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Scotland Wedding Planning: Wedding Bagpipers

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Okay, so our opinion may be slightly biased, but here at Wildling Weddings, we love nothing better than a good Scottish-inspired union!

Not only do the Scots know how to have a good time, but a Gaelic wedding is chock-full of incredible traditions, and is the perfect excuse to have a dram of whisky (we mean, it would be rude not to!).

One such tradition that is a strong part of Scottish wedding etiquette is the bagpipes. Now, before you recoil in horror at the thought of a ‘Ross from Friends’ bagpipe incident (if you know, you know…), there are plenty of professional wedding bagpipers ready and waiting to pipe you into holy matrimony….

Scotland Wedding Planning: Wedding Bagpipers

Whether or not you’re choosing to tie the knot in Scotland, or to just have a Scottish-themed ceremony, perhaps as a nod to your or your partner’s ancestry, it would be criminal not to include at least one bagpiper (often referred to as a Highland piper). 

So, here’s everything you need to know.

Why Hire Wedding Bagpipers?

While it may seem costly to hire a wedding piper (most charge circa £160 – £300 for their services), you’ll be getting your money’s worth, as the Scottish wedding piper plays an integral role in your wedding.

 

This is what they’ll typically do (depending on how long you hire their services for):

  • Welcome guests as they arrive at the venue.
  • Welcome the bridal party as they arrive for the ceremony.
  • Play while the bride (or whoever you want!) walks down the aisle.
  • Play while the couple walk down the aisle, post-ceremony.
  • Lead the wedding procession outside for the photographs or to the reception venue.
  • Welcome everyone as they arrive at the reception venue.
  • Lead everyone into the dining hall for the wedding meal.
  • Play during the cutting of the cake.

Many weddings hire only one Highland piper for this role, but if you really fancy putting on a Scottish spectacle, you can hire as many as your budget allows, or you can throw in a few other musicians too, such as a drummer.

What to Consider When Hiring a Wedding Highland Piper

Choosing your wedding piper/s is no different than selecting any of your other vendors. Ultimately, the decision comes down to you and your partner’s preference and budget.

 If you happen to know someone willing to do it as a wedding favour or for a reduced cost (mates’ rates, etc.), then great. But if you are going down the professional company route, here’s what to consider:

  • Your budget. Opt for a piper within your budget confines and make sure there are no hidden costs.
  • If using professional services, make sure they are fully vetted and fully insured.
  • Do some research. Prices are competitive, so make sure you’re getting the right deal.
  • Always trust testimonies/case studies/word-of-mouth references.
  • Don’t go amateur! Nothing will spoil the mood like a low-budget bagpiper!
  • Don’t leave hiring to the last minute – bagpipers for Scottish weddings are often in high demand, so book early to avoid disappointment.
  • Most bagpipers will expect a deposit, so make sure you have this ready within your budget to book as soon as possible.
emily and george edinburgh elopement quaich ceremony
emily and george edinburgh city chambers wedding photographer

Photography by Wildling Weddings

Bagpipers For Hire

The History of the Wedding Piper

The history of bagpipes being played during a Scottish wedding goes all the way back to the Celtic and Gaelic days of yore (and by ‘days of yore’, we mean Medieval times) when folks were superstitious and believed certain acts or signs during the day of a wedding signified the fate of the marriage to come.

One of the many Scottish traditions states that if a bride sees a piper play before the ceremony, the marriage will be a long and happy one – hence why bagpipes have such a fundamental role in weddings (even to this day).

If you’re wondering, why, then, are they present throughout the day, including the procession to the wedding banquet? 

Well, it’s because bagpipes form what’s known as the Traditional Grand March, which is part of the wedding toast aspect of the day, which often sees the piper him/herself making a toast to the happy couple.

Other Reasons to Have a Piper at Your Scottish Wedding

Superstitions aside, there are many reasons why a bagpiper makes for a great option for your big day. Not only is the sight and sound of bagpipes deeply embedded within Scottish culture, but a tartan-clad piper will look the biz in the wedding photographs!

It’s also a great way to keep this excellent part of Scottish history alive – and a professional bagpiper takes his/her job very seriously and will make sure they bring true Scottish authenticity to your wedding.

