How To Find The Best Wedding Venues In Scotland
Finding beautiful wedding venues in Scotland, managed by competent and honest people, can be extremely challenging.
And it will likely be one of the first tasks you are faced with, as you start to piece together your dream wedding day.
Given its importance, the White Rose team has put a lot of research into wedding venues in Scotland.
And that research has given us a thorough understanding of what’s available, where to look, and most importantly what to look out for.
My goal today is to provide you with the correct knowledge to go forward with confidence, and find some of the best wedding venues in Scotland.
Let the journey begin.
Understand Your Options
I would estimate that there are around 5,000 wedding venues in Scotland.
That means you have a lot of choice.
The number of historic buildings available, such as castles, palaces, and country mansions, is actually quite staggering.
With the National Trust for Scotland doing an excellent job, of keeping many of these places open to the public.
Take a look at Castle Fraser for example.
You also have a range of other venue types, such as converted barns, marquees, town halls, and hotels.
Some wedding venues have accommodation, their own private chapel, or a purpose built ballroom complete with bar.
Take a look at Achnagairn Castle for quite possibly the most spectacular ballroom in Scotland.
Others have stunning gardens and grounds, which are ideal for wedding photography.
Prices can be terrifying, with top exclusive use venues such as Aldourie Castle, costing upwards of £20,000 for a two night stay.
But of course you can find sub £1,000 options too.
Capacity is another area where there is huge variety.
Some wedding venues cater wonderfully to intimate single figure guest weddings.
Others can accommodate over 500.
Hopefully this has given you a sense of the enormous amount of choice you have.
However take a look at our ever expanding list of wedding venues, to get a great idea of what’s out there.
Decide What You Want
Choosing from the long list of wedding venues in Scotland, will largely come down to personal preference.
Some people love the fairytale idea of an ancient castle, whereas others would rather have a more modern hotel.
There is no wrong answer here, however there are some common criteria to consider.
Price for most people will be the biggest factor.
So make sure you have a keen understanding of how far your budget will stretch.
The time of year will also be very important.
Most people choose to get married on a Saturday in the summer.
Presumably due to convenience and the probability of nice weather; certainly not a forgone conclusion.
Bear in mind though, wedding venues in Scotland can be less than a third of the price during off peak times.
A winter wedding doesn’t sound so bad now huh.
Number of guests is also a major consideration.
Every venue will have upper limits on the amount of people it can accommodate.
Ironically some of the castles don’t have the space you might first imagine.
So have it clear in your mind the rough size of wedding you are looking for.
You don’t want to fall in love with a place, only to realise it’s too small.
Finally the location is obviously going to play a major roll.
I really like the idea of isolation and privacy, somewhere in the Scottish Highlands.
However all your guests have to be transported to this location, and perhaps will need overnight accommodation too.
You need to consider whether your ceremony, reception, and accommodation will all be under the same roof.
Travelling from venue to venue can be very time consuming, and you don’t want to spend a large portion of your day in transit.
How Much Of My Budget Should I Allocate To The Wedding Venue?
Ask one of your guests a year after your wedding, what colour your bridesmaids dresses were, what type of flowers you had, or even what your cake tasted like.
I’d be surprised if they could remember.
But ask them what the venue was like, and I’m pretty sure they’d have something to say.
I’m not suggesting you should design your entire wedding to please your guests, but don’t underestimate the importance of a great wedding venue.
In terms of how much of your budget to allocate, this will depend on exactly what’s included.
Catering and accommodation will of course make a big difference to the price.
To give you an example though, my sister got married at Logie Country House last year.
This spectacular exclusive use wedding venue, comes complete with a purpose built ballroom and accommodation for up to 32 guests.
And it required 25% of the wedding budget to pay for; that’s without catering too.
Searching For Wedding Venues In Scotland
So now that you have a good idea of what’s out there, and what you are looking for, it’s time to begin the search.
Clearly it’s not practical to visit a large number of wedding venues in Scotland.
We might be a small country, but that would still involve a lot of driving.
So best to do what you can from home initially.
Recommendations from family and friends are always a great place to start.
Chatting to someone who has actually experienced a particular wedding venue, will provide feedback which is difficult to get anywhere else.
Wedding directories and wedding exhibitions have their place, but they are only occupied by those who have paid to be there, and as a result you will be very limited in your choice.
Your best bet is a good old fashioned Google search.
Type in “wedding venues in Scotland”, or perhaps use your nearest city, for example, “wedding venues in Edinburgh”.
You could even use a modifier word such as, “castle wedding venues in Scotland”, or “castle wedding venues in Glasgow”.
This is still an imperfect process, and currently at White Rose we are working on Scotlands most comprehensive wedding directory.
Our goal is to keep it free for suppliers to join, have absolutely everyone on it, and provide great filters so you can narrow down your search easily.
Depending on when you read this article, it may still be under development.
What To Look For On A Wedding Venues Website
There are three critical things to look for when studying a wedding venues website.
