Who hasn’t dreamed about saying “I do” in a castle? While it may seem as if it’s only something for royalty and fictional characters in the movies, you too may be able to have your wedding in a magnificent castle, with quite a few outstanding choices available in Europe.
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Inspired by Romanesque Revival, Neuschwanstein Castle is a stunning masterpiece of 19th-century architecture. Situated on a hilltop setting in Bavaria, overlooking the picturesque mountains and enjoying glorious sunsets, it’s hard to find scenery better than this. It’s also hard to beat for brides who want to feel like they’re truly part of a modern day fairy-tale, as Neuschwanstein is said to have been the inspiration for Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty castle and Disney World’s Cinderella castle. Special wedding packages are available that include a host of services, including various ceremony locations that offers a view of the castle, a Bavarian horse and carriage ride through the valley, a candlelit dinner, and much more.
Ashford Castle, located in the spectacular County Mayo, Ireland countryside overlooking glistening Lough Corrib, was built back in 1228 and transformed into a luxury hotel in the 1930s. Not only is it one of the most breathtaking castles in all of Europe, it offers the ultimate fairy-tale wedding venue. It can accommodate larger weddings with up to 164 guests, as well as more intimate ceremonies with as few as 10 guests, in any one of the many elegant rooms that are adorned with antique furniture and intricate decor, adding an especially magical touch. You and your guests will have access to the entire estate, where you can stroll across the lush, open lawns, through the Victorian walled garden and lakeside woodland pathways, that all make a perfect backdrop for wedding photos. Stay overnight too, in one of the 80+ rooms and suites that are individually designed, some with open fireplaces, claw foot tubs and four-poster beds.
A 5 Star Exclusive Use venue, Dundas Castle is one of Scotland’s most magnificent historic castles, set across a tranquil 400-acre estate just minutes from Edinburgh. Its dramatic Auld Keep was built in 1416, for residential use in times of peace, and a fortress in times of war. In 1818, William Burn built the luxurious main house, which adjoins it, and today, the castle serves as the stately home of Sir Jack Stewart-Clark and his wife Lady Lydia. The ideal setting for a dream wedding, the castle features 17 bedrooms, perfect your closest friends and family, while the romantic Boathouse on the loch is fabulous for an unforgettable wedding night.
The castle offers a variety of ceremony locations too, like the magnificent Great Hall with its vaulted ceiling and original brickwork that’s reached via a fairy-tale staircase in the medieval tower of the Auld Keep, or Croquet Room, an elegant Georgian room with an open fire and floor-to-ceiling windows that offer jaw-dropping views across the estate.
This historic chateau and National Cultural Monument of the Czech Republic was built in the 13th Century, and is among the most popular castle wedding venues in the country, due to its distinctive Neo-Gothic architecture and idyllic surrounding scenery. Originally constructed as a royal Gothic castle, in the 16th-century it was rebuilt in the Renaissance-style, followed by a Baroque-style transformation in the early 18th-century. Its look today dates back to a reconstruction in the mid-19th-century, when the Steckl building was added. It houses the romantic castle hotel, Hotel Stekl, which features an interior that reflects the castle and rooms decorated with replicas of paintings by Dutch masters. The hotel also includes a reception room with a terrace and restaurant serving international and Czech cuisine.
In addition to traditional wedding ceremonies, couples can choose a Medieval ceremony that includes historical costumes and more.
Italy is all about romance, and one of the best places to get married near Rome is at this 15th-century castle which includes a museum and church onsite, the Duomo di Santo Stefano, that seats about 150 guests. Located in the magnificent city of Bracciano on the southern shores of Lake Bracciano in Lazio, you’ll enjoy incredible views of the Mediterranean from every angle, along with the 500+ years of history that can be seen in the architecture, decor and atmosphere. What makes Castello Odescalchi di Bracciano a special standout, is that it offers the chance for the bride to make a phenomenally grand appearance. Thanks to a secret underground passageway that runs from the castle to the church, she can walk through it after being prepared in the Sala Vittoria of the castle’s quarters.
