How to elope in Scotland in 2023 - The ultimate elopement guide
Siiiiing me a sooooong, of a lasssss that is gone! Did you watch Outlander and wished to get married in the beautiful landscape of the Scottish highlands? This is your chance! Eloping in the Scottish Highlands is a beautiful option if you are looking for a location for your elopement.
If you are a lover of epic sceneries, rough landscapes and intriguing history; the Scottish highlands is the location to plan your elopement. Oh, and do you know that Scotland is the only country in the UK where you can legally get married everywhere you go? Cool!
What is the difference between a wedding and an elopement?
Eloping is directly translated as ‘running away’, or so you would find in dictionaries. But elopements are so much more! It’s an experience where you can do what you want to do, at the place you want to and with the people you love. You can plan it within your budget; there is no need to choose expensive locations if you don’t want to. You can use the money to create an awesome experience to never forget!
Why elope in the Scottish highlands?
Scotland is an amazing place to plan your elopement. You have epic scenery, interesting and rich history and a couple of well-known locations for Outlander or Game of Thrones fans.
Eloping in the Scottish Highlands gives you the possibility to focus on each other and enjoy the intimate experience. It gives you both romance and adventure; you can explore the countryside by bike, hiking or by renting a campervan.
Just like we wrote an instant ago: you can get married in Scotland everywhere! If you go on a hike and stop halfway for a break if you see a nice place. There, you can tell each other your vows.
Can you get legally married in the Scottish Highlands?
Yes, you can! This is a place where you can legally marry anywhere as long as you just arrange that the ceremony is performed by a registered officiant and that you take 2 witnesses with you. There are a couple of legal ceremonies where you can choose from in Scotland:
- a faith-based ceremony
- a humanist ceremony
- a civil ceremony
A faith-based ceremony
This is a ceremony performed by an officiant of the religion of your choosing. You can add religious habits to your liking in the ceremony and form a ceremony that is tailor-made just for you. If you already got married in your home country, you can experience this as a symbolic ceremony.
A humanist ceremony
A ceremony like this is typically led by a humanist celebrant and is non-religious. Humanists believe in the worth and dignity of people and focus on the here and now. A humanist ceremony focuses on what is meaningful for the couple. The ritual can be filled with music and readings, in addition to exchanging vows and rings. Most of the time is seen as a symbolic ceremony if you've already taken care of the official stuff at home.
A civil ceremony
When you choose a civil ceremony, an officiant from the local government will get you married. The ceremony will mostly be in standard form; saying your vows, exchanging rings and signing the marriage schedule. You will need two witnesses over 16 years old to co-sign the document.
What do you need to get legally married in the Scottish Highlands?
A couple of steps are important to take:
- Give notice to the registrar in the district where the elopement is going to be. You can do it up to 3 months before the wedding.
- You must fill in the M-10 document (marriage notice form) at the registrar. You can find the document in this link: click!
- You have to present a couple of documents: birth certificates of both of you, a certificate that proves you both are free to marry. In this step, you have to check what you have to arrange for your marriage to be legal in your home country. If one of you was previously married, you have to provide divorce papers or a death certificate if the spouse has sadly passed away.
Learn to know more on the Scottish government site: marriage in Scotland
Can you get married in the Scottish Highlands if you are LGBTQIA+?
Since 2014, same-sex have been weddings legal. It doesn't matter what sexual orientation you have. In Scotland, it truly is ‘love = love’!
How do you get to the Scottish Highlands?
It depends on where your elopement is going to take place. Most of the time, you have to fly in. With international flights, you fly in at Glasgow. For more local flights, you can land in Inverness. The choice is yours from now: most people rent a car or campervan. Trains can be chosen, but they don’t go everywhere. When you want to go to the Isle of Skye or any other island, you have to take a ferry. Are you coming from somewhere in Europe and do you want to do a road trip to Scotland? Get on the ferry in IJmuiden (direct connection to Newcastle), Hoek van Holland (to Harwich), Rotterdam (to Hull) or Calais (to Dover). There are a couple of other options here! But this is a great way to take your own car or camper on the trip.
Wild camping in Scotland
Wild camping is generally allowed in Scotland. In some areas, it isn’t permitted and sometimes there will be additional rules. The most important rule in all cases is that you leave no trace! Clean up your trash and don't break things. Campervans are only allowed on the hard underground, with a tent you can sleep on almost every patch of grass.
Camping with a tent or a campervan is a unique way of enjoying the days around your elopement and maybe will be your way of enjoying your honeymoon!
What are the best places to stay in the Scottish Highlands?
There are a lot of spectacular accommodations to stay in during your elopement. We made a list of a few Airbnb’s with either good views or special lodging.
It is a cool pod to stay in, with a view of the beach and its own hot tub. It’s a tiny house with everything included and a wonderful view!
If you are looking for a stay in Edinburgh, this is a good apartment! It’s located in the centre of the city in a historic building. It has everything you might need during your stay. When looking out of the window, you’ll see the river flowing. It’s a romantic place to stay!
This is the oldest cruck-framed house in Lochearnhead and has a view over Loch Earn. It is a unique place to stay! If you are travelling with a dog, this is suitable accommodation. Wester Auchraw is a holistic b&b and offers retreats and such. If you want, you can also book a perfect dinner here!
