Get married in scotland

A guide to Getting Married in Scotland from Elopement and Wedding Photographer Roddy Mackay

View the galleryRead more information

get married in Scotland

Scotland is one of the most popular countries in the world for destination weddings, and with its beautiful views and incredible hospitality, it’s easy to see why so many people choose to come and get married in Scotland.

Based in Inverness, in the Highlands of Scotland, it’s my pleasure to welcome visitors from all over the world who choose Scotland as a place to come for a wedding, elopement or couples portrait session as part of your holiday. From my base in the Highlands I am approximately 3-4 hours’ drive from almost every part of the country, and I frequently travel to all four corners to  share my experiences with new couples from all over the world.

I appreciate that planning these kinds of trips can be challenging – especially from a distance, so I’ve developed this guide to give an overview of some of the information that you might need to help you plan the perfect trip.

how to get married in scotland

The laws regarding getting married in Scotland are fairly relaxed, which contributes to it being one of the best countries in the world to head to for a destination wedding.

Some couples choose to legally register their wedding in their home country before coming to Scotland to get married, but it’s also possible for couples living overseas to have their marriages legally registered in Scotland.

Your wedding celebrant can help you consider some options of where you might like to consider holding your wedding ceremony in Scotland, but you should be able to hold a ceremony in pretty much any location you can imagine! In the last 15 years I have photographed weddings in a range of buildings including country estates, castles, hotels, treehouses and distilleries!

It’s also possible to get married outside, and with a range of beautiful landscapes throughout the country, it always proves to be a popular decision for those brave enough to face the weather!  As part of my wedding photography packages I’ll spend time with each couple to offer options on some of the best locations for your wedding ceremony, unique to what you would like to experience on your wedding day.

Which part of Scotland should you visit?

The majority of Scotland’s population live in between its two largest cities, Edinburgh and Glasgow. Both are great cities, packed with great places to see, and a range of good bars, restaurants and places to hang out.

Edinburgh is a festival city and as such it seems to be especially busy all year round – that’s worth knowing and being prepared for before you come. Glasgow is well known for being one of the friendliest cities in the world, but if you struggle with accents, be prepared!

The West Coast of the country is dotted with beautiful coastal villages, and a range of islands, made up by the Inner and Outer Hebrides. The Isle of Islay is known for its many distilleries, and if you’ve come to Scotland for the Whisky, Islay will make you feel at home.

Further north is the Outer Hebrides – the islands of Lewis and Harris boast spectacular (and often empty!) beaches. Then there is the Isle of Skye, an island often in the top ten lists of most travel books; its mountainous landscape and coastal terrain make it an easy place to escape to. It’s also where my wife is from, and one of the places that I visit with couples most often. Normally, I avoid the obvious tourist spots, and introduce couples into some of the more quiet, secret spots that show off the landscape of the island at its best. Skye is now accessible with a bridge to the mainland, meaning it’s easy enough to make a return trip from Inverness to and from Skye on the same day.

The East Coast of Scotland is packed with more coastal landscapes, and a collection of towns and cities, including Dundee, St Andrews and Aberdeen. St Andrews is a university town, but packs in a lot of old architecture in amongst its world class golf courses.

Where can you get married in Scotland?

The laws regarding getting married in Scotland are fairly relaxed, which contributes to it being one of the best countries in the world to head to for a destination wedding.

Some couples choose to legally register their wedding in their home country before coming to Scotland to get married, but it’s also possible for couples living overseas to have their marriages legally registered in Scotland.

Your wedding celebrant can help you consider some options of where you might like to consider holding your wedding ceremony in Scotland, but you should be able to hold a ceremony in pretty much any location you can imagine! In the last 15 years I have photographed weddings in a range of buildings including country estates, castles, hotels, treehouses and distilleries!

It’s also possible to get married outside, and with a range of beautiful landscapes throughout the country, it always proves to be a popular decision for those brave enough to face the weather!  As part of my wedding photography packages I’ll spend time with each couple to offer options on some of the best locations for your wedding ceremony, unique to what you would like to experience on your wedding day.

