Harris wedding planning guide

I’m not a wedding planner … but I have been photographing weddings for over 13 years now and have a lot of experience with all sorts of weddings on the Isle of Harris. A lot of brides are asking me for advice on venues and even just how to go about organising an elopement to the Isle of Harris, often from out of the country. So I decided to create this short guide on everything I know about getting married on the Isle of Harris to help those who want to!

Officiants

registrar on the isle of harris

Harris registry office is the point of contact for civil ceremonies on the island. I have worked with the lovely Helen Maher for many years on many different beaches and venues and she always manages to make each wedding very special. She will come out to your  location and also help you organise your ceremony. Once you have thought about a possible date, the celebrant is one of the first things on your list to organise.
Just contact or call :  Registration Office, Isle of Harris. Tel: 01859 502367  Email: registrars@cne-siar.gov.uk

A useful page on the technicalities of getting married in Scotland is here: https://www.nrscotland.gov.uk/registration/getting-married-in-scotland/how-do-i-go-about-it

If you are looking for a humanist, Neil Lynch is a humanist celebrant happy to travel over to the Isle of Harris /www.neillynch.co/

 


Venues & Accommodation

There is an overlap here with some of these suggestions as your accommodation in the Isle of Harris can also be the back up plan for your ceremony should the weather be really too bad to be outside. I have to say though that in all my years of photographing beach weddings on the Isle of Harris, I have not yet seen one rained off!


Talla Na Mara

wedding venue isle of harris talla na mara margaret soraya photography

Talla Na Mara has just been built and is now open for fully catered weddings on Harris. You can either have your ceremony on the beach or at Talla na Mara and then have your reception at the venue. Talla Na Mara holds up to 120 day guests and up to 80 additional evening guests. With Talla Na Mara you have exclusive use of the main hall and gallery, use of the decking and full use of the grounds. Directly facing out towards the water, this is a venue with a difference. The facilities are all brand new, the hall is spacious and filled with light and the staff are welcoming. There is even a room available for brides to have beauty treatments or massages before the wedding. You can visit this venue as it is also a gallery space, has artists space and is home to a lovely cafe / restaurant – The Machair Kitchen. More photos of Talla Na Mara will be added after I photograph my first wedding here next year!

Talla na Mara, Pairc Niseaboist, Isle of Harris, HS3 3AE   (01859)503900 Email:anna@westharristrust.org     


Sound of Harris

sound of harris, wedding venue
Sound of Harris is self catering, luxurious accommodation in the south of the isle of Harris and is the perfect setting for your wedding or elopement. Its’ clifftop location and stunning views make it a good choice for those wanting peaceful luxury. The Big House, in particular, is an ideal venue for an intimate wedding or eleopement. If the weather is good you wouldn’t have to go far from the back door to find yourselves standing on the edge of dramatic cliffs with stunning views all around and not another sole in sight whilst saying your vows. Couples travel far and wide to find little gems of locations like this to be married at and here you have an amazing location on your doorstep.

The living area in the big house is large enough to hold a small wedding  if the weather be less than ideal outside. Scarista beach and other beaches are only about a 15 min drive away if you wanted a beach wedding.  The accomodation consists of two adjoining houses which both sleep two adults. Therefore it would also be possible to have very close family or friends to stay whilst still having your own private house to yourselves. I love the main bedroom which is complete with its own Japenese style soaking tub for two – more pictures from this property coming soon!

Website  t 01859 520 208 e info@soundofharris.co.uk


St Clements Church, Rodel

st clements church, rodel,

One of the most stunning churches I have seen is in Rodel in the south of the Isle of Harris. St Clements church was built around 1520. It is open to the public and run by Historic Scotland but can be booked for religious ceremonies. Suitable only for smaller weddings due to its size!  You can see more images from weddings at St Clements Church on my site here


Scarista House 

scarista house wedding venue

A beautiful Georgian manse overlooking Scarista beach, this is the place to stay for great food in a fabulous setting. Maximum number for a wedding at the house itself is 28, but the beach is a stones throw away so an outdoor small wedding is perfect if you are staying here.  Listed in the Michelin guide, good food guide, as well as being named by The Times amongst the top 10 places to eat by the sea in the U.K. Everything I hear about Scarista house is positive. I haven’t stayed there or eaten there myself yet, but it’s on my list!
Scarista House, Isle of Harris  HS3 3HX   t:01859 550238   www.scaristahouse.com

Borve Lodge estate – The Broch 

the broch, borve estate, isle of harris

A stunning three story high tower built into the landscape overlooking Borve Beach. The inspiration originally came from Scottish dwellings during the iron age.  The beach is within walking distance from the Broch …. a wonderfully unique place too stay. Made for two!  t:(0)1859 550358   Borve estate broch website 


Borve Lodge estate – The Rock House 

the rock house, borve estate, isle of harris

Overlooking Borve beach, the Rock House is blended into its’ natural rock terraces. With walls made of huge rocks and a turf roof, you can stay at this unusual house and watch the waves roll in through the panoramic windows facing out towards the water. The Rock House is just minutes walk away from the beach if you are looking for a beach wedding that you can access easily.  t: (0)1859 550358  Borve Lodge Rock House website


Amhuinnsuidhe Castle 

I find it almost as difficult as it is to pronounce the name of this castle as to describe its amazingly remote and stunning location. This is a totally unique venue which can be hired out exclusively for your wedding or is also available on a nightly basis during the summer months. therefore, it can cater for larger weddings where the whole castle is taken by your wedding, or you can use it as a base for your elopement. I have photographed both larger weddings and elopements and both work so well at this castle. Hushinish beach is about a 15 minute drive away from the castle.

