5 reasons to choose an intimate winter castle wedding

Enter into the start the New Year with an intimate snow-topped Castle wedding

It may be something about the cosiness of a roaring fire lighting up the room as you enjoy a delicious Scottish wedding breakfast, or the crisp wintery air outside allowing you to snuggle further into your white fur cape placed delicately over your beaded dress, or the simply stunning photograph opportunities that can be achieved with such ethereal and pristine winter backdrops. Whatever your reasoning behind choosing an intimate winter wedding, we at Aldourie Castle couldn’t agree with you more. Here are a few more reasons why a winter wedding is the perfect end, or start, to the year.

Margaret Soraya wedding photography - Aldourie Castle castle wedding
Winter weddings are an excuse to wrap up warm in fur or velvet

Arrive in style wrapped up to the nines in a beautiful warm wedding dress

One of the bonuses of a winter wedding is that your wedding dress can be as heavy or as full as you wish without worrying about being too warm during your Big Day. Why not theme your dress around your venue – Medieval or other vintage styles would befit the Castle, with some added luxury and sparkle perhaps; beads, diamantes, full lace sleeves and velvet are gorgeous options that would look and feel in-keeping with the season.

Be adventurous with colour

If white is really not for you there are plenty of rich or bright shades which perfectly contrast against cool wintry settings – such as crimson or emerald green. Although wedding dresses can be colourful all year round choosing one for your winter wedding makes such a statement amongst a more sepia toned setting. The cool but atmospheric backdrop of the Scottish Highlands, either baron or snow-topped, make any winter wedding photograph a work of art. Bright colours in the foreground will add much interest and depth to the look and feel of your wedding day.

The Scottish Highlands create a magical backdrop castle wedding
The Scottish Highlands create a dreamy and magical backdrop

Hot beverages for a party spirit!

Champagne is both elegant and traditional – especially for the ‘toast’ – but how about something different for the reception? Pimms is perfect for the height of summer so why not try the opposite for your wedding nuptials and let your guests indulge in the spiciness and festiveness of mulled wine. Many a bridal party at Aldourie Castle opts for this tipple at their winter wedding, with which guests can sit on the grass verge to gaze out over the impressively vast Loch Ness waters or take a leisurely stroll through the trees on the back drive, without feeling the chill.


Theme it ‘Winter’

So many luxury castles and houses are made for big parties – so if you’re choosing a venue such as Aldourie Castle you really can have a ball with theming your intimate wedding. A recent autumn wedding we hosted saw the bride choose sophisticated and inspired twig centrepieces and a tree-named table plan as well as throwing autumnal shades of burnt orange and deep reds into the mix – it was delightful! Although the magnificent baronial interior of the Staterooms speaks for itself there’s always room for a personal touch; take advantage of the medieval feel of the Castle and invite your guests to Winterfell in the world of Game of Thrones; this doesn’t have to be as corny as it sounds; decoration and a costume here can make for a really impressive, stylish but subtle theme. Lastly, ensure your flowers choices are brimming with rich colouring and the occasional sparkle of silver or gold.

Theme your wintry wedding castle wedding
Theme your wintry wedding: Imagine a Game of Thrones look and feel

And finally…Let it Snow!

How many of us worry about the weather, whether it be too hot and sticky or too cold and rainy? Couple that with your wedding day, and stress levels can get high just anticipating bad 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 you’re more likely to expect there to be snow on the ground; what better than a gentle snowfall to 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!

snow topped castle wedding Scotland castle wedding
A snow topped castle wedding on Loch Ness in Scotland: perfection

For couples searching for the perfect winter wonderland venue, Aldourie Castle near Inverness still has available intimate winter wedding dates from January to March 2015.

Celebrate with your select nearest and dearest family and friends in what will be one of the most memorable days of your lives, in an enchanting location and luxurious place.


