Words by Rosalind Erskine
Scotland has more than its fair share of stunning lochs, beaches and rivers, all which provide an unbeatable backdrop for beautiful photographs, with plenty of glorious castles and splendid country-house hotels sitting on their banks. We’ve rounded up some of the best waterfront wedding venues below.
The Big Wooden House, Arran
Architect William Gibson designed Greyholme, as the Big Wooden House was known, as his personal residence on the scenic isle of Arran. Surrounded by stunning views, the Arts and Crafts-style house sits beside the river with two beaches close by. Greyholme is ideal for an intimate celebration, with exclusive use of the house and grounds. 01770 700232.
Culzean Castle, Ayrshire
Set on a rugged cliff-top, the National Trust for Scotland’s Culzean Castle is surrounded by beautiful gardens and an extensive estate, and provides a romantic setting for a fairytale wedding at any time of year. Ceremonies can be held in the intimate Round Drawing Room, the grand Oval Staircase or in the exquisite terraced gardens. Afterwards, sip champagne in the Armoury before dinner in the State Dining Room. The Eisenhower Apartment at the top of the Castle, meanwhile, must be the most exclusive honeymoon suite in Scotland. It has six bedrooms and can accommodate up to 15 guests. 0844 493 2149.
Lodge on Loch Goil, Argyll
This intimate luxury venue sits between the shores of Loch Goil and a majestic backdrop of mountain scenery. Opulent furnishings and decor combine to make this five-star venue the perfect setting for a wedding celebration. The Lodge was built in 1864 and exudes the elegance of a bygone era thanks to its lovingly restored interiors and charming gardens. The magnificent Tree House is a lovely spot for a ceremony with a difference, while the Summerhouse, a secluded cottage on the shore, is a fabulous honeymoon retreat. 01301 703173.
The Granary, Edinburgh
Sitting in the heart of the atmospheric Leith docks, in a part of Edinburgh that is brimming with stylish bars and Michelin-starred restaurants, the Granary serves quality, hearty food such as local haggis and fresh homemade scones and shortbread, alongside premium beer, wine and cocktails. With comfortable function suites to hire, this cosy venue is perfect for an intimate wedding reception. 0131 554 9465.
Maryculter House Hotel, Aberdeen
A classic four-star hotel, just outside Aberdeen on the banks of the Dee, Maryculter House delivers a quality wedding service whether you want an intimate party for 12 or a grand wedding meal for 180. This is a place steeped in history and tradition – the hotel was founded on a site where the Knights Templar trained in the 13th century. It’s a wonderful chance to experience the lifestyle of the nobility in one of Scotland’s finest country-house hotels. 01224 732124.
Ness Castle Lodges
Set in a tranquil wooded spot between Loch Ness and Inverness, the superbly appointed Ness Castle Lodges are a wonderful place to host a wedding. Ness Castle itself holds a licence for civil ceremonies, and there are several locations in these beautiful grounds that would be ideal for tying the knot. Best suited to smaller weddings of up to 30 guests (with the ceremony in the River Lodge and the Wedding Breakfast in the Bothy), the estate is also happy to cater for up to 150 guests in a marquee overlooking the river. 07778 503350.
Seamill Hydro is one the most popular wedding venues in Ayrshire and prides itself on providing great attention to detail and the very highest levels of service, making each wedding special. The Victorian seafront hotel enjoys dramatic views over the Ayrshire countryside, the Firth of Clyde and its own manicured lawns, and the sandy beach is an unbeatable spot for capturing those all-important photographs. 01294 822217.
Fairfield House hotel
This luxurious four-star Victorian mansion on Ayr’s seafront has stunning views over the Firth of Clyde. It has recently been refurbished and given a stylish new look and a wonderfully intimate atmosphere. Sumptuously furnished and appointed, Fairfield House Hotel offers the luxurious yet comfortable hospitality of a traditional Scottish country house, backed up by every modern facility. 01292 267461.
