Are you planning to elope to Scotland? Thinking of escaping to the hills and saying your vows, then running into the wind with some majestic Scottish scenery behind you?
Eloping to Scotland is a special choice, a chance to spend quality time together, personalise a day that speaks to you and to focus on what matters most. All while throwing a bit of adventure into the mix!
Are you in love with epic scenery, history, rugged mountains, rushing rivers, waterfalls, wild coastlines and a ton of culture?
Maybe a Scottish elopement would be right for you both.
But how and where to start?
There are so many options open to you when planning to elope in Scotland, but hopefully this guide will help you on your way!
1. Choose a Location
Our major towns and cities are also steeped in culture and history and with fine architecture.
Many of the couples who choose to elope in Scotland will pick somewhere already close to their hearts, an area they have fallen for through online images or sometimes a place with a historic family connection.
From city streets in the Old town of Edinburgh to mountain summits in Glencoe, the list is endless.
Places to Wander
I’m lucky enough to have wandered a lot around Scotland, climbing, biking and camping. From a young age it’s been my playground.
Although Im still exploring the country I’m more than happy to help suggest where might work for your elopement and also for your full Scottish adventure.
2. Decide on a Date – When should we elope to Scotland?
The quick and easy answer is, whenever works for you both!
Typically the finer months to elope in Scotland are March to May or September to November but that said, I have shot elopements in Scotland during every month of the year and each holds its own special quality.
Including some wonderful Winter elopements in the Highlands around Xmas and New Year!
Chasing The Light
Elopement Ceremony Time
For elopements during the Summer months (June-August), it’s worth considering a later ceremony if you would like to try and capture a little bit of ‘Golden hour’ light. For instance, in the Summer months a good starting point would be around 5pm for your ceremony.
In the middle of Winter, a ceremony time of 11am is not unusual as Sunset times can be as early as 4pm.
3. Book your celebrant
Once you have locked in your chosen location and potential date, its time to get in touch with a celebrant! This is a personal choice and can be either a Registrar, Religious or Humanist.
In Scotland we also have some interesting traditional elements that can add a nice touch to a ceremony, such as the Oathing stone, Scottish Hand-fasting and the Quaich ceremony. (The Loving Cup)
For a registrar, you will have to contact the local office nearest to your chosen location.
A full list of Registry offices in Scotland here REGISTRY OFFICES SCOTLAND
Religious ceremonies can differ i.e Church of Scotland services can be held anywhere so long as your minister approves. Believers of other faiths are welcome too.Roman Catholic ceremonies are slightly different and must be held in a place of worship in regular use.
Humanist Ceremony in Scotland
If you are looking at having a Humanist ceremony when you elope to Scotland, many great celebrants can be found by using the sites listed at the bottom of this page.
Each have their own personality and approach to elopements and many of them are keen to hike to a wild mountain location to conduct ceremonies!
I’m happy to put you in touch directly if that would be your preference.
4. Apply for your Marriage Schedule
The Marriage Schedule is granted by the registrar local to your wedding location and can be collected in person up to seven days before the big day. To be issued a marriage schedule you must each fill in a Marriage Notice form (M10 form).
Marriage Schedule Cost
The form must be submitted with a £70 processing fee no earlier than 12 weeks and no later than 29 days before the wedding day.You will also need to submit your birth or adoption certificate, passport and proof of residence.
5. Find your Witnesses
Legalities of Eloping in Scotland
My partner Justyna and I have been witnesses to many elopements over the years and always feel honoured to do this, so we can cover this for you no problem.
Where in Scotland Can we legally marry?
At the time of writing this you can marry pretty much anywhere as long as you have a registered celebrant officiating your ceremony. Humanist marriages have been legally recognised in Scotland since 2005.You can also marry with a local Registrar or Minister from the church.
We are eloping to Scotland from abroad, how does this work?
People who are not from Scotland are free to marry here but this depends on where you are from and you may be subject to immigration control.If you’re from a country outside the European Economic Area and you want to elope to Scotland you will require an entry clearance.
Further information is available on the GOV.UK website where you can apply for a marriage visitor visa. As of 2020, this costs 95 GBP
Weather in Scotland
We are a small island with the swirling Atlantic just off our West coast. As such, we have an Oceanic climate and it can and does rain often! We do get our share of glorious Sunny days but best be prepared for the old shower/downpour.
Even in the worst of conditions often there will be a break in the weather just around the corner.
A lot of the time we just have to embrace the elements and enjoy the ride until it opens up and the Sun appears.All this unpredictable weather furnishes us with some gloriously dramatic skies and can really add to the true atmosphere of Scotland.
What shall we wear on our Scottish elopement?
For heading to the hills the most important thing is good footwear. I suggest sturdy and waterproof walking type boots/shoes. These are best for a mix of terrain in the highlands and for your safety. Although some Brides do decide to go barefoot in the Summer!
If rain is forecast, waterproofs/warm jacket or a shawl/blanket to wrap around for in between the shots is always a good idea. I tend to carry these for couples when we are in the hills. In Summer it can get hot too though, so don’t forget the Sunscreen.
What about safety during our Scottish Elopement?
I m really big on this! Ive spent a lot of time in the Scottish mountains and also a few years as a qualified climbing instructor.This past experience has stayed with me. Im super aware of the mountain environment, the terrain and weather changes and will always look after my clients from the initial planning and when out on the hills.
