In Scotland, wherever you wander, you’re more than likely to witness at least one of the following landmarks or entities as you go about your day: a mountain, something tartan, a distillery, thistles or maybe a golf course. Each is uniquely Scottish, but there’s one thing that’s more abundant than any of the aforementioned and it’s pretty much everywhere. The elixir of life, WATER.
With over 6,000 miles of coastline, 135 miles of canal networks, 31,000 lochs and enough rivers, streams, waterfalls and burns to encircle the world THREE times, it’s fair to say that Scotland is an incredibly well hydrated country!
So, if you’re wanting to inject a serious burst of Scottishness into your big day, forget the tartan sashes and tablet and have a think about embracing Scotland’s wonderful water instead. From the pristine shores of crystalline seas to the vibrancy of city centre quays, there’s something amazing out there for every couple. That’s why we’ve decided that this week’s Incredible Scottish Wedding Venue is going to be a selection of Scotland’s quays, seas and waterways. Here’s why we’re LOVING nautical but nice weddings so much:
• Unique & unusual
• Ridiculously romantic
• Amazing photography opportunities
• Suits all budgets
• Perfect for adventure wedding seekers
• Something for every couple
We know what you’re thinking. The reason there’s so much water in Scotland is because Scotland gets ALL the rain, and yes, it’s true, we definitely get our fair share; however, it’s super easy to make peace with the rain when the outcome is a country SO fertile and gorgeous that everybody seems to want a piece of its otherworldly nooks and crannies, and we don’t blame them one bit. So, without further ado, here’s some of Scotland’s most wondrous waterside places to say ‘I Do’…
Scotland’s sensational city quays have seen significant regeneration in recent years and nowadays you’re more likely to see a Michelin Star restaurant or trendy art gallery than a ship-chandler or net store. The past, however, has not been entirely swept away as there are some magnificent ships docked in Scottish city quays that fully embrace their nautical heritage and guess what, many of them are available for weddings.
Check out Dundee’s historic HM Frigate Unicorn, the oldest British-built warship where you can enjoy welcome drinks on the Gun Deck, your ceremony on the Top Deck and your wedding breakfast in the Captain’s Cabin! Or how about treating your guests to a day onboard the luxurious Fingal anchored in Edinburgh’s trendy Shore district. The Fingal began its life as a lighthouse tender, transporting supplies and equipment to some of the most treacherous locations in Scotland, but has since been transformed into the ultimate luxury and the perfect place for a five-star slice of boaty bliss.
One of our favourite examples of quayside goals can be found proudly docked in Pointhouse Quay, Glasgow. The Glenlee or ‘Tall Ship’ first took to the water as a bulk cargo carrier in 1896 and circumnavigated the globe four times. The Tall Ship offers a unique combination of 19th century nautical charm alongside all the mod cons you’d expect from a popular wedding venue. The space is a complete blank canvas allowing for creative couples to really inject their personalities onto the venue.
Scotland’s meandering rivers pass through historic villages, towns and cities and the wildest of glens and open spaces, so who wouldn’t want a bit of riverside glory on their big day!
If this is you, why not take a look at Scotland’s oldest inn, the Kenmore Hotel? Overlooking the longest river in Scotland, the Tay, couples will be treated to one of the most idyllic locations in Perthshire. Or, if you’d like to exchange vows further north, check out the gorgeous and ultra-exclusive Aldourie Castle, which sits on the banks of the wide and fast flowing River Ness.
One of our favourite riverside venues is the small, but perfectly formed Ossian’s Hall of Mirror in the Hermitage of Dunkeld. Built for the Duke of Atholl in 1758, this tiny circular building is perfect for elopements and micro-weddings. Sitting upon a rocky outcrop overlooking the turbulent River Braan and Black Linn Falls, couples can take their ceremony on the balcony overlooking the water with up to 30 guests. Alternatively, upwards of 100 guests can gather beneath a cathedral-like canopy of some of Scotland’s tallest and grandest trees to witness you declare your love.
Ludicrously Lovely Lochs
Scotland’s 31,000 lochs are peppered all over the country. From small mountain and island lochs to ginormous beasts like Loch Ness or Loch Morar, choosing the perfect lochside ceremony location can be overwhelming to say the least.
How about exchanging vows on the bonnie, bonnie banks of Loch Lomond? We love the Cruin near Arden, which offers undisturbed views across the loch towards mighty Ben Lomond. If the weather is fair, couples can take their vows on the jetty which protrudes out into the loch. Or, if one loch isn’t enough, how about embracing a three-in-one at one of Scotland’s most iconic castles, Eilean Donan, which is situated under the shadow of mountains between three sea lochs?
High on our lochside lovefest is Altskeith House near Aberfoyle, which is located on its very own private beach on the banks of Loch Ard. This spacious country house is just as perfect for elopements for two as it is for large weddings of up to 120 guests where the entire house can be exclusively yours. Ceremonies can be held on the lochside beach or within the secluded garden grounds overlooking the Ard.
With three coastlines and almost eight hundred islands dotted just off the mainland, Scotland offers rich pickings for couples on the hunt for the perfect pebbles on which to exchange vows. With so much choice, it’s almost impossible to choose, but here are some of our favourites to get the beach wedding inspiration flowing.
The northwest Highlands and Islands offer some of the most incredible beaches in Europe so it’s definitely a good idea to consider this area. Two of our favourites for elopers are Camusdarach Beach near Arisaig and Luskentyre on the island of Harris where the silver sand, golden sunsets and turquoise sea will have you thinking you’re in a completely different country! If you have a bigger guest list, why not head south along the east coast to the wondrous Harvest Moon in East Lothian where couples can enjoy a festival inspired beach wedding weekend and guests can occupy a number of treehouses, beach huts and cosy cottages.
We’re total fangirls of the former farm steading, Kinkell Byre, which has been converted into a charmingly spacious wedding venue which is the perfect spot for couples on the lookout for a rustic venue. Situated on the coast near St Andrews, couples can take their vows in the grounds overlooking the North Sea; however, if the weather turns inclement, Kinkell Byre has recently installed a glorious glass door at the bar and reception area, allowing for wonderful sea views from inside the byre. Bliss.
Scotland’s canals have a unique place in the history of canal building and the majority are over 200 years old. The slow pace of canal life makes for the ultimate relaxed wedding day, but with 135 miles of canal network to be explored, how do you know where’s best to tie the knot?
Constructed with 21st century, state-of-the-art engineering, the Falkirk Wheel is the world’s only rotating boat lift and was designed to link the Union, Forth and Clyde Canals. If you are a couple on the lookout for a modern, bright and spacious venue with a waterside location, you might not be aware that you can actually get married in the visitor centre of this magnificent feat of engineering! Alternatively, if you’d rather be on a boat on your big day, you couldn’t find a more spectacular voyage than that of the Caledonian Canal. Starting in Inverness and finishing in Fort William, two wooden barges run by Caledonia Discovery are available for hire where you can either say your vows aboard or anchor somewhere glorious along the incredible route.
One of our favourite canal ceremony options is onboard the purple dream machine, the Lochrin Belle. This beautiful barge is located in the Fountainbridge area of Edinburgh from where you and up to 35 guests will be gently skippered along the pretty Union Canal.
Feature photograph – Luskentyre Beach on Harris by Andrew Rae Photography.