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The Ultimate Scotland Elopement Checklist for 2024

Table of Contents

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Forget the big traditional white wedding. Elopements are where it is at in 2024.

Not only do you save a whole heap of money by not splashing out on multiple wedding vendors (as well as paying for everyone’s dinner!), but you also get to enjoy your special day in an intimate ceremony with only a handful of people present.

Those looking for a stunning outdoor ceremony location needn’t look any further than Scotland; but before you get packing that suitcase, make sure you tick off everything on our ultimate elopement checklist first.

The Ultimate Elopement Checklist for 2024

Although organising an elopement is considerably less faffy than preparing for a trad wedding, there’s still some planning to be done – and the best way to do that is with our nifty elopement planning checklist….

Read More: How to Find the PERFECT Winter Elopement Dress

Everything you need to know about eloping in Scotland lies within a well-thought-out step-by-step checklist. 

Plan Your Location

Before you do anything, you and your partner need to agree on a specific Scottish location. Scotland may be small, as countries go, but you are by no means limited in choice.

Whether you opt for one of the beautiful cities, such as Edinburgh, Glasgow, or Inverness, or something a little more rural, such as the Highlands, the Isle of Skye, Cairngorms National Park, or the Scottish Borders, you are in for a stunning ceremony for your special day.

You need to do this first and foremost because much of your paperwork is dependent on the location, including organising a celebrant and making sure they are available for that location.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by all that Scotland has to offer, check out our Easy Elopement package where we’ll do the planning and photography for you, within your budget. 

Set a Date

Again, you won’t be able to complete your paperwork without having settled on a date. This is also crucial for arranging vendors, giving yourself a timeframe to prepare, as well as other smaller details, such as booking time off work.

Because Scotland’s weather can be unpredictable, irrespective of season, this will need to be taken into consideration. All of Scotland’s seasons hold much beauty, but even the warmer months may throw you a curveball, weather-wise. So come prepared – especially if you’re planning an adventure elopement.

leahi and hamish edinburgh city chambers wedding registry office
leahi and hamish edinburgh city chambers wedding registry office

Photography by Wildling Weddings

Hire an Officiator

Whether you opt for a religious or humanist ceremony, you will need an officiator, and your three options are ‘humanist’, ‘religious’, or ‘registrar’.

Luckily, there is no shortage of any of these, and you can find the right one for you at places like the Humanist Society of Scotland.

Scout for Vendors

Most couples like to try out a few vendors before committing, and most vendors, such as caterers, will happily create samples for you to test – a ‘try before you buy’, if you will.

Elopements require fewer wedding vendors than bigger affairs, but it’s likely you will still want a handful of suppliers, such as a hair & makeup artist, photographer/videographer, accommodation, dress/suit companies, etc.

It is wise to get these sorted out earlier rather than later to avoid disappointment in missing out (vendors get booked up fast!) and to give you the peace of mind of having one less thing to worry about.

Get Your Paperwork Boxed Off

Paperwork isn’t the most enthralling or romantic part of any nuptials – but it is the most important, so get it done and dusted as soon as possible!

Once you’ve completed the earlier steps of agreeing on a date, location, and an officiator, you should have everything you need to complete the legal side.

To tie the knot in Scotland, you will both need to complete a marriage notice form, as well as pay a mandatory fee, which is £70. 

The reason why this is the time to get this done is because the form will need to be completed no sooner than three months prior to the ceremony date and no later than 29 days before.

If you’re heading to Scotland from abroad, you will also need a marriage visitor Visa, which we’ll get into shortly.

Agree on a Witness

For legal reasons, you will need a witness during the ceremony, who will be required to sign the wedding day paperwork too.

Unfortunately, the celebrant cannot double as a witness – however, a wedding vendor, such as the photographer, absolutely can, which is ideal for those wanting to keep the headcount of their elopement on the smaller side.

Plan Your ‘Fit

Most brides likely already have an idea of what they want to wear for their special day, but as we mentioned earlier, Scotland (particularly the higher-elevation areas) can experience all weather types within the space of an hour – so come prepared!

