Get hitched in a city and your guests will be able to travel there with ease and hotel rooms are in plentiful supply. Plus, an urban soirée has a certain grown-up glamour that you just don’t get out in the sticks. Into the idea? Natasha Radmehr rounds up some of the coolest settings in Glasgow and Edinburgh…
InterContinental Edinburgh the George
A row of sophisticated Georgian townhouses make up this award-winning hotel in the capital. It has hosted an impressive list of famous folk in its various incarnations over the years, from Sir Walter Scott to Elizabeth Taylor, and when you step inside you’ll understand its enduring appeal.
Colonnades, cornicing and cupolas provide eye candy everywhere you look, and the main events space, the King’s Hall (capacity 200) is a real showstopper. “We are so lucky to have a wonderful staircase just outside the entrance to the hall that our couples and wedding parties love to use for their photographs on the day,” says Martina Saba of the meetings and events team. “The King’s Hall itself is full of historic original features such as a stunning chandelier right above the dancefloor.”
Cheval the Edinburgh Grand
If Carrie Bradshaw was getting hitched in Edinburgh, this is where she’d do it. With its five-star serviced apartments, supremely elegant decor and space for a hand-picked guest list of 40, Cheval the Edinburgh Grand is for couples who like things to be chic and personal.
“The history and nature of our quirky spaces makes them ideal for intimate weddings and celebrations, while being easily accessible for anyone travelling,” says Barbara Turska, event sales executive. “And it’s important to add that we’re not a venue with a preordained set of bronze, silver and gold packages. This flexibility allows us to work with our guests to reflect their personality and wishes and make their wedding unique.”
Balmoral Hotel, Edinburgh
Whether you’re planning a wee wedding or an extravagant celebration for 160, consider this regal Edinburgh venue. As well as ten event spaces and an array of luxe bedrooms and suites in which to sleep off the excesses of the night before, it has a feeling of traditional grandeur throughout, thanks to its elegant pillars and fireplaces, and large windows with views of the castle and the Scott Monument.
Stop by the sweeping staircase for photos against the stained-glass windows, and take advantage of your exclusive access to the rooftop. Despite being in the heart of the capital, you won’t notice the bustle outside. “For its stunning city-centre location, the Balmoral retains a surprising sense of peace and refined sophistication – the grand, original features offer a space that is unlike any other,” says the venue’s wedding planner, Lauren Delemarre.
Virgin Hotels Edinburgh
Fancy getting married at a luxurious venue none of your pals will have tied the knot in?Edinburgh’s Old Town is preparing for something new as the recently opened Virgin Hotel gets set to take wedding bookings from this October. And trust us: it’s worth waiting for. Think Victorian architecture, a rooftop terrace with views of the castle, and tastefully glamorous interiors.
Ceremonies and receptions will be held in Greyfriars Hall (capacity 150 guests), a 19th-century B-listed church with a vaulted ceiling, which has been restored to its former glory. “Greyfriars Hall and 18 of our bedrooms can be privatised for your very own exclusive-use venue,” tips Emma Jackson, regional director of sales. “Our grand honeymoon suite, the Eve Branson Suite, is particularly special as it situated in the church under the original octagonal tower.”
The Haberdashery, Glasgow
Blank-canvas venues are usually squirrelled away in the countryside, so we were delighted to discover the Haberdashery right in the beating heart of Glasgow’s Charing Cross. Its name is a nod to its former life as a women’s tailor in the 1920s, and owners Nikki Fairfull and Afton Ferguson were keen to preserve its industrial roots.
“We loved the idea of providing a versatile, creative space that gives couples the freedom to personalise their wedding day and do something different,” they say. Exposed stone walls, original hardwood flooring, high ceilings and marble pillars make it a stylish and super-cool space that’ll suit any theme.
Love the look of historic wedding venues, but still fancy somewhere with more of a modern vibe? Citation could be just what you’re after. A striking neoclassical listed building in Glasgow’s Merchant City, this exclusive-use venue dates from 1844 and is fronted by towering sandstone columns. The interiors, however, are cool and contemporary. The fairy-lit Merchant Suite (capacity 130), where ceremonies take place, boasts exposed brick walls, a neutral palette and wooden flooring.
