A guide to wedding anniversary themes and their meanings

It’s the year of the rooster. But really, that’s of little importance if this year you celebrate a special wedding anniversary with your loved one. In fact, every year until the 70th you can bestow a gift to your husband or wife according to the tradition that has since transcended into modern times. There are various versions of themes but we like this list below. Today, all the anniversary years from 1 up to 30 have been linked with a theme or material, and then every fifth year up to 75 years of marriage. However, we approve the traditional! It also makes sense for Aldourie to go down the more old-fashioned route, being an historical property. Speaking of which, if you are looking for a special wedding anniversary castle to celebrate in, you need look no further than our exclusive location in the magnificent Scottish Highlands.

Bestow your gift inside your own castle

This is such a lovely thing to blog about, especially as we’re now mid wedding season. Maybe you’ve recently become engaged or are planning your intimate wedding in Scotland. You may also discover our enchanting Castle, should you stumble across our helpful blog post, the perfect location for your wedding anniversary party with family and friends. 

Weddings can be exciting and spectacular, subtle and romantic, meaningful and mesmerising. They can be so many things to everybody all at once and just a certain thing to somebody at any one time. Wedding anniversary presents should be just as personal and bespoke – and that is how we like to keep things at Aldourie, a very special wedding anniversary castle.

1st Anniversary – Paper

The tradition has always been to give paper as a gift to celebrate your first year together. This notion was inspired by the first year of marriage being like a blank sheet, and largely fragile.

2nd Anniversary – Cotton

Your lives become more intertwined the longer you stay together as a married couple. This is symbolised by the many carefully woven threads that are used to make a piece of cotton.

3rd Anniversary – Leather

You relationship will become stronger as your marriage continues and matures. The gift for your third year suggests strength and protection. Leather is durable and hard-wearing material that is used to provide shelter and comfort.

4th Anniversary – Fruit & Flowers

This gift is based on a relationship ripening and blossoming as marriage continues. Flowers and/or fruit are the perfect way to celebrate your growing love after four years. Hire a special wedding anniversary castle for the occasion and decorate the entire place with flowers of your choice.

5th Anniversary – Wood

This natural material is a wonderful symbol of a marriage reaching five years. Trees have always been seen to denote strength and wisdom. Your marriage by now is solid and you have established some deep roots keeping you together in body and mind.

6th Anniversary – Sugar

Life is thought to be getting sweeter by the time you reach your sixth year of marriage. Celebrate with some sweet treats. This is a lovely, tempting gift idea offering so much choice!

7th Wedding Anniversary – Copper & Wool

Does this appear a strange combination? The reason for the pairing of copper and wool to acknowledge seven years as a married couple is their ability to conduct heat. Your partnership should be toasty warm after such time, and as comforting as sitting by the fireside in an Aldourie holiday cottage. This inspires some beautiful gift ideas for both your partner and the home.

8th Wedding Anniversary – Bronze

Bronze is an extremely strong metal and is an apt way to recognise this substantial stretch of time together. This beautiful metal is made up of copper and tin; combined they form strength and beauty. If you choose to celebrate in style by hiring a special wedding anniversary castle you’ll no doubt find numerous bronze ornaments dotted around for inspiration.

9th Wedding Anniversary – Pottery or Willow

What a lovely combination with so many ideas for gifts. Pottery is moulded by hand and the careful process results in a work of art. In a similar vein, willow has qualities of flexibility and, again, strength. You can create beautiful things if you take the time and effort to weave it (being sure to work through any mundane moments).

10th Wedding Anniversary – Tin

Tin sounds is such a traditional-sounding gift theme – and it’s also a clever one. This old-fashioned metal was used to store and preserve items so you can see why it was chosen to commemorate a decade of marriage. Tin prevents other metals from corroding when they are plated with it, and can prolong the life of what it is storing; wonderfully symbolic.

15th Wedding Anniversary – Crystal

Crystal is not only beautiful on the eye but has long been seen as a luxurious product. Note how it is the most expensive traditional anniversary gift so far. The material has such clarity to it and is hence the token gift for its representation of a couple seeing each other clearly after 15 years together. Aldourie could be your very own special wedding anniversary castle. After all, for years a beautiful Murano crystal chandelier hung in the Red Drawing Room.

20th Wedding Anniversary – China

China is fragile, but when it is looked after properly, it can stand the test of time. Much like a relationship! Even after two decades together, you may have your moments but if you take care your relationship will always survive. Giving each other china based gifts is a good way to remind yourselves of that. Locate that special wedding anniversary castle to celebrate with family and friends in a private setting. We assure you you’ll behold some of the most beautiful china sets during your Afternoon Teas.