This castle has been the setting for a number of films and documentaries, with the likes of Sophia Loren, Tony Curtis, Charlton Heston, Rex Harrison and Gina Lollobrigida all playing parts here, while more than a few celebrities have taking advantage of it for their own unforgettable wedding ceremonies, including Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, Martin Scorsese and Isabella Rossellini.
Pena Palace has been a favorite attraction in Europe for over 150 years, as one of the most fantastic palaces on the continent. Surrounded by Pena Park, with its wide array of various trees and exotic plants from the former colonies of the Portuguese empire, ponds, fountains, and black swans, it’s a castle that seems perfectly made for saying “I dos.” Set within the Sintra Hills, the park and the palace are the result of the creative genius of King Ferdinand II, and are renowned as the finest expression of 19th-century romanticism in all of Portugal. The palace was built so that it would be visible from any point in the park, standing atop a rocky peak in its eastern area, and includes two wings that are ringed by a third architectural structure that’s a fantasized version of a castle, with walls that one can walk around that comprise watchtowers, battlements, an entrance tunnel and drawbridge.
Couples can celebrate their love with a ceremony inside the royal palace with its exotic atmosphere, or outside, enjoying views of the ocean on the horizon and the city below.
The current structure known as Dromoland Castle dates back to the mid-16th-century, and is located just minutes from the Shannon Airport in Ireland’s western region. It offers the chance to wed in the ancestral home of one of the few families of true Irish royalty, direct descendants of Brian Boru, High King of Ireland from 1002 to 1014, where it remained in the ancestral ownership of the King until 1962 when it was renovated into a striking, high end hotel. The castle has played host to many formal alliances of noblemen and ladies over the centuries, with its magnificently landscaped gardens, winding staircases and lavish guest rooms that create a truly stunning impression as an ideal backdrop for a fairy-tale wedding. Its wine cellar holds a selection of more than 600 vintages from across the globe, and Dromoland’s expert Sommelier ensures that an extensive range of wines are available, including many fine vintage and non-vintage bottles of Champagne.
The castle’s façade and powerful towers, added in the 1830s, are reminiscent of knights and dragoons, while rooms feature elegant touches throughout. It also includes a spa, golf course, award-winning falconry school and activities like horse riding, fishing, clay shooting and archery.
If you’ve got a Prince William and Duchess Kate wedding in mind, you might want to consider England’s most romantic castle: Sudeley. With a history that dates over 1,000 years, and surroundings that include the picturesque Cotswolds as well as romantic ruins, it offers the ideal backdrop for a wedding. The castle offers three unique outdoor sites to choose from for the ceremony, each providing views of the castle, ruins and surrounding hills. Indoor venues are available as well, including the medieval Banquet Hall with its flagstone floor, armor, banners and roaring fire.
One of the largest and most important castles in all of Scotland, and one of the best-preserved Renaissance buildings in the entire United Kingdom, Stirling was the favored residence of many of the country’s kings and queens, and in the 16th-century, it was also considered the arts center of Scotland. It also offers the chance to wed in the very place where Mary Queen of Scots was crowned in 1534, and the site where Robert Burns wrote many of his poems.
Stirling Castle can be hired exclusively for a unique wedding ceremony on sites like the Chapel Royal, with its spectacular setting and interior decorated with a painted frieze, or perhaps in the 16th-century Great Hall, an especially magical venue.
Another stunning Italian Castle, Castello di Vincigliata is located in Fiesole, just minutes from Florence. It dates all the way back to the 11th-century, and after falling into disrepair some 600 years later, it was restored gloriously in the 19th-century by an English lord in dramatic Gothic Revival-style. This medieval castle embodies all of the romance dream weddings are made of, perched atop a rocky hill overlooking the rolling Tuscan Valley and Italian towns below.