As a wedding specialist company, we see lots of different traditions from all over the world at our weddings. Couples who elope to Scotland from America, Canada or Europe like to incorporate as much Scottish tradition into their day as possible. Here is a list of seven Scottish wedding traditions that you could incorporate into your big day to embrace the Scottish culture.
Traditional Scottish Kilts
You’d struggle to go to a Scottish wedding and not find at least one man in a kilt. Traditionally the groom and groomsmen all wear kilts of the same tartan, often the clan tartan of the family name. The bride also sometimes incorporates the tartan into a sash, shawl or her bouquet ribbons.
Quick Fact: Did you know after the Battle of Culloden in 1746 the “Highland dress” which included kilts and tartan was made illegal in Scotland for 35 years? After that, tartan became a world famous emblem of Scottish culture, having been incorporated in to the fashion world by great designers like Alexander McQueen and Vivienne Westwood.
Bagpipes are traditionally played as guests are entering and leaving the Wedding Ceremony – the sound of the Pipes in Scotland symbolises the start of something great! Usually the happy couple are piped in to the dining room, full of their guests, and everyone tends to stamp their feet and clap along with the piper!
A piper in a full “number ones” kilt outfit will probably be the most Scottish looking AND sounding thing at your wedding!
Ceilidh Dancing is a very social form of traditional Scottish dancing and is done either in pairs or groups. The most popular dances that are done at Weddings are The Flying Scotsman, Gay Gordon's and Strip The Willow and are fairly easy to learn on the night. They involve a lot of spinning and skipping and are very energetic so there is usually a break between dances for a much needed beverage!
Most live Wedding bands in Scotland can provide ceilidh dancing, along with a person to call and show the moves, as well as play popular music covers too.
The quiach is a two handled ‘loving cup’ that newlyweds use for their first toast together as a married couple. It is usually filled with whisky and both the bride and Groom serve each other a sip from the quaich. This symbolises the trust between the married couple, to be so careful that not a drop is spilled!
Quick Fact: Quaichs said have been used in wedding ceremonies since 1589 when King James VI of Scotland gifted one to Anne of Denmark on their wedding day.
Sixpence in the Bride’s Shoe
Originating in Aberdeen and Angus, the father of the bride would traditionally slip a 6 pence into his daughter’s shoe before she walked down the aisle to wish her good luck and prosperity in her marriage.
Handfasting – Tying the Knot
Handfasting is the process of tying the couple's hands together with cloth or ribbon to symbolise their connection and devotion to each other. This tradition is usually used as part of the ceremony to strengthen the vows and to show a commitment to your partner and the relationship. This is where the terms 'tying the knot' and 'taking each others hand in marriage' come from.
Quick Fact: A handfasting wedding can be seen in the popular 1995 film Braveheart where William Wallace secretly marries his sweetheart in the forest.
It is a well-known Scottish tradition that ahead of your Wedding you might be blackened! The Bride & Groom are, usually unwillingly, ‘captured’ by friends a week or so before the Wedding day. Being Blackened involves being covered in sticky, messy substances such as eggs, oil, treacle and feathers.
The tradition is mainly seen in rural areas of Scotland including Aberdeenshire, Angus, the Highlands and the Northern Isles and is said to have derived from another Scottish tradition in which the bride’s feet are washed by an older married woman from her family. In order for the feet to be washed they were first covered in dirt then over time this developed into the full blackening ritual.
These are some of Scotland’s most popular wedding traditions that you could incorporate into your Scottish Wedding. If you would like more information on Scottish traditions and how to make your wedding more authentically Scottish, contact Timeless White.