Wedding Piper: Top Tips

Like all aspects of your wedding planning, there are some dos and don’ts to hiring wedding bagpipers:

  • DO: Look after them! They’ll be using their vocal cords and neck muscles for a good part of the day. Keep them adequately fed and watered (and a dram of whisky probably won’t go amiss!).
  • DON’T: Insist they play for prolonged periods if the weather is either hot and stifling or cold and rainy (or snowing).
  • DO: Let them know what you expect from them. It’s your special day, after all.
  • DON’T: Just go with traditional Scottish tunes. Most pipers can play all manner of songs, so include something fun like ‘The Hokey Cokey’ to keep the mood light and raise a laugh or two.
  • DO: Check with the piper of choice whether he/she is happy being included in the wedding photographs.
  • DON’T: Expect them to rock up ready to rumble. They will need a quiet place to warm up and tune their instrument.
st mary's catholic cathedral edinburgh elopement samantha and gary

Photography by Wildling Weddings

Scottish Wedding Songs

Ultimately, the music you have at your wedding is up to you and your spouse, and we firmly recommend hiring a piper with a good, versatile tune list.

As we mentioned earlier, it can be a fun surprise for everyone when the piper blasts out something unexpected (such as ‘Livin’ on a Prayer’ by Bon Jovi), but having a few traditional Scottish jams is important too!

Some classic Scottish songs include:

  • ‘Auld Lang Syne’
  • ‘Scotland the Brave’
  • ‘Amazing Grace’
  • ‘The Gael’
  • ‘The Black Bear’
  • ‘Highland Cathedral’
  • ‘The Flowers of the Forest’
  • ‘The Pibroch of Donuil Dhu’
  • ‘Danny Boy’
  • ‘Highland Laddie’
  • ‘Mairi’s Wedding’ (AKA, the ‘Lewis Bridal Song’)
  • ‘Mull of Kintyre’

Some modern songs that sound great on the pipes include:

  • ‘The Final Countdown’ by Europe
  • ‘Enter Sandman’ by Metallica
  • ‘Don’t Stop Believin’’ – Journey
  • ‘Zombie’ – The Cranberries
  • Star Wars Theme Tune
  • ‘The Snake Charmer’ – The Chainsmokers
  • ‘Galway Girl’ – Ed Sheeran 

Exclusive Vendor List

At Wildling Weddings, we know that selecting your list of vendors can be a time-consuming and sometimes daunting process. 

After all, there’s no shortage of wedding vendors out there, and no doubt, you’ll already be getting bamboozled with suggestions and recommendations from family and friends!

We’ve been in the Scottish wedding game for a good few moons now and we’re not too humble to say – we know our stuff! 

We have an expertly and painstakingly curated list of wedding vendors (including wedding bagpipers and other musicians) – all offering discounts. There’s no better way to tackle this part of your wedding planning than with a professional list of, well, professionals – all while saving a few pennies!

To get access to this list, sign up today for my wedding planning and/or wedding photography services.

Wedding Bagpipers: FAQs

Like most wedding vendors, prices vary depending on the length of the service required and other factors (such as time of year). According to Encore Musicians, most bagpipers will charge between £160 – £300.

In many Scottish weddings, a bagpiper is more than just a musician providing some background noise. 

In fact, many bagpipers will be expected to welcome the guests (by playing), play while the bride and groom are walking down the aisle, and provide the entrance music while everyone settles at their table for the wedding feast, which is known as the ‘piper’s toast’.

You’ll be hard-pushed to find a Scottish wedding that doesn’t include bagpipes, as they are as regimented within the Gaelic wedding traditions as hand-fasting, ‘having a dram’, and the inclusion of the Ceilidh – so yes, they’re totally appropriate for your Scottish wedding!

Bagpipers will always clad themselves in traditional Highland dress, AKA, a pleated tartan kilt, an Argyll or ‘Prince Charlie’ jacket, a Jacobite shirt (with criss-cross lacing at the chest), a silver-mounted sporran (a small pouch worn at the waist), a silver-mounted and jewelled sgian dubh (a small, single-edge knife), a belt with a silver chain, Ghillie brogues, a waistcoat (in the colder months), a traditional piper’s cap, and a tie/bow tie. 

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