Pics or it didn’t happen: for those of us who belong to the Insta-generation, this has almost become a mantra. We’re snapping our coffees, our houseplants and the rare occasions when our winged eyeliner matches. So when it comes to tying the knot, you better believe we’re hunting for that perfect shot, writes Olivia Simpson…
Luckily, Scotland’s wedding venues are more than up to the challenge. We’ve rounded up some of the most ’gram-worthy locations, from flower-filled gardens to minstrels’ galleries, at venues across the country.
Culzean Castle, South Ayrshire (below left)
If I was asked to pick just one of the stunning locations at this seaside masterpiece as the standout photo op, I’d be crippled by indecision. Luckily, Rebecca Sloan from the venue is a stronger woman than me. “Without a doubt the ‘don’t-miss’ shot at Culzean is the Roman-inspired ruined arch with the viaduct and castle as a backdrop,” she claims. “Perched on a clifftop with spectacular views of Ailsa Craig and the Isle of Arran, Culzean Castle offers a romantic coastal setting for weddings. With opulent interiors, formal gardens and fruit-filled glasshouses, the opportunities are endless if you’re getting married here.”
Aikwood Tower, Scottish Borders (above right)
“The beautifully renovated Aikwood Tower building really speaks for itself,” smiles Vicki Steel, proud owner of this magnificent 500-year-old fortified tower house near Selkirk. “Photographs in the garden with the tower in the distance, by the old front door or with the front of the tower in full view are always spectacular. This really is a very special place: it has a definite charm and the setting creates a very intimate, relaxed wedding occasion. The sensitive restoration makes this a warm and welcoming home from home – the balance of history and contemporary accommodation provides a very romantic backdrop and has a serious ‘wow’ factor that you won’t get anywhere else.”
Rosebery House, Midlothian
Party like royalty (well, like the aristocracy anyway) with a wedding at Rosebery House. The impressive mansion is the holiday home of the Primrose family, Earls of Rosebery and Midlothian, and is available to hire on an exclusive-use basis. Just 30 minutes from Edinburgh and with space to sleep up to 20 people, it’s an ideal place to escape with the gang and get hitched in comfort and style.
“This magnificent mansion home blends luxury, elegance and heritage,” notes Louisa Kerr, head of sales and marketing at Rosebery Venues. The tasteful interiors mean your pictures are sure to look the part even if the weather forces you indoors, but should the sun shine, you’re truly spoiled for choice, with Louisa suggesting an intimate portrait session in the stone doorway or out in the gardens.
Boclair House, Glasgow
“The style of our building is definitely a huge reason why people choose to host their big day at Boclair,” says the Bearsden venue’s Lindsay. “The gorgeous architecture makes a stunning backdrop, and the staircase is just as good for group moments as it is for intimate photos of the newlyweds. We’ve seen so many gorgeous, special photos in front of our mansion house.”
Rosebery Steading, Midlothian (below left)
Our love affair with barn venues shows no sign of letting up, so it’s always good to see a venue that offers a particularly special take on the trend. Rosebery Steading, which has been transformed from a 200-year-old ‘farm toun’, is doing just that, by putting a truly luxurious spin on the agricultural style. “The 18th-century steading courtyard has been lovingly restored and is set in private grounds and rolling countryside,” explains Louisa Kerr, head of sales and marketing. For elegantly rustic wedding snaps, she recommends framing your photos beneath the historic steeple.
The Merchants’ Hall, Edinburgh (above right)
With a central location in Edinburgh’s New Town, the A-listed Merchants’ Hall proves that you don’t need to head to the countryside for truly spectacular shots. Here, it’s all about gorgeous Georgian and Victorian architecture, with unique details such as the Minstrels’ Gallery. “Carefully restored, ornately panelled and pillared and featuring a fabulous domed ceiling, the Hall is adorned with plasterwork friezes and decorated with portraits and sculptures of the Merchant Company’s illustrious founders and benefactors,” explains events and marketing manager Erin Gardiner. “The Minstrels’ Gallery can be used to host your musicians, your speeches and even your bouquet toss! Your photographer will love it as it’s such a good place to get bird’s-eye-view shots.”
Lynnhurst Hotel, Renfrewshire
Florals for spring may not be groundbreaking, but gardens that look truly spectacular all year round? Now that’s another matter. “Our landscape gardeners take great care of the space, meaning it’s photo-ready in every season,” says Tara, wedding and events co-ordinator at the Lynnhurst. ”Our gardens offer so many beautiful picture opportunities, from the wedding pagoda to the romantic bridge crossing the water feature.”
Broxmouth Courtyard, East Lothian
As much as it pains me to admit as a Glaswegian, there are many reasons to head east for your wedding, not least of which is the increased chance of fair weather on the day. Should the sun be shining, you’d be hard pushed to find a better place to say ‘I do’ than under Broxmouth Park Estate’s imposing 500-year-old cedar of Lebanon.
“The tree’s silhouette and expansive canopy makes such an impressive wedding backdrop,” agrees venue owner Simon Flame. “You can choose to say ‘I do’ at a ceremony under the ancient cedar, or use it as a post-wedding photo location, with couples exchanging vows in Broxmouth Courtyard, our brand-new purpose-built luxury wedding venue which opened its doors this spring.”
Rufflets St Andrews, Fife
The gardens at this St Andrews favourite were laid out by John Donald Mills, who was also responsible for designs at Balmoral Castle. They have been developed in recent years to help the venue become more sustainable, with an expansion to the kitchen garden and wildflower areas. So it’s no wonder that couples are keen to make the most of the grounds for their wedding pics: “Our couples really like the West Garden gate, which is about 50 yards from the front of the hotel,” says the venue’s Louise Turner.
“Pictures can be taken from both sides of the gate, giving very different views, and the foliage and flowers vary dramatically across the seasons. To the right of the gate is a small stone memorial bench which is a lovely spot to set up a bouquet shot.”
The Busby Hotel, Glasgow
Just a short drive from the centre of Glasgow, this smart hotel boasts both a convenient location and several impressive outdoor spaces. There are many beautiful spots within the grounds, but for Megan Ferris, the Busby’s wedding and events co-ordinator, the exclusive-use balcony is hard to beat: “It’s accessed from the main wedding suite, so couples and their guests can easily pop out to get photos. It’s beautiful in all seasons, and the romantic, twinkling lights make the pictures so special.”
Firth Pavilion at Seamill Hydro, Ayrshire
Want the option of boho pics on the beach and elegant shots in manicured grounds? Put a visit to this versatile venue in the diary. Marketing manager Caroline Christie explains the appeal: “Our venue enjoys an imposing elevated position on the Ayrshire coast, with direct access to the sandy beach and stunning views of over 100 square miles of land and sea. We have also gone to great lengths to create wonderful landscaped gardens full of colour and photo opportunities.”
Dalswinton Estate Weddings, Dumfries
“Looking on to the loch and providing a natural archway for outdoor ceremonies in our stunning gardens, our beautiful walled garden doorway is the perfect place for our couples to snap some gorgeous photos,” suggests the venue’s Natasha Thomson. With a state-of-the-art marquee to host your reception, plus numerous must-see locations across the grounds (such as the fairytale red chapel), a wedding at Dalswinton is ideal for those looking to connect with nature on their special day.