What kind of celebration can we have?

Scotland is an exceptionally popular country to elope to – but whether you’re planning to come with just the two of you, or if you’d like to have some friends and family joining you, there’s plenty of options of where to get married in Scotland, and how you might like to celebrate your marriage.

Elopement weddings can either have a legal or non legal ceremony. A legal ceremony is where the ceremony is legally binding, both in Scotland and elsewhere. Couples coming to Scotland to get married often have a legal ceremony conducted outwith Scotland, making the paperwork substantially easier (on this side at least!), and marking the ceremony of the wedding in Scotland as a blessing, rather than a legally binding marriage in Scots law.

If you’d rather opt to have a legally binding ceremony, it would be best to check with your chosen Minister/Celebrant/Registrar as to what specific paperwork needs you would have beforehand. A legal ceremony would also require two witnesses who are able to sign your marriage schedule. I often get asked if I can help couples with that, and I’m always happy to do so!

The best places to look for confirmation on what kind of marriage ceremony you can have would be the National Records of Scotland website, which includes specific advice for people coming to get married in Scotland from overseas.

need more information?

Send me an e-mail – I’d be glad to help.

Or if you’d like more information – read on below for information on how to travel to Scotland to get married, where to stay and what to see and do while you’re here.

Scottish Destination Weddings and Elopements Gallery

Getting married in Scotland – Some Frequently Asked Questions

Some of the most frequent questions that I get asked should be answered here, but I’d always be happy to help with any other questions you may have about getting married in Scotland.

Due to the volume of enquiries that I receive I am only able to offer a limited amount of help with your initial advice, or a more detailed service to couples who have their photography booked with me. I’d be happy to reccomend a wedding planner to help with your plans to get married in Scotland – just let me know.

What is the best way to travel to Scotland?

Scotland is served by a variety of good international air connections with direct flights into Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Inverness from a range of destinations worldwide.

Edinburgh and Glasgow are the two busiest airports in the country – and both are well served with everything you should need, including frequent connecting flights to hub airports such as London Heathrow and Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam.

Inverness and Aberdeen airports are also well serviced – although both are also much smaller. Car hire will also likely be easier, and more cost effective, from Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Inverness is the central point of the Scottish Highlands, and can be reached in about 3 ½ hours by car from Edinburgh and Glasgow.  It’s a beautiful drive, although if you are driving it for the first time, you might appreciate taking the train so you can fully appreciate the view! LNER run a service to Inverness from Edinburgh once a day, it’s a more comfortable train than the regular Scotrail services, and good prices on first class tickets can be obtained by booking ahead of time.

Depending on where you are visiting from, and what you are used to, you might find some of the roads in the Highlands a little difficult to get used to driving on – make the most of the passing places to allow oncoming traffic to pass you, and look out for the sheep! I’d be delighted to show you some of the Highlands as part of your photo session, and also take care of the driving for you.

You might want to check out the Scotrail website for information on train travel. Fans of Harry Potter won’t want to miss a trip across the Glenfinnan Viaduct. If a trip to the islands is more to your liking then you should find the Caledonian Macbrayne website useful to plan your trip by ferry.

What to expect from the Weather

The weather in Scotland can be unpredictable, but big open skies lend themselves well to great photography, regardless of the weather.

The months of April – October tend to be drier although rain can still be heavy at times. During these months, the temperatures will also be higher and the daylight hours longer.

October – March are the colder months of the year, with temperatures often below freezing in exposed areas of the Highlands, particularly during December, January and February. December 21st marks the shortest day of the year, with approx 6 hours of daylight. At the opposite end of the year in the middle of June, the daylight hours can last almost 3 times as long!