Unique Scottish Castle Wedding Venues

Choose your unique Scottish castle wedding venue

Make 2015 the year you create your own fairytale. We all have dreams. Why not make your dream become a reality; experience exquisite beauty and the comfort of true luxury in an inspiring magical setting. Or choose a unique Scottish castle wedding venue that no-one will forget. So, what makes the Aldourie experience more luxurious? It’s entirely your own, you don’t have to share it with anyone else. You can experience Aldourie Castle on your own or you can come here with family or with friends. Just a small group; intimate, private and personal.

unique Scottish castle wedding venue

Once you decide who is lucky enough to share in your magical Aldourie Castle experience you can start to direct your own fairytale. After all, such a property could appear in any Disney classic or nursery rhyme and its turrets, wild Scottish Highland surroundings and ethereal Loch Ness backdrop together set an undeniably romantic historic scene. Your unique Scottish castle wedding venue can become in an instant your Disney style wedding venue.

Before
The beginning of your fairytale starts the moment you book your Aldourie escape. Let’s face it, not everybody can say they have stayed in an authentic historic Castle in stunning grounds on the edge of the most famous waters in the world. Or held their wedding in a unique Scottish castle wedding venue. So, make the most of this opportunity. Delight friends with visits to the website to indulge in hypnotic photographs, enticing anecdotes from previous guests and delectable descriptions of this enchanting place. Dive into the Aldourie dream world as often as you wish before eventually arriving at the Castle for real.

unique Scottish castle wedding venue

Plan your stay at this iconic place and unique Scottish castle wedding venue by making the journey up to the wild Scottish Highlands the most anticipating travel experience you’ve ever undergone – be it by car, train or plane – and set out activities you want to do once you arrive. These activities could be anything from outdoor pursuits – walking in the Scottish Highlands, dolphin spotting, speedboat rides – to indoor things to do such as whisky tasting or taking part in your own Ceilidh.

During
From the simple things you can experience during a private stay at Aldourie Castle to the more extreme or unique, we can organise anything for you and your guests. Suddenly, the fairytale lifts off the page and becomes your daily life for a week or longer.

unique Scottish castle wedding venue

At Aldourie you may host your own dinner party, formal or informal or a murder mystery evening with friends. You can enjoy traditional games of charades by the fire with a glass of our finest cellar wine in hand or spend an evening lazing on the Drawing Room’s chaise longue with a good book from the Castle Library as you gaze across the enormous waters of Loch Ness hoping to spot Nessie.

Outdoors, use the grounds to your advantage, rising early some days to explore the secrets of the woods. Let the kids climb the treehouse, discover the ancient family graveyard and enjoy wildlife spotting on the Estate while you venture further into the majestic hills of the Highlands, breathing in the fresh Scottish air and working up an appetite for dinner. Guests are free to roam, walk and cycle round the Estate as if it were their own home and grounds.

Before you leave make sure you do something even more special than staying in a Castle  – you could learn to play the bagpipes with Aldourie’s very own Piper! And don’t forget to treat yourself and your party with a Nessie hunting tour making sure everyone has had an opportunity to spot the elusive Loch Ness Monster.

Special Events at Aldourie Castle luxury Highland holidays

Happily Ever After
You won’t need reminding but remember to take away your memories and keep them alive – and relive your personally-tailored fairytale at any time, day or night, until you arrive back at Aldourie once again.

Bask in the comfort of knowing you stayed in characterful bedrooms in grand four poster beds. You experienced carpet rides stepping from one luxurious space to the next, slept amongst soft floating fabrics, enjoyed a beautiful, personal space to relax in and window views of the prettiest sights in Scotland.

So if you would like more information regarding this unique Scottish castle wedding venue then give us a call to discuss your requirements or alternatively fill in our easy to use enquiry form online.


What does Exclusive Use of a private Castle actually mean?

The first thing to know when you hear the words ‘Exclusive Use’ in reference to a hospitality venue or private property is that it’s most likely a very special and unique place indeed. And secondly, if it’s a historic property, that it is unlikely to be open to the public, making it an even more exciting and intriguing place to visit. Thirdly, this phrase means that the property is available only for private hire by an individual or group. There is no rule who that individual or group may be; it could be a family reunion of numerous generations, a corporate booking or a close group of friends sharing an idyllic holiday. With us, you can rent an entire castle on the shores of Loch Ness.

The library has hundreds of books Use of a private Castle

All of the above outlined attributes of our beloved Castle go down very well with guests. They like to know they are staying in not only a beautiful property but a special venue that can be experienced only by those who feel it worthy enough of hiring the place privately for themselves or their group. This private Scottish Estate and the enchanting Castle that sits within it is classed as a private historic property rather than a public place owned by any of the national heritage organisations that look after buildings and gardens, such as the National Trust or Historic Houses Association.

