VisitScotland highlights wedding tourism trend

An “overseas couple” tie the knot with their luggage in tow at The Georgian House in Edinburgh. (Credit VisitScotland & Mark Ferguson)

WITH Christmas ranking as the most popular time to get engaged, the national tourism organisation has revealed insights into Scotland’s credentials as wedding destination.

Visitors from across the world flock to our shores, castles and mountaintops, to tie the knot with over 950 couples from abroad getting married in Scotland last year.

On average 20 per cent of weddings held in Scotland every year are between non-residents. Over 130,000 couples living outside the UK have chosen Scotland for their wedding over the last 20 years and wedding venues across the country are reporting an increase in enquiries from far flung places.

VisitScotland’s new Wedding Tourism research paper encourages the Scottish tourism industry to capitalise on the country’s wedding sector. Those businesses already conducting weddings revealed that the benefits of international couples is their tendency to book out of season and during mid-week, a longer stay meaning a wider tourism opportunity and a higher spend per guest.

The paper also details wedding trends such as “retromony – to absent friends” which sees couples coming to Scotland to marry as a nod to their Scottish ancestry. Venues stated that American and Australian couples prefer traditional Scottish themes and touches like thistles, tartan, whisky and ceilidhs. Some grooms with no Scottish roots still choose to don a kilt when getting married here.

Venues such as Dundas Castle near South Queensferry now offer themed weddings based on shows such as Outlander, embrace cultural requirements such as Chinese and Asian ceremonies and use a virtual 3D tour of the venue to tap into the international market.

Scotland’s history as a place for young couples to elope still resonates with visitors with Gretna Green in Dumfries and Galloway remaining a popular spot to tie the knot. Unlike the national picture, the vast majority of weddings conducted at Gretna Green are between two people who live outside of Scotland.

Chris Greenwood, VisitScotland Senior Tourism Insight Manager, said: “Over the years there has been a steady flow of couples from abroad choosing to get married in Scotland.

“Scotland provides the option of getting married anywhere you please, be that a mountaintop, a beach, a castle, or a zoo, and this is proving appealing to people both home and overseas. 

“This research paper highlights Scotland’s potential as a wedding destination for couples across the world and showcases why businesses should be paying attention of this lucrative market.”

Sandrine Contier-Lawrie, from The National Trust for Scotland, said: “Most people dream that the most important day of their lives will be matched by the most marvellous and memorable setting possible: in Scotland we can make that dream come true.

“Because Scottish law allows for ceremonies to take place just about anywhere, we at the National Trust for Scotland care for venues that will surpass your wildest dreams.  Be it an elegant regency house, an ancient castle, an historic hunting lodge or amidst awesome mountain scenery or a glorious scented garden, we can offer a place to say ‘I do’ that will live with you forever.

“That’s why we see so many people from the rest of the UK and overseas coming to places like Culzean Castle, the Georgian House or the Mar Lodge Estate, I don’t think there’s any other place in the world that can offer such a combination of history and ambiance. Newly married couples will often spend their honeymoon in Scotland and it can be the beginning of another love affair, this time with our country as we see them coming back here time after time.”

Louise Andrew, General Manager at Dundas Castle, said: “In the last few years Dundas Castle has welcomed increasing numbers of destination weddings. As a family home, our venue is particularly attractive to overseas visitors as we understand well how to embrace different cultures and needs, making every guest feel welcome. 

“We love hosting wedding guests from overseas and take pleasure in ensuring that couples get an authentic Scottish celebration. A recent addition has been our 3D tour of Dundas Castle.

“While virtually roaming through the Castle is fun, it is also a valuable tool for those planning a wedding from afar, as visitors can get a real feel of our historic venue.  It allows guests to plan a trip to Scotland and see the bedrooms they will be staying in and the location for the wedding itself, without the need for travel.

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