If a hotel seems too formal for your party of a lifetime, there are some great alternatives out there in the shape of beautifully refurbished barns, stables and farm buildings
Words by Gilly Furmage
With increasing numbers of Scotland’s old farm buildings being converted into really special spaces, your wedding venue can now be your old and your new at the same time. We’re not talking rusty tractors and mud (or worse) – these are proper venues that have been scrubbed up and renovated to the highest standards. Many will have the added bonus of original stone walls, rustic beams and stunning countryside locations. If you want to escape the starched napkins and fussy service of a plush hotel, having your wedding in one of these unique venues is worth considering.
Part of a traditional estate on the outskirts of Crieff, stable-block venue Abercainy is so fresh it hasn’t even opened yet! Built in 1842 and currently receiving the finishing touches of a thorough overhaul, the stables have been restored by the family who still live and work there. Due to open this April, the venue is full of character pieces, such as quirky doors, leaded windows and vaulted ceilings, but has been given a modern twist. The main room can seat 70, and backdrops for your photographs include ancient woodland, elegant grounds and a romantic walled rose garden.
Bogbain Farm, Inverness
Winner of the Best Unusual Venue at the 2012 Scottish Wedding Awards, Bogbain would be perfect for those who fancy something a bit different. Comprising a bothy, a barn and a byre, there is enough colour and variety here to keep the surprises coming. The farm has a saloon bar, cocktail bar, cobbled floors, original stone walls and timber beams. Packages include fairylights and colour washes to give even more atmosphere. There is room for 150 at the meal and 250 for a barn dance at the evening reception.
The Byre at Inchyra, Perthshire
The Byre at Inchyra is a converted cattle steading that was given new life by its owners in 2013. For the daytime ceremony, the byre is perfect for a quaint country wedding, and looks amazing with fairylights, garlands and the original stone cattle troughs filled to the brim with flowers. At night, the possibilities are endless – the 150 acres of private parkland mean your reception can take any shape you like, from marquees to yurts. The byre can seat 250 for dining, while the separate stable room can host up to 100 guests.
Castleton Events, East Lothian
Set in the grounds of Castleton Farm, close to North Berwick, this unusual venue boasts uninterrupted views of the dramatic Tantallon Castle, the Bass Rock and North Berwick Law. As an added bonus, the happy couple can say their vows with a beautiful seaside backdrop as they and their guests have access to a private beach. The site can accommodate 250 guests, and the management have a real commitment to using local produce and Scottish businesses as their suppliers. There is also a newly renovated farm cottage – perfect for the newlyweds to collapse in afterwards.
Comrie Croft, Perthshire
Another venue recently given a makeover, Comrie Croft sits in a vast expanse of fields and woodlands near Crieff that must look heavenly on a sunny summer’s day. The barn is offered as a blank canvas – couples can use their creativity to make something special out of the space. Lighting options include ceiling-mounted star lights, wall-washing lights and even disco lights. The barn can hold up to 200 guests, and packages normally offer exclusive use of all the accommodation for at least two nights, so you can get in some real quality time with family and friends.
Errol Park, Perthshire
Deep in the heart of rural Perthshire, Errol Park sits in beautiful grounds with stunning views of the River Tay. The recently renovated stables could be perfect for either a wedding breakfast or a lively ceilidh. The venue can hold up to 180 people and has a dedicated space for caterers. There is also overnight accommodation for 17 people. The organisers at Errol Park pride themselves on creating bespoke events, so this spot would work well for anyone wanting a unique wedding tailored specifically to their needs.
Kinkell Byre, Fife
Found in the grounds of Kinkell Farm, the byre has been transformed from a home to livestock into a fabulous wedding venue, with spectacular views of the St Andrews coastline. One thing this venue doesn’t lack is space – the main dancefloor covers an incredible 4500 square feet, and there is an option to spill out into the buildings adjacent to the main area if need be, meaning there is an overall capacity of more than 500!
Kirknewton House Stables, Midlothian
If it’s rustic charm you’re after, the sweet stables at Kirknewton Estate might just fit the bill. Besides the stables, guests also have the option of using the stunning surrounding gardens, which include a perfectly manicured walled garden, perfect for the all-important photographs. The stables can seat 150, or for large parties a marquee can be erected in the walled garden.
If you want your wedding to come with a little added drama, the opulent Georgian stables at Prestonfield offer total and complete luxury. Every whim is catered for at this dazzling Edinburgh hotel and restaurant, and the comprehensive packages include red velvet tablecloths and chair covers, high-quality glass and tableware, white linen, votive candles, dramatic lighting, pin-spots for the table settings and an in-house sound system. The circular stables are able to accommodate anything from 120 to 500 guests, and couples should look no further than the drop-dead gorgeous hotel rooms for their honeymoon suite.
Tullibole Castle, Kinross
When King James IV stayed at Tullibole Castle back in the early 1500s, he was so pleased with the hospitality he received that he gave his host a knighthood. The site still has a sterling reputation for hosting incredible events: when someone hires the castle, carriage house or grounds, they are granted exclusivity, even for the whole weekend if they wish. With such a versatile venue, there are many choices when it comes to the style of wedding – classic castle do, a rustic barn-stomp, or even a festival-inspired wedding, complete with tipis and glamping. Or why not try a combination of all three!
Wedderburn Barns, Borders
The barns are set around a courtyard in a magnificent Georgian stable block in the grounds of Wedderburn Castle. Many brides choose the glamour and formality of the castle for their ceremony, before letting their hair down in the laid-back atmosphere of the barns for the party afterwards. The freshly renovated venue boasts stone walls, flagstone floors and wrought-iron chandeliers. For the evening reception, a fire-pit can be lit in the courtyard, and couples can choose from a traditional hog roast or a three-course banquet.
Woodend Barn, Aberdeenshire
Something completely different, multi-arts centre Woodend Barn is also a registered charity. All proceeds from wedding hires go back into the creative work that the charity does in the community. The barn sits on top of a hill overlooking the lovely Royal Deeside, and there is enough space for 75 for the ceremony and up to 120 for the reception. The wild garden space is not to be missed and could be a great spot for photos or an al-fresco drinks reception.