Scottish elopements are made of magic. Elopements differ from weddings in a few key ways namely, less guests and an absence of a traditional venue. In their place you can put a hell of a lot of presence and intentionality into a day perfectly crafted to celebrate the two of you in a meaningful way. Theres no better way to tie the knot than to elope in Scotland and our guide will walk you step by step on how to make it happen.
Eloping in Scotland may be for you if you’re less about being the centre of attention and more about being present in the moment. If you’re less about buying hundreds of dinners and more about investing in a once in a lifetime experience.
Ditching the big wedding means you get a more intimate experience, and you get to do what you want. You can create an epic adventure that allows you to feel alive, check off bucket list items and even satisfy your wanderlust. When eloping, there’s no need to follow a pre-written script. You get to keep being yourselves on a day that defines the foundation of your lives together.
While Scotland may not be known for its sunshine, it is already establishing itself as an elopement destination. When you understand these key reasons people choose to elope in Scotland, you’ll know exactly why.
Firstly, our scenery. Scotland is a land of ancient woodlands, deep lochs and mountains that touch the heavens. A land crafted by Giants, if you believe in that sort of thing – we do! It has to be seen to be believed. It will take your hand and lead you on the adventure of a lifetime. You’ll be reading your vows in a state of awe for these lands.
As well as scenery, in Scotland you’ll also find a land of freedom. We Scots take freedom very seriously and this translates into the way we marry too. Scotland is the only country in the UK in which you can marry outside of accepted venues – this means our mountains are the only only ones in the UK which can stand tall by your side as you say I do. That’s pretty special. Elopements are entrenched in our history. With our more relaxed laws, Scotland has supported many couples in the British Isles and beyond tie the knot exactly the way they want to.
So, with such epic scenery & so much freedom it’s easy to settle into the romantic nature of Scotland and have it feed into your elopement experience. We Scots are a romantic bunch, we’re in touch with our emotions, imagination and the nature that surrounds us. That’s why you want to choose local Scottish Photographers, Videographers and Celebrants who can help bring these values into your elopement experience.
As well as being surrounded by our Romantic values, eloping in Scotland means standing on soil with deep history and folklore attached. In Glencoe for example, you may be able to spot a fairy (sidhe) or two, or even hear the clanging of swords echoing from ancient battles. This enhances your elopement experience and leads onto the next reason why you should be eloping in Scotland in 2023.
Scotland is a unique place with unique and friendly people. Nowhere else can you find such deep history, epic scenery & wonderful fairytales to ensure you have a once in a lifetime elopement experience.
With our great scenery, comes dramatic weather. In Scotland, we can go from glorious sunshine to snow in a matter of minutes. Most of the time we have what we locals call dreich weather – meaning grey & overcast. This is great weather for photography as it offers soft, even lighting which is very flattering.
A time for new beginnings, perfect for tying the knot. As we emerge from winter, the weather gets milder and the days get longer. Snow is still pretty likely, especially in the highlands. Wildflowers are beginning to bloom and the heather is coming back to life. These months are beautiful and tend to be a bit quieter before our summer tourist season kicks off.
A fertile season in Scotland with plenty of life and greenery. Even though it’s summer, don’t expect high temperatures & lots of sun – though we do have some special days! We have long days with the sun setting past 9pm, leaving lots of daylight hours for your celebration. This is the high tourist season, and August will see Edinburgh Old Town flooded with people enjoying our annual Fringe festival. You’ll also have to contend with midges (similar to mosquitoes) that can be very annoying!
Our favourite!! The most beautiful deep colours, long (ish) days and some sun is still likely. You’ll also get more of Scotland to yourselves with less tourists and less midges too!
Now this is when Scotland comes into her own. Scotland’s creatrix & winter goddess, The Cailleach, reins with snow capped mountains and icy winds. There is a wild beauty & a quiet which will make your day all the more unique.
Scotland is home to uncapped & unrivalled beauty, there’s a whole country unwalked and waiting for you to stumble upon it & make it part of your story. One of the key elements of your elopement will be the setting. This is a huge thing we help many couples decide on. We focus on beauty, accessibility as well as energy.
