There’s something so inescapably romantic about eloping to Scotland, a country brimming with rich history, wild romance and the most jaw-dropping landscapes.
WHERE TO BEGIN
We work with couples all over the world planning epic, one-of-a-kind elopements all over Scotland and the very first starting point with every couple we work with is to work our what their idea of a fairy tale really is. So start by asking yourself how you picture your dream wedding day. Are you waking up in a luxury castle with breakfast in bed? Or are you waking up in a cosy cottage? Are you ready to brave it through the wilderness to get married on a remote mountainside, or are is that a step too far for you? Do you like the idea of a quiet retreat, or do you want somewhere with a busy local community where you can celebrate after the ceremony? We recommend spring and autumn as the best times for elopements, so setting a date is also important. All these questions should be the starting point for creating a vision of the ideal location for you.
LUXURY KINDA PEOPLE
I love the outdoors as much as anybody, but on my wedding day I don’t want to be making my own breakfast. So if I were eloping, I’d be going down the luxury venue route. The create news is that in Scotland this doesn’t mean giving up the incredible outdoor photography as many wonderful hotels, wedding venues and historic sites are right on the doorstep of some of the most spectacular scenery. If you’re planning this style of wedding, you’d begin by finding your perfect hotel or venue and organising your accommodation. This will also typically be where you celebrate your ceremony and enjoy a romantic dinner afterwards. Most of the couples we work with who select this option also head into the great outdoors for a photoshoot but this option gives them the best of both worlds.
If you’re outdoorsy and want to celebrate in a completely relaxed, fun and nature-filled day, then you can consider planning a wild elopement. For this style of wedding, you’d begin by choosing the area you’d like to get married in. Scotland has a range of incredible scenery, and some of the best areas for elopements include the cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow, the wild outdoors of Glencoe or Skye, the majestic wilderness of the Cairngorms or Highlands or the lochs and mountains of the west coast. The islands surrounding Scotland, including Mull, Harris and Arran are also some of the most incredible landscapes for an elopement celebration.
Once you’ve decided on the area you love best, and we recommend trawling Instagram and wedding blogs like Junebug Weddings for this, then you’d find your perfect accommodation and get that booked. Searching for things online in Scotland isn’t always easy, as the best gems are often hidden so I really recommend putting in a lot of research for this part. We’ve been planning elopements in Scotland for a decade and still spend a lot of time researching!
Once you’ve selected the location and have your accommodation booked, the next step is to choose your photographer. The best resource for this is Instagram, where you will find some amazing people to work with. If you’d also like cinematography, there are some photographers who offer mini-video add ons and also some incredibly talented filmakers available in Scotland. We recommend you do your research and book someone who’s entire portfolio feels exciting and fun and who you feel a great rapport with!
Once you have the date, location and photographer booked then you can begin to book in all your suppliers. It can be difficult to find the right people, so working with a planner can be helpful but if you prefer to plan things yourselves then I recommend asking your venue and photographer for recommendations. Many couples we work with book a celebrant, professional hair and makeup, flowers, transport, musicians, bagpipers and other extras from little wedding cakes to falconry displays. There’s no rule-book, so think about the perfect day for you, and book what you feel you need. You will also need to arrange to have dinner after your ceremony, so you can either organise this at your hotel or a nearby romantic restaurant. Remember for the ceremony you will need two witnesses, so if you won’t have enough vendors to act as witnesses then you should ask your celebrant for help locating a willing party to lend a hand!
Once all your vendors are booked, you should have a careful think about logistics for the day. Think about things like parking, weather contingencies, perfect timings and speak to each of your vendors for advice on what they need to do their job right. Also think about your own comfort. Will you be cold? Will you be hungry? If you’re heading off into the mountains on a hike in the autumn, ask your venue to supply you with a picnic and some hot toddies to keep you warm. Make sure you circulate a contact list, detailed timeline and all the correct information to everyone involved in the day so you don’t have any stresses to deal with.
I tell all my clients, just because it’s only the two of you it’s no reason why you can’t have all the style and detailing you want for the day. We work with our couples on their table decor, their stationary, and little, intimate details which add all the personal feels to your elopement to make sure our elopements are filled with all those little artistic and sentimental touches that memories are made of so if you’re the artistic types, feel free to jump into the design!
Blueugh! Of course this is the bit not one loves, but thankfully it’s nice and simple to elope to Scotland. First off, if you’re not EEA passport holders then you will both need visas to get married in Scotland, which you can apply for online at the .gov website. This process costs around £90 each and takes anywhere from 10 days to 10 weeks to complete. They do have a fast track service but it’s very pricey. One thing to note is that while the website says you need to apply for your visas three months before, you can actually do so earlier (4 or 5 months) and this tends to work better. In addition to your visas, you will also need to apply for your marriage licence, which is very easy to do!
This part is done by downloading the various forms from the website here and completing those. If you’re doing this without a wedding planner, I recommend you contact the local registrar (the nearest one to your chosen ceremony spot) and getting some help with this part. Once the forms are completed, you courier them along with birth certificates, proof of address, passport photos, a photocopy of your passports and possibly some additional paperwork if you are divorced. The website says a certificate of no impediment to marriage is required, but that’s not true in most cases. If you’re getting married in the city of Edinburgh, some additional paperwork might be required but it’s best to ask the registrar for guidance. Once all that is submitted (this should be done 3 months before and no later than 29 days before) then the registrar will begin your application and you can call them to pay the £72 fee.
THE FINAL STAGES
Once your paperwork is in hand and everything is booked and ready to go, you should prepare yourself for your trip. Choose your music, decide on your menus, send photos of the bouquet you want to your florist and make sure everyone knows what you want for the day. Your celebrant will work with you on the details for the ceremony, and in most cases this would be a beautifully detailed ceremony tailored to you. Reconfirm all your travel arrangements and the plans with all your vendors and keep checking the weather!
You should plan your trip to allow for you to be there at least 1 working day before the wedding so you can visit the registrar to collect your marriage schedule. This schedule is the uber-important piece of paper that you sign during the ceremony, so take care not to lose it. You should give it to your celebrant to complete, and after the wedding you need to return it to the registrar. The process is a little different if you’re having a civil ceremony, but the registrar will explain that to you.
My final bit of advice is to enjoy it! Scotland is an amazing place, and eloping is a really wonderful experience where you get to focus 100% on getting married to the person you love, rather than all the crazy details and there’s pretty much nowhere more romantic on the face of the planet than Scotland.
If you’d like help planning your elopement to Scotland, then please do get in touch with us! We are at www.weddingsbysarajane.com and I’d be happy to send you over a brochure by email to get you started on your elopement planning journey. I also recommend following us on Instagram at @weddingsbysarajane as it’s a great place to view the best locations, photographers and venues in Scotland.
Congratulations on your engagement and wishing you both the most wonderful life together!
Wedding and Elopement Planner, Weddings by Sara Jane