Scottish Wedding Traditions – Our Top 5 Wedding Suggestions to Showcase your Scottish Heritage

Scottish Wedding Traditions – Our Top 5 Wedding Suggestions to Showcase your Scottish Heritage

Scottish wedding traditions have gone back hundreds of years and have deep roots in Celtic history. In today's age, traditional Scottish wedding ceremonies are less often observed. However, they can still be subtly infused into your big day. Whether you want a massive display of heritage or a slight nod to tradition, here are our top 5 wedding suggestions on how to include Scottish wedding traditions into your ceremony.


Handfasting is an ancient tradition for Scottish weddings that dates back to 700 BC and is often still used in ceremonies. Handfasting is a Celtic ritual in which hands of the couple are tied together to symbolize the binding of their union. This is where the phrase "tying the knot" comes from.

Traditionally, cords or ribbons are used to tie the cord. 

During the ceremony, the officiant begins by explaining the ceremony and what it implies to the pair. This statement includes the acknowledgement of the couple binding their lives together. The officiant then summons the couple to join hands, which signifies their free will to start the marriage. From here, the officiate reads a series of vows as cords are wrapped around the couple's hands.

A Sprig of White Heather 

White heather is a symbol of good luck in Scotland. According to Scottish tradition, placing a sprig of white heather in the bridal bouquet brings good luck to the marriage. This tradition has origins in the Scottish borders and is linked back to the 1544 Clan Ranald battle, where soldiers attributed their victory to wearing white heather in their bonnets. It is also linked to a tale of a clan leader attributing his safe escape from enemies to white heather covering him as he hid.

This subtle placement of a sprig of white heather in a wedding bouquet is the perfect way to acknowledge Scottish tradition.

Gretna Green 

If you fancy going all out and genuinely committing to Scottish wedding tradition, a Gretna Green wedding is the ultimate way.

The village of Gretna Green is a significant part of Scottish history and became famous hundreds of years ago for weddings. This started in 1754 when Lord Hardwicke's Marriage Act came into force in England. Under the Act, if a person under 21 objected to the minor's marriage, the parent could declare the union illegal. Because the Act did not apply in Scotland, young couples forbidden to marry by their parents would cross Scotland to elope.

 Today, this romantic history still draws couples from all over the UK to Gretna Green to get married. Gretna's two blacksmiths' shops and countless inns became the settings for tens of thousands of weddings. Today there are many wedding venues around Gretna Green, from former churches to purpose-built chapels. The services at all the venues are always performed over a blacksmith's anvil to respect the tradition.

Tartan Wedding Accessories 

While Kilt outfits are commonplace at a Scottish wedding, many opt for a step further and implement a tartan theme throughout their venue.

A fundamental way to do this is in the table settings. Table cloths and napkins are a great way to include tartan features. Some people even include the two family's clan tartans within the details to represent the family history and union.

Tartan themed invitations are an ideal way to kick-start your wedding with Scottish heritage at the forefront. Consider a thistle stamp and Celtic symbols to decorate with!

Another great way to include tartan is to provide tartan shawls for guests and the wedding party. With Scotland being notorious for chilly and unreliable weather, a chic tartan cover-up can be a perfect finishing touch for a traditional Scottish wedding.

Traditional Scottish Dancing 

A classic way to include Scottish heritage in your wedding is, of course, traditional Scottish dancing. If you were raised in Scotland, chances are you were gathered in your Primary School's PE hall every Christmas and taught the standard Gay Gordon, The Dashing White Sergeant and The Military Two-Step.

A wedding is the perfect (if not only?) time to put your compulsory years of Scottish country dancing to the test! Encourage your guests to brush up on a selected few dances beforehand, and get everyone up on their feet when it's time for a dance!