Olivia Simpson rounds up some of Scotland’s best wedding venues that know how to deliver small weddings with a lot of impact, but still have the ability and space required to throw an all-out celebration too. What more could you ask for?
Restoration Yard, Dalkeith
Nestled in the middle of Dalkeith Country Park, Restoration Yard marries resplendent 18th-century architecture with a relaxed, rustic atmosphere. “Our beautiful Orangerie is a gorgeous setting for an intimate outdoor ceremony and drinks reception,” shares Shelley Gibson from the venue. “Our couples can marry within this historic structure and their guests’ chairs can be arranged around it in family groups to keep everyone safe.” And since the Scottish weather can never be relied upon to give the perfect conditions for an alfresco ceremony, the venue can offer its beautiful 90-capacity converted loft as a wet-weather option. There’s also the Boudoir, with room for just 20, that boasts Chinoiserie wallpaper.
Cambo House and Estate, Fife
With spaces ranging from The Tattie Shed, which can host 200+ people, to the smoking room, a cosy living room with a large fireplace and all sorts of trinkets and treasures, Fife’s Cambo Estate knows how to play with scale.
“We liaise with our couples to help them create a wedding that can be flexible,” says the venue’s Louise Walker. “Each of our venue spaces can adapt with number changes. As the venue is hired on an exclusive use basis, the couples can pick any space they wish for different parts of the day.”
The Corinthian Club, Glasgow
This Glasgow city-centre venue is characterful, glamorous and extremely well prepared to host your wedding under changing restrictions. “We are lucky enough to have so much space that should numbers change, we can adjust layouts and set ups in rooms to accommodate for more guests,” says the Corinthian’s Lauren Berry.
From purpose-built wedding suite The Flying Scotsman, which can host up to 200 guests and displays many of the listed building’s original features, to the Laird’s Room, a snug dining space for 16 to 20 guests (and with many more rooms in between), whether you’re planning for a big bash in the future or a downsized do in the short term, you can bet your bottom dollar (and you actually can at its in-house casino) that The Corinthian Club has a space that’ll work for you.
“There is more to our exclusive-use venue than first meets the eye…” winks Daniel Parker from Abercairny, a venue based around a courtyard with restored Gothic features near Crieff. With spectacular exterior and large Dining Room, you’d be forgiven for thinking Abercairny was all about high-impact, big guest list weddings, but wander the snaking halls, and visitors will find many a hidden treasure, with intimate rooms perfect for setting up bars or photo booths. “Illuminated stained glass, ornate ironwork and gilt-framed paintings ensure that even our smaller spaces never feel less than splendid, “ assures Daniel.
With history as a court building stretching back to the 1840s, stunning neoclassical architecture and an enviable location in Glasgow’s Merchant City, exclusive-use venue Citation offers excellent flexibility when it comes to restrictions in constant flux. “With the logical layout of our building, it is very easy to adapt it to suit smaller parties,” explains Louize Hollywood, Citation’s weddings co-ordinator.
“Our beautiful Merchant Suite on the first floor of the building can host both smaller or larger parties. It is a two-sided space with a stunning open-plan staircase in the middle, therefore if numbers decreased, enforcedly or otherwise, we could use just one side instead of the whole space.”
Glen Clova Hotel and Lodges, Angus
The team at Glen Clova know exactly how hard this year has been for couples planning a wedding. “Over the course of this year, we have had many weddings that had originally planned to have 100+ guests who have had to adjust, often several times,” says Glen Clova’s Mhairi Preston. “We are there to try to make it as easy as possible for all our wedding couples.”
With small, medium and larger spaces, this Cairngorms hotel can facilitate these changes better than most, and its team knows exactly how to make each area look its best. “We go to all lengths to make sure that the smaller spaces feel as special and as grand as the bigger spaces, and larger ones feel intimate and cosy,” explains Mhairi.
