Having the place to yourselves means you can let your hair down and really enjoy the day. We round up the best exclusive-use spots
You’ve spent an age planning your dream wedding, so why limit the festivities to just one day? Hiring an exclusive-use venue not only lets you celebrate your marriage with just your nearest and dearest (no outsiders allowed), but you also have the opportunity to stretch the party out over a few days – and therefore will have time to catch up with everyone properly. Scotland has a fine array of venues that can be hired on an exclusive-use basis. Here are some of our favourites:
Winton Castle is an impressive country pile hidden gem close to Pencaitland in East Lothian. It’s also a seriously romantic place. “Winton is an historic wedding venue that blends castle and palace,” says the venue’s Christopher Lamotte. If you exchange vows here, you’ll be one of an exclusive group, as Christopher explains: “By limiting the number of weddings we hold here each year, we ensure that Winton Castle is still something of a well-kept secret.” Those planning on inviting a big crowd are in luck: up to 220 guests can party here in the evening, and the castle has an amazing six interconnecting reception rooms so there’s plenty of space. As for overnight stays, as many as 42 people can be accommodated in Winton’s stylish bedrooms.
Boclair House Hotel
Boclair House Hotel, in Bearsden on the edge of Glasgow, only opened its doors last year but it’s already hugely popular thanks to its glamorous good looks and modern touch. “The hotel is very luxurious, with décor that harks back to the decadent 1920s,” comments the venue’s Avril Cadden. Boclair was named Glasgow and Clyde’s Romantic Hotel of the Year at the Scottish Hotel Awards in February, and it’s not hard to see why. Up to 200 people can join the celebrations in the grand ballroom, with 30 staying over in the venue’s 12 bedrooms. “Stay in the honeymoon suite and be amazed at the surroundings, which include a copper bath and a stunning rainfall shower,” says Avril.
Cambo Country House and Estate
Cambo Estate, close to Kingsbarns near St Andrews, offers pretty much everything you could ever need for a party. “Our wide variety of venues – everything from a grand country house to a rustic woodland – means that no two weddings here are alike,” says Cambo’s Frances Young. “We have a beautiful sandy beach, a walled garden, open parkland and woodland walks – in other words, every conceivable backdrop for your wedding-day photography.” When you say ‘I do’ at Cambo, you get the run of the entire house and grounds, so there’s plenty of space to invite all your favourite folk. And when the party eventually comes to an end, your guests can sleep over. The house has bedrooms, and there are three cosy farm cottages, two glamping tents and plenty of space for your gang to pitch their tents.
Rowallan Castle is a place steeped in history. The entrance, which leads to a romantic courtyard, sits between two drum towers that date all the way back to . The ‘new’ castle, designed in the Scots Baronial style by architect Robert Lorimer, was built in and echoes the rest of the castle’s old Scots style. One day here is unlikely to be enough, as its owners recognise: “If you book the castle for a summer weekend wedding, you get access to a separate bar area and patio for barbecues,” says the venue’s Liz Irving. “As well as that, we have ten luxurious en-suite bedrooms that are all unique and refurbished to the highest standard, sleeping up to 21 people.”
If an intimate wedding is what you’re after, Ardoch, on the bonnie banks of Loch Lomond, will tick all the boxes. The venue, a mix of traditional and contemporary design, is captivating, and the Ardoch team are highly experienced in the art of event management. Depending on the weather, you could exchange vows outside overlooking the loch, or by a roaring fire indoors. Up to 60 guests can celebrate with you during the day, with 40 more joining the evening fun. When the night comes to a close, there’s space for 32 to sleep over in Ardoch’s 17 beautifully styled en-suite bedrooms.
“We only offer the castle on an exclusive-use basis as we know many couples don’t want to share their special venue with anyone else,” comments Boturich’s Laura Peat. This is the last remaining private castle on the banks of Loch Lomond – a very exclusive option whichever way you look at it! Its wonderful location means the castle has spectacular views over the loch – a cast-iron guarantee of the most amazing wedding photographs. But it also has acres of stunning woodland and parkland to be enjoyed and explored during your stay. If the weather’s on your side, there’s even the option of tying the knot outdoors overlooking the water.
The Craigellachie Hotel
For an immersive wedding weekend, book yourself into the Craigellachie Hotel in Speyside. It manages to be intimate, chic and thoroughly Scottish all at the same time, and can host your ceremony, wedding breakfast and reception. “Not only are our weddings completely bespoke, but we invite you to book us for your own exclusive use,” says the venue’s Esme Saville. Once the reception has wound down, make yourself comfortable in the Quaich whisky bar, which is famous for its fabulous stock of different single malts. There’s space for 52 guests to stay for the weekend. “You can make yourselves at home, relax in the hotel and use the public rooms at your leisure,” adds Esme.