XCweather is one of my favourite websites to check out the current weather forecast  – although it tends only to be most accurate approx 36 hrs ahead of time. Willy Weather is a great website to check for tide times if you’re planning a visit to a beach – and timeanddate.com is a great website for getting an idea of sunrise and sunset times. It’s worth noting that ‘sunset’ is normally classified as when the sun has physically disappeared and that the best light will often be an hour or two before then.

Where should we stay?

Like most places in the world, AirBnb is a great site to visit when looking for places to stay. You’ll find most parts of Scotland have lots of listings, across a range of different kinds of properties.

If you’re looking for a hotel, then Agoda would be a good site to start with. It should give you an overview of a range of accommodation options, with a variety of price points.

In addition to the listings available via AirBnb and Agoda, I’ve also listed some of my favourite places to stay in a seperate guide with a range of different kinds of properties and budgets available to choose from. I save that list for couples who have their photography booked with me.

Can we get married in a scottish castle?

Scotland is packed with great castles to visit, some operate as private residences, others as tourist attractions, and many others are in a ruined state – but still great to visit!

Some of the busiest and well known for a visit would Edinburgh Castle, Stirling Castle, Dunnottar Castle and Eilean Donan Castle.

The National Trust for Scotland manages many of the castles in Scotland, and you can find out more about getting married in Scotland, in a Scottish castle at their website here.

While most of these castles are available to visit, most have different rules regarding photography at the castle, and many charge a premium for that.

You can read my blog post on 10 great Scottish Castles to get married in here.

What else to experience on your wedding trip to Scotland

If you want a unique experience as part of your trip to Scotland then you might want to check out the Oyster Shed in Carbost, Isle of Skye –  a great place to pick up fresh seafood on the Isle of Skye. Keep your eyes peeled for notice boards advertising a “ceilidh” in some of the local village halls throughout the country, particularly in the Highlands. A ceilidh dance is a Scottish country dance, and the traditional way to celebrate a Scottish Wedding – but be warned, dancing an ‘Orcadian Strip The Willow’ is the equivalent of 2 days in the gym!

Scotland is also full of a range of beautiful crafts to take home to mark your trip. The islands seem to do crafts the best,  including Isle of Skye Candles, or the famous Harris Tweed from the Isle of Harris.

Discovering Whisky and Gin (and Coffee!)

Scotland is well known for its whiskies but is also increasingly known for its growing craft gin makers. You’ll find distilleries dotted all over Scotland, but the Island of Islay and the area of Speyside (south of Inverness) are two of the areas most populated with distilleries, many of which offer tours to members of the public.

If gin is more your thing, then The Botanist and Harris Gin are definitely both worth trying – the contents inside the bottle are top quality award winning gins, but the bottles also make for a great keepsake to decorate your home after your trip!

If visiting the Isle of Islay, then be sure to check out the Bruichladdich Distillery, home to some of the world’s most heavily peated whiskies, and the award winning Botanist Gin. Isle of Harris Gin is available from the Harris Distillery.  Although they haven’t yet released their first batch of whisky, you might also appreciate a trip to the Isle of Raasay (just off the coast of Skye) to sample some of the produce from one of Scotland’s newest distilleries.

If gin/whisky aren’t your thing, then Scotland is also full of lots of great coffee shops if you’re looking for some downtime in between your travels. The West End of Glasgow is packed with great coffee shops for people watching – Tinderbox on Byres Road is one of my favourites. You’ll also find a little secret nook tucked into the upstairs back of the Starbucks on Royal Exchange Square in the City Centre. It only has seats for 6 people which makes it the perfect space to escape for some downtime away from the crowds.

In Edinburgh, you might want to stop by The Elephant House and see where J.K. Rowling wrote Harry Potter; if you’re in Inverness, Cafe Velocity is a great spot to grab a morning coffee before heading off to explore the Highlands; Cafe Sia in Broadford on the Isle of Skye will also offer a great cup of coffee to go.

What photography packages do you offer?

And of course, if you’re coming to get married in Scotland, then getting professional photographs is the best way to preserve all of those memories!

