Extend your celebrations by hiring a wedding venue in Scotland where guests can bed down for a few days before and after the main event, writes Natasha Radmehr
Let’s be honest: pre-pandemic, we were all a bit guilty of occasionally taking our loved ones for granted. I know that I was, anyway. These days, however, I can’t believe my luck when I get to catch up with pals or attend a family gathering. If you feel likewise, you’ll perhaps be looking for a wedding venue with plenty of accommodation so that you can soak up the company of your guests for longer than just one day. To help you on your way, we’ve found some of Scotland’s best venues for a sleepover.
Marthrown of Mabie, Dumfriesshire
Cocooned in a forest in Dumfriesshire, Marthrown of Mabie will have you and your guests feeling like the VIPs at a wedding festival. Exchange vows beneath the canopy of trees or in the rustic Celtic Roundhouse, then party into the wee hours in a marquee. Once everyone is all danced out, there’s digs for up to 54 people across four yurts, a tipi, two cottages and the Celtic Roundhouse, all of which is included in the hire price.
“The deluxe yurt has the most gorgeous handmade bed, and is where newlyweds typically stay,” says Pam Hazlehurst, partner at the venue. “Next morning, you’ll wake up to the most amazing views across the Solway Firth to the Lake District hills.”
Achnagairn Castle, near Inverness
Hiring a castle in the Highlands isn’t just for celebs, y’know. Achnagairn Castle near Inverness may have rubbed shoulders with the stars in Harper’s Bazaar, but this wedding venue is open to everyone. It can be hired for two or more nights, and included in the price are 24 individually designed bedrooms in the castle, sleeping up to 55 people.
“One of the joys of renting Achnagairn is choosing which bedroom is best for each guest,” smiles Tanya Solymar-Grant, the castle’s business development manager. “Every room is unique with its own name and theme, such as Ring a Ring a Roses, a round room in a turret!”
And there’s even more accommodation in the seven themed Mini Manors in the grounds, which between them sleep 75. These can be hired individually at an extra cost – or why not rent the entire estate for A-list-worthy privacy?
The Cow Shed Crail, Fife
Sights set on a relaxed wedding weekend? The Cow Shed Crail, an atmospheric steading in the East Neuk of Fife, will tick your boxes. “You can have all your friends and family in close proximity but in a beautiful setting with sea views, beaches nearby and the lovely harbour village of Crail to walk around,” says Jo Trust, the venue’s manager.
There are nine self-catering farm cottages sleeping up to 41 people, and from next year onwards, a farmhouse with room for a further 14 guests will be available for bookings. “We also have two well-equipped converted shipping containers called Cow Pads which each sleep two. Newlyweds often stay in one of these – you can have a night gazing at the stars from the outdoor heated bath, surrounded by festoon lights.” Bliss.
Hartree Estates, Scottish Borders
The expansive grounds at Hartree Estates are home to super-cool Nordic tipis – where receptions are typically held – and shimmering lakes, so it’s popular with couples who are seeking somewhere with a high-end bohemian aesthetic. There’s a range of luxury accommodation sleeping 12 to 18 guests, which can be booked as an extra if required.
“The White House provides elegant country living overlooking the beautiful Hartree orchard and surrounding hills,” says events manager Amy Martin. “Hartree Lodge is contemporary, light and spacious with a wood-burning stove and private, dog-friendly gardens; and the Penthouse offers some spectacular modern luxuries such as a sauna and movie projector.”
Hartree also has a new period property, Beeswing, just a mile down the road in the picture-postcard town of Biggar.
Culdees Castle Estate, Perthshire
Culdees Castle Estate takes every opportunity to celebrate its scenic location in the Perthshire countryside. From its lush, sprawling lawns that make an ideal marquee setting, to the cool intimacy of its glass-roofed stone castle courtyard, this is a venue for lovers of the great outdoors. Even the accommodation gets in on the alfresco action: you can glamp with your nearest and dearest in four luxury cabins in the grounds.
“All of our cabins are accessed by private pathways and have outdoor pergola seating areas, wood-fired spa hot tubs, barbecue stations and firepit gardens,” says Tracey Horton, custodian and owner of the castle. “Spiers Lodge benefits from direct views of the castle, which we back-light at night. This adds to the breathtaking views across the estate and into the Highlands beyond.”
