Photo courtesy of Rosie Woodhouse, Love Skye Photography.
From the historic city streets of Edinburgh to the rugged, mist-shrouded Highlands of Skye on the northwest coast, Scotland is a country brimming with romance. There are so many things that make this country an exceptional destination wedding spot—the breathtaking sights, the incredible people, the gastronomic delights, luxe city hotels and country inns. If you were thinking of tying the knot in Scotland, there’s never been a better time to visit the country than in 2014, the year of Homecoming Scotland where from coast to coast Scots will be celebrating the best of everything the country hast to offer and welcoming everyone to explore and celebrate with them.
Whether you’re looking to say “I do” in the city, in a centuries-old castle, in a tiny village in the Highlands or at luxe country resort on the bonnie banks of beautiful Loch Lomond, we’ll give you all the facts you need to know about destination weddings in Scotland, from the laws and customs to the best time to plan a wedding and the costs involved with putting the celebration on location together.
The best time to go: Late spring and summer are ideal in Scotland if your main focus is weather. Since many tourists want to visit during less damp conditions, hotel rates tend to be more expensive during these times too. In the fall, although the weather isn’t as ideal, the ending of high season means prices start to become a little more reasonable for venues and hotels. Fall is also an ideal season in Scotland as you can watch the country’s lush green landscapes transform into rich autumn hues. If you are on a tight budget, prices during the wintertime are the least expensive since most tourists consider Scotland’s winter weather unfavourable.
The flight: If you are flying from Toronto, the good news is Air Canada Rouge has recently launched direct flights to Edinburgh departing three times a week. From the west coast, your best travel option is to connect in Toronto, then carry on direct to Edinburgh or Glasgow (Air Transat flies there). From the east coast, you can fly Air Canada to London and take a one-hour connecting flight to Edinburgh or Glasgow from Heathrow.
The legal paperwork: Both you and your groom should complete and submit a marriage notice form to the registrar of the district in which your marriage will be taking place. This should be done no earlier than three months prior to the wedding date and no later than 15 days before. The General Register Office for Scotland suggests doing this at least four to six weeks before the wedding. You will also need to produce your birth certificates, a Canadian ‘certificate of no impediment to marriage’ and documentation of divorce, annulment or death of your former spouse if applicable. If having a religious ceremony (as opposed to a civil ceremony), the registrar will provide you with a marriage schedule that is needed prior to the ceremony. It must be returned to the registrar within three days so that the marriage can be registered. After your marriage has been registered, you can obtain a copy of your marriage certificate for the appropriate fee.
The local customs: There are several different local customs that you and your groom can participate in which differ from area to area in Scotland. Some of these customs include placing a sixpence coin in the bride’s shoe or hiding heather in the bride’s bouquet to bring good luck (a popular tradition in areas such as Aberdeen, Angus and the Scottish borders). Having an island wedding? The Shetland Islands enjoy a ‘Second Night’ of wedding celebrations filled with an encore of drinking and dancing. And of course, there’s the matter of your groom wearing a kilt. If you’re getting married in Scotland, he should absolutely be kitted out in head-to-toe Scottish finery.
The venue: Cameron House Loch Lomond is a luxury country resort that is the perfect place for your destination wedding and honeymoon stay. Located in The Trossachs National Park, the hotel is situated on Loch Lomond, which sits on the fault line between the highland and lowlands of Scotland and boasts over 720 square-miles of mountains, glens and lochs. Located one hour from Edinburgh (or 30-minutes from Glasgow) the vistas in Loch Lomond are as romantic as it gets in Scotland. Cameron House has a variety of wedding packages available to suit the most intimate to the most grand of celebrations. You can have everything from a highland piper to a menu brimming with local Scottish fare to create a one-of-a-kind wedding day. You and your guests will also love the luxury rooms and suites at Cameron House, all incredibly spacious and decorated in tartan and mod-rustic touches. You’ll also have to indulge in the hotel’s numerous leisure pursuits. You can bike, hike, cruise the loch, fish and even take a seaplane trip. Another must-do is the Carrick Spa: book a couple’s suite and massage treatment for the ultimate pre-wedding (or honeymoon) indulgence.
Budget: The cost of a wedding in Scotland naturally varies greatly according to the venue you choose and the size of wedding you have. A small wedding at Cameron House Loch Lomond starts at £550 and goes up from there—the sky truly is the limit in terms of what you can have here for your wedding day (the property does offer a 20 percent discount on winter weddings from December through March). If you are considering a castle location but think it may be out of your budget, it may be more affordable than you think. Eilean Dornan Castle (pictured) in Dornie—a village located on the highway to the Isle of Skye—is an incredible castle dating back to the 13th century. It’s a popular location for weddings (and movies—The Highlander, Entrapment and The World is Not Enough were all filmed here) and can be yours from £1,500! See how one couple from Alberta celebrated at this highland venue in this real wedding.