25th Wedding Anniversary – Silver

Silver is a precious metal, and no matter how old it is, if it’s treated properly and polished regularly it will continue to gleam. Give silver gifts for your 25th anniversary to remind yourselves of that.

30th Wedding Anniversary – Pearl

Pearls are a symbol of hidden beauty – they are cultivated over time within the not so pretty oyster, but once you open it up you find something precious inside. After three decades together it’s unlikely you’ll appear the same as you did when you first met, but what’s inside counts. Pearl inspired anniversary gifts are the way to mark this occasion.

35th Wedding Anniversary – Coral

Coral is a very precious substance and was once believed to have magical properties to protect against illness and danger. It is still precious and protected today so think carefully when it comes to choosing a coral inspired anniversary gift and maybe choose something inspired by the beautiful colour.

40th Wedding Anniversary – Ruby

Red is a colour often associated with love, and a rich red ruby is the perfect way to symbolise your love. Whether you want to do the traditional anniversary or the modern, look for ruby inspired gifts as the stone is used for both. This is such a momentous, hopelessly romantic anniversary that you may just need a hire a special wedding anniversary castle for the occasion, a location able to match the beauty of this stunning stone.

45th Wedding Anniversary – Sapphire

Beautiful blue sapphires were once the reserve of loyalty, making them a luxurious, aspirational item. Give the gift of sapphires to celebrate an impressive 45 years together, as it’s used for traditional and modern anniversary celebrations.

50th Wedding Anniversary – Gold

After a lifetime together, there’s only one gift that can do it justice – gold. The most precious metal, gold symbolises lots of things, including prosperity and strength. Again gold is used for modern and traditional anniversaries so buy your loved one a gold anniversary gift. You could even upgrade your wedding rings!

55th Wedding Anniversary – Emerald

Green is considered to be the most calming of all colours, and represents growth. After 55 years together your life may not be as hectic as it once was, but you’ve grown together so give emerald inspired gifts to recognise that.

60th Wedding Anniversary – Diamond

Diamonds flourish under pressure and are extremely hardwearing – just like your relationship will be after six decades of marriage. It is considered to be invincible and is associated with love and wealth. After 60 years of happy marriage, you may not have physical wealth but you’ll have a wealth of experience and love so celebrate with diamond inspired anniversary gifts.

70th Wedding Anniversary – Platinum

Platinum is a metal that resists wear and is incredibly hard to tarnish. It’s one of the rarest metals, making it exclusive and is a symbol of endurance. What better way to describe 70 years of marriage? Celebrate not only with each other but why not mark this incredible milestone with everyone you love? Take over a special wedding anniversary castle with your dearest family and friends in the heart of the Scottish Highlands. Make your 70th wedding anniversary a memory for all those you cherish.

This has been a real lesson in love. How fascinating to find out exactly what and why matrimonial gifts are so meaningful and important. Note how the gifts start off simple and inexpensive with great potential for innovation and interpretation. Finding your feet and experimenting with what works and what doesn’t is akin to the first few years of marriage. And making sure there is enough money left in the pot for building a life together. Later, the materials become more elegant and of finer quality and great value. Surely a long, prosperous marriage is worthy of such recognition. It seems right to bestow a gift of beauty that can be admired for years to come, in the same way you look back on the beautiful picture your life together.

Beautiful location to match your anniversary gift

Unique Aldourie Castle hosts a handful of weddings a year and specialises in the intimate wedding celebration. This is mainly because the setting within is made for intimate gatherings and house parties. Also, we like to pay tribute to the history and values of the property. As well as small weddings, the only habitable Castle on Loch Ness makes a stunning location for wedding anniversary parties. Guests come from world-wide to stay in this enchanting Castle and make it their own for a week or even longer. Please call 01463 751309 to discuss your celebration requirements and how Aldourie can make this your very own special wedding anniversary castle.


5 amazing reasons to stay in a castle

In case you need persuading we’ve listed our favourite five reasons why you might want to stay in a castle. Of course, we could have focused on the exclusivity of some castles, perfect for private family holiday rentals. Or we could have enticed you with talk of luxury bedrooms and spectacular window views. Instead, we’ve considered what might come to mind when conjuring up the image of a castle in your head. If you had never considered a stay in a castle, whether for a luxurious group holiday or special birthday celebration, it’s time to give in to your inner romantic and realise the wonder behind every castle wall.
Aldourie Castle Loch Ness bride internal spiral staircase stay in a castle

They’re in fairytales

Once upon a time people would get married in a church. Then came the shiny, swanky, spotless hotel and that became the ideal wedding venue. But nowadays, brides want it all – and that can often mean getting married in a fairytale castle…but, of course!

