medieval Old Town in the 1980s, he had very different ideas.
Here’s why we’re loving the Caves in the city’s Old Town:
• Utterly unique and incredibly romantic
• Exclusive use venue
• Five minutes from Waverley train station
• Situated in Edinburgh’s iconic Old Town for inspiring photographic opportunities
• Large space to accommodate 150 (ceremony) and up to 450 (reception)
• Available from 11.30am and licenced until 3am
• Listed as one of the best venues in the world by Lonely Planet
• Excellent inhouse chefs to design your menu to suit budgets/tastes
From Auld Reekie to the cosmopolitan city we know and love today, it’s safe to say that Edinburgh has always been a place of distinct highs and lows and no more so than in terms of geology. Having been built upon seven hills, ingenious 18th Century architects decided to soften the undulating streets of Edinburgh by building several bridges that would act as modern highways linking the districts of the city. One such bridge, South Bridge, is an enormous 1000ft long, nineteen arch viaduct where all but one of its arches are completely hidden by the tenement buildings that surround it. Within these arches existed a system of vaults where tradesfolk such as tavern owners, cobblers, milliners and distillers occupied the space.
Throughout the 19th Century, the vaults became a veritable den of iniquity where slum dwellers took over the cavernous underground world after which it became a notorious red light district with countless brothels and bars operating within the abandoned vaults. It was decided by the powers that be that the chambers would be filled with rubble in order to halt the tide of vice infiltrating the Old Town and the vaults lay forgotten for over 100 years.
You’re probably wondering where the aforementioned element of extreme romance comes into play. Well…
In 1985, Norrie Rowan was going about his day renovating one of the Old Town tenement flats and couldn’t believe his eyes when he knocked through to discover the long forgotten vaults! In 2002, after over a decade of excavation, the Caves were opened and with more atmosphere than that which surrounds planet Earth, we think the Caves makes for one of the most beautiful and unique wedding venues in Scotland.
When Celebrant, Mo Ackroyd, married Kate and Stuart back in May, the Fuze team were all ridiculously excited to see the photographs of their big day and we were not disappointed!
Upon entering the Caves through a large wooden doorway, you stand in bewildered delight as you’re transported underground to an otherworldly environment of incomparable romance. Low arched ceilings, exposed brickwork and original stone floors are lit by a combination of state of the art lighting, candles and what seems like a million twinkling fairly lights.
The cavernous space is split into two predominant areas, the Vault (overlooked by a spacious balcony) and the Gentleman’s Lounge upstairs. The Vault lends itself perfectly to ceremonies and wedding breakfasts due to both the style and layout of the space. A small stage at one end of the Vault makes for the perfect place for lovers to say “I do” and a large balcony at the other end of the room is an ideal overspill area with a magnificent view over the Vault where 150 guests can be comfortably seated.
Post-ceremony champagne and canapes can be served upstairs in the Gentlemen’s Lounge and while couples are schmoozing with their loved ones, a dedicated wedding coordinator will oversee the Vault as it’s transformed into an utterly romantic space to enjoy anything from a formal sit down meal to a banquet of sharing platters prepared by the Caves fabulous inhouse chef, where the emphasis is on using fresh locally sourced ingredients to create delicious dishes.
Once guests have called time on their meal, the main Vault is transformed once again into an excellent reception space where the stage can accommodate a band/DJ and up to 450 guests can dance the night away. The Caves is an exclusive use wedding venue; therefore, from 11.30am until 3am couples and their guests have free rein to fully immerse themselves in the atmosphere and history of the place.
It’s not just the inside of the Caves that make it such a special venue. Outside, private and picturesque Niddry Street South makes for the perfect cobbled backdrop for wedding photography and with the Royal Mile, Edinburgh Castle and a plethora of architectural treasures just a stone’s throw from the venue, photographers can get really creative!
Couple: Kate & Stuart married in May 2018
Celebrant: Mo Ackroyd
Venue: The Caves, Niddry Street South, Edinburgh, EH1 1NS
Photographer: Big Day Productions