Duntarvie Castle, West Lothian
Capable of seating 200 for a big soiree, the blank-canvas marquee at Duntarvie Castle can be separated into smaller sections, either to demarcate areas across the course of the day, or to make sure a smaller group still feels cosy and comfortable in the larger venue. If you’re wondering how to make the space feel your own, Tricia Edie, who handles events at Duntarvie, says the key is illumination: “Our various mood lighting options are a great way to bring atmosphere to the space.” The right lighting can add impact to a smaller space, bestowing it with the all important wow-factor. It can also bring an air of intimacy to an event that’s full-capacity, with separate spaces made to feel more cohesive thanks to well-considered lighting. What’s more, with ever-changing restrictions, a dry hire could make financial sense: “As a blank-canvas venue, we charge for the hire of the space only. We can discuss changes at any time along the process.”
The Torrance Hotel, East Kilbride
With its main function suite recently refurbished and looking better than ever, East Kilbride’s Torrance Hotel is firmly back on the radar for those seeking a venue with great transport links for guests coming from in and around the Central Belt. With two rooms to choose from, the venue’s team can work with the couple and local suppliers to tailor your wedding to your needs.
“We are in constant contact with our couples and pride ourselves on working closely with suppliers to accommodate any changes to the current restrictions,” notes Susan Spence, Manorview’s group wedding and events manager. “If the couple are unable to host their wedding owing to restriction changes, then we offer a full postponement, with no price increases or administration fees.”
Ardgowan House, Inverkip
Think movie-star glamour is impossible to achieve with a wee wedding? Think again. Often used as a filming location, Inverkip’s Ardgowan House has welcomed actors including Bill Nighy and Benedict Cumberbatch and is ready to host your wedding, no matter the size. “With so many incredible spaces and backdrops to make use of, small really can be very special indeed here,” says events manager Lauren Deveney. “Our favourite thing about Ardgowan as a wedding venue is the flexibility that the house offers to personalise and plan your day to give your guests a real treat at each stage of your special day,” she continues. Well, if it’s good enough for Sherlock Holmes…
Bowfield Hotel and Country Club, Renfrewshire
“Bowfield Hotel and Country Club feels like escaping to somewhere totally relaxing, even though it’s just a short drive from Glasgow city centre,” says Susan Spence at Manorview Group. Adding to this sense of tranquility is the fact Bowfield hosts just one wedding per day: “This means our couples can choose what suits their needs best. We can also help with décor to set the scene for their perfect day,” explains Susan.
What’s more, the Renfrewshire venue offers a good deal of flexibility with four different rooms to choose from and the option to change guest numbers when affected by restrictions, with the couple only charged for the guests who attend. Need something extra to seal the deal? How about the prospect of a couple of days before or after the wedding spent enjoying the venue’s Aura Spa and outdoor hydropool? Now that does sound relaxing.
Think a beach wedding is off limits with foreign travel restricted? Not at Lodge on Loch Lomond on the bonnie banks. The smaller of its two wedding suites can be easily adapted to welcome a party of 20. It boasts picturesque views over Luss beach and the loch, as well as an outdoor space if the weather’s on your side.
Located in a private building, the larger wedding suite can accommodate up to 200 guests and has 19 guest bedrooms and access to the beach. “This suite is very versatile in terms of size and space, with floor-to-ceiling room dividers and partitioning able to create a bespoke fit for your wedding numbers,” notes the venue’s Sandra Cunningham. It seems life really is better on the beach.
Norton House Hotel, near Edinburgh
With six rooms to select from that can host two to 200, Norton House Hotel, on the outskirts of Edinburgh, knows how to bring out the best in its spaces. Kirsten King at the hotel tells us how: “It’s all about making the most of each room’s attributes to make the space feel special. In smaller spots, mirrors and additional lighting can make the room seem bigger; in larger suites, we can set up a lounge area or decorate an empty corner.”
The venue is also working hard to ensure its couples feel supported in their planning during this stressful time, with the option to postpone or hold a smaller celebration now and a full-on party later.