These organisations are brilliant at up-keeping hundreds of beautiful properties that are dotted around the UK and are responsible for opening their doors during certain time of the year for the public to visit and enjoy. (This is not always the first wish of their current owners but in fact a necessity to keep the contents and the properties themselves in existence). If owners are lucky enough to not to have to rely on The National Trust and HHA for their services and therefore tick all the boxes and have means to operate as a private hire property then this opens up a whole new set of opportunities for such heritage buildings.

4. Aldourie Castle from Loch Ness Use of a private Castle

Setting up your own heritage Estate as a private hire property however is not as simple as listing it on a few websites and telling some travel agents where it is located. There is hard work to be done in making it ready for the guests you want to attract. For instance, health and safety regulations have to be adhered to and any overnight accommodation has to be guest-ready (not like the red-roped bedrooms you see in various stately homes that, although look inviting and exciting to experience, would probably leave you with a bad back by morning).

Like any top hotel, private use venues have a priority; to satisfy guests with an exceptional service and comfort so they either book again for next year or recommend the property to family and friends. All this means research into what other exclusive use properties are offering on a service and comfort level, and aiming to match or go a step further than them. It then also means investment of pieces such as incredibly comfortable items befitting the property. There is a certain knack needed here which is why so often a professional interior designer is hired; the furniture must be attractive, coordinating, comfortable, endurable and at the same time, if in a historic setting, should appear as if it was placed there hundreds of years ago. The same theory applies to the decoration of floors, walls, ornaments and artwork etc. You get the idea! There is so much to prepare for before a property can even be considered as being hired out to the luxury travel market.
Use of a private Castle - red room

Now you realise that the properties you see available for ‘Exclusive hire or Exclusive use are those which are in-keeping with their original era through design, style and architecture but have most definitely been through a period of transformation and modernisation of their facilities, both inside the property and in the grounds. This is no mean feat and, as with Aldourie Castle, often takes years of vision, research, preparation, hard work and perseverance in order to achieve the final outcome. Guests who hire an exclusive use property therefore appreciate what they are getting in return.

For there is something quite special and mystical when you rent an entire castle for a week, or even just overnight, in a country house or castle that was once lived in centuries ago by families and welcomed intriguing historical characters as visitors for weeks on end. Aldourie itself was such a Castle, complete with house party status and part of a celebrated and popular sporting Highlands Estate.

Privately hiring this Castle as your own home lets you and your guests share in the memories of years gone by, family secrets and as many historical facts as you can possibly take in. Exclusive Use is what is says on the tin: special, privileged and entirely yours. Enquire to rent an entire castle exclusively on the shores of Loch Ness today.


A Luxury Castle Stay in Scotland

The beauty of Aldourie Castle on Loch Ness near Inverness is that it can be used as a celebrations venue at any time of year. The surrounding Scottish Highland landscape comes into its own in every season making the baronial style castle look magnificent against its ever changing backdrop. Likewise the property itself can transform from enchanting summer fairytale castle to an ethereal winter medieval façade in a matter of months, which could be a result of a few well-placed lights outside, but, mainly due to the changing skies and weather and the reflections from the waters of Loch Ness. The natural surroundings of this old and loved castle have a lot to do with the atmosphere both in and around the luxury venue, making it truly a luxury castle stay in Scotland at any time of year.

Luxury Castle Stay in Scotland

As a wedding venue Aldourie really is the pinnacle of luxury, offering a self-contained stay for up to a week for a bride and groom and their family and friends. Celebrate in Scotland in spring and summer at Aldourie, a luxury venue, where the evenings on the parkland are never ending, where flat tree-lined paths lead guests astray into romantic woodland and beach walks, where an evening boat ride or cruise along Loch Ness can be arranged as quickly as your haggis can come out of the kitchen. Life is easy at Aldourie, the team here strives to make your luxury wedding or celebration in Scotland an experience to treasure for the rest of your life.

As a prelude to your magical big day here at Aldourie Castle the bride to be can invite her nearest and dearest girlfriends for pre-wedding fun hiring out the fairytale Castle as a luxury hen party venue for the weekend or even a week-long celebration. Hen party activities can be arranged out on Loch Ness or in the parkland or luxury games can take place in the castle itself. Why not have a stylish and sophisticated hen party in Scotland with The Hen Planner to organise activities at Aldourie Castle?

