Revel in the buzz of a wedding in the heart of one of Scotland’s unique urban locations
Words Claire Muir
Castles are wild and romantic. Barns are fun and quirky. Country-house hotels are grown-up and opulent. So why is it that so many of us choose to host our wedding celebrations in the middle of a town or city? Well, for a start, there’s the ambience, the history and the vibrant streetscapes (which your photographer will love).
Then there are the practicalities: hotels for every budget and taste are just a stone’s throw away, transport links are frequent and straightforward, and ‘emergency services’ (extra can of hairspray or last-minute lingerie, anyone?) are on the doorstep.
And that’s without mentioning the remarkable venues themselves – from hidden spots steeped in history to fashionable establishments famed for fine dining. It’s hard to resist when romance, fun and glamour are all wrapped up in one – with a few added extras on top. Here’s our pick for the modern metropolitan couple.
1. The Hub
Occupying a prime spot on Edinburgh’s atmospheric Royal Mile and towering over the bustling Old Town, The Hub has a truly impressive location. An award-winning blend of classic Victorian architecture and contemporary design, the building is an iconic part of the capital’s skyline and, naturally, lends itself to some pretty spectacular snaps.
“No two weddings here are ever the same,” says Hannah Watson, wedding and private events sales co-ordinator. “The Hub can cater to a variety of guest numbers (up to 250), with many stunning spaces. The Sculpture Hall, featuring a dramatic sweeping staircase, provides a magnificent setting for photographs, while the private fourth-floor terrace boasts breathtaking views across the city.”
2. Trades Hall of Glasgow
If you’re Glasgow born and bred and love the idea of giving a little something back, look no further than the Trades Hall – the money generated from events held here goes towards charitable causes. Of course, the Merchant City-based space absolutely earns its place in the top urban venue list, too.
The glorious exclusive-use building holds up to 250 guests in six distinctive spaces that can be hired individually or as a combination. Decked out in Victorian style, the Grand Hall drips with baroque chandeliers, while the Saloon offers a backdrop of mahogany-panelled walls, stained-glass windows and a focal marble fireplace.
“You’ll have the freedom to bring your theme to life within the venue,” promises wedding manager Laura Cook. “You can tailor-make your own day or choose from our midweek or weekend packages.”
3. Òran Mór and 4. Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh
Looking for a city venue where the party never ends? Then head to Òran Mór (left), where the champagne flows and the dancefloor’s open till 2am. The converted church, at the top of Byres Road, offers direct access to Glasgow’s buzzing west end: “Many of our couples take advantage of the surroundings and have their photos taken in the stunning grounds of the Botanic Gardens, along picturesque Ashton Lane or even in the quirky local bistros and delis,” says wedding co-ordinator Pauline Muir. Whether you want an intimate affair for a handful of guests or a banquet for up to 276 people, nothing is too much for Òran Mór‘s award-winning wedding planner, expert chefs and famously friendly staff.
Whether you want it to be just the two of you when you tie the knot, or to say ‘I do’ in front of a crowd of up to 180, the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh (right) could be the destination of your dreams. Tucked away in the capital’s New Town, it offers an exquisite backdrop with its characterful Victorian and Georgian rooms full of imposing original architectural features. Events co-ordinator Gillian Carmichael explains: “With the high ornate ceilings of the New Library and its wealth of antique books, the grand golden pillars in the Great Hall, and our access to Queen Street Gardens, the College really is a special venue.”
5. 29 Glasgow
It’s all about personalisation at 29 Glasgow, which offers couples a quartet of different spaces with distinct looks, from period details with exposed brick and wooden floors to sleek, contemporary finishes. These can be used throughout the day to keep providing guests with the wow factor.
The multifaceted venue in the heart of the city at Royal Exchange Square has capacity for an impressive 220, but is suited to intimate weddings, too. Wedding co-ordinator Louize Hollywood says: “We’re an exclusive-use venue, ideal for outdoor weddings in our roof garden. We’re also licensed for fireworks and have special offers for those on a budget.”
6. 1599 at the Royal College
“This is a stunning traditional venue packed full of history and charm, with a capacity of 120 for the wedding breakfast and 180 for evening receptions,” says 1599’s business development manager Stephanie Beattie.
