Wedding tourism highlighted with Dundas Castle case study

Kirsty Sievwright and Gery Brownholtz from Washington D.C., were married at Dundas Castle near South Queensferry on August 2, 2019.
Kirsty Sievwright and Gery Brownholtz from Washington D.C., were married at Dundas Castle near South Queensferry on August 2, 2019.

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.

VisitScotland’s new Wedding Tourism research paper encourages the Scottish tourism industry to capitalise on the country’s wedding sector.

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.

Kirsty Sievwright (28), a PhD student and Gery Brownholtz (29), who works in finance, from Washington DC, were married at Dundas Castle on August 2.

Kirsty was born in Aberdeen but moved to America as a baby. After a road trip to Scotland the couple were inspired to get married in Kirsty’s home country.

She said: “Scotland has always been very near and dear to my heart. Every school vacation and opportunity I got, I would be in Scotland visiting my grandparents and extended family.

“It was the first trip that Gery and I took together as a couple and we have been back several times since over our six years together.

“We went on a road trip around Scotland the summer before we got engaged. We knew that we wanted to get married and during this trip we started to jest about getting married in Scotland. By the end of the trip our jests were becoming serious discussion.

“It didn’t hurt that as we continued with our preparations we realized that it was significantly more economical to get married in a castle in Scotland than in a nice venue in the US.”

Gery has no connection to Scotland himself, but has greatly enjoyed the many trips to Scotland over the years. He has been five times in the past six years and is a now “a major fan of all things Tunnocks”.

During their wedding, Kirsty and Gery embraced Scottish traditions. Kirsty said: “I was so pleased that a good number of guests took it upon themselves to hire a kilt of their own accord and they really enjoyed doing so.

“We also taught our guests how to do several Scottish folk dances at the Welcome Picnic the day before and held a ceilidh during the reception. It was so much fun, and we had a full dance floor the entire night. Our friends from the States concluded that they needed to make more Scottish friends so they could go to another Scottish wedding!  

“And of course we had a piper. This is when many of our guests learned that the Skye Boat Song was not simply the theme from Outlander.”

The couple added that their favourite part of getting married in Scotland was sharing a place special to them and inspiring their guests to take trips around Scotland following the wedding.

Kirsty said: “It was also extra special to be able to so seamlessly incorporate Scottish traditions in the day. Namely, being able to do the ceilidh and to have the final songs on the dance floor be Loch Lomond and then Auld Lang Syne. Dancing with Gery while looking around the room at all of our family and friends from near and far singing and swaying to this music was really special. That is one of mental images I am trying so hard to hold on to.

“I would recommend getting married in Scotland to other international couples in a heartbeat. Even if you are not from Scotland, it is very easy to do.

“We had one trip where we did all of our tasting and in-person decisions and otherwise, everything else was easily accomplished over email and video chat. Our venue was a dream to work with. They provided us with a list of reliable, high quality vendors so we ultimately didn’t have to do too much research.”

Kirsty and Gery’s guests made sure to turn the wedding into a holiday with many extending their stay and visiting other areas of Scotland.