Not only can couples officially ‘get married’ but they can also stay in a castle overnight and so can their guests. Whether for your intimate nuptials or full blown celebrity wedding, insist on posing for photographs in the highest turret and use the spiral staircase as part of your walk down the aisle. Because surely, if they had gotten the chance, Rapunzel and Sleeping Beauty would have done the same thing.

Holiday and history in one

Traditionally, one of the main reasons a castle was built was to ensure protection from enemy armies. They had cold rooms, grey stone walls and floors, and tiny windows to lessen chances of danger getting in. Some castles, in Scotland most definitely, remain precisely this way to this day. These Scottish castles are fabulous for tourists wanting to get a feel for life in the olden days. However, they’re not so enticing for the luxuries one longs for when escaping for a week or two’s holiday. Now that the exclusive use property has taken off like a cannon ball, many castles have been restored and renovated with more opulence and comfort than they’ve ever had before.

old photo Aldourie Castle Estate exterior stay in a castle

Large families searching for that special reunion location can stay in a castle equipped with everything expected of a luxury holiday rental. These range from impressive technology to a five star hospitality service. The added benefit is the history that comes with a castle, from architecture to stories of the past within. A castle stay is ideal for a multi-generational holiday. For example, mum might enjoy the peace and quiet of the old library but granddad will have a whale of a time taking the kids around the nooks and crannies of the castle giving them history lessons mixed with old Scottish fables. See some photos of Aldourie Castle long ago on our History page.

They make a perfect ‘spooky’ Halloween retreat

From ghost stories round the fire, to Hide and Seek that could last a day, a castle is an Aladdin’s Cave of adventure for a Halloween stay. Not every castle is destined to be haunted, but because of its history it’ll most certainly have ‘atmosphere’. Whether a castle built for battle or an old mansion house converted into one like Aldourie, it will have an interesting past.

Aldourie Castle Estate Loch Ness Graveyard stay in a castle

Wouldn’t it be exciting to stay in a castle with a group of friends over Halloween? You could enjoy themed outdoor activities (arranged by the castle staff) and then make your own fun inside? You could indulge in a Halloween feast and decorate the halls with cobwebs, have a Fancy Dress evening and even carry out a Murder Mystery dinner. Thrilled by this idea? Read our Halloween House Party blog post for many more reasons to stay in a castle over Halloween. It includes lots of spooky ideas for Aldourie Castle – which has its own graveyard, you know?

You can make good use of the moat

Many castles designed for exclusive use or private hire, and notoriously Scottish castles, will feature their own moat. Quaint as this may seem, the moat surrounding the castle was, again, there to make it difficult to attack. If you are lucky enough to stay in a castle with a moat you can access, we suggest family fun activities such as zorbing, outdoor water sports like canoeing and, if the weather permits, wild swimming. Though we are not sure how wild swimming in a moat could be. In Aldourie’s case, the Castle has something better than a moat; it  has magnificent Loch Ness on its doorstep. Let us arrange a ride on the Nessie Hunter, private boat trips to Fort Augustus and water activities in front of the Castle. Water sports are a wonderful way to get everyone in a group stay involved in the holiday fun.

speedboat loch ness Aldourie Castle Estate stay in a castle

Castles unleash children’s imaginations

Nobody should really require an introduction to this point, but if in doubt; think Disney. Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella and Shrek each have castles at the core (and heart) of their stories. Imagine telling the kids you’re all going to a land Far Far Away to stay in an enchanted castle. (The journey to the Scottish Highlands where Aldourie Castle is located, for example, could definitely qualify depending on where you live). Now, surely that’s better than DisneyLand!

There will be boundless opportunities already on offer in many castle grounds. For instance: treehouse antics, woodland to explore, a game of Tag/Tig in the parkland, Billy Goat’s Gruff if there’s a bridge and stream. Kids can create their own fun on a rainy day playing Make Believe, having the authentic props to hand. Should a back-up be needed most exclusive use castles have a dedicated games rooms where you might find a billiards table, large screen TV and board games – but we’re moving onto Times of the Modern Castle now, and that’s another story.

