A Scottish wedding or elopement can be a truly magical affair, but as with all weddings, irrespective of location, there is much to consider.
As well as scouting the perfect venue or settling on what tartan design to incorporate into your big day, there are important legal aspects and certain other boxes to tick when considering a destination wedding in Scotland.
Luckily for you, you’ve come to the right place! We’ve put together an expert guide of everything you need to know about getting married in Scotland for foreigners.
Scotland is vastly becoming one of the go-to destinations for weddings and elopements for many reasons; the main one being: it’s a truly magical country.
Not only is it filled with fanciful folklore and stunning scenery that would render even the most seasoned traveller speechless (not to mention being home to some of the finest whisky in the world), but it’s also pretty chill about wedding ceremony laws – more so, in fact, than anywhere else in the UK. But we’ll get to that later.
For now, why not forget all about that quaint English countryside wedding and come away with us to the Gaelic holy grail of whimsical weddings and charming ceremonies otherwise known as Scotland?
Destination Wedding in Scotland: A Guide
One of the first tasks on your checklist will be hiring a celebrant or registrar for your ceremony – either a religious or humanist one. The reason you need to do this fairly early on is because of the paperwork side of getting married in Scotland for foreigners. Let’s dive deeper.
Stage One: Initial Preparation
Scottish Wedding Venues
Scotland may be a small country, but there certainly is no shortage of stunning wedding venues.
For those looking for location inspiration, some ideas include:
- Lochside wedding venues.
- Glencoe village.
- The Hebridean islands.
- Edinburgh city.
- Scottish Borders.
- Loch Lomond.
- Cairngorm National Park.
- Glasgow city.
One of the great things about getting married in Scotland is that you’re not limited to indoor ceremonies only (unlike the rest of the UK and many other countries). On the contrary, you can get married pretty much anywhere (land-owner permitting, of course), which means you’re spoiled for choice for ceremony locations (ancient Scottish castle wedding, anyone?).
However, because Scotland’s weather is nothing if not unpredictable, even in the height of summer, it can be wise to have an indoor venue at hand for the reception, if nothing else.
Photography by Wildling Weddings at Newhall Estate
Hiring a Celebrant/Registrar
First of all, you and your partner need to decide if you wish to have a religious or humanist ceremony – or one that is a combination of dual religions. Once you’ve settled on this, you have your direction for choosing a celebrant.
When choosing a celebrant, it’s wise to do your research and opt for one with positive reviews and who has full proof of legitimacy. Don’t be afraid to interview several celebrants or registrars; the right person will feel right because they will listen and adhere to your requests. Anything less than that is a red flag.
PRO TIP: Use a destination wedding planner to help plan your Scotland wedding. They’ll have access to discounts and exclusive deals with vendors they frequently work with and they’ll know just who to call to plan the wedding of your dreams.
Read More: What is a wedding celebrant?
How to get the BEST wedding photos – tell me where to send these tips!
The Legal Stuff
It’s wise to get the legal/paperwork part of wedding-planning out of the way early on. A, because it’s boring and once it’s done you can then focus on the fun stuff, and B, because other aspects of your prep will require this being sorted out prior.
As a non-native, there are a few hoops you’ll need to jump through before you can legally tie the knot in Scotland. For starters, you’ll need to sort out your marriage notice forms and all other legal paperwork, as well as pay the statutory fee – all of which will go to the registrar/celebrant, which is why it’s crucial to get that part sorted out first before embarking on anything else.
Getting married in another country can be overwhelming, but once you find the right resources for all of the paperwork/legal side of things, it’s a piece of (wedding) cake.
Other legal boxes to tick include:
- Setting the date and hiring the venue, as this information will be required when completing your paperwork.
- Completing your marriage notice form and sending them to the registrar. The latest this document should be submitted is 29 days before the ceremony date, or you will very likely have to postpone.
- Complete and return a declaration of immigration status.
More information about the legal side of getting married in Scotland for foreigners can be found here.
Want to make the process easier? Get legally married in your home country at a registry office and then have the romantic ceremony of your dreams in Scotland!
Stage Two: The Fun Stuff
Once all the boring, adult stuff is out of the way, you are then ready to start planning the big day itself.
Choosing a Photographer
Choosing the right photographer to pap your big day is important because you want the tangible memories to echo yours and your partner’s sentiments, tastes, and unique personalities.
It’s also wise to hire a photographer who is based in Scotland, as they will be familiar with the country, and there won’t be the additional concern of shipping them in from your own (or another) country.
A good line of dialogue, plus peppering a prospective photographer with the right questions, will help you establish whether they are the person for the job.
PRO TIP: When you hire Wildling Weddings as your Scotland wedding photographer, you’ll get access to exclusive discounts from vendors around Scotland including videographers, celebrants, pipers, decor hire, and more!
Destination Wedding in Scotland: Other Useful Info
It’s important not to allow yourself to get too overwhelmed when planning a destination wedding in Scotland, otherwise you risk robbing yourself of the joy and magic that comes with plotting your fabulous nuptials.
Nevertheless, planning a wedding in your own country (let alone another) can be consuming and sometimes even stressful, so it can be beneficial to enlist the services of a professional wedding planner to help you organise all aspects of your destination wedding in Scotland, so that you can relax a little knowing there is someone in your corner making darn sure your wedding or elopement is going to be a truly magical affair!
Destination Wedding in Scotland: FAQs
Getting married in Scotland can often work out less expensive than other scenic locations, but you will need to factor in certain aspects, such as travel to and from the country and your wedding visas, etc.
Typically though, a destination wedding in Scotland can be anything from £3k to £15k (or more).
Yes, absolutely. You will just need to make sure you have a valid passport and a certificate from your native country declaring that there’s no reason why you shouldn’t get married. Once obtained, these documents will need to be sent to your registrar or celebrant.
In terms of good weather, your best bet for a Scottish wedding is July or August. However, Scotland can be an enchanting place to tie the knot any time of year, owing to the contrast and magic each season brings. You will just need to dress accordingly if opting to have your special day in a cooler month.
Weddings can be a costly affair and often having a budget and being sure to stick to it will mean you can have a fabulous day without breaking the bank or maxing out a credit card.
As of 2023, Scotland is considered to be just under £1000 cheaper to wed in than the national average.
There is so much to choose from when it comes to finding a beautiful place to tie the knot in Scotland. Whether you favour castle weddings, hotels, stately homes, or the great outdoors – there’s an abundance of elegant and romantic options.
Some of our favourite, however, include:
- Borthwick Castle, near Edinburgh
- Dunnottar Castle, near Aberdeen
- Cortes House, near Aberdeen
- Kinblethmont House, near Dundee
- Isle of Eriska Hotel, near Glasgow
- Old Course Hotel, near St. Andrews
Yes, typically Scotland is very liberal when it comes to getting married just about anywhere. However, it is worth noting that there are constraints surrounding which type of ceremony you opt for (e.g.: a humanist or religious/belief).
Civil ceremonies can take place almost anywhere, with the exception of religious venues. Religious/belief ceremonies can take place almost anywhere, providing it is registrar-approved. Bear in mind, however, that many religious registrars insist on ceremonies taking place within religious premises.
Absolutely, or this guide would have been a bit of a waste of time!
It is important, however, to be knowledgeable about all of the legal requirements of your desired country of choice and make sure all of that side of things is taken care of prior to travelling to get married in that country.