If you ask people to come up with a bunch of the best wedding venues in and around Edinburgh, they might well choose impressive country houses like Hopetoun House, Prestonfield, Winton Castle, Gosford or Broxmouth Park. Or landmark hotels such as the Principal (George Street or Charlotte Square) or the Waldorf Astoria (Caledonian). They could even go for the world famous Edinburgh Castle, which has its own gem of a kirk in St Margaret's Chapel.
The Red Bus has taken couples and their guests to all these places many times and can vouch for their quality. But there are also many other lesser known venues that may not spring so readily to mind - as well as excellent service these may offer wonderful architecture or atmosphere/history/location, or the lot!
One of these is the National Mining Museum in Newtongrange, Midlothian. Often it is families with some link to the area's rich industrial past who book it for their wedding ceremony or reception. The Power House holds up to 120 guests, or just under two full Routemasters. Something about this place goes well with our buses - the colliery's heyday in the 1950s coincided with the birth of the famous double decker 400 miles to the south. All that red painted metalwork also strikes a chord!
Only five miles from the museum but a world away, there's Crichton Kirk, at the end of a winding rural lane arched by trees. The first time The Red Bus went there, we had to trim some branches in advance. The 15th century church is tucked away in an incredibly peaceful spot, overlooking the ruined Crichton Castle and a wooded valley beyond. It's a squeeze getting round the last bend but feels amazing to pull up outside the church gate and let the guests off.
In a similar vein is Seton Collegiate Church, just west of Longniddry in East Lothian. This one is tucked away about 200 yards off the main road, so everyone has to stroll through a beautiful woodland track under beeches and oaks, with wild flowers all around if it's that time of year.
Back in town, just past the foot of Broughton Street, is the pretty special Mansfield Traquair. I only found out a few moments ago it calls itself Edinburgh's Sistine Chapel. When you see the murals by Phoebe Anna Traquair you'll know why.
In Leith, Thomas Morton Hall is a distinctive place too, part of a complex of fine deco buildings that includes Leith Library, and run by Leith Theatre Trust. Our buses fit snugly in the crescent just outside the entrance!
You can read in an earlier blog about the joys of Arthur's Seat as an al fresco wedding venue, including the ruined St Anthony's Chapel. Others go for beach weddings, with Portobello and North Berwick among the popular choices.
Close to that seaside town is the wonderful Tyninghame – one of the most spectacular bits of the East Lothian coast – and the intimate and charming village hall a few miles away, which is great for receptions and ceilidhs. Let's finish with a look at Freya and Grant's wedding there last summer, as displayed in Scottish Wedding Directory.