If you are keen for an outdoor ceremony and the weather looks less than ideal its always good to have have a backup plan in mind. There are always options, be it a dense wooded area or sheltered crag. Or if you are set on the hillside ceremony, then some Umbrella’s are a great idea to take the edge off and can add some fun to the day!
Accommodation in Scotland
There are some beautiful old lodges, hotels and quirky Air B’n’B’s to spend the night and do your preparations in the morning.
I love to shoot this part of the day, capturing the details and the quiet build-up, a chance to create some gentle portraits before heading into the (sometimes) wild and windy weather.
Travel In Scotland
The main international Airports are Edinburgh and Glasgow. There is a good train network and public transport is regular and well serviced but if you are considering a Highland elopement then it is best to hire a car if possible. For some elopement ceremony locations, like here on the Isle of Skye, a short Ferry ride is sometimes needed, which adds to the fun of the day!
With a car you can make the most of the most amazing ‘off- the beaten track’ areas and also do so at your own leisure both before and after your elopement. During an elopement I tend to drive the couple from preparation to ceremony and to shoot locations as this makes it easier for logistics and parking. It is also at least a little kinder to the environment and we can also stop at short notice if I spot some awesome light appearing over the horizon!
The Elopement Experience
As well as being one of the most important days in your life, your elopement in Scotland should be a fun and relaxed adventure. I do my best to make everyone super comfortable and chilled during their time here, along with a lot of pre-planning and advice, driving couples in my wee Camper-van is one way to take away a little stress of the day. Couples can just sit back and watch the views unfold as we wander from location to location.
Scottish Elopement Hotspots
There are so many places to choose from when you elope to Scotland, we are spoilt for choice!
The Cairngorms, Wester Ross, Glencoe, Glen Etive, Isle of Skye. Loch Lomond, The far North West, Inverpolly and Assynt.
They are all incredibly beautiful mountainous areas. I’m also lucky enough to have shot weddings in the Outer Hebrides.They have some of the most stunning and pristine beaches you will ever see!
On a clear, blue sky day they look more Caribbean that Northern European! There really is something for everyone and as well as a short list below I have a guide to 5 of the best places to elope in Scotland.
During the planning process I always send a recommended suppliers list to any couple who feels the need for some help. From Celebrant’s to Musicians, Floristry to Hair, Makeup, Accommodation and Cake makers.
Elopement Videography in Scotland
Many couples love to add a film of their adventure when they elope to Scotland and I think it’s a great idea. The moving image can sometimes harness even more of the drama of the mountains and the ceremony than the still alone.If this is something you are interested in I can certainly pass on the details of a few amazing film-makers in Scotland.
We Are Elopers
Alternatively, if you would like a more minimal approach. My partner Justyna and I have a Film + Photography venture for elopements only. Please Note: For this venture I don’t shoot any photography. Justyna takes the still images while I create short cinematic films of the adventure.
We are really excited to be offering this and some of our recent work from a Torridon Elopement has recently been published on the We Fell In Love Blog. Please also head over to our website and check us out if you like the look of our work. We Are Elopers Site.
Places to Elope in Scotland
Glencoe is around 2.5 hours drive from Edinburgh and around 2 hours from Glasgow.The Glen itself is steeped in history and is what remains of a massive volcanic Caldera. The dramatic cliff faces and gullies provide anyone driving through with some epic vistas.
The river rushes through the foot of the Glen and tumbles into waterfalls and rock pools. There is also a vast open plain with a beautiful Loch at the base of steep soaring crags as well as some enchanted native woodland nearby.
The Skyfall Road – Glen Etive
The drive down the ‘James Bond’ road to Loch Etive is popular, it is a scenic route and herds of deer can often be spotted grazing by the roadside.They are fairly tame and some will come say hello!
Access in Glencoe
Glencoe is super accessible and roadside which means it can get busy.
However, a short 5-10 minute hike up the hillside and you will feel like you are the only people on earth, with some stunning views to look down upon.
Note: If you are keen to adventure further I’m always up to do some longer hikes during the photo session. For instance, the walk into the Lost Valley (1 hour-ish ) is a great wander through some stunning terrain.
2. Isle of Skye Elopement
The Isle of Skye is around 6 hours drive from Edinburgh/Glasgow.Skye is one of the most magical places in the UK, and possibly the World!
The landscape is wild, complete with twisting volcanic rock spires, crystal clear waterfalls and dramatic cliff edges. The beaches are also pristine! It has to be seen to be believed.
The Cuillin Hills
The Cuillin Hills on Skye are a true test for Hillwalkers and Mountaineers alike. This sharp and wonderful ridge line can be seen from various points on the island.
An elopement ceremony spot in the heart of The Cuillin’s at Loch Coruisk is a short boat ride into a peaceful and remote part of the island.
Accommodation can be tricky to book during Summer months so do look well in advance. The main town is Portree and is a nice spot to grab a bite to eat and chill out on the cute little harbour area.
The North West of Scotland is pretty special, the area around Torridon and Northwards to Gairloch is jaw-droppingly scenic!
Carry on further to Ullapool and on to Assynt and it continues to amaze, we are so lucky to have such a diverse landscape.
In Torridon, Some of the oldest bedrock in the World is capped by beautiful sandstone peaks that rise majestically in all manner of shapes from low-lying marshlands and rivers.
Its nothing short of spectacular and well worth visiting even if you plan to stay or are married elsewhere in Scotland.
I hope this guide has been of some help. Please also click below to check out my latest guide on the best places to elope in Scotland.
If you need more tailored advice for you elopement in Scotland please do get in touch via the contact form. Take care, Seán