If you were going to ask us where our dream destination would if we could pick anywhere in the world, there’s a 1,000% chance we would say Scotland. And it’s not just because the countryside is amazingly beautiful, or that the people are just plain awesome, or even that it’s steeped in such history. It’s those castles! Seriously, they are our dream castles. We want to live in one year-round and never leave, let alone get married in one!
We were lucky enough to spend a weekend in a Scottish castle many moons ago for a friend’s birthday party, and I still remember it to this day. Waking up in a castle to a big breakfast made by a local cook (OMG so much food). Going into the fields to watch the sunset every evening (with a glass of wine). Making our own dance party inside until late at night (annnnnd was maybe a little too hungover the next day). It was magical. Which is why we’re so excited to see a company that will actually help you put together everything you need for a Scottush destination wedding (or even a big birthday party or anniversary).
Tartan Weddings was started by Scotland native Lisa Bauer, who started the destination wedding company as a way to combine her event planning skills with her love of Scottish castles and traditions.
“I wanted to give couples the same unique experience that I had on my wedding day,” says Bauer, who handles every aspect of the destination wedding or event, such as dealing with suppliers, guest lists, passports, travel, officiants, music, decor and more, as well as striving to preserve Scottish wedding traditions such as quaich, handfasting, bagpipes, and kilts.
We wanted to know more about how the process worked and were lucky enough to talk to Bauer about her inspiration behind starting Tartan Weddings, her favorites venues, and what you can expect price-wise if you want to plan a destination wedding in Scotland!
Why did you decide to start Tartan Weddings?
I decided to start Tartan Weddings after planning my own wedding in a Scottish castle in August 2017. I wanted to help others have a fairytale castle wedding at a reasonable price since weddings are less expensive in Scotland, especially compared to NYC.
What’s the average timeline for planning? How does a bride start the planning process with you?
A year is optimal to give your guests time to plan for the trip and the sooner you know that you want a Tartan Wedding the better, so the castle and vendors will have the availability. The process starts with selecting a venue based on your preferences, budget, and number of guests. If you are flexible and are willing to get married during the week will help to reduce the costs as venues give discounts on weekdays.
What’s the average price range for a Tartan Wedding?
The pricing depends on how simple or elaborate you would like your wedding to be, especially when it comes to décor and cakes. Here is the breakdown of my Scottish wedding at Dalhousie Castle:
- $1,200 – Chapel
- $110 per person for 4-course wedding breakfast this also includes an evening buffet for all the guests and a reception drink after the ceremony, room rental, table, chairs, and linens are included and glassware, cake stand, and knife and servers and master of ceremonies are all included and wine!
- $150 – Castle piper
- $150 – Owl ring delivery
- $5+ Scottish themed favors
- $500 – Cake
- $800+ – Photographer
- $650 – Humanist Officiant –
- $1,000 – Floral Arrangements – Bouquets, buttonholes, table centers and chapel flowers (we did most of this our ourselves) If you want to go all out with the décor you can spend up to $10,000 for a special designer
- $800+ – Videographer
- $75 make-up per person – They come to your room along with the hairstylist $400+ for Bride, bridesmaids, and mothers of bride and groom. Wedding music/string quartet for the ceremony and cocktail Hour $600 (less for trio or duet)
- $1,900 – Live band for 4 hours for the evening dance (You can’t get a good DJ in NYC for that price)
- $160 – One Wedding Visa
- $550+ – The price depending on when you book flights to Scotland
- $190+ – Castle rooms and the bride and groom get wedding night for free
You can get married in Scotland for $15,000+ with 50 guests just like we did if you are willing to do a little DIY with flowers, décor, and favors.
Can you walk us through what a typical Tartan Wedding might be like? IE: Guests arrive on a Thursday to start the wedding weekend, etc.
For a Saturday wedding, I suggest arriving no later than Wednesday to allow for some jetlag and wedding preparations, such as picking up your marriage license and meeting with your officiant and having a hair/make-up trial. Also, this gives time for bridal party to try on their kilts and have your dress steamed if needed. Your guests can arrive the following day so you don’t have to worry about entertaining them the first day you arrive and you can get all your wedding prep things done on the first day.
A great idea is to plan an activity for your guests, either golfing, fishing, whisky distillery tour or even have a company come and host your own mini highland games. This is a great way for your guests to get to know each other before the wedding and great fun. Everyone is split into clans (teams) and you compete against each other in tossing the caber, welly toss, tug of war and such fun games. ($50 per person for 2-hour session)
In Scotland, it is not so traditional to have a rehearsal dinner but is increasing in popularity. Your castle will be happy to host this event. I suggest two nights before the wedding, possibly the same night as the highland games and the possibility of a pig roast and a prosecco truck could be an alternative fun idea, especially in summer or early fall. The night before you and your husband to be could enjoy a relaxing couples massage.
Scottish Weddings last all day. Your ceremony starts around 1 p.m. and the wedding dance goes on until midnight. Some castles (like Dalhousie where I got married) have chapels inside the castle, everything being located under one roof making it simple for out of town guests. A typical Scottish wedding is as follows:
1pm – Ceremony – This can be in castle or outside depending on the weather or at a different venue like a nearby church. Traditions are included in the whole day and not just the ceremony.
2-4pm – Cocktail hour and photographs – This time can also be used to transport everyone between venues if the reception is elsewhere
4- pm – Bridal Party line up and greet the guests entering the reception room. This usually involves the piper. The bride and groom are piped in separately by the piper and everyone stands and welcomes their bride and groom.
4.15 pm – Speeches – This also includes telegrams that are read from guests who could not make it at this time also and cake cutting. Our piper also performed a cask cutting ceremony.
4.30 -6.30 pm – Wedding breakfast –This wedding meal is usually seated not buffet includes cake and coffee. Traditionally speeches were done at this time but today many do so before the meal so the groom, best man, and father of the bride can relax and enjoy their meal after the speeches.
6.30 – 8 pm – This time is used to freshen up. People usually go up their room and freshen up or hit the bar!
8pm – midnight – Live band – This starts with a Grand March lead by the bride and groom, followed by the bride and groom’s first dance. My husband Craig and I had a four piece 90’s rock band, for only $2,000. You could also have a live ceilidh band and a ceilidh caller (who teaches the steps). You could have a dance class at the venue the day prior to the wedding so everyone knows the dances)
There is a half hour break between 9.30-10 usually for an evening buffet, at this time the band has a break also.
Midnight – Fireworks or Paper lanterns and then the party can continue at the resident’s bar.
What is one of your favorite wedding venues in Scotland?
My favorite Scottish Castle is Dalhousie Castle near Edinburgh, that is where my husband and I got married last year and where we spent 3 days with our family and friends. It has everything under one roof including a chapel and spa. They also have 35 bedrooms to accommodate lots of family. They also have a falconry and their own castle piper. The castle is 20 minutes from Edinburgh, so our guests could pop into the city with ease. You get the feeling of being in the countryside but are extremely close to the city, so the best of both worlds.