We recommend packing a few essentials such as layers, waterproofs, and good, practical footwear – especially for a hiking wedding or an adventure elopement.

Dresses that are easy to move about in are advised, and a tartan shawl or pashmina can be a nice touch – and perhaps even a flask of Scotch to warm those bones!

caitlin and jack loch an eilein lochside wedding scotland aviemore
caitlin and jack loch an eilein lochside wedding scotland aviemore

Photography by Wildling Weddings

Pick Up Your Elopement Marriage Schedule

This needs to be done (in person) within a seven-day window of your special day and will be available at the local registrar’s office to where you’re getting hitched. 

This is especially important to bear in mind for couples coming from overseas – try not to leave it until the last minute, so as to avoid any stress or rushing! It is imperative this is done before the ceremony, as you will need to present it to your officiator. 

And that’s it, folks! You’re officially ready to elope!

Wanting to elope in Scotland but not a UK resident? Check out our guide to the Marriage Visitor Visa (UK) here!

Adventure Elopement

One of the many reasons why couples flock to Scotland to tie the knot is because it sets a perfect scene for an adventure wedding. 

Scotland is chock-full of lochs, mountains, hills, magical islands, pristine countryside, beautiful harbours, and so much more, making it ideal for the couple who loves all things outdoorsy.

Also, Scotland is one of the few countries where it is perfectly legal to have a wedding ceremony almost anywhere outside, making it a no-brainer for those wanting to get married in a natural setting.

Scotland Elopement Photographer

Just because you’re not going down the traditional route of getting hitched, it doesn’t mean it won’t be the most magical and romantic day of your life – in fact, we’d argue that there’s something extra special about the intimate ceremony. 

So, with that in mind, you’re going to want a local, Scotland-based photographer to document your perfect day to provide you with the ultimate keepsake, no?!

Don’t forget to book your photographer well in advance of your wedding date to avoid missing out, and always ask the crucial questions to make sure they’re the right creative match for you.

Elopement Package

Those who want their elopement planning to be as faff-free as possible can take advantage of the many elopement packages on offer. 

These can be from photographers, venues, wedding coordinators, and more – all with the purpose of taking the pressure off your shoulders. 

Marriage Visitor Visa Scotland: How to Get Married in Scotland for Non-UK Citizens

Those coming from overseas will need to familiarise themselves with the required paperwork for tying the knot in Scotland.

Marriage Visitor Visa

First things first: non-natives cannot legally wed in Scotland without a marriage visitor Visa. This includes couples looking to have a civil ceremony. More information can be found here.

Marriage Notice Form

We touched upon the marriage notice form earlier, and both natives and non-natives will need to complete one (and pay the fee). You can download this form here.

Marriage Schedule

Finally, your marriage schedule will need to be completed and sent to your officiator prior to the ceremony date. The window to do this is between three months and one month before your wedding date.

Ultimate Elopement Checklist Scotland: FAQs

You can include anything you wish that might also appear in a larger-scale wedding, such as ring exchanges, vows, first kiss as newlyweds, handfasting, a glass of bubbly, walking down the aisle, and so on. You could also choose to integrate some Scottish wedding traditions

One of the many great things about elopements is that they are less stressful and convoluted to organise than a traditional wedding.

You will need to hire a few vendors, such as an officiant, a photographer, a florist (if required), and so on, but you won’t be required to prepare for the aspects of having a guest list (such as seating arrangements, a wedding buffet, etc.).

Ideally, for an elopement guest list, less is more (think 10 guests or less). There are several individuals that are required to be there for the legal aspect, such as the officiator and a witness, but any more than 10 guests and you’re heading into micro-wedding territory.

Many modern couples prefer monetary donations as a wedding gift, as opposed to household items, as most modern couples already live together and have everything they need, home-wise.

There is no set amount to give to an elopement couple. It depends entirely on your budget or preference.

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