www.amhuinnsuidhe.com  t:01859 560 200


Beaches 

hushinish beach, isle of harris

Hushinish is a secluded beach which is as remote as it comes. Down the end of a fabulously long single track road you pass through Amhuinnsuidhe Castle and the small village first and at the end of the road you’ll find this cove shaped beach with turquoise waters and white sands. It is around a 30 min drive from the main road between Tarbert and the south of Harris.


luskentyre beach wedding venue

Luskentyre, Borve, Seliebost, Scarista
These fabulous beaches all stretch along the coastline between Tarbert and the south of the island and are all relatively close to one another. You can drive easily between one to the other within about 15 mins. All are beautiful, often deserted and have those fabulous turquoise seas and white sands ( when the sun is out! ) . Most are very easy to access via parking places and a very short walk. Luskentyre is by far the most well known and popular beach to be married on. Access is by the main car park at the end of the road.


scarista beach isle of harris

Scarista beach is fairly quiet and has a large stretch of sand with fabulous waves. Accessed close to Scarista house, this is ideal if staying at Scarista House…. just a 5 min walk across the road.


isle of harris beaches

Of course there are also many small coves and beaches all along this stretch of road, such as Horgabost. It’s almost a case of take your pick. Each is beautiful in its own way and most are deserted.


Food


croft 36 food on the isle of harris

Croft 36 can deliver ready to eat meals to anywhere on Harris such as holiday houses or even tents and camper vans. You can also collect meals at their shack. They specialise in produce from the Hebrides such as fresh seafood rabbit and venison. See a more in depth review of Croft 36 on my blog here

http://www.croft36.com/   Delivery meal service 01859520779 (m) 07500 341888


Other information

The below have no images as I have yet to stay or eat at these places! So I have listed below as they come highly recommneded and need to be included in this guide to weddings on the Isle of Harris. I will update the page as I get those valuable images to show you how it looks and feels to stay or eat at these places!


Blue Reef cottages  Set in the hillside overlooking Scarista beach, Blue reef cottages are luxury in the wild. Two turf roofed, self catering holiday cottages on the Isle of Harris with 5 star accommodation for couples. Each cottage is complete with its own sauna and jacuzzi. The cottages are close to Scarista beach look over towards  Taransay. Website  t: 01859 550370


Registry Office, Tarbert  The small marriage room is part of the newly-converted, listed Old Primary School building. Contact the registrars for more info. I have never photographed at the office so apologies for the lack of images!


Scarista house is open to non residents as well for afternoon teas and dinner but must be booked in advance – Book early to avoid disappointment as Scarista House is popular! Serving a set menu and with all breads, cakes and ice creams made in house alongside using organic, wild and home grown produce means that Scarista House is listed in the Michelin Guide as well as the Good Food Guide. Definitely a place to try for a special meal. t:01859 550238  www.scaristahouse.com


Hebridean Chef  – If you are looking for a really special meal cooked for you in the comfort of your own accommodation then you can call The Hebridean Chef. Mark Bennett   t: :01859 530 445 Mob:07902 355 861  hebrideanchef.co.uk


Machair Kitchen , Talla Na Mara is a brand new informal restaurant just opened at Talla Na Mara community centre. Open for lunch and dinner. https://www.facebook.com/themachairkitchen


Skoon Art Cafe is open tues to sat. This a small cafe which sells a unique combination of cakes, bread, soup and art. You’ll find it at the end of the most unusual and hair raising roads just off the main road. You will feel like you have had a road trip all of its own just driving to get to the cafe.  www.skoon.com


Travelling

Caledonanin McBrayne ferry to harris

Calmac provide the ferry service over to the Isle of Harris and there are a few routes you can choose from to get to the Isle of Harris ; https://www.calmac.co.uk

There are various routes, both direct and indirect which I’ve outlined below;

 1/  The most direct and easiest route is via the ferry service from Uig to Tarbert. Uig is in the north of the isle of Skye and Tarbert is Harris’ main ferry terminal. The crossing takes about 1 hour 30 min and you end up right in Harris’ main village.
2/  You can take the ferry from Ullapool over to Stornoway. Ullapool is on the north west coast mainland and Stornoway is Lewis’ main ferry port. This is a longer ferry crossing and it takes around 2 hours 45 min. With this Ullapool to Stornoway option you arrive in Stornoway and drive down to Harris which takes about an hour to an hour and a half.
3/ You can also take the long, scenic way to Harris if you are looking for a multiple stopover trip through the islands. In this way you can depart from  Oban and arrive on the Isle of Barra. From Barra there is a short drive and another ferry to the Isle of Uist. You might need an overnight on Uist and then head from North Uist over to Harris, arriving in the south of Harris, at Leverburgh.  This trip take a few days but is well worth it. You can purchase an island hopper ticket and complete the circuit by travelling back via Stornoway to Ullapool.
4 / The last option would be a flight to Stornoway and car hire and drive down to Harris from there. Flights go from Glasgow and Inverness. Car hire can be arranged to collect from outside the airport.

 Suppliers

To help you find all the other things you might need for your wedding on the Isle of Harris, here’s a few people who can help:

Catch 22 ( Band )
Hair & Make up  : Siar beauty ( also works from the beauty room at Talla Na Mara)
Relaxing treatments : The Healing Tree , Catherine Ann (07557 277478)
Violets ( florists ) Cromwell Street, Stornoway Tel:01851702264

And finally just get in touch if you need any help with your wedding photography on the Isle of Harris!