As wedding locations go, Scotland’s breathtaking natural beauty and stunning historic venues are pretty hard to beat.
And whether you’re Scotland born and bred or just visiting to tie the knot, what better way to embrace the magic of the location by adding some Scottish wedding traditions? After all, there’s much more to an authentic Scottish wedding than the groom’s party wearing kilts.
Giving a Luckenbooth
When it comes to Scottish wedding traditions, the engagement ring isn’t the only piece of jewellery a groom should give their bride before the wedding. They should also give their beloved a Luckenbooth.
A Luckenbooth is a silver brooch with two interlocking hearts topped by a crown. The crown represents Mary, Queen of Scots, who was said to have either received one from her first husband, Francis II of France, or given one to her second husband, Lord Darnley.
The name might sound like it’s a good luck charm, but it actually comes from the Scots word for the silversmiths’ stalls where they were originally sold in 15th century Edinburgh. What the Luckenbooth does symbolise is the groom’s love and devotion to their fiancée.
If starting a family is on the horizon, the Luckenbooth can also be pinned to a baby’s blanket as a charm to protect them from harm.
Good luck charms
The Luckenbooth might not be for good luck, but if you want to start your marriage off with a little good fortune, there are plenty more Scottish wedding traditions for that.
Depending on where you’re getting married in Scotland, brides often carry a sprig of white heather in their bouquet or – if you can find one these days – a sixpence in their shoe. If the groom and his party want to join in too, they can add some lucky white heather to their buttonholes.
One tradition that’s not so common today is the wedding scramble, also known as the scatter or warsel. As the bride steps out of her car to enter the ceremony, her father throws a handful of coins for young guests to pick up. This small act of generosity is said to bring good financial fortune for the happy couple.
The Wedding Walk
Instead of the groom and guests waiting at the church for the bride, Scottish weddings traditionally have the wedding party head for the ceremony together in the Wedding Walk, or Wedding March.
Headed up by a piper or a fiddler, the groom leads the way alongside the maid of honour, and the bride follows just behind, escorting the best man. After the ceremony, there’s another march to the reception, led by the happy couple with the best man and maid of honour behind them.
For good luck on the day, it’s said the Wedding Walk should cross water twice. Just keep an eye out for any funeral parties or wayward pigs, as one of those crossing your path is terribly unlucky.
The Oathing Stone
Every married couple wants their new life together to be as strong as possible, so it’s no surprise that so many Scottish wedding traditions feature symbols of strength and unity.
One of these is the idea that the most long-lasting wedding vows are those given beside a stone. Over the years this has picked up many variations over the years, including the bride and groom placing their hands on a stone while they read their vows.
Nowadays, Scottish couples usually create their own Oathing Stones, by finding a small stone and carving their names, initials or wedding date into it. Creating one can be a romantic activity for the bride and groom, or a touching gift from their friends or family.
Pass around the quaich
Also called a “loving cup”, a quaich is a two-handled silver bowl that’s topped up with whisky and passed around the wedding party once the legal side of the ceremony is over.
As well as being a delicious tipple, there’s plenty of symbolism involved in this Scottish wedding tradition that dates back to the days of Scotland’s clan system. After the newlyweds have taken the first sips, passing the quaich then serves to bind their two families or clans together as everyone shares the same drink.
The first dance
No wedding is complete without an iconic first dance. And in Scotland, that means the Traditional Grand March.
This Scottish wedding tradition sees the newlyweds kick things off with a solo march to bagpipes or a live band. The best man and maid of honour then join in together, followed by the couple’s parents, before the rest of the wedding guests take to the floor as well.
Gifts for devotion and longevity
Gifts are a big part of any wedding, and there are several Scottish wedding traditions surrounding them too.
Before the ceremony, Scottish brides traditionally give their fiancé a special shirt called a wedding sark. In return, the groom would pay for the bride’s wedding dress. This isn’t commonly done today unless you’re going for a truly traditional Scottish wedding, but Scottish couples often give each other small gifts of clothing or jewellery to wear on the day.
One age-old Scottish wedding tradition is for the best man to gift the newlyweds a clock. This is supposed to bring longevity to the marriage, but historically would have also been an expensive and significant gift for the newly formed household. Nowadays, since a clock isn’t as momentous a present, it’s more common for the best man to give the groom a pocket watch instead.
However many traditions you want to include, Scotland always makes for a perfect setting for any wedding. And whether you’re looking for a spellbinding venue set among the Highland hills or somewhere tranquil for guests to spend the night, Kilcamb Lodge has everything you need to make your big day one you’ll never forget.