We have included many traditions from Scotland. Please feel free to contact us with your comments, and any other traditions which you would like us to include. Enjoy reading!
Our forefathers believed that a bride would have bad luck if she met a priest, a monk or a hare on the way to church, and good luck if a spider, toad, cat or wolf crossed her path. Horse shoes, once kept on barn doors to ward off evil spirits, are still given to young couples, but the fear of marrying during the month of May is no longer with us.
Mothers used to warn their off-springs: “Marry in May and yer bairns will decay.”
Present Day Wedding Traditions
Scottish weddings vary little from the modern customs in America. But such a wedding that adorns the altar with the brilliance of tartan and the splendor of the bagpipe is guaranteed to linger in the memory of every bride, groom, and honored guest for years to come.
Are you considering have bagpipes at your wedding, and what is the protocol? Stephan White, a professional piper, noted this:
“I have personally piped in hundreds of Brides before, and have also piped the Bride and Groom out of the ceremony. It’s completely up to you what you have done at your wedding! Some like to be piped in, some like to be piped out and some both, as well as Pre and Post wedding playing to entertain your guests.”
If you are looking for a bagpiper for your wedding, please visit Bagpiper, a world wide directory of professional bagpipe players.
The engagement ring continues to represent the seal of an agreement to marry, and 54 percent of brides choose a solitaire diamond engagement ring. The majority (91 percent) of British couples marry in the church with only 4 percent marrying at the register office. The remaining 5 percent marry at hotels, at home, or in a castle.
The Engagement Party
The Scots, always ready for something to celebrate, regard a wedding as a grand excuse for merry-making. Naturally the celebration begins with the engagement party. It could be held at the parents home with both parents attending, or a night club with invited guests, or even the village hall with the whole village present.
On The Eve Of The Wedding
On the wedding eve the bridegroom’s friends throw the Stag party that often involves a combination of pranks and local customs. In Fife,a version of the custom of feet-washing still persists although only the good humored bridegrooms permit the whole ritual that used to involve sitting in a tub of water while his chums pulled off his stockings and smeared his legs with a mixture of grease, soot and ashes. In many parts of Scotland variations of this are performed on the groom – all meant to guarantee good fortune in his future marriage.
The Hen’s night for the bride takes place on the same eve as the Stag party. The lady is usually dressed up by her friends, festooned with streamers and balloons and often daubed with soot and flour and paraded through the streets – to the accompaniment of rattling cans, clanking pots and pans, whistles and bells and general uproar to avert evil spirits. In many places the friends carry with them a chamber pot into which well-wishers throw a coin for good luck. This is used to raise funds towards the wedding feast – today some lassies receive a cash gift of over $100 in this unorthodox fashion!
The average white wedding will have up to three bridesmaids with a flower girl and kilted page boy usually about age three. The task of the page boy is to present a lucky silver horseshoe to the bride as she steps out of the church on the arms of her husband. At many Scottish weddings a piper is on hand to lead the happy couple from the church to the waiting car. As the car moves away the groom may throw a pile of silver coins out the window to be gathered up by expectant children.The average Scottish wedding begins at 4 PM followed by the reception with formal meal, champagne toast, and speeches at 5 PM and then the wedding dance at 7:30 PM until the wee small hours!
Most modern couples have a show of wedding gifts, or a shower as we know it. Food and drinks being part of the affair, may turn this into quite a party. It is usually hosted by the bride to be and her mother.
Most brides prefer a white wedding dress. Favorite materials are still white satin and tulle embroidered with lace, although organza, beaded silk, cotton or taffeta is also used. The Victorian look is most popular. Formal wear for the groom is either full Highland dress or day dress that is kilt and tweed jacket, or morning dress with gray topper and tails. Traditionally the groom, best man, and ushers wear white carnations and other male guests wear red ones. Lady guests may wear a buttonhole of carnations, orchids, or camellias to match their outfits.
Resources and References
Special Thanks to the Thistle Press, Scottish Society of Southwestern Michigan for the majority of information used here. Please note: The information contained in this category should be considered general in nature. We believe it to be true and an accurate representation of some of the customs and traditions for this country or religion. Information provided by individuals and organizations is assumed to be correct. You are welcome to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any suggestions for changes, additions or deletions.