6 Tips - How to Elope in Scotland 2023
If you're dreaming of an intimate and romantic wedding day in Scotland, eloping may be the perfect option for you. From the wild landscapes of the Highlands to the charming villages of the Borders, Scotland has many beautiful locations to choose from for your elopement.
Here are six tips to help you plan the perfect Scottish elopement. I learned these tips from planning my own elopement in Glencoe in 2020 and as a wedding photographer for elopements and micro-weddings.
Scotland is one of the best places in the world for your elopement!
Choose a location for your Scotland elopement
Consider your personal preferences and the type of elopement you're looking for when choosing a wedding location.
Popular areas to elope in Scotland include the Isle of Skye, Glencoe, Cairngorms and if you would prefer a city elopement or wedding it’s hard to beat Edinburgh. Edinburgh offers plenty of options including a photo walk through the historic streets overlooked by the castle.
There are also lots of private castles and country estates that offer elopement and wedding packages scattered throughout Scotland.
In the map above I’ve highlighted some of the best places to elope in Scotland based on accessibility, local amenities and the outstanding natural beauty. Of course you can venture deeper into the wilds but this might need a bit more planning for your elopement location.
If you book me as your elopement photographer I'd be more than happy to recommend some locations within the Scottish landscape for your ceremony that suits you both.
Elope in Glencoe, Scottish Highlands
Glencoe is a popular location for elopements in Scotland. Located in the Scottish Highlands, Glencoe is known for its stunning natural beauty and rugged landscapes. The area is home to a variety of breath taking locations, including mountains, valleys, lochs and forests, which make it a perfect setting.
Glencoe is a strong contender as one of the best elopement locations in Scotland.
Here are a few benefits to consider if you're thinking of eloping in Glencoe:
- Accessibility: Glencoe is my favourite place to be an elopement photographer as there are so many epic photo locations within the Glencoe area, meaning you can have your ceremony at one spot and then move down or up the valley to a different spot with its own unique landscape features. There are plenty of parking spots very close to prefect ceremony locations, although during the summer months some can get quite busy with tourist and hikers.
- Accommodations: There are a variety of accommodation options in Glencoe, including hotels, B&Bs, Airbnbs and holiday cottages. Make sure to book your accommodations well in advance to ensure availability.
Overall, Glencoe is a beautiful and picturesque location for an elopement in the Scottish highlands. Its stunning natural beauty and variety of locations make it a perfect setting for a romantic and intimate wedding or elopement.
Approximate travel times: Glencoe – from Edinburgh: 2.5 hour drive, from Glasgow: 2 hour drive
Elope in the Cairngorms, Scottish Highlands
The Cairngorms National Park is another popular location for elopements in Scotland. Located in the Highlands region, the Cairngorms are home to a variety of striking locations including an abundance of lochs (some with sandy beaches), forests and mountains.
My personal favourites include Loch Morlich, Loch an Eilein and the quieter Loch Garten.
Here are a few benefits to consider if you're thinking of eloping in the Cairngorms:
- Accessibility: The Cairngorms national park is easy to navigate and there are a number of great forest and lochside locations with cheap public parking available either directly at the spot, or within a short walk. The Cairngorms and particularly Aviemore can be busy in summer, however it is generally quieter than Glencoe especially out of peak times.
- Accommodations: There are a variety of accommodation options in the Cairngorms, including hotels, B&Bs, Airbnbs and holiday cottages. Make sure to book your accommodations well in advance to ensure availability.
Overall, the Cairngorms are a beautiful and picturesque location for an elopement in Scotland. Its stunning natural beauty and variety of locations make it a perfect setting for a romantic and intimate elopement.
Approximate travel times: Cairngorms – from Edinburgh: 2.5 hour drive, from Glasgow: 2 hour drive
Elope in the Isle of Skye, Scottish Inner Hebrides
The Isle of Skye is another great location for elopements in Scotland. Located off the West coast of Scotland, the Isle of Skye is known for its stunning natural beauty, including mountains, coastal landscapes and dramatic cliffs.
There are many iconic sites, including the Cuillin mountains, the Quiraing, the Fairy Glen, and the Old Man of Storr. Dunscaith Castle and Loch Coruisk offer really rugged and slightly less explored wild elopement locations.
