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Scotland is vastly becoming one of the most sought-after locations for weddings – and with everything it has to offer in terms of scenery and culture – it’s not difficult to understand why.
While many soon-to-be newlyweds favour summertime for their special day, there’s an ethereal beauty about the winter wedding – and given the country’s iconic and atmospheric landscapes, a winter wedding in Scotland can be a truly magical affair.
So, with this in mind, we’ve devised the ultimate guide for planning a winter wonderland wedding in stunning Scotland.
As well as the otherworldly scenery that Scotland boasts, which is reminiscent of old Celtic folklore and Gaelic fairytales, Scotland has many other advantages as a wedding location.
For starters, the marriage laws are much more relaxed than the rest of the UK. This means you can get married virtually anywhere you like (with the landowner’s permission, of course) – inside or out.
Also, if there’s a group of people who know how to put on a shindig, it’s the Scots! Scottish weddings can be great fun and can be bursting at the seams with weird and wonderful wedding traditions – just to make your big day that much more special and authentically Scottish!
Winter Wedding Scotland: Your Ultimate 2023 Guide
We hope we have suitably whetted your appetite for the wonder and wow-factor of Scottish weddings, and if you’re looking to get hitched during the winter months – you’re in for a truly enchanting day!
So, let’s get planning your winter wonderland wedding!
Scottish Wedding Venues
There’s no short supply of awe-inspiring venues for your Scottish winter wedding, but one thing we recommend to check before putting down a deposit is what your venue looks like at night, given that it gets dark at around 4pm in most places in Scotland during the winter months.
This can be especially important for the photography side of your day, as the lighting will be very different once the sun has gone down and most of your reception will be taking place in the evening hours (which will be dark!).
Again, you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to epic locations to have your wedding – especially as, unlike in England, you can opt to have your ceremony outdoors. This means choosing from a plethora of mountaintops, hills, city spots, beautiful beaches, woodland/forest areas, inactive volcanoes, castles, national parks, lochs, Hebridean isles, and so much more.
Whether you and your partner are lovers of urban areas (cities like Edinburgh are brimming with memorable romantic spots, such as Arthur’s Seat, or the cobblestone streets of Old Town), or something a little more rural (mystical mountaintops of Glencoe, anyone?), there is no shortage of wonderful locations to have your winter wonderland wedding in Scotland.
What to Wear
So, because you’re opting for a winter wedding (and weather-wise, Scotland isn’t exactly the Bahamas at the best of times), you’re going to want to plan your outfits to cater to wind, rain, or snow (maybe even all three!) – and to advise your guests that maxi-dresses and gladiator sandals won’t be a good shout.
In short, you’ll all need to wrap up warm – especially for those opting for an alfresco ceremony. If you’re choosing an indoor affair, you will likely be accommodated with heating options, which may give you a bit more outfit flexibility – but just be mindful of the wedding procession, photography, and any other moments that may require you being outside.
Because you’re opting for a Scottish winter wedding, tartan is an obvious choice to include in your attire as both a traditional Gaelic attribute and a way to keep warm, sans a big, bulky parka. Many grooms opt for the traditional tartan kilt, with the bride accessorising with matching tartan shawls, etc.
Encourage guests to bring a coat and practical footwear, particularly if the ceremony and reception venue involve separate travel.
One of the most enjoyable parts of the wedding planning process is the creativity that comes with the season in which you plan on getting hitched in.
So, in this instance, you can start comprising ideas for seasonal elements, such as the dinner menu and the flowers. Although many flora and fauna go into hibernation (as such) during the winter months, there are still beautiful blooms you can include in your wedding.
In Scotland, some of the winter flower options include forget-me-nots, cyclamen, winter-flowering pansies, viola, large-flowered bedding daisies, wallflowers, and poinsettia.
Talking with a professional Scotland-based wedding coordinator will help you gather all the knowledge you need for finding the right seasonal floral aspects to bring even more beauty to your big day.
Photography by Wildling Weddings at Newhall Estate
Photography in Scotland can be particularly magical, owing to the abundance of serene scenery and moody, atmospheric weather, and winter is no exception – especially if you long for a magical day dusted with snow!
It’s important to bear in mind that during the winter months, the sun in Scotland can set as early as 3.30pm (depending on your location) and there is what’s known in the photography world as ‘the golden hour’, which is when the sun is setting and adds a touch of sun-kissed beauty to photos (even during the winter), so it can be worth having your ceremony during this hour (which is can be anywhere between 3-5pm, depending on your geographical location) to ensure the most magical part of your day is snapped in all its glory.
How to get the BEST wedding photos – tell me where to send these tips!
Other Prep Ideas
Planning a winter wonderland wedding (particularly in a colder climate like Scotland) requires additional planning that those having a summer wedding won’t have to account for.
For example, Scottish weather is, well… let’s just say it can be unpredictable, which can affect travel, so it is worth giving yourself (and your guests) additional time to get to the wedding.
If weather is predicted to be particularly bad, it’s wise to have your wedding ceremony and reception (and the before and after) all in one location (such as a hotel or castle) to lessen the risk of delays or late-comers.
Other things to consider include:
- Keeping your guests warm in special ways: Chilly Scottish weather can really cling to the bones and a warm coat only goes so far. Many weddings like to welcome guests to the reception with a glass of bubbly or a fruity Pimms, but why not bypass the cold beverages in favour of something that will warm the cockles, such as a hot toddy (hot whisky), Baileys hot chocolate, or tea/coffee)? Also, having fleecy blankets and umbrellas at the ready may keep guests warm,dry, and snug as the night sets in.
- It’s worth making sure wherever you tie the knot that there is a good source of warmth; be it central heating, a big roaring fire, firepits, or outdoor heaters – nothing makes a winter wedding memorable (in all the wrong ways!) like a cacophony of teeth-chattering!
- Paperwork. Make sure all the legal aspects are covered well in advance of your wedding day. This includes your marriage licence, celebrant, location approval from landowner (if you plan on having an outdoor ceremony), and marriage visas (for non-natives).
- Lighting. Again, this is particularly applicable for those opting for a rural/outdoor ceremony. Winter in Scotland can be dark and gloomy, even in the middle of the day, so for those getting hitched on a beach, loch, woodland, mountain, etc., it can be worth taking extra (safe and sustainable) light sources, such as votive candles, battery-powered Christmas lights, solar lanterns, etc.
Winter Wedding Scotland FAQs
Naturally, being far-north of the UK, Scotland can be a bit chilly during the winter, so you will want to aim for warm winter wedding outfits, such as tartan garments (shawls, coats, etc.), velvet, corduroy, sustainable/vegan wool, and so on. Darker hues are popular colour choices for winter weddings, including burgundy, red, dark blue, winter greens, tan, and brown.
It really depends on you and your partner’s weather/season preference. All four seasons hold their individual magic and can make your wedding day mesmerising and beautiful. For those who fancy a warmer alfresco affair, July and August are the warmest/sunniest months in Scotland.
Traditionally, yes they are! ‘Wedding season’ is typically summertime, as many couples prefer to tie the knot during the warmer months. This means those planning a winter wedding will find there’s less demand for wedding services, so prices of venues and other wedding expenses are lower than that of peak wedding time.
December is a popular winter wedding choice, as it can be combined with Christmas, Yule, Hogmanay/New Year’s festivities. However, venue and catering prices can sky-rocket during this month, so those on a specific budget can bring some warmth and romance to gloomy January or February by opting for one of these months instead.