Evening receptions are held in the Taverne Bar (capacity 200). “It’s not your typical function room,” says wedding manager Louize Hollywood. “It’s more of a trendy bar with a mood-lit dancefloor.” There’s also an outdoor terrace that makes an ideal breakout spot on dry days.
23 Montrose Street, Glasgow
Your vows are the most important part of the wedding day, so why not exchange them in Glasgow’s most iconic ceremony venue? Part of the magnificent City Chambers complex, 23 Montrose Street is a trad venue with a modern twist and will suit couples whose weddings are on the intimate side. Although you can’t hold your reception here, you will find two special settings in which to tie the knot.
Say ‘I do’ in the Kelvin Room (capacity 33 guests), an elegant space with two chandeliers that sparkle in the abundant natural light, or go for the Clyde Room (capacity 15 guests), which has charming period features including a statement fireplace and arched windows. And, because it’s so central, you’ll have your pick of cool locations for your first photoshoot as newlyweds.
The North Rotunda, Glasgow
The silhouette of the North Rotunda is easily recognisable to anyone familiar with Glasgow’s Finnieston district. “It has been a major feature on the banks of the Clyde for more than 130 years and is a real staple in Glasgow’s history, so it has been amazing to offer couples the chance to host their wedding here,” smiles Kaitlin Campbell, sales and events manager.
The Finnieston Suite is the hub for your celebrations (capacity 125 for ceremony and meal, rising to 250 for the evening party). It’s a gorgeous space with its own dedicated entrance and a glass ceiling looking up to the building’s iconic dome. Good to know: with the cost-of-living crisis in mind, the venue has introduced some special offers such as free venue hire for weddings with more than 60 guests, reduced ceremony hire rates, and complimentary welcome drinks for every wedding.
Òran Mór, Glasgow
This former church in Glasgow’s West End is one of the city’s most vibrant entertainment venues, and the team that run it know a thing or two about throwing an epic celebration. The auditorium, with its stained-glass windows and original stonework, offers an atmospheric backdrop for ceremonies with up to 140 guests, and come evening you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better dancefloor for a proper knees-up.
Up to 250 people can party there at night, and a late licence means festivities can happily stretch into the wee hours. Planning a smaller do? Hire the Gallery (capacity 32 guests). “It’s at the highest point in the building, directly under our stunning Alasdair Gray mural, one of the largest pieces of public art in Scotland,” says Pauline Muir, the venue’s wedding manager.
National Piping Centre, Glasgow (below left)
This converted church in the centre of Glasgow combines stunning architecture with excellent transport links. “I had my own wedding here in 2018 and the location is one of the factors (along with great service and beautiful food) that made it the best day ever,” says Helen Urquhart, marketing and piping events manager.
The auditorium (capacity 120 guests) is where most couples celebrate; it has a high ceiling, spacious dancefloor and windows near the roof that allow the daylight to filter through softly. Smaller weddings with fewer than 40 attendees, meanwhile, can be hosted in the Pipers’ Tryst restaurant.
The venue has eight bedrooms on-site (“So you can turn it into your own private Highland hotel in the heart of the city,” says Helen) and is close to several hotels that’ll suit a range of budgets.
Riddle’s Court, Edinburgh (above right)
“Even though Riddle’s Court is right on the Royal Mile and a five-minute walk from Edinburgh Castle, you would never know it was there,” says marketing manager Roseanne Tye. “We’re tucked away down a romantic close and get plenty of peace as a result. Even when looking out over the dramatic Victoria Street and the rooftops of Edinburgh, it still feels like a little private hideaway.”
This oasis of calm, which can host weddings for up to 60 guests, has bags of character. A painted ceiling dating from the 1890s crowns the Geddes Room, where most couples get married; there are original working fireplaces in the bright and airy Library, the setting for wedding breakfasts and evening receptions; and a curved pentice stairway in the courtyard makes a unique photo spot.