Here are a few benefits to consider if you're thinking of an Isle of Skye elopement:
- Accessibility: Roads on the Isle of Skye are typically smaller than on the mainland and it can be quite busy in summer times. Popular spots do have parking available, although they can fill up fast so it is best to consider timings and to try and reduce the number of cars looking for spaces.
- Accommodations: There are a variety of accommodation options on the Isle of Skye, including hotels, B&Bs, Airbnbs and holiday cottages. Make sure to book your accommodations well in advance to ensure availability.
Overall, the Isle of Skye is a beautiful and picturesque location for an elopement in Scotland. Its stunning natural beauty and variety of stunning locations make it a perfect setting for a romantic and intimate elopement.
Approximate travel times: Isle of Skye – from Edinburgh: 5 hour drive, from Glasgow: 5 hour drive
Other areas of Scotland to elope and explore
There are lots of other places in Scotland which are perfect to elope to or hold your micro wedding, including:
South Scotland (Dumfries & Galloway, Scottish Borders, Ayrshire)
- Mull of Galloway
Dumfries & Galloway is often overlooked, however it’s easily accessible from both England and Scotland. There are lots of beautiful forest and coastal locations, but the Mull of Galloway (the most Southern point in Scotland) offers some striking locations to elope in Scotland to.
- Culzean Castle, Ayrshire
North Scotland (Highlands & Islands, Argyll & Bute)
- Lewis & Harris
There are so many locations on Lewis & Harris in the Outer Hebrides which make it perfect for a magical Scottish elopement, including a million white sand beaches (including Uig and Luskentyre and other smaller ones which are quieter and you could almost have a private bay). If you prefer a slightly different landscape feature, you could also check out peninsulas with lighthouses on them.
Spring March - May:
The weather starts to warm up during Spring, with average temperatures ranging from 7-13°C (45-55°F) and near the end of Spring can be hitting 20°C+. The days start to get longer, and you can expect to see some blooming flowers and plants as the landscape start to wake up from winter.
Highlights include pockets of colours including daffodils, bluebells and the beginning of heather.
Summer June - August:
Summer is the warmest season in Scotland, with average temperatures ranging from 15-18°C (59-64°F) however it can get much hotter at times. The days are long and sunny, which gives a lot of options for photos. However be aware that “Golden Hours” at sunset and sunrise can be very early and very late at the height of summer.
Landscapes are alive and blooming, expect to see a lot of green and life. Be warned, some locations can be prone to midges so be prepared if required.
Autumn September - November:
The weather starts to cool down in autumn, with average temperatures ranging from 8-14°C (46-57°F). Although we have had some very warm weeks in September in recent years. The leaves on the trees start to change colour, creating a beautiful autumnal landscape. Autumn is my favourite time to shoot due to the depth and variety of golden and brown colours.
I tend to advise scheduling a wedding before the clocks change at the end of October to take advantage of wonderful golden light at sunrise or sunset.
Winter December - February:
Winter is the coldest season in Scotland, with average maximum temperature usually around 5°C (41°F). The days are shorter and the weather can be quite wet and windy. There is a good chance of being some snow in the more highlands of Scotland so expect to see some snow capped mountains.
Although there are fewer hours of daylight, it’s still great to shoot in with both crisp Winter light and softer golden light making for some beautiful photos if you elope in Scotland in the Winter.
Obtain a marriage license for the wedding ceremony
In order to get married or elope in Scotland, you'll need to obtain a marriage license. Contact the local registry office in the area where you plan to get married, you will need to provide proof of your identity, nationality, and residence.
Due to the added paperwork, some people choose not to have their Scottish ceremony as their legal ceremony. This option is easier for a number of reasons and doesn’t make the day any less special.
Your Marriage Schedule needs to be collected in person by either you or your partner from 7 days before your wedding from the registrar office that is local to your chosen ceremony location.
Remember to return your marriage schedule!
Within 3 days after your wedding ceremony your marriage schedule must be submitted to the local registrar to be legally registered. So don't forget when you elope in Scotland!