Places have energy and can evoke different feelings on your day. I always recommend reading up on the history of the space as well as the type of elements they invoke. In the list below you can find some inspiration on the best places to elope in Scotland. Rooted in the earth will give you a very grounded day, water will bring out all the emotions, the air will allow you to dream big and by the hearth and the fire brings strength and passion. You don’t need to stick with one but rather feel the freedom to move through these on your day.
We can list bespoke suggestions for your vision after booking.
Your next decision is to decide on the type of ceremony you want. In Scotland, you can marry via a range of ceremonies from Humanist, to Christian, Pagan and more.
There are 2 different types of marriage ceremony you can have in Scotland:
The main difference between the two pertaining to use of religious premises. Decide which one is best for you in a discussion with your celebrant who will be more than happy to offer advice.
Now you’ve chosen your date, location & type of celebration. You can get started on the paperwork to make your elopement legal and binding.
This means, although elopements offer lots of freedom, at least one month is required to sort paperwork ahead of a legally binding elopement.
For those outside the UK, here are some supporting sites to use:
There is an alternative to doing all this paperwork – especially for those visiting from oversees – in holding a symbolic ceremony. There will still be vows, handfasting & adventure if you wish – but no official paperwork to worry about. Of course this will mean your elopement ceremony is not legally binding but that doesn’t have to take away from it’s significance for you. This is a popular option for International couples who choose to have their legal ceremony separate in their home country before or after their adventure in Scotland.
Now it’s time to decide who you’d like to have with you on your Scottish Elopement. In our experience elopements work best with 10 guests or less in order for you to keep being present & focused on each other. In a legal ceremony it is required to have two witnesses over the age of 16 to sign the marriage certificate, you may choose to have loved ones take on this role or alternatively, for those looking to keep things more intimate, we are more than happy to act as your witnesses too.
What to wear for your Scottish elopement is such an important question. You may immediately think of a white dress or a suit, and that would be perfectly fine. Though, just like you have subverted tradition in your choice to elope – feel free to consider the clothing that would make you feel the best version of yourself for this special day. You may opt for a white dress, or clothing that honours your culture / heritage / lifestyle – there really is no rules!
One thing you MUST have in Scotland however, is good footwear. Our ground is wet, uneven and slippy. Some great options are hiking boots & Doc Martens – anything that will keep your feet dry is a great idea.
Had something special in mind? You can always wear boots until we reach our photo / ceremony location & change into your special footwear like suit shoes, ghillie brogues or high heels.
You probably already know that Scotland isn’t known for its good weather. Here are some local tips on how to keep warm:
One of the major perks of eloping is that you don’t have to stick to the traditional afternoon ceremony. It can be any time! You can opt for sunrise on the mountains or sunset on the beach. Your elopement day is a once-in-a-lifetime experience so make sure you get the most out of it.
From a photography perspective, closer to sunrise & sunset typically offer the best lighting for your photographs and blue hours (the hour after sunset) can be very interesting! Though, a local Scottish photographer knows how to photography you in all times of day (and in all weathers)!
Truthfully, any day is a good day to elope. To elope is to have freedom, freedom from Saturday only weddings that fit your guests schedules. For those looking for more privacy, we always recommend weekdays as they are often more quiet and there’s more likelihood your preferred vendors will be available when you come to book.
For those looking to add a little more intentionality into their day, the day of the week you choose can also imbue some magic into your day. See the list below for the powers associated with each day.
Source: Meiklejohn-Free, Barbara. Scottish Witchcraft. Fourth Printing, 2021.
Sunday is ruled by the sun and attributed to Sulis. A day of energy & divine guidance. A focus on Energy makes Sundays perfect for our adventurous elopers.
Monday is ruled by goddess Luna and the moon. A day of intuition, looking within & honouring emotions. This makes Monday perfect for those who want to share emotional vows.
Tuesday is ruled by mars, making this the day of decision making, and fulfilling dreams, goals and projects. An overall great day to elope as you make one of lifes biggest decisions!
Wednesday is ruled by Mercury and is all about expressing yourself & looking at life holistically – perfect for those looking to make an experience out of their elopement that truly reflects them.
Jupiter rules Thursday, its a day for gratitude, positivity and the expansion of the mind, body and spirit. The day is most suited to those looking to add some spirituality to their day, either by setting intentions & leaving offerings.
Friday is attributed to venus & the goddess Frigg. It is day of love, self-care and to connect with others. Fridays were quite literally made for love!
