Did you know that the number of Brits who consider themselves non-religious rose by a mighty 46% in the seven years between 2011 and 2018? That means that over 25 million people in the UK are now self-defined as non-religious! Naturally, this societal shift has had a knock-on effect on the type of wedding ceremonies couples are looking to embrace on their big day, and in Scotland, where Humanist wedding ceremonies have been legally recognised since 2005, the statistics speak for themselves. While the new kid on the block (the Humanist ceremony) gobbled up a whopping 49% chunk of the 2018 Scottish ceremony market, religious ceremonies fell to just 28%.
So, you’re not religious in any way and you’re fully sold on a highly personalised, one-of-a-kind Humanist ceremony, but what happens if you’ve always dreamt of the church wedding experience? You know the one where you shimmy down a pew and pillar-lined aisle to be met by your truelove beaming beneath a ginormous stained-glass window? What if you’ve swooned over the aesthetics, acoustics and atmosphere of church weddings since your five-year-old self strutted about with her veil (aka granny’s lace tablecloth) pinned to her head?
If this is you, then fear not as it’s perfectly possible to have your cake and eat it and we’re saying a massive AMEN to that! This week’s ‘Incredible Scottish Wedding Venue’ is none other than East Lothian’s, Seton Collegiate Church. Here’s why we’re loving this venue so much:
- Picture perfect, inside & outside
- Steeped in history
- Available for Humanist ceremonies
- Edinburgh (30 minutes) & Glasgow (1 hour)
- Suitable for up to 100 guests or tiny elopements
- Situated in close proximity to East Lothian & Edinburgh’s exceptional reception venues
- No styling required (it’s pretty enough)
- A photographer’s dream (check out Christine McNally’s gorgeous snaps below)
- Sits within gloriously romantic garden grounds
If there was ever such a thing as a hidden gem, Seton Collegiate Church is certainly it. Blink and you’ll miss it!
Travelling east along the A198 from Musselburgh, one could easily drive straight by the tiny signpost which directs visitors to the tree-covered church carpark; however, our advice to you is definitely DON’T miss it, because that signpost is well worth looking out for if you’re on the hunt for a gorgeous non-religious church wedding venue!
Seton Collegiate Church is one of the finest surviving medieval collegiate churches in Scotland and dates as far back as the 15th Century. Historic Scotland has looked after this incredibly pretty building ever since it became deconsecrated in the mid-20th Century and since 2005 hundreds of Humanist wedding ceremonies have taken place within its ancient stone walls.
From the carpark, your wedding guests will be in for a treat as they take the delightful 200m woodland walk towards the church. As guests leave the tunnel of ancient trees behind, a veritable oasis of tranquillity opens out before them where Seton Collegiate Church sits peacefully within a walled garden surrounded by ancient ruins, manicured lawns and cottage-style flower borders jam-packed with blooms and butterfly bushes. The entire vibe of the garden grounds seem to be based on an atmosphere of romance and the church itself does not disappoint in that department either!
Occupying a sunny position on a t-shaped footprint, this medieval BEAUTY has seen its fair share of drama over its long life, which has resulted in it being stripped of many of its churchy artefacts and furnishings, including the pews and altar, which were burnt to oblivion! Therefore, in comparison to other churches of its age, Seton Collegiate is quite a stripped back affair, but tragic as this part of the church’s history is, its sparse interior actually works as a bit of a bonus for style savvy brides and grooms-to-be who are looking for a venue on which to put their own stamp. Cue visions of chiavari chairs, rustic benches or even colour-popping deckchairs for seating, or how about some serious floral, foliage & light installations? The world of wedding design is your oyster!
That said, the plethora of magnificent architectural features within the church do all the talking, so there’s really no need to go overboard if that’s not your thing. Three large stained-glass windows flood the interior of the “Choir” area with glorious natural light drawing the eyes to the tremendous vaulted ceiling and apse which towers over elaborate carvings & stonework.
Couples can marry in the Choir with up to 100 guests, or for those looking for a micro-wedding/elopement venue, the “Sacristy” is a small, but incredibly atmospheric room which can be accessed from the Choir. The Sacristy is not only home to the tomb of the 2nd Lord Seton, it is also filled with ancient artefacts such as the 16th century Dutch bell, which previously hung in the church tower, and stonework in the form of priests seats and a piscina (a basin for rinsing sacred vessels)!
Although Seton Collegiate Church is only available for wedding ceremonies, the church carpark is large enough to accommodate a coach and several cars and is within minutes of some of East Lothian’s finest reception venues, not to mention just a half hour’s drive from Edinburgh city centre where there’s an unlimited amount of choice for reception dinners/parties.
Post-ceremony, couples are welcome to celebrate their newlywed status in the gorgeous garden grounds with a champagne toast and canapés.
Please note that although the woodland walk to the church is both buggy & wheelchair friendly, there are a number of steps to access both the church and WC.
If you’d like to take a look at some other Humanist ceremony friendly churches in Scotland, click here.
Fun fact: Arc – The Knight’s Templar was filmed here!
Couple: Danny & Jessica
Photographer: Christine McNally Photography