Mar Hall, Renfrewshire
Mar Hall, a baronial mansion built in the 1840s, sits in a secluded spot overlooking the Clyde with views to the Kilpatrick hills, just ten miles from Glasgow airport. The hotel has played host to many amazing weddings, and prides itself on its high level of service and attention to detail. A personal wedding planner is on hand to guide couples through the process of turning their dreams into reality. The planners have a wealth of experience and knowledge and can organise cars, flowers, makeup and even a phenomenal fireworks display to wow you and your guests. On your wedding night, the Honeymoon Suite awaits with the hotel’s compliments: with its breathtaking views, four-poster bed and roll-top bath complete with Decleor goodies, you can relax and enjoy your first ‘official’ night as a couple. 0141 812 9999.
Portavadie Marina, on the shores of Loch Fyne just two hours from Glasgow, is a unique and very scenic place to get married. It is known for its beautiful waterfront venues and locally sourced food and has a wide range of accommodation that can be booked for the exclusive use of your party. Walk on the beach, indulge in some pampering or enjoy a seafood barbecue and sunset cocktails. Brides will love Tighnamara, the secluded eco-retreat on the beach. 01700 811075.
The famous five-star Turnberry Resort, one of the most unique and luxurious wedding destinations in Scotland, has a commanding position on the Ayrshire coast. It has 146 luxury rooms and four lavish suites, and offers sumptuous cuisine, some legendary links golf courses, a sparkling spa and a wealth of activities for the entire wedding party to enjoy. From a grand affair in the fabulous recently renovated Turnberry Suite to an intimate ceremony above the beach, Turnberry is a wedding venue of serene beauty. 01655 331000.
Mains of Taymouth
Nestled on the shores of Loch Tay and originally the home farm of Taymouth Castle, this family-run 120-acre estate in Perthshire prides itself on having some of the most luxurious self-catering accommodation in Scotland. If you are looking for something a little unusual for your wedding and would like to bring family and friends together for a few days of relaxing and celebrating, this could be the ideal place for you. There’s no rush to get everyone in and out in a day – you and your party can take your time enjoying the celebrations before and after the ceremony. The estate offers stunning and luxurious self-catering accommodation for you and your guests in large family houses with hot tubs and saunas, smaller family houses to escape from the throng and lovely boutique houses designed for the special couple themselves, with a four-poster bed, spa bathroom or hot tub. 01887 830226.
Rosslea Hall Hotel
The top-class facilities, picturesque views and excellent service at Helensburgh’s Rosslea Hall Hotel allow it to deliver unrivalled weddings. Its two attractive function suites, the Argyll and the Walkinshaw, can seat up to 120 guests, and the hotel offers a bespoke service with everything you need for a memorable day, from floral arrangements and a live DJ to special menus and drinks. Rosslea’s Winter Wonderland Wedding packages can add an extra touch of romance. 01436 439955.
Lochside House Hotel
Set in 20 acres overlooking the Loch of the Lowes in Cumnock, Ayrshire, the Lochside House Hotel boasts magnificent views of the surrounding countryside – this is the landscape that inspired Burns’s poetry. The Lochside is a hidden gem with an enchanting location – it’s no wonder it is an award-winning venue. From the initial meeting right up to the day of your reception, the hotel’s wedding coordinator will take the time to discuss your plans, guiding you through the running of the day and ensuring that your dreams are made a reality. All the staff at Lochside strive to provide the very best service and hospitality in a friendly and welcoming manner. 01290 333000.
A dramatic ruin overlooking Loch Ness, Urquhart Castle was once one of Scotland’s mightiest strongholds, and is a wildly atmospheric setting for a wedding. Its splendid vantage point on the banks of the country’s most famous loch affords Urquhart magnificent views, and the breathtaking scenery provides a spectacular backdrop for wedding photography. Run by Historic Scotland, the castle’s visitor centre, a stylish contemporary venue beside the ancient castle, which is floodlit in the evening, is a perfect choice for a memorable reception. 01456 450551.