What makes Aberdeenshire’s Cluny Castle so special is its air of tranquillity and the beautiful grounds that surround it. If you’re looking for a wedding getaway, this is the perfect destination, due in part to its seclusion – it’s hidden from prying eyes by over 200 acres of landscaped policies. “It really is a beautiful venue,” comments the castle’s Fiona Jones. Exchange your vows in Cluny’s very own chapel in front of 100 guests, before heading into the castle for a lavish wedding breakfast.
For some brides and grooms, if you’re going to splash out on an exclusive-use venue, you may as well go the whole hog and get a sprawling mansion. If this is your thinking, you might like to consider Fraserburgh’s Cortes House. “It works beautifully for exclusive use as it has the elegance of a bygone era coupled with everything you need for a fabulous wedding,” says the venue’s Gillian Lacey-Solymar. Taking over the whole house means you’ll have separate rooms for dinner and dancing, and there are plenty of quiet spots in which to take a breather. If you’re keen to make a weekend of it, 30 guests can stay in the 12 luxurious bedrooms.
One of the National Trust for Scotland’s most prized assets, beautiful Brodie Castle seems to have been designed with fairytale weddings in mind. Around 25 miles east of Inverness, surrounded by a huge swathe of lush parkland, the iconic tower house dates back to the 16th century. Brodie is renowned for its sophisticated interiors and world-famous art collection, so you won’t have to worry about adding to the already stunning décor. Its extensive grounds, meanwhile, can accommodate a large marquee where 250 guests can come together for a delicious meal. Afterwards, you and 22 of your nearest and dearest can make the castle your own for the weekend.
This glamorous stately pile near South Queensferry has only a short span of availability each year for weddings, so it’s quite a privilege to be one of a few couples to tie the knot at Hopetoun House. “From Easter Friday until the last Sunday in September we open as a visitor attraction,” says Hopetoun’s Shauney Millar, so get in early if you want to book this place. The venue’s Adam Stables can accommodate ceremonies of up to 160 guests, while the Adam Ballroom is perfect for evening receptions for up to 250. When it’s time for bed, the idyllic Thatched Cottage is a romantic hideaway in which to spend your first night as husband and wife. Also in the grounds is Parkhead House, the old gamekeeper’s cottage, which will make a great base for family and friends.
Can’t imagine entering into matrimony unless you’re surrounded by history, romance and lavish Scottish splendour? You need to check out the astounding 17th-century Innes House in Elgin. If you’re lucky enough to get sunshine, don’t waste it indoors: “Couples are welcome to get married in the gardens,” says the venue’s Jayne Booth. “We have three lovely outdoor areas to choose from, including around the ancient larch tree and in the sunken gardens.” Up to 18 people can spend the night in the house’s bedrooms and enjoy a relaxed breakfast the morning after. Bliss.
The Parsonage at Dunmore Park
Luxurious surroundings and captivating grounds make the Parsonage a very special place for a wedding. The house, in Dunmore Park in Stirlingshire, is only available on a handful of dates each year – and even then only on an exclusive-use basis – so you’ll be one of just an elite few who can call the place home for the weekend. Celebrate with up to 250 guests during the day (with space for a further 150 in the evening) and you’ll have the entire place to yourself. Up to 24 guests can spend the night in the Parsonage’s 12 impressively decorated bedrooms, meaning there will be a crowd on hand the day after the reception to continue the celebrations.
If panoramic views, private grounds and rolling hills are your bag, exclusive-use specialist venue Craigie, hidden away in Ayrshire, could unlock the perfect day for you. Not only will you have the 18th-century country house all to yourselves, but you’ll have an indoor swimming pool, courtyard cottages and private grounds and gardens to play with. The country house sleeps 18 adults and two children across eight bedrooms, and is equipped with (deep breath) a drawing room, dining room, kitchen, TV room, games room, library, table-tennis table and heated indoor swimming pool. That’s just for starters. The venue also has three cottages in the courtyard. The Hayloft sleeps two and the Stable Cottage and Cartshed Cottage each sleep two adults and two kids.
Holding just 12 weddings a year, Murthly Castle, along with its dreamy walled garden and chapel, will be your own private space the day you marry and in the days leading up to the main event. The Perthshire castle, which spends most of its time as a private family home, sits at the end of a romantic tree-lined drive – the kind of thing that’s just made for a princess bride’s grand arrival in a horse-drawn carriage. You’ll have the full attention of the staff two days prior to your wedding to set up the venue the way you want it, with the team’s personal help and advice along the way.