Are you eloping on the Isle of Skye? This is a beautiful place to stay! With a beautiful view over the mountains, this hut with huge windows is perfectly placed in the landscape.
When to plan your elopement in Scotland?
Are you looking for moody and dramatic weather, Scotland is the place to be. In all seasons it can be wet and rainy. So if you are planning your elopement, bring an umbrella! 😉
During summer, it is a popular destination to travel to. This season tends to be the warmest of them all, and if you want to hike: this is the time to do so!
If you plan to elope in autumn, it is best to remember that you will sometimes see four seasons in one day! It is best to pack several layers of clothes to keep warm. The days will get shorter and colours will start to show, creating a beautiful vibe in the photos!
Winter is a time when mountains will be capped with snow. Sunrise is late in the morning and sunset is relatively early in the afternoon, taking care of easier planning of the ceremony during those golden hours. If you want to, you can ski, snowboard or hike in the snow during this time.
When planning your elopement in spring, know that you are planning it at the beginning of wildflower season! Visit some forests and parks during this time (see this article for places to go) to experience the beautiful blooming fields. On the higher mountains, you’ll see some snow, but it still is a great time to hike or cycle. Golden hours are beautiful this time of year! This is a less busy season to travel to Scotland.
Best locations for eloping in the Scottish Highlands
Having a Glencoe elopement, you’re signing for an elopement filled with lochs, waterfalls, wonderful views and wild rivers. If you want an adventurous elopement, this is the place to go to. You can go on endless hikes and enjoy beautiful nature. In winter, it is a well-known place for skiing! So if you are planning your elopement in winter, this is a place where you can plan your activities such as skiing. In summer, you can take a cable cart up to the top of the mountain and hold your ceremony there.
Glencoe is formed millions of years ago by the moving of the tectonic plates. It had a glacier which caved out the beautiful valleys. Erosion has worn down mountain tops and this is why the ridges look like this at this moment! The landscape is also known for the movies of Harry Potter and James Bond: Skyfall.
Isle of Skye
Located on the west coast of Scotland is the Isle of Skye. The island is home to a number of historic buildings and romantic castles, a perfect backdrop for your elopement! It has rugged coastlines, beaches and mountains: which are good for hiking, beach picnics and exploring. If you’re a whisky or seafood lover: this is also the place to be! With several good restaurants, you’ll have a great time!
The Cairngorms national park is a mountain ridge in the eastern part of Scotland. It is named after a type of smokey-coloured quartz that is found in that area. Cairngorms is a popular tourist area because of the beautiful mountain peaks, forests and meadows. This is a wonderful place to hike and mountain bike!
Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland. It is a popular destination for elopements. The city is known for its rich history, cultural attractions and stunning looks! Because of the pretty looks of this city and the historic landmarks, couples often choose to elope in Edinburgh.
What to do after your vows?
There are a lot of things you can do after your elopement in the Scottish Highlands! It is your experience and you can plan it just how you like. Are you a history geek? Scottish history is long, with a lot of important events including clans and the war between Scotland and England.
Are you more of an adventurous person? Go hiking on one of the many long trails in the highlands! For an instance, hike the long-distance trail from Glasgow to Fort William. Are you looking for a shorter hike? Take a look at a hike in Glencoe and the Three Sisters peaks. This gives you a walk through beautiful forests and stunning views of the river Braan and the Black Linn waterfall. These are some perfect spots to take a break and read your vows!
If you’re more of a winter person? Plan your elopement in the snow! After saying I do, you can hit the slopes and ski your way down the mountain. Some people even do that while wearing their wedding clothes!
Other activities include mountain biking, wildlife watching, watersports and enjoying food and drinks! Scotland is, of course, known for their whisky. Many distilleries offer tours and tasting of it! We think that definitely is a recommended thing to do!
Scottish marriage customs
Scotland is known for their tartan patterns and men who wear kilts. But there are a couple of other wedding customs in Scotland.
Tying the knot
Quite literally, this one! We know this statement as another way of saying that you got married, but in Scotland, they literally tie a knot. In this tradition, the wrists of the couple are bound together. If they try to pull their hands away, the knot gets only tighter.
With this type of custom, the couple marries themselves and it is to this day a legal form of getting married! In the old days, the marriage done by handfasting was valid for one year and 1 day. After that time, the couple could choose whether they wanted to stay married or not and they would find a priest then. In the country land, it was also used as an official way because there wasn't always a priest present when people wanted to marry. It looks a little like tying the knot because there is a piece of fabric tied around the wrists. That piece of fabric is made of colours and fabric that means something to the couple. So this is a tradition that adds a lot of personalization to your elopement!
In history, Scots were firm believers in things that brought luck or bad luck. This custom is based on an act that would supposedly bring good luck; the first one to step over the threshold of the married couple needed to be a tall and dark-haired man.
Scottish Highlands adventure elopement packages
- A personalized custom experience
- Location and tips advice
- Vendor & accommodation recommendations
- Custom timeline
- Permit assistance
- Unlimited planning assistance
- Adventure buddies and new friends
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