Photography Packages for your Scottish wedding or elopement start at 4 hrs worth of coverage, stretching to full day, or multi day coverage for those looking to explore more of Scotland.

Packages include a pre wedding consultation to help you plan out your wedding in more detail, including recommendations for other vendors to help your day run more smoothly. I’m also happy to share more information on some of my favourite locations to shoot in, and a range of practical information to think through to help make the most of your photography.

Please get in touch for more details and to enquire about availability.

Other Scottish Wedding Vendors that I'd recommend for a scottish wedding

I work with a range of vendors who will be able to help craft the perfect experience for your wedding, some of those are listed below, but let me know if you’d like more information and I’ll be happy to help!

Videographers

Thistle Production in Nairn and Hebridean Wedding Story are two of the teams that I work with most often, but please get in touch if you would like some advice before booking your wedding videographer.

Florists

Inverness – Simpson’s Garden Centre –  https://www.flowersbysimpsons.com/

Isle of Skye – https://www.caroles-skye.com/

Isle of Lewis – https://www.bespoke-blooms.co.uk/

Kilts

It’s possible to hire a kilt outfit in most places in Scotland, although I am not currently aware of anywhere on the Isle of Skye that will rent a kilt outfit. You will however be able to rent an outfit from one of the bigger cities en route to Skye.

In Glasgow, I would normally recommend Macgregor and Macduff in Bath Street, or Slanj on St Vincent Street. Slanj also have a store in Edinburgh, or if in Inverness I’d recommend checking out Ben Wyvis Kilts.

Dresses

I’ve never found anywhere that will offer wedding gown rental as yet, but I’d love to – I get asked a lot!

Bliss Studio  is located in Edinburgh, and offers worn once gowns for sale. Glasgow Wed2b is a shop that specialises in off the rail gowns at a discount on regular prices.

Hair & Makeup

I work with a range of hair and make-up artists, based in different parts of the country.

I’d happily recommend:

Lynne Reilly at Skye Beauty, based in Kyleakin (just across the bridge on the Isle of Skye.)

Gillian Hoban, based in Inverness.

Suzanne McMahoh, Hairstylist, based in Inverness.

Kristine B, based in Inverness.

Can you be a witness at our wedding?

Yes, it would be a pleasure!

As well as being the photographer to many eloping couples, it has also been a privilege to be a legal witness. The legal requirements for needing a witness vary dependant on the kind of wedding ceremony you have planned, get in touch and I’ll be happy to advise further.

and a little about me

I’m Roddy Mackay – a freelance creative based in Inverness in the beautiful Highlands of Scotland. I photograph a variety of  projects for clients throughout the country, but specialise in working with clients who are coming from overseas to elope or get married in Scotland.

When I’m not travelling in Scotland I can often be found travelling overseas – either to Asia or to America. You can find some of my travel portfolio here.

 

looking to get married in scotland?

You might also like to read these posts

Get Married in a Scottish Castle

Get Married in a Scottish Castle

Getting married in a Scottish castle sounds like a great idea for many couples - especially those who choose to travel from overseas to get married in Scotland. Finding a castle to get married in, or knowing how to plan it out, can be hard work though - which is where...

read more
Legal Requirements to get married in Scotland

Legal Requirements to get married in Scotland

Scotland is one of the most  popular countries in the world for couples choosing to get married from overseas. Whether you’re planning to elope, or if you want to take friends and family with you – you’ll find lots of options of places to get married in Scotland.

Depending on what kind of ceremony you plan to have, you’ll probably want to know what the legal requirements are to get married in Scotland.

read more
Work as a professional photographer

Work as a professional photographer

I am a professional photographer based in Inverness, the capital of the Scottish Highlands. I shoot a range of subjects in a range of places – concentrating on working with overseas clients who are travelling to Scotland for projects.

I wrote this blog post because I am often asked how you can get started working as a professional photographer – I hope it’s of help on your journey!

read more