By Gabbi Armstrong
North Coast 500
Published: 3rd July 2018

Get married on the North Coast 500

I will love you my whole life, you and no other forever,” professes William Wallace to his sweetheart Murron in 1995 blockbuster Braveheart, which put Scottish wedding traditions firmly in the international spotlight.

However, the magic and romance of Scotland’s wedding rituals run far deeper than Mel Gibson’s interpretation of history. Tales and legends form the backbone of the country’s historic folklore, with romantic customs and good luck rituals at the heart of Scottish ceremonies.

Medieval rituals such as handfasting – the binding of hands to symbolise the strengthening of vows – date back to medieval times, while many Scots brides still carry a sprig of white heather in their bouquets as a good luck token, proving there’s more to a Scottish wedding than simply wearing a kilt.

This summer, we teamed up with award-winning British jeweller ROX – Diamonds and Thrills to shine a light on the best proposal hotspots along the North Coast 500 in a new interactive map. However, just as these locations offer the perfect backdrop for getting down on one knee, they also provide the ultimate setting to say ‘I do’.

Whether you’ve already travelled the route with your other half and have a sentimental attachment to it, or are in search of a venue like no other, in this post we shine a light on the ultimate wedding locations along the way.

Beach bliss

With azure blue waters and white sand as soft as icing sugar, Achmelvich beach offers a wedding backdrop guaranteed to take your breath away. Situated on the west coast, it’s the ideal escape for couples ready to embark on their next adventure together.

Over on the east coast, Dornoch beach offers an equally stunning backdrop, with miles of golden sand stretching from Dornoch Point to the mouth of Loch Fleet National Nature Reserve.

Photo: Maggie Harrison, Achmelvich Beach

Highland cathedral

The Scottish Highlands might not necessarily spring to mind when thinking of star-studded celebrations. However, the sleepy village of Dornoch has played host to some of the world’s biggest A-listers, as queen of pop Madonna wed film director Guy Ritchie here in 2000. For those planning a Highland wedding of their own, look to Dornoch Cathedral for your special day. The 13th century parish church, with its intricate stained-glass windows representing music, peace and literacy, extends a warm welcome to couples planning their big day.

Photo: The Dornoch Area Community Interest Company, Dornoch Cathedral

Country charm

Make yourself at home in the Highlands with a wedding at one of the many country houses along the route. Each with their own unique story to tell, they provide a truly luxurious setting for wedding ceremonies and receptions alike. From award-winning, exclusive luxury at The Torridon to romantic views at The Pool House or a chance to raise a glass of Scotland’s national tipple to true love and highland hospitality at Glenmorangie House, there’s somewhere for everyone.

Photo: Glenmorangie House, near Tain

A royal affair

Turn dreams of a fairy-tale wedding into a reality along Scotland’s North Coast. It’s hardly surprising that the route plays host to some of the most incredible castles in the country, with each offering a special and unique venue for your big day. Looking for inspiration? A visit to Dunbeath, Ackergill Tower, Achnagairn Estate, Kincraig Castle Hotel and the Castle of Mey is a must on the trip.

Photo: Achnagairn Castle

”Achnagairn is the ancient Gaellic word for romance. Really? Is that true?

Well ok, not quite.. But it is the old Gaellic word for a circle of stones. That circle contains within it the notion of togetherness, of building families, or safety and of becoming whole. And what makes you more whole than going from two individuals to one through the magic of a proposal. As Achnagairn is one of the leading wedding venues in the country, romance is something of a speciality. They adore helping couples surreptitiously plan their proposals, and have plotted with grooms about exactly how to ask the biggest question of their lives in their glorious wood-panelled ballroom, and under the stone arch in the lovely grounds of the castle. (And of course, when it comes to the wedding itself, their knack for really understanding romance and romantics may come in handy once again..!)”

Photo: Achnagairn Castle

New heights

Take your love to new heights by saying ‘I do’ atop one of the many mountains in the Scottish Highlands. They say the best things in life are wild and free and a mountain top wedding is the ultimate celebration of love for those who have bonded over a love of the great outdoors. Hire a mountain guide with Hamlet Mountaineering, Liquid Footprints or Torridon Outdoors to discover the best way to bag yourself a new husband or wife along with a Munro.

Photo: Hamlet Mountaineering

Let your love bloom

John Lennon once sang: “Love is the answer and you know that for sure; love is a flower, you’ve got to let it grow.” Let your love blossom in an unforgettable wedding ceremony at Attadale Gardens. Discover 20 acres of stunning scenery, with the a beautifully landscaped Japanese Garden, Water Garden and Sunken Garden all offering a beautiful setting for your wedding ceremony.

Photo: Attadale Gardens

Do it yourself

For intimate and personal weddings overlooking some of Scotland’s most beguiling scenery why not look to self-catering accommodation for your big day? From Eagle Rock, Lolaire and Balnakeil House with stunning scenic views, to Torgorm No 3 and Wallis, with their beach locations, enjoy your special day surrounded by those who matter most in unforgettable surroundings. Check out our interactive map for more inspiration on other self-catered properties.

Photo: Cottages & Castles: Wallis, overlooking Scourie Bay

Still stuck for ideas? Hop on boat and sail off to one of Scotland’s islands or, if it takes your fancy, why not get married on a boat as you cruise along Loch Ness? Alternatively, for a truly unique venue why not tie the knot in Smoo Cave, or beside one of the many lochs along the way?

Photo: Jacobite Cruises

To find out more, check out the ROX guide at www.rox.co.uk/magazine/rox-loves/romantic-places-north-coast-500

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