Luxury Castle Stay in Scotland

Fine dining for a unique celebration or occasion is a seamless operation here at Aldourie Castle. For those wishing to experience true fine dining in Scotland this is the place. Not only has Aldourie the spectacular backdrop for your guests to arrive to it also has the hospitality, service, experience and luxury to provide the ultimate venue for your celebration. During autumn the weather gets a little fresher and the leaves start to fall around the medieval castle floating from the hundreds of trees that enclose the venue. It’s a really magical time to experience Aldourie Castle Estate, if just for the beauty of the place. Inside, your guests can gather for pre-dinner drinks in the cosy red Drawing Room, leisurely exploring the castle with its library of books and hallways laden with portraits and heirlooms, before being seated to a three or four course dinner in the grand traditional Dining Room. Ever since the Highlands clans were diminished in the area Aldourie has made a name for itself as a fine dining venue in Scotland. Be in a corporate charity dinner, business dinner with important clients or a unique dining event in celebration of Scottish cuisine. Whatever the event celebrate it on Loch Ness in a famous castle in Scotland with impressive Scottish Highlands views and an unrivalled autumnal atmosphere.

Luxury Castle Stay in Scotland

Into the party season months of November and December a luxury castle stay in Scotland takes on another feel completely. Festivity takes over and the interior rich reds, golds and creams complement the outside of the Scottish Highlands castle. The Loch Ness property then becomes a perfect luxury party venue for events such as Murder Mystery dinner evenings and family reunions. Because the castle can be as informal as you like it is ideally suited for multi-generational stays of groups of family and friends. The child friendly party venue in Scotland is at its best when there are children exploring its every room and creating their own fun and adventures out in the Highlands estate from playing with the castle’s very own dog Loch Ness Lizzie to climbing the tree house and looking out over Loch Ness. The luxury Scottish castle with 13 bedrooms is a popular choice for family reunions and parties. Its convenient location, just outside Inverness and close to train stations and the airport, makes Aldourie Castle the luxury castle stay in Scotland for family and friends to get together in Scotland. The estate makes for a winter wonderland walk as children experience adventures in the Aldourie woodland looking for Santa’s Grotto, reindeer and sleighs hidden in the snowy parkland.

Luxury Castle Stay in Scotland

Another option available for a luxury castle stay in Scotland is murder mystery dinners for private groups in autumn and winter are always successful nights and there are many opportunities for these types of events from Halloween to Burns Night in January. What better place to spend December than at Aldourie, when Christmas is upon us and being with family and close friends is important. This enchanting castle is the ultimate house party venue in Scotland. Get everyone together for a family reunion on Loch Ness at a Scottish Highlands castle and make some lasting memories. After all, nobody needs an excuse for a party!

If you would like to book a luxury castle stay in Scotland then why not in touch via our online booking for or, alternatively, call us to discuss your particular needs.

 

 


Aldourie Castle History; Scottish Highlands, Clans & House Parties

The Highlands: from frightening wilderness to tourist trap

Aldourie Castle is located on Strath Dores’ low lying rolling grounds, between Loch Ness’ southern shore and the steep sides of the Glen leading up onto Drumashie Moor. People have lived in this area of the Highlands for thousands of years. There is so much here today to explore and enjoy but it has not always been this way. This mesmerising castle has seen a lot of history and in the process undergone substantial changes. Originally starting life as a laird’s mansion house, Aldourie began its story in a time when terror reigned during the Highland clan system. As the hills around it transformed so did Aldourie itself, only eventually achieving castle status in the 19th Century.

To understand the reasons for the transformation of the property from house to castle it is necessary to understand the forces in play in the Highlands at that time. As the Highlands trudged through bleak wilderness into tourist-appealing rustic idyll thus was born the Highland Sporting Estate and the Scottish baronial castle.

