Scotland is one of those countries that value their traditions deeply, including wedding traditions. It is still vogue in Scotland to get married in kilts, dance folk cèilidh dances, choose centuries-old estate as a wedding venue, honor various good luck traditions and superstitions, etc. So, let’s find out a bit about the traditional Scottish wedding held in the 21st century. How do they reach a perfect balance mixing old-world and contemporary stuff?
“I always thought I wanted a husband who would wear my family tartan on our wedding day if I was going to give up my surname, and that’s exactly what he did”, says Emma, the bride.
“I was fully kilted up for the wedding. I decided that since Emma was getting a new dress, I would get a new kilt. I was relatively well-behaved on our wedding, although I did get a telling off from a great uncle, standing at the front of the ballroom, and just trying to compose myself. I had a little bit of a swig from the hip flask, after that, I got waved over and told, if I can’t do it sober, I shouldn’t be doing it at all. So I hit his advice and avoided the hip flask the rest of the ceremony”, says Greg, the groom.
24 hours till “I Do”
“I would say that we both identify as being Scottish, probably specifically as being from the north coast of Aberdeen and Shire”, adds Emma, bride.
A traditional Scottish wedding usually involves around 120 people to 300 people. Back in the time when castles were built, a grand ballroom was for 60 and not for 160. So they had to choose a castle that was more modern. Greg and Emma’s wedding was taking place at a venue called Drumtochy Castle (Laurencekirk, UK).
The castle has 11 beautiful bedrooms inside and it could accommodate all of their guests on the estate. The couple wanted a celebration that lasted at least two nights. It spread the time to catch up with everyone and took the pressure off the bride and groom on the day.
4 hours till “I Do”
The couple didn’t want a typical church wedding. Neither of them was churchgoing people. So they chose a humanist ceremony.
“Scotland is one of the few countries in the world that humanist weddings are legal. People choose to have a humanist ceremony because they get a ceremony they want. It’s entirely about them, it’s geared towards them. Every ceremony I conduct contains a period of reflection, so we accept that there are people there who have faith, religious beliefs. Our ceremonies are very much inclusive”, comments Brenda, humanist celebrant.
“I did the traditional ‘something old, new, borrowed, and blue’. So my veil was borrowed, I wore a ring from my grandma that had a blue stone. My dress was the something new. The old item was a broach that my gran had and that was on my bouquet”, says Emma, bride.
“It’s also traditional in Scotland to have a lucky sixpence in your shoe as you go down the aisle. And Greg’s parents have a little stash of old sixpences, so they lent me a sixpence and that got stuck onto my shoe before I went down the aisle”, she adds.
10 minutes till “I Do”
“Emotions building up for me didn’t probably start until I was standing at the front of the aisle. Everything felt great until I got into the ballroom and to the front of the aisle, and then the waterworks came on”, remembers Greg, groom.
“I think, overall, I was the one who cried the least. So I managed to hold it together really well”, remembers Emma, bride.
The bride and groom decided that they were going to write their own vows or at least part of them. The groom borrowed some of his – he got some inspiration from Robert Burns, a Scottish poet.
All of their table names were based on whiskeys from around Scotland. Throughout the course of a year, the groom, his dad, and grandad collected empty whiskey bottles to place on the tables to put candles in.
Something that they decided to do as favors was to write a personal note to each person to thank them for coming. Just so everyone knew that Greg and Emma had taken the time to really be glad that they’d come and joined in the fun with the couple.
Traditionally in Scotland, what would happen is your guests are all called to take their seats and asked to find their places for dinner and then the bride and groom are piped down by a bagpiper into the ballroom. But the bride decided to add something into that and make that just a little more exuberant than normal and actually hired a mini pipe band.
“I’ve grown up with my dad playing piano since the day I was born, so we actually had two grand pianos within the building. Then, we had him play alongside our band for the first dance. We chose a song that had quite a lot of piano in the introduction and that song was Tom Odell ‘Grow Old With Me’. So that was really nice”, narrates Emma, bride.
They also did some cèilidh dances and songs throughout the entertainment in the evening because they wanted to have that traditional element.
“A cèilidh looks like a lot of men in skirts, kicking their legs in lots of different directions, looking like they’re going to bump into each other but miraculously not. It’s really good for getting people to dance with each other that maybe don’t know each other well”, explains Emma, bride.
“We cut the cake with a sword that was at a castle, and that’s quite a traditional kind of thing”, adds Greg, groom.
The only difference with a Scottish wedding and weddings from anywhere else is that all the men have their sporrans on and they all have a hip flask in there with something tasty to top them up if they’re ever to wait too long at the bar.
“Our wedding was quite a traditional Scottish wedding. We were married in a castle, we wore kilts, we danced cèilidh. We didn’t necessarily set out for our wedding to be that, but I guess our heritage and our culture and the things we were used to seeing at family weddings and celebrations all found its way in there”, says Emma, bride.
“You maybe question whether a year or maybe 18 months of planning is going to be worth it for 1 day, but I can honestly say hand on heart, it was the best weekend of my life”, adds Greg, groom.