Tips For the Scottish Bride and Groom

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December 19, 2016 By Anna Murray

Scotland is unique in allowing the wedding ceremony to take place almost anywhere you like - as it's the person conducting the ceremony rather that the location that's important

This is because under Scot's law it is not the place of marriage that is important but the qualifications of the person who conducts the ceremony. So unlike anywhere else in the world when it comes to where you say 'I do' you can opt for a ceremony beside a loch, in a romantic castle, on a remote island or on top of a mountain - the choice is yours.

Getting married in Scotland is also an option even if you don't live there. In fact Scotland is the only part of the UK that doesn't have a residency requirement, it is, however, necessary that one half of the couple meet with the register seven days before the wedding. If one of the partner's lives in Scotland and the other lives in England or Wales, there is no need for the person living across the border, to travel to Scotland prior to the wedding.


Tartan features highly in any Scottish wedding, from traditional highlandwear for the men and accessories for the women to decorations and wedding favours with a tartan theme.

Men's Outfits

Traditional highlandwear brings a touch of splendour to any wedding outfit, these usually includes a Prince Charlie Jacket and 3 button waistcoat, an 8 yard kilt, hose, ghillie brogues, kilt pin, sgian dubh, belt and buckle, formal sporran, wing collar, shirt, black bow tie and a piece of lucky white heather worn on the lapels. The groom and best man also have the option of wearing a fly plaid, a large piece material in the same tartan which is anchored under the epaulette on the shoulder of the jacket and is secured in place by a plaid brooch.

When thinking about which tartans there are a couple of popular options. It is traditional for the men on the brides side of the family to wear the host's clan tartan as a mark of respect. Alternatively it's perfectly acceptable for the men to wear their own family tartan - a range of different tartans looks great and is a sign of different families coming together. If you go for this option it's nice to add some consistency by picking an element of the outfit that everyone can have in common, this could be everyone wearing the same jacket, same sporran or simply having the same boutonnieres.

In Scotland, white heather continues to be a token of good luck and is often worn by the groom at a traditional Scottish Wedding.

A nice option for after the ceremony is for the male members of the party to change into Jacobean shirts, either with our without a Jacobean waistcoat, this is also a great option when the weather is warmer.

Hiring outfits is a good option if members of the wedding party and guests won't have call to wear a kilt very often, but want to join in with the Scottish theme. It's also an excellent choice if you want members of the party to be wearing the same tartan. And for children who are still growing a sensible choice!. If some of guests are interested in hiring an outfit it's worth coordinating hires as most companies will offer a healthy discount for groups hires.


For brides there are lots of different ways to incorporate tartan into an outfit, from tartan wedding dresses to smaller touches such as a tartan hem, sash, shawl or simply a Scottish bouquet featuring heather, thistle and tartan ribbon. A popular ritual is the sashing of the bride where the bride is presented with a sash in her husband's tartan, by her mother in law. If wearing a tartan sash it should be worn on the right shoulder - only clan chiefs or wives of clan chiefs should wear a sash on the left shoulder.

A shawl in your family tartan looks lovely and adds warmth to any outfit. Sashes, shawls and touches of tartan on dresses works well for bridesmaids and other women at the wedding too.

Other heritage

Even if you don't have Scottish heritage you can still have a tartan themed wedding - there are tartans for parts of England, Cornwall, Wales as well as Japan, America, France and Canada in fact most places around the world.

Before the Wedding

Prior to a Scottish bride getting married, the mother-of-the-bride traditionally hosts a 'show of presents' where people who have given a wedding gift are invited around. All of the wedding gifts that have been given to the couple are unwrapped and displayed for the guests to admire.

The reception

Having a traditional Scottish reception is a very special and memorable way to mark your big day. In keeping with centuries old tradition the Grand March should be the first dance of the evening. It begins with the bride and groom marching to the sound of bagpipes or a live band. As they march, the chief bridesmaid and best man join in, followed by the parents and finally by the other guests.


Music is an essential part of any Scottish Wedding helping to create a wonderful atmosphere. If you are doing the full works a piper dressed in full highland garb will add a touch of grandeur. The piper can stand outside the church entrance and play as the wedding guests arrive, after the ceremony they can lead the newlyweds to their car. Another nice touch if you are having a piper is for them to hand the couple their dirk to cut the wedding cake. A bagpiper can be equally effective.

If you are having highland dancing at your wedding reception why not hire a Ceilidh band who can play at the reception. Before the wedding reception finishes all the guest usually gather into a circle and sing 'Auld Lang Syne'.

Wedding Traditions

Make your big day even more memorable by incorporating some of these Scottish traditions. Putting a sixpence in the brides shoe is a popular tradition around Scotland to bring good luck. Similarly, in the Scottish Borders, a sprig of heather is hidden within the Bride's bouquet. The Wedding Scramble; as the bride steps into the car, the father throws a handful of coins for the children to collect, to bring the couple financial luck.

The Lang Reel; this is a popular tradition in communities in the North East of Scotland. villagers and the wedding party start dancing through the village as they pass through the village as each couple leaves the reel when they come to their home. Once all the other members of the party have departed the bride and groom have the final dance.

'Blackenings' the groom is captured by his friends and 'blackened' with feathers, treacle, soot and flour! He is then paraded around the town.

The custom of feet-washing takes place across Scotland and it is thought to bring good the couple health and prosperity. this involves the brides feet being washed by an older married woman.

Creeling is found in the Scottish Borders, as the newlyweds leave the church two people at either side of the door hold a fishing basket tied with a ribbon across the door the couple cut the ties and the basket falls to the ground. It is hoped that this tradition will good fortune for the marriage.

The Bride's Cog At Orcadian weddings cogs are drunk, the potent brew usually includes ale, gin, brandy and whisky mixed with sugar and pepper. The Bride takes the first sip before it is passed around the guests, being replenished as needed.

Wedding favours shortbread, tablet and miniature bottles of whisky, making a gorgeous wedding favours, especially when accessories with tartan ribbon, this adds to the whole Scottish wedding theme, and means that your favours can be coordinated with your big day.

Anna Murray is Head of Marketing at The Scotland Kilt Company - a family run business based in Edinburgh. We are specialists in kitting the whole family out for weddings and other occasions. Our hire and to buy options provide all the flexibility you need. For advice on measuring yourself for a kilt and choosing your tartan visit email Or call 0131 225 3555

Written by

Anna Murray