The Isle of Skye has a rich history of marriage in its many forms: folk legends tell of secret elopements deep within the sea caves at Elgol, as well as lavish weddings of the upper class, held in majestic castles and hotels across the island. And of course, the islanders are renowned for their foot-stomping ceilidhs which – fuelled by whisky and music – go long into the night. Many choose to say their vows in the great outdoors, somewhere with meaning – perched atop a hill or a serene loch-side shore, perhaps with only a handful of guests. Others choose to host huge traditional weddings, with plenty of friends and family, eating and dancing in town halls or big hotels. The island hosts adventurous stag or hen do’s, complete with the Highland tradition of ‘blackening’ – when the groom or bride is kidnapped by a group of friends, tied up and doused in pretty much anything disgusting and sticky – think dog food, eggs or molasses. Supposedly to ward off evil spirits, this pre-wedding game goes back to medieval times and can either be hilarious or terrifying to watch. Don’t be put off though, the world-class Highland hospitality will ensure that every couple enjoys their wedding day enormously – regardless of how they feel about the night before!
Set against the majestic Cuillin range in the historic heart of the island, Sligachan Hotel is becoming an extremely popular Skye wedding venue due to its incredibly photogenic location, relative accessibility (no ferries or single track roads required) and impressive accommodation. Nestled amongst the mountains, the summer sun drenches the hotel and grounds in warm light and sharp shadows: lighting up the day with spectacular visuals. During a winter Skye wedding, the wild skies create a moody atmosphere – and excellent photographs. At Sligachan, guests can scramble up a munro before donning their kilts and frocks – or they can opt to lounge around, in an opulent and well-stocked bar, viewing the mountains from a comfortable distance. This is an excellent choice of venue if the wedding guests have a diverse range of interests and needs.
Lauren, a 27-year old hospitality manager living in Edinburgh, has chosen to get married at Sligachan after spending two idyllic summers working there as a waitress while her partner, Alex, worked in the kitchen. The pair have opted to tie the knot (literally, in a traditional Gaelic hand fastening ceremony) in a patch of land set just aside from the trail up to Sgurr nan Gillean – Lauren and Alex’s favourite munro. Because of their experience of living on the island, and their shared passion for hill-walking, the couple were able to pick a spot to get married in that is completely unique to them – and with miles and miles of romantic moors, waterfalls and mountain to choose from, anyone could do the same.
After the ceremony; the meal, speeches and partying will take place in Seumas’ whisky bar. This is a huge space, with a kind of rustic-converted-barn feel to it, with a high-beamed ceiling and huge dancefloor. Lauren and Alex have littered the building with fairy lights and flowers, hanging decorations from the beams and creating a space which is tailored to their tastes. Alex is Canadian with Scottish heritage, and therefore loves all things highland: there seems to be heather and whisky everywhere. Miniature drams of Talisker sit above each place setting, with tiny wee bottles of Irn Bru for the kids. The couple have hired a traditional ceilidh band for the evening of the wedding, and with over 100 guests, the night is set to be a dizzying display of love and friendship – with a break at 10pm for stovies, of course.
Under a mile from the scenic port of Elgol, Coruisk House offers an intimate, bespoke Skye wedding experience. The white-washed stone house itself sits on a lovely, rolling croft – a slight hill with jaw-dropping views out to the inner Hebridean islands of Rum, Canna and Eigg. The garden is gorgeously maintained, and in the summer the doors are decidedly thrown open to let the scent of roses mix with freshly baked bread. The accommodation stands apart from others in its luxurious attention to detail – huge roll-top baths, fluffy white robes and bunches of fresh flowers make for a decadent experience. The glorious scenery can be enjoyed whole-heartedly, in hiking boots, or glanced at though the window of a five-star bedroom. No judgement here.
The ceremony itself can be performed in the house and gardens, or couples can take the adventurous option of hopping aboard the Misty Isle and sailing over to Loch Coruisk, one of the most incredible spots of natural beauty on the island – or the world – depending on who you ask. Check out wedding day photography by Lynne Kennedy for her stunning shots of an elopement at Loch Coruisk, complete with a delightfully welly-booted bride and a romantic lonely piper against moody skies.
Coruisk House take their food very seriously – on their website there is an extensive list of local suppliers – venison from Edinbane, rope-grown mussels from Sleat and lobsters caught nestling between Elgol and the nearby Isle of Rum – to name but a few. Clare (one of the owners) runs bread-making courses through the winter and specialises in the use of slow ferments, ancient grains and heritage flour. All of the bread and baking served in the restaurant is made by Clare on-site and is exactly as delicious as you would imagine it to be. The restaurant menu changes with the seasons and is ingredient-led, with a classy and inventive spin which spread across four courses, feels more fine-dining than home-cooking.