Wedderlie House, Scottish Borders
How do you like the sound of celebrating your big day in a 50-acre estate with two converted barns, a garden marquee, spacious lawns and a rose garden? That’s all part of the package at Wedderlie House, just west of Lauder in the Borders, which also includes accommodation for 45 guests within its hire price.
There are 11 tastefully decorated bedrooms in the main house, alongside a cosy cottage with a wood-burning stove, the stylish Hayloft apartment and two rustic log cabins. “It’s all very intimate and they’re quite close together, so there’s enough space for everyone but we don’t have guests spread out so thinly that you lose the atmosphere,” says owner Jamie Fraser, who gives couples free rein to plan a wedding that reflects them.
Cambo Estate, Fife
“A Cambo wedding is a Friday-to-Monday gig – a total of three nights’ accommodation (accommodation fees are separate) which allows the whole party to really lord it up for the whole weekend,” says the venue’s wedding co-ordinator, Louise Walker. Lord is the right word. Cambo, which is near St Andrews, is a magnificent Victorian stately home with accommodation fit for Bridgerton; think regal four-poster beds and rolltop baths.
“I personally love the West Wing, which has four spacious bedrooms, one of which features a unique four-poster of carved oak made from a 16th-century Dutch altar,” says Louise. In spite of its grandeur, the venue is far from stuffy. For the wedding day itself, there’s a selection of spaces to celebrate in, including the house, the rustic Courtyard, the fairy-lit Party Woodland, the Tattie Shed and the Walled Garden. Your photos will look incredible.
The Boathouse at Dougarie, Arran
Get the destination wedding vibe minus the stress of overseas travel by saying ‘I do’ at The Boathouse at Dougarie, an elegant former sporting lodge on the Isle of Arran. Part of a 25,000-acre estate with sustainability at its heart, this beachside venue overlooks the Kilbrannan Sound and is encircled by nature trails.
There are five houses on the estate (not included in the venue hire price) which sleep up to 35 people and have fully fitted kitchens, wood-burners and Wi-Fi. “My favourite is House of Machrie,” says Malin Stewart, the venue’s event co-ordinator. “Built over 100 years ago as the principal farmhouse on the island, it encapsulates Scottish architecture through the ages with crow-stepped gables and a circular tower housing the main staircase. It has been renovated and modernised to a very high standard, highlighting its charm.”
Cameron House, Loch Lomond
“Having recently been proposed to on the banks of Loch Lomond myself, I promise it is the most astonishing backdrop for your special memories,” smiles Bríona Farrell, wedding and events executive at Cameron House. Few would disagree. Cameron House is one of the area’s most prestigious venues, as revered for its idyllic setting as it is for its ultra-luxe interiors.
Guests will be thrilled by the prospect of bedding down in the 140 rooms across the resort including 24 suites (with an additional 68 bedrooms due for completion this summer). Special mention must go to the Auld House, a collection of 14 exquisitely restored suites inspired by Loch Lomond and featuring design influences from Timorous Beasties. Guests get discounted accommodation rates, too.
Cornhill Castle, South Lanarkshire
“I think what’s special about Cornhill is that it feels like you own the castle for the night, and your wedding guests are coming to your home,” says Susan Spence, group wedding and events manager at Cornhill Castle in Biggar. Not just any home, mind you. This is a Renaissance-style French chateau, complete with twinkling chandeliers, nestled in the Lanarkshire countryside.
There are lots of luxe touches: the Urquhart Suite has a huge rainfall shower, and guests can use a private hot tub if they’re staying before or after the wedding. But the Balmoral honeymoon suite is the pièce de résistance: set within a castle turret and split over three levels connected by a spiral staircase, it has a plush bedroom, spa bath and sauna. You won’t want to leave.
Dunglass Estate, East Lothian
Forget the typical honeymoon suite. At this exclusive-use venue just south of Dunbar, newlyweds spend their first night of marital bliss in a romantic treehouse with a hot tub and three adorable alpacas as neighbours. “There’s also wraparound decking offering panoramic views of the estate and the North Sea,” says Claire Weir, events manager at Dunglass.
You won’t be the only ones staying over in style, either. Dunglass can be hired for two nights, and this includes use of its grounds, church and pavilion as well as accommodation for 28 people in three courtyard cottages, the eight-bedroom Seaview House (which even has a purpose-designed garden studio for beautifying on the wedding morning) and the treehouse.