Choosing a Venue

It’s probably the most important decision you will make during the course of your wedding planning.

The venue will be the backdrop to all of your wedding memories and is likely to feature in any number of your wedding photographs. So when you come to choose your Scottish wedding venue, what do you need to consider?

The very first thing you need to think about is how many people will attend – both for the day and for the evening. If you’re intending on having an intimate affair then a 300 capacity hall or church is unlikely to be suitable. You should also consider the distance your guests will be travelling. If a large number are travelling long distances, you may want to look at venues that offer accommodation close by to reduce travelling times.

Once you’ve decided on the size of the venue, you really are spoilt for choice. With hotels, churches, castles, palaces and manor houses available for your wedding the only limiting factor is your imagination.

The Marriage (Scotland) Act was passed by the Scottish Parliament on 27 February 2002, received Royal Assent on 4 April 2002 and came fully into force on 25 April 2002. The Act means that it is no longer the venue that is registered for marriages but the person carrying out the ceremony.

If you are based in Scotland it is useful to start with a map of your local area and research the venues nearby. Alternatively, if you have visited an area which you particularly liked, you may wish to start there. The Scottish Wedding Show takes place at the SECC Glasgow twice a year – with the next being 19-20 February 2011 (click here for the official website) and is great for finding out more about venues in Scotland. It is worth bearing in mind that the people you are talking to are selling you their venue so try to be impartial and visit the venue itself before committing to anything. Of courLoch Lomondse, you can’t beat personal recommendation so ask your colleagues where they got married and you may stumble upon a few hidden gems.

If you are having a religious ceremony you are probably going to need a venue for your wedding breakfast and evening reception so you should bear this in mind when choosing your church. While the majority of people will have transport, you will need to consider a coach or minibus for those that do not.

If you are based outside of Scotland, you are likely to have a reason for wanting to marry here, be it a wedding you attended, the location of relatives, or a visit which left you craving more. If you aren’t currently living in Scotland I would suggest starting your search in one of the major cities. Edinburgh and Glasgow both have international airports and have train links to London via the east and west coasts. Both cities have amazing venues of their own, or you can travel onwards to the Highlands or Borders for something a little more rural. Again, visiting the Scottish Wedding Show will provide you with a lot of information so if you are able to attend it is highly recommended.

It is worth bearing in mind that weekend weddings at more popular venues can often be booked up to two years in advance. Weddings on Saturdays between May and September are particularly difficult to secure so if you have your heart set on a Summer weekend wedding you’ll need to act fast. If you are less concerned about the date of your wedding most venues offering inclusive packages, such as hotels and country houses, will offer much more competitive rates for midweek and off-peak dates. Make sure you discuss dates when viewing venues – you don’t want to be falling in love with a location that has no availability to suit you.

In terms of cost, it is very difficult to quantify. For example, if you choose to marry in a church you will pay a fee for the church itself and for the minister or priest to perform the ceremony which can start from £200. Other venues, such as castles and hotels, may offer free room hire if your guests numbers exceed a certain number, on the basis that the money will be made from food and drink packages instead. If your venue doesn’t offer to waive the room hire cost, ask them to, especially if you have large numbers. A venue is highly likely to waive a £400 cost if you’re likely to spend significantly on other things.

Once you have decided on your venue, you will need to complete the appropriate paperwork. Your venue will be able to provide details of the local authority and the forms which need completing, but you can find more information at the General Registrar for Scotland website. Visit www.gro-scotland.gov.uk/regscot and follow the links relating to getting married in Scotland, including the costs for submitting papers.

Once you have your venue, the planning can really start.