Want to feel like royalty for the day? With venues like these in Aberdeenshire, you’ll be ruling the aisle in style!
Scotland is famous the world over for its romantic castles, and Balmoral, the royal family’s home from home north of the border, is one of the best known of them all. The bad news is that the Aberdeenshire landmark is not available to every William, George and Harry (sorry) who wants it as a wedding venue. The good news is that there are many equally splendid castles and stately homes across the region that you can have for your day, which will still give you a very authentic royal feel.
First up for a glittering, fairytale celebration is Ardoe House Hotel & Spa, a 19th-century baronial mansion just outside Aberdeen. The turreted house was actually modelled on Balmoral, and events coordinator Eilidh Findlay tells us that its 30 acres of grounds provide an “excellent backdrop” for photographs and mingling. “Ardoe is a wonderful blend of regal and modern,” she says. “Our mansion house has an elegant, regal atmosphere, but as you move through to the function rooms and bedrooms the decor becomes more modern.”
To channel a contemporary feel to complement the traditional setting, she suggests looking at recent royal weddings for inspiration.
“I would recommend going for simple, elegant decor – the likes of lace, big flowers, chandeliers and maybe even a horse-drawn carriage,” says the wedding expert. “It would be easy to go over the top or stray into old-fashioned territory when you’re trying to achieve a regal theme, so look at some of the more recent royal weddings to see how the younger princes and princesses incorporate both traditional and modern elements.”
A 40-minute drive west of Aberdeen is the picturesque paradise of Cluny Castle. Surrounded by acres of wooded parkland, this is still a family home, but one glance shows its suitability for regal romance. And that’s before you spot the little church hiding in the grounds; it channels the same vibe as the OG royal wedding venue of choice, the Chapel Royal in St James’s Palace, London.
Cluny’s Fiona Jones is well aware of what a draw this is: “Having a stunning on-site chapel really sets Cluny apart,” she tells us. “It can seat up to 100 guests and we welcome all types of ceremonies, not just religious ones. It has beautiful stained-glass windows and dark oak pews and is such a calm, warm place. It has a genuinely romantic atmosphere and is a truly magical setting in which to exchange your vows.”
If a royal garden party is more in line with your celebrations, the Falls of Feugh restaurant and function room near Banchory can accommodate a marquee in the grounds with room for up to 120 guests. No distinguished affair is complete without delightful canapés, and this Royal Deeside venue (clue is in the name!) uses fine Scottish produce fit for a king or queen. The food at this stylish venue has not yet had the royal seal of approval, but it has won plenty of accolades in recent years.