Aldourie Castle Estate loch ness treehouse in woodland stay in a castle

For some of you, the thought may never have crossed your mind before reading the amazing reasons above. But, if you do decide to stay in a castle maybe consider this Castle on Loch Ness. The Aldourie experience would provide you with memories to last a lifetime. On top of that, it could end up being the staple family holiday for generations to come. Make your own history at Aldourie and enquire about exclusive use availability at: info@aldouriecastle.co.uk.


Small winter weddings in a castle

Bring the year to a fine end with an intimate and atmospheric Highland Castle wedding

Is it the warmth of a roaring fire cosying up the room as you enjoy traditional Scottish cuisine for your wedding breakfast or the crisp, cool wintry air outside allowing you to snuggle further into your white fur cape placed delicately over your shoulders, that makes you want to book your small winter wedding at an enchanting Castle in the ethereal Scottish Highlands? There are many reasons for you to want to have a winter wedding at a luxury hire property and we at Aldourie Castle are firm believers that small, intimate weddings with just a select few guests of family and close friends is perfectly placed in this fairytale Castle.

Margaret Soraya wedding photography - Weddings in a Castle

Arrive in style wrapped up warm in a fur or velvet wedding dress and cape

One of the many benefits to having a winter wedding is that your wedding dress can be as heavy with as many layers of material as you wish without the worry of over-heating during your Big Day. Why not theme your dress around your venue – Game of Thrones or fairytale themed small weddings would befit the Highland Castle on Loch Ness. Then add some luxury to your attire with beads, diamante, lace or fur; any of which would be in-keeping with the winter season.

Be brave and bold with colour

We’re guessing that if you are choosing to hire a luxury turreted Castle in wild open grounds for your small wedding then you probably like to do things a little differently. If you think there may be too much white around on your wedding day then opt for a rich, decadent shade of crimson or emerald green for your wedding dress to contrast well against cool wintry settings. Choosing a bolder colour adds to your confidence on the day and makes such a statement amongst the atmospheric light blues and greys of winter. The cool striking backdrop of the Scottish Highlands, either wild and blustery or still and snow-topped, make any winter wedding photograph a work of art. Imagine your bridal gown in the foreground adding so much interest and depth to the look and feel of your wedding day.

Margaret Soraya Photography shows the wintry magic of Loch Ness

Hot beverages create a party spirit!

Champagne is the traditional option for the wedding ‘toast’ and adds elegance to your wedding; something you wouldn’t want to be without in an enchanting castle on Loch Ness. But you could opt for an alternative for your guests to drink at your small wedding reception. Pimms is ideal in summer so why not try the perfect match for winter and allow your guests indulge in the spiciness and festiveness of a glass of mulled wine. Many a bridal party at Aldourie Castle favours this festive tipple at their small winter wedding not least because it eases winter chills, warming the hands and hearts of guests as they wander the snowy woods and parkland or take in the views over the Loch from the glistening shoreline.

Theme it ‘Winter’

So many luxury castles and houses were originally designed for huge parties but Aldourie Castle with its intimate relaxing rooms, cosy nooks and hallways and individual character bedrooms was made for small, private parties. Because we are relaxed and want you to feel at home here you really can let go when theming your intimate wedding. Although the magnificent baronial interior of the Staterooms speaks for itself there is opportunity for personal touches; take advantage of the historic feel of the Castle and invite your guests to attend a small royal party in Winterfell and indulge in a private Game of Thrones style wedding. This doesn’t have to be corny – you go for outlandish glamour or stick to an impressively stylish but subtle theme. Lastly, ensure your flowers choices are brimming with rich colour and the occasional sparkle of silver or gold.

Margaret Soraya wedding photography - Weddings in a Castle

And finally…Let it Snow!

How many of us worry about the weather, generally; not just leading up to a wedding day. Avoid the stresses associated with hoping and praying for ‘nice weather’. What many a photographer may never tell you is that a bright sunny day is not necessarily the ideal scenario for capturing the best images. By choosing to have a winter wedding, by default you’re more likely to expect it to be cold, possibly frosty, a chance of rain or even a blizzard. But once you have accepted that will more than likely be weather to expect during your intimate wedding celebrations you can start to get excited about the possibilities of extreme weather forecasts such as a gentle smattering of snow. What conjures up romance more than a gentle snowfall outside whilst you make your eternal vows in the cosiness of a castle? It will only add to the excitement of the day. And what’s more, it means you can relax your feet in wellies under your wedding dress for some of the photos – and nobody will be any the wiser!