Get Married in Scotland & Marriage notice form M10: www.nrscotland.gov.uk
Check if you need a Marriage Visitor Visa: www.gov.uk/check-uk-visa
Scottish government website: www.mygov.scot/getting-married
Choose a Celebrant & Witnesses to elope in Scotland
Find a celebrant to officiate your ceremony. There are lots of celebrants to pick from so you can be sure to find one that suits your style. Make sure to book your celebrant well in advance to ensure they're available on your desired date.
Once you have booked your celebrant they will usually be keen to meet or have a call with you both to go over your plans for the day, this would be a great time to ask them any questions about your ceremony.
For a legal ceremony, you will need two witnesses that will be present during your ceremony (not including your celebrant). If you do not have any guests attending your ceremony I would happy to be your photographer and also your witness! I can also arrange for another if needed. Both of your witnesses will sign your marriage license shortly after your ceremony.
Find your celebrant: www.humanism.scot
Invite your guests
If you're planning a small, intimate elopement or wedding, you may wish to invite your closest family and friends. Give them plenty of notice so they can make travel arrangements.
It’s worth letting any guests who are travelling know about the variability of the Scottish weather and to plan all four seasons in one day! Particularly if you are planning an outdoor elopement ceremony! It’s best not to worry about the weather on your day- just embrace it! Whether it is sunny, rainy or snowy this is all part of the beauty of eloping in the wild.
Plan the details
There are many details to consider when planning to elope in Scotland, including the location, the ceremony, the reception, and any other activities you might want to include. Make a list of everything you need to plan and start working on it as soon as possible to ensure everything goes smoothly on the day of your elopement. Your day can be as simple or as intricate as you like and chatting with your celebrant and wedding photographer can also help.
The timing of an elopement is largely dependent on your preference and the location you have chosen.
Every elopement is different and unique in its own way, but a good basic plan is the photographer meets you the couple at their accommodation on your elopement day for some getting ready shots and then make your way to the elopement ceremony location. Its a good idea to have any guests that are invited meet you at the location as a group rather than travelling separately, this will help avoid any parking issues.
Ultimately, the timing of your elopement is up to you and your partner. Consider these factors and choose a schedule that works best for you and your plans when you elope in Scotland.
Hand fasting is an ancient tradition that is often incorporated into modern Scottish elopements. During a hand fasting ceremony, the couple's hands are tied together with their family tartan or cloth. Two pieces of material are used, between 1.5- 2m long, symbolizing their commitment to each other. This symbolic gesture has roots in Celtic, Norse, and Gaelic cultures and is often performed by a celebrant during the elopement ceremony.
Hand fasting is a meaningful and intimate way to celebrate your love and commitment to each other during a Scottish elopement.
It can be personalized to reflect your individual beliefs and values, and is a beautiful way to add a personal touch to your elopement ceremony.
In a Scotland elopement a Quaich is a traditional Scottish drinking vessel that is often used in traditional wedding and elopement ceremonies in Scotland. The word "Quaich" comes from the Gaelic word "cuach," which means "cup." Quaichs are typically made of wood, silver, or pewter and have two handles, symbolizing the bond between the couple.
During a Scottish elopement wedding, the Quaich is often used as a symbol of unity and commitment. The couple may share a drink from the Quaich as part of the ceremony, symbolizing their commitment to each other and their future together.
The Quaich is a meaningful and traditional element to include in a Scottish elopement wedding ceremony. If you're considering incorporating a Quaich discuss the details with your celebrant or minister. They can help you understand the significance of this tradition and help you incorporate it into your elopement wedding ceremony in a way that is meaningful and authentic.
Enjoy your special day!
Once all the planning is done, it's time to relax and enjoy your elopement. Take some time to soak in the beauty of your surroundings and savour this special moment with your partner.
By following these tips, you can plan a beautiful and memorable Scottish elopement that you'll cherish for a lifetime. Happy planning!
Hello! I’m Matt
Click the button below to contact us to discuss any of our Scotland elopement packages in more detail. We would love to hear about your plans for your special day and join you as you elope in Scotland!
If you would like to ask me any questions about how to elope in Scotland let me know.
A selection of photographs from recent shots across Scotland
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