Aldourie a Highland Sporting Estate Aldourie Castle History
Aldourie a Highland Sporting Estate

The earliest part of the building was built by Alexander Macintosh of Kyllachie in the 17th Century whose family’s clan had held land in the Findhorn valley about 12 miles east of Aldourie. Although the old Scottish clan society proved to be a stable, lasting and fair way of living there was an equal measure of uneasiness amongst the Highlands that came with this way of ruling. Each clan had a chief to whom the people owed allegiance and he in turn could call on them to fight in his private army when required.  Often disputes would break out with neighbouring clans over boundaries or disputed chieftainships. This wild untamed and frightening land was governed by people of the same description and this was the reason few Lowland Scots or English ever ventured across the Highland line, leaving it all for the indulgence of the Highlanders for many years to come.

Alexander Macintosh was a real Highland character who led his clan to battle on several occasions. He was responsible for the first phase of construction at Aldourie in around 1622, a modest two-storey building with a few rooms and an attic. On Alexander’s death the property passed to his nephew William VIII of Kyllachie, who already owned a lot of land in the area, and in turn to the latter man’s son, Donald IXth of Kyllachie, in 1655. In 1667 there was a record of a Donald McIntosh of Aldowrie’ showing that the house had been built to a standard that was rated important enough to be recorded in his name. One of Donald’s daughters, Katherine, married John Barbour in 1700, who gave the title ‘of Aldourie’ to himself although his acquisition of the property did not officially happen until 1733.

Drumashie Moor ancient village settlement Aldourie Castle History
Drumashie Moor ancient village settlement

An event which would make history was on its way…

The Battle of Culloden in 1746 marked the defeat of the old Highland clan system. The British government could no longer tolerate a radical, independent minded and repeatedly rebellious people living in its northern lands. The Highlanders were subsequently brought into line; new laws forbade them to keep weapons of any kind and even to wear Highland dress – a deliberate move to quash an ancient culture. At the same time, Fort George was built and other measures taken to ensure that peace reined across the Highlands.

Around 1754, still in its modest form of ‘mansion’ house, Aldourie was sold by the Barbour family to William Fraser WS of Erchitt and Balnain. William’s daughter Anne married Alexander Tytler in 1776 and as was custom among the high classes of the time they merged surnames. By the 19th Century the old clan system had been consigned to history books, many chiefs had forfeited their estates or sold up and former clan lands were changing hands fast to new breed of landlord. These new owners had a real interest in the land from an economic or recreational perspective but little interest in, or loyalty to, the people, including their history or culture.

Alexander Fraser-Tytler Aldourie Castle History
Alexander Fraser-Tytler

Entrepreneurial landowners saw economic opportunity in wool and soon sheep were growing in the Highlands. The wool boom did not last but by the time it finished the Highlands had been transformed and the dawn of tourism was beginning. The new Highlands brought curious travellers to see what all the fuss was about, including famous writers such as Dr Samuel Johnson and James Boswell in the 1770s, Robert Burns and Sir Walter Scott. Their writing changed people’s views of the Highlands from terrifying baron land to a wild, romantic and rustic place. The icing on the cake came in the form of royal approval when Queen Victoria and her new husband Prince Albert started holidaying in the Highlands in 1842, ultimately buying Balmoral Castle in 1848.  What the Queen did, society followed, and aristocrats flocked north to buy their own Highland estates to hunt, shoot and fish.  However, they competed this time not in the shape of war but instead vying for attention in the form of spectacular house parties in the most impressive houses…or castles.

The Fraser-Tytler family owned Aldourie for some generations and by the 1830s the family, an influential set of lawyers and historians, were amongst the highest ranks of Scottish and Highland gentlemen. It was only natural they would want their home to reflect their status and the growing interest in the land as a sporting and social playground. And so began the build to transform a house into a more comfortable home that would define their power, position and taste. The first of four new building phases of Aldourie Castle was completed in 1839 and the rest, they say, is history…

The Highlands working farms Aldourie Castle History
The Highlands working farms

The Fraser-Tytler family owned Aldourie Castle until it was necessary to sell to the late Mrs Neil Fraser-Tytler’s husband’s cousin, Colonel Angus Cameron. Colonel Cameron died in 2001 and his widow decided to sell the Aldourie the following year and move to Inverness. However, the family retained some of the estate and is still active locally. Today, ever patient Aldourie remains a private sporting estate, now famous in its own right as the only habitable castle on Loch Ness, and is regularly hired out for exclusive house parties. The beautiful property, hidden away amidst the tall trees, has been through many changes but will always maintain a strong, justifiable sense of pride in its surrounding Highland legacy.