First of all, does it match the criteria you have set.
You’ll know yourself exactly what these are, but look very closely at the important ones.
Some wedding venues in Scotland are very good at disguising their weaknesses.
For example it might say they can sleep up to 42 guests, but it might not say that 6 people need to share each bedroom.
Secondly you want to take a good look at the price, and specifically what it includes.
Some venues will include tables, chairs, cutlery, and much more.
You also want to be sure the price includes VAT.
There is no reason for a venue to quote you a price exclusive of VAT, and yet many do to make themselves seem cheaper.
Finally you want to check availability.
Some of the best wedding venues in Scotland are booked up two years in advance.
Don’t be put off if you are organising things last minute though.
Cancellations happen quite regularly, and you could get lucky.
You will probably need to pick up the phone to check a venues availability, as most are secretive about how busy they are.
Meeting The Wedding Coordinator And Taking The Tour
This is where it starts to get exciting.
You’ve got your shortlist, and now it’s time to view the potential candidates.
How many you decide to see is entirely up to you, but clearly the smart choice is as many as it takes to get what you want.
There is a lot to think about here, so I will break it down into subsections:
The Wedding Coordinator
Never underestimate the importance of a good wedding coordinator.
Ideally you want someone who is friendly, attentive, and ruthlessly efficient.
Be sure that the person showing you around will be the point of contact throughout the process, including on your wedding day.
Some wedding venues in Scotland will have a marketing person show you around, and once the cheque is cashed you are fobbed of onto someone else.
Ask them how you will communicate in the following months.
Frequent contact is inevitable, and as a result a mobile number would be better than waiting around for email responses.
Be reasonable though, they can’t be on duty 24 hours a day.
The Package And Pricing
There are wedding venues in Scotland which are notorious for the hidden cost.
This is the time to scrutinise the details carefully.
Exactly what are you going to receive and what is it going to cost.
Pay special attention to drink prices, including soft drinks and corkage fees.
You don’t want to be hit with a £20 bill every time a wine bottle gets opened, or have your guests paying £8 for a pint of beer.
Accommodation is another area to be vigilant.
Make sure your guests will receive a sensible preferential rate.
The last thing you want is to get a great deal on the venue, and then have your friends and family paying for it with ridiculous drinks and accommodation prices.
Depending on the size of your wedding, the catering bill could be the largest invoice you receive.
Some wedding venues in Scotland will let you select your own catering company.
Most however will either handle it internally, or insist you use a supplier of their choice.
It is very common for wedding venues to partner with catering companies, but always exercise caution with “recommended suppliers”.
Good venues choose them for their quality, bad venues choose them because they pay to be on the list.
“How to find the best catering companies in Scotland” is an article for another day.
At this stage though, be sure to understand exactly what’s included, and the price per person.
The best catering companies will also provide a complimentary tasting session, so you get a chance to sample the cuisine before you commit.
Access both before and after your wedding will be very important.
Some wedding venues in Scotland have a large number of events on, so you want to be sure you and your suppliers are given ample time to do what is required.
There are wedding coordinators who are very regimented too, and you want a guarantee that there is a certain amount of flexibility in the schedule.
Music stops and doors close at 23:59, might well mean exactly that.
Make sure there is plenty of parking for both cars and coaches, and that these large vehicles can fit up the drive.
I was at a wedding last year where a weak bridge at the entrance caused some problems.
Also enquire about temperature control; heating and cooling.
Castles with three meter thick walls can be difficult to keep warm, even in the summer.
Finally keep one eye on the potential for great wedding photography.
Ideally you want some picturesque gardens and grounds to act as stunning backdrops.
And also rooms bathed in natural light, as flash photography isn’t ideal for nice images.
Signing The Contract
Once you have made your choice, it’s time to take care of the legal stuff.
A contract is essential.
Do not book anywhere without one.
Also don’t feel pressure to sign on the spot.
Take the contract home and read it carefully; given its importance you may even want to seek legal advice.
All wedding venues in Scotland should have public liability insurance.
Don’t be frightened to ask to see evidence of this.
The contract should also state what happens in the event of a disaster (the venue burns down a week before).
Make sure you will at least get your money back.
Enquire about any photography restrictions too.
You might be surprised at how many wedding venues in Scotland have them.
Expect to pay around a 35% deposit at the time of signing, with the remaining balance due at least 3 months before your wedding day.
Some venues will let you pay up monthly which can very useful.
And that’s it – job done.
So now you have the correct knowledge to go forward, and find the best wedding venues in Scotland with confidence.
I know it may seem like a fairly daunting task with a huge amount to consider, but don’t forget to enjoy the process too.
Just remember to be cautious, especially with regards to pricing and what’s included.
You also want to be very suspicious of “recommended suppliers” who are being forced onto you.
Whilst you are here, you should take a look at some of the other wedding planning articles, featured on White Rose.
Good luck with your wedding planning.