Saturn rules Saturday and is a day to be grounded & balanced. It is a perfect day to elope somewhere earthy and in tune with nature.
So what do you need to book when planning your Scottish Elopement? Truthfully, not much though you may opt for some great experiences.
Scotland is a land steeped in tradition and no where is this more evident than in our marriage ceremonies. Both Scots and visitors alike practice Scottish Wedding Customs. We always love to see people engage with them. Some popular customs include:
Handfasting is an ancient Scottish Custom used to symbolise marriage in ancient times. In this ritual, the couple’s hands are bound together with two pieces of fabric. These are typically important to the couple, either utilising the tartan of their clans or lace from a loved ones wedding dress. This would bind couples to each other for a year and one day in marriage, this would then be renewed if the couple decided to stay together afterwards.
Handfasting is now no longer legally binding in Scotland on its own, though many couples opt to keep the tradition alive whether as part of their elopements or vow renewals.
Source: Livingstone, Shelia. Scottish Customs. Birlinn Limited, 2000.
Another ancient Scottish Custom used in Wedding Ceremonies is the Oathing Stone. In this ritual, couples each hold a stone while saying their marriage vows. Essentially, cementing these vows into stone.
In Scottish Folk belief, Stones are the oldest spirits in the world, revered as the “ancient ones”. Scots believed in Oathing Stone rituals, the couples cast their own spirits into the stone to become sacred, part of the earth and eternal.
Source: Source: Meiklejohn-Free, Barbara. Scottish Witchcraft. Fourth Printing, 2021.
A Quaich is a Scottish two handled cup usually filled with whisky. In ancient times it was used as a symbol of trust between clan leaders who would each share a drink out of the quaich to foster bonds and loyalties – essentially showing that neither had tried to poison the other.
Today, it is used in many marriage ceremonies in Scotland with each partner taking a drink from the cup to show their trust & bond. Though whisky is still traditionally used, you can feel free to use any drink you like or even some refreshing Scottish water (uisge).
In Scotland, it’s really a question of ‘when’, rather than ‘if’ it rains. In our small country, rain is inevitable but it’s also part of its charm. The Gentle rain while you read your vows, dancing in a rainstorm and even huddling together to find shelter from the snow will all make for memorable moments in your Scottish elopement day. Ultimately, rain adds to the romance.
So now you know everything from the best time to elope, the best locations, how to make it legal and some Scottish Customs you’d like to include – it’s time to piece your day together. When you throw away the wedding rulebook and the expectations, you find yourself with a blank slate which while freeing can feel a little daunting. Here are some sample elopement timelines we put together for 4, 6 and 8 hour elopements based on the experiences our previous couples have crafted for themselves.
12.30 – Getting ready photographs at Airbnb on Royal Mile
1.30 – First Look
2pm – Ceremony on Arthurs Seat
2.45 – 4pm – Explore the Cobbled Streets of Edinburgh’s Old Town. Stopping for ice-cream and iced coffees.
4pm – Join with Friends and Family at Local Scottish Restaurant for some drinks & dinner.
4.30 – Coverage ends.
9am – Getting ready photographs & vow writing at accommodation in Glencoe Village.
10am – First look at Glencoe Lochan.
10.30am – Ceremony at Glencoe Lochan.
11.15am – Scottish Adventure in the rolling hills of the Glencoe Valley
12.30pm – Picnic & sing songs together.
1.30pm – Visit Loch Etive
2pm – Wild Swimming in the Loch with friends. Enjoying a safe BBQ on the shore.
3pm – Coverage ends.
11am – Morning walk together to set intentions.
11.30 – Handcraft flower crown from local flowers.
12pm – Separate to write vows as the sunlight streams in.
1.30pm – First Look
2pm – Head to The Quairing for your ceremony full of Scottish customs.
2.40 – Head deeper into the hills for an adventure, enjoying some champagne together.
3.30 – Run away to Castle Ruins on a dramatic clifftop to dance together.
4pm – Feel the sand between your toes as you visit the beach below & play in the water together.
5pm – Cosy up by the fire in a local pub and enjoy a dram of whisky.
6pm – Return to your beautiful accommodation where a meal has been prepared for you to enjoy with views of the dramatic hills outside.
7pm – Coverage ends.