Scotland: A Romantic Wedding Destination


Skibo Castle

I grew up in Scotland, and have returned home over 120 times since I married a U.S. Marine from California. He promised me when I got married that I could go back when I said “I need shoes and a shandy (half-beer and half-lemonade) which meant I was homesick.  In 1800, some 140,000 Scots emigrated to America, with an estimated 15 million today who can claim Scottish ancestors. There are some 300 different clans, and there is something special about a wedding with bagpipes, lots of tartan and a Ceilidh (dance). Many people used the music from "Braveheart" during the ceremony.

I think it’s the ultimate destination for a fairy tale wedding, with a unique combination of history, tradition and romance.  We have spectacular scenery and the most magical castles in the world. It wasn’t until 1940 that Scotland changed the law so anyone can get married by either a Minister of Religion or a Civil Marriage Celebrant. Minimum age is 16.

At the top end of the locations, is Skibo Castle in Sutherland where Madonna got married. Slightly cheaper and more accessible are Edinburgh and Stirling Castles with fantastic views over the cities. Other places within 15 minutes of Edinburgh airport are Dundas Castle and Hopetoun House with an elegant ballroom. Culzean Castle is a special place particularly for Americans.  After WWII,  the whole of the second floor of this clifftop castle was given to President Eisenhower by the people of Scotland as a thank you for helping us.  Cameron House Hotel on the shores of Loch Lomond is a lovely property. Edzell Castle has the most beautiful gardens, and Crathes Castle in Aberdeenshire is also spectacular. Another of my favorite properties is Ardanaiseig on Loch Awe, in ArgyllEdinburgh Botanical Gardens, and those at Inverewe on the west coast provide a colorful setting.

The most photographed castle in all of Scotland is Eilean Donan outside of Kyle on the west coast where three sea lochs (lakes) meet, sitting on a rocky island with the only access via the stone footbridge.  It is the seat of the Clan MacRae at Dornie, West Ross

If you are planning to marry in August, then you must go to the Edinburgh Military Tattoo which is a very special evening performance of bands and highland dancers from all over the world in the castle courtyard with a smashing firework show afterwards. Another must see is a Highland Games, a gathering of the clans, and Braemar is a good one to attend since the Royal Family have their castle nearby and live there the month of August.  However, games are held all over Scotland in July and August in different villages. We can get all four seasons in one day in Scotland but you can pray you get a nice day. Best whiskies, according to my father, are Highland Park and Glenmorangie. They export six billion bottles of the hooch worldwide.  A wee dram (little sip) of the stuff is supposedly good for your health. Everyone should go to visit a distillery and there are lots to choose from.

A wonderful experience is to take the Jacobite, an old steam train along the spectacular Road to the Isles from Fort William to Mallaig, opposite the Isle of Skye, where I grew up. Some of the roads in the highlands are only one track (one lane) so rent a small automatic car. We have 550 fantastic golf courses, great fishing, hiking, and outstanding food.

My favorite  Edinburgh restaurant is the Witchery, at 352 Castlehill, next to the castle.  A great pub is Deacon Brodies’s on the Royal Mile.

The groom can rent Scottish attire from  The bride needs a sash of the clan tartan to wear from her gown, and everyone must wear a sprig of White Heather for good luck. Trace your ancestors, or  A good book is "Scottish Clans and Tartans", by Ian Grimble.

So many options for you to choose from but at least now you have a starting point with some excellent recommendations.

Slainte – a Scottish toast.

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