For couples searching for the perfect winter wonderland venue, Aldourie Castle near Inverness still has small winter wedding dates available from November to March 2016.

Celebrate with only your nearest and dearest family and friends in what will be one of the most memorable days of your lives, in an enchanting location on wondrous Loch Ness.


Luxury hen party weekend in Scotland

A Royal Night Out? This week’s new film release depicts the royal princesses escaping the Palace’s grandeur for more excitement. However, we suggest, if a home is adorned with beauty, space and luxury, it’s more fun staying in. Here’s how to hen party in style inside your own private fairytale Scottish Castle.

You are organising your best friend or sister’s hen party weekend but not sure what to do or where to go. Ideally, you want to encompass all the traditional traits of a sophisticated hen party in one well executed, yet still impulsive and exciting, weekend. Already sound like a challenge?

Your idea is for all the girls to have the opportunity to dress to impress – but still be pampered, enjoy some fine dining (and wining) – but also Afternoon Tea (Betty’s, Harrods or even Savoy style), whilst  luxuriating in a beautiful setting – preferably befitting a princess. A lot to ask for in one weekend? We don’t think so! And, we have the answer to your prayers: Private Castle Hire in the heart of beautiful, enchanting Scotland.

Aldourie castle , Loch Nes, tea and champagne Luxury hen party

All under one roof

There may be dozens of castle turrets at Aldourie, but there is only one roof; making your private hen party stay here a most intimate and personal celebration for the bride and her closest girlfriends. Unlike a hotel, hen party guests can wander through the Castle at their leisure making use of each room for those ‘spontaneous’ and sophisticated hen party games: Hide and Seek, Narnia style, anyone?

Our expert hospitality team also invites you to share your plans for your stylish, glamorous hen party weekend. That way, you are still staying in control but we do all the hard work to perfect the stay of your dreams. There is no need to venture to the nearest cocktail bar for the all-important Cocktail Making Session; we can organise that in the Castle’s Main Hall. Because we are so sure of our 5 star status and work with a variety of trusted suppliers we promise to deliver any of your chosen events with style, impeccable service and professionalism.

Bespoke and personable

Aldourie is a place without boundaries, where guests are encouraged to explore and free to roam and use their imaginations. We want your hen party to be a magical experience you tell your grandchildren about. Instead of a formal long list of ‘hotel’ rules, we ask you simply to respect the history and beauty of this private hire property in the spectacular Scottish Highlands. We have found this helps you and your party to relax.

Jacobite cruises loch ness Luxury hen party

Where else, even in the most luxury hotel in the UK, could you take over the outdoor grounds with just your hen party? Maybe for a price you could, but it possibly wouldn’t feel as personal and special as having a medieval Castle garden, woodland and moat (aka marina) all to yourself. Any outdoor activity akin to hen party fun, such as zorbing, can be arranged on Loch Ness itself or around the luscious green parkland. Both feature a breath-taking backdrop of the Scottish Highlands that could knock you silly!

Exclusively yours

Why share your special hen party celebrations with anyone else? At Aldourie Castle on peaceful Loch Ness shores ensconced in stunning Highlands hills and surrounded by thick forests, you and your party of close girlfriends could be the stars of your favourite Disney film or fairytale book. At Aldourie the only way we do anything is by exclusive use, so be prepared to enter the world of your dreams; be pampered, spoiled rotten, indulged and possibly have the best weekend of your life, so far…

Luxury and grandeur

The delightful individually styled bedrooms add such grandeur and luxury to your hen party weekend. Designed in a unique style of their own each bedroom can be assigned to your hen party princesses to suit personality and taste – now, that’s something you wouldn’t get in a hotel. Lady Grey bedroom with its huge en-suite bathroom is a bride-to-be’s dream; a high up turret fit for a queen where you can slip into cosy dressing gowns with your friends, sip champagne and await your personal pamper or spa experience. Try a luxury bootcamp or morning group yoga session on the lawn by Loch Ness to really get into the spirit of your hen party weekend.

Aldourie Castle, Loch Ness Boots n Paddles Luxury hen party

A perfect hen party setting

Located in the midst of a 500 acre estate, behind a tall original Castle wall resides a 17th Century masterpiece. Perfectly formed to cater for your sophisticated hen party weekend away in Scotland, this luxurious private hire property could get lost in layer upon layer of vast green landscape. Considered by all who’ve experienced its magic to be a very special venue, Aldourie Castle is a hen party location with history, character, charm and magnificence combined; the perfect start to wedded bliss.