In Scotland, people can legally get married if the bride and groom are 16 or older. And the permission of parents isn’t needed, unlike in some other countries where young couples under 18 can’t be wed without official parents’ permission. But that’s by far not the only unique wedding custom in Scotland. So, what other peculiarities, traditions, and rituals does a Scottish wedding have? Let’s find out.
If the newlyweds-to-be are young, their parents take care of the wedding, arranging everything, including the wedding invitations. In this case, the bride’s family writes and sends the invitations. Of course, middle-aged couples do all of the work by themselves.
The wedding invitations are usually sent 6 weeks before the event or earlier. But recently, it also became common to send save-the-date cards to potential wedding guests up to 6 months before the wedding day to notify them about the wedding date. And in the invitations, it is mentioned to what part of a wedding you are invited – only to the official ceremony or to the wedding reception and night party as well.
Wedding presents are considered a serious matter in Scotland. They are often delivered to the couple even before the wedding. Or it is totally normal for the newlyweds-to-be to leave a list of desired gifts at a department store in their town and wedding guests choose what they pay for from this list, and then the gifts are delivered all at once to the wedding venue or the bride’s parents house.
By the way, the wedding gifts aren’t opened at the venue in front of everybody. They’re opened either before the wedding (if they’re delivered in advance), or after the event, at home.
Scottish men always wear a kilt (traditional Scottish garment) as the groom’s attire. The groomsmen do the same. This is a very significant part of Scottish culture. The sprig of white heather is usually used as a buttonhole by grooms.
Scottish brides usually wear a white wedding gown or a traditional plaid-patterned dress. Basically, women can wear whatever they wish to, while men are very serious about their traditional wedding outfit.
The official part of the wedding ceremony can be held at a church, register office, or any place of your choice. Scottish couples can be wed anywhere, not just in pre-approved locations. They need to sign the legal papers in the presence of two witnesses (usually, they are the best man and the maid of honor). The marriage ceremony lasts about half an hour.
Bagpipes are essential element of any Scottish wedding
Bagpipes are a Scottish traditional musical instrument, a significant part of Scottish culture, so it’s always played at local weddings. Especially at the end of the official marriage ceremony when the new husband and wife are leaving the venue.
The wedding reception is held after the official ceremony and, usually, at another venue – in a restaurant or wedding hall, etc. At the entrance, the newlyweds and their bridal party line up and welcome the guests. While the wedding guests are arriving, they are served some beverages and soft drinks, and they talk and start celebrating in earnest.
When everybody is at the venue, the wedding meal is served.
Dancing at Scottish weddings
Every Scottish wedding reception is followed by dancing. The music is played by a DJ or live band, and very often, it is folk music or at least some folk songs. The guests dance folk dances along with contemporary dances. Traditional music plays an important role at a Scottish wedding. Sometimes, even specific folk bands are invited to entertain the wedding guests.
The first dance is for the bride and groom, and then they’re joined by their bridal party and the rest of the guests.
Wedding cake cutting
At some point during the celebration, the wedding cake is delivered and cut. The bride and groom cut the first pieces holding a cake cutter in their joined hands. And then, the rest of the cake is cut and served to every guest.