Part of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow, on St Vincent’s Street in the heart of the city centre, the venue will be exclusively yours for the whole day. Each function room tells a part of the College’s story through its distinctive period features and specially selected collections.
7. Riddle’s Court
An historic location, Riddle’s Court combines contemporary design and centuries-old architecture in a truly romantic setting, with well-dressed rooms and intimate courtyards, all conveniently located in Edinburgh’s Old Town.
Couples have the option of two ceremony venues (the grand 80-capacity Geddes Room or the more intimate Seton Room, which hosts just 30). Meanwhile, the Library Room, with a capacity of 80 seated and 120 for an evening reception, provides a rich and colourful canvas for the rest of the day.
“As part of our wedding package, couples also enjoy two nights in the King’s Chamber, our renovated apartment, which was once the hall in which King James VI of Scotland hosted a royal banquet,” adds marketing manager Sheila Masson.
8. Low Parks Museum and 9. The Merchants’ Hall
Have you found the perfect place in South Lanarkshire for your wedding reception but are still hunting for a chic ceremony venue? Check out the centrally located Assembly Room in Low Parks Museum (left). Part of the oldest building in Hamilton, this 80-guest capacity venue offers an elegant and classic experience with timeless simplicity.
Museum officer Linda Barrett explains how the big day works: “Guests pass through exhibition galleries before reaching the 18th-century Assembly Room. The bride can give herself a final check in the magnificent gilt mirror, which once hung in Hamilton Palace. Afterwards, the Courtyard Garden adjacent to the Assembly Room provides a private setting for photographs and a chance for guests to enjoy a celebratory drink.”
If you want to save time, money or energy on the decor side of things, get a show-round at the Merchants’ Hall (right) in your diary. A Scottish treasure when it comes to art and architecture, the 19th-century building is completely wedding-ready. The Main Hall – with its grand domed ceiling – has ornate panels and pillars, is adorned with plasterwork friezes and is decorated with portraits and sculptures.
It provides space for 150 daytime guests and a further 180 in the evening and sits just a stone’s throw from Princes Street Gardens in the heart of the festival city. “The Merchants’ Hall provides that all-important wow factor,” says events and marketing co-ordinator Erin Gardiner. “It’s a unique city-centre venue steeped in fascinating history, and offers packages to suit all budgets.”
10. The National Piping Centre
Offering the vibe of a traditional Highland house party in an ultra-convenient setting, The National Piping Centre is a romantic venue with a unique Scottish twist – guests can mingle in the Museum of Piping for pre-dinner bubbles: “People have the opportunity to learn the history of the Highland bagpipe along with having a go at trying to play the instrument,” explains senior manager Caitlin Houston.
Just five minutes from Glasgow city centre, the venue has a spacious auditorium, accommodating up to 120 guests during the day and a further 130 at night. Alternatively, ceremonies for between 25 and 40 guests take place in the Blue Room, with the wedding breakfast in the Pipers’ Tryst restaurant.
11. Rutherglen Town Hall
Looking for five-star service without the price tag? Then look no further – the dedicated team at Rutherglen Town Hall pride themselves in providing outstanding customer care: “We’re here to make sure your wedding is exactly how you want it to be, not how we want it,” explains events co-ordinator Rebecca Batchelor.
The Grade A-listed venue dates back to the 1800s and, following a massive upgrade 12 years ago, earned its place as a five-star arts venue from VisitScotland. Now, the beautiful, exclusive-use space (which boasts a capacity of 150 during the day and 200 at night) showcases an atmospheric blend of old and new with its historic Grand Hall and sophisticated mezzanine bar.
12. The Chester Hotel
Set in Aberdeen’s leafy west end, the Chester is just a stroll from the heart of the Granite City and offers an ultra-modern event space for up to 300. There are flexible wedding packages, 50 luxurious bedrooms and suites, and impressive cuisine that has won plenty of awards, including two AA Rosettes.
“We’re the perfect venue for a chic, city wedding,” says events manager Ngaire Stanaway. “Our wedding planners will help to turn your dreams into reality, with all the advice and inspiration you need.”