Good morning! Hope you are all great and had a lovely weekend! I’m off to France today for a few days to check out a wedding venue and looking forward to getting there! We are kicking off this week with a look at Scottish wedding traditions. As you already know, we love learning about different wedding customs and traditions from around the world as many couples like the idea of incorporating them into their destination weddings. Even those not getting married abroad like to include them if they are a part of their heritage. Scottish wedding traditions have to be one of our most popular requests so this post is long overdue, but hopefully well worth the wait! We were so amused by some of these finds, many of them are lots of fun and some might be better off left alone…

The Speerin

Asking your girlfriend’s father for her hand in marriage is surely hard enough, but an old Scottish tradition called “The Speerin” or “The Beukin” meant that not only did the prospective groom have to ask for his lady’s hand, he had to undertake a series of hurdles, trials and tasks at the father’s request before being awarded approval to marry his daughter!

Creeling the Bridegroom

This custom required the bridegroom to carry a creel (a large basket) filled with heavy stones. He had to carry the creel from all around the village until his bride came out of her house and gave him a kiss.

The south of Scotland had a different version of creeling. A married couple were ‘creeled’ as they left the church. Two people at either side of the entrance hold a fishing basked which is tied with a ribbon across the door. The newlyweds then cut the ties and the basket falls to the ground. It is hoped that this tradition will bring health and prosperity to the couple.

Scottish Wedding Traditions

Image from Made of Honor

The Wedding Sark

The wedding sark was the gift of a shirt that the bride gave her groom. In return, the groom paid for the bride’s wedding dress.

Two Wedding Ceremonies

Some may think that one wedding ceremony is enough but back in the day, the Scottish wedding typically involved two ceremonies. The entire village would congregate and form a procession leading the happy couple to the church, where the priest would marry the couple in Gaelic. After the Scottish ceremony finished, the entire procession would be led into the church for a ceremony in Latin. The Celtic tradition of a hand fasting ceremony was also practiced, the very same as in Ireland.

Luckenbooth Brooch

The luckenbooth brooch is a Scottish love token, often made of silver and sometimes engraved or encrusted with glass and crystals. The brooch was exchanged by a couple when they became engaged, symbolising their promise to marry. The brooch has two hearts intertwined with a crown on top and got its name from the luckenbooths near St Giles Church in Edinburgh where silversmiths and jewellers had their booths.

Scottish Wedding Traditions

Images from Macgillivrays  and BHLDN

And a Sixpence in her Shoe…

“Something Old

Something New

Something Borrowed

Something Blue

A Sixpence in her shoe..”

A sixpence hidden in the brides shoe was meant to bring good luck and is a tradition that is still practiced today. In the Scottish borders, a sprig of heather in the brides bouquet also symbolised the same!

Blackenings

A fun tradition that we think might still be enjoyed on a Scottish stag today is that of “Blackenings”! This involves the groom being captured by his friends, stripped of his shirt before being tied up and ‘blackened’ using ash, soot, treacle, flour and feathers! As if not bad enough, the groom is then subjected to further embarrassment and paraded around the town accompanied by his friends making as much noise as possible, to draw as much attention as possible to him!

Feet Washing

We believe feet washing is an old tradition that still happens throughout Scotland today. The night before the wedding, the bride sits on a chair while an older, married woman washes and dries her feet. It is meant to symbolise good fortune.

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Image by Tec Petaja via Once Wed

The Wedding Scramble or “Warsel”

The wedding scramble is a tradition still practiced in some parts of Scotland today whereby the father of the bride throws a handful of coins for the children to collect as the bride gets into the wedding car to make her way to the church.

Orcadian Cog

In Orkney, ale was consumed from wooden vessels known as cogs and it is another tradition that is still featured at island weddings today. The recipe is very very strong and generally consists of ale, gin, brandy and whiskey, mixed with sugar and pepper although different families have variations on this recipe. The bride drinks from the cog first before being passed around to the rest of the guests and it is essential that it never runs out!

The Lang Reel

The Lang Reel was a traditional Scottish dance where the wedding party and the villagers begin dancing in the village with dancers leaving the reel as they passed their homes. The reel continued until the only couple left were the bride and groom,  who had the last dance of the night. This tradition is still practiced in north-east fishing villages in Scotland!

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Image by Brosnan Photographic via Fly Away Bride

Would you think about incorporating any of these Scottish wedding traditions into your wedding day? Let us know what you think!

9 Responses

  1. Sara

    Great post! I was actually wondering what was going on with the feet washing when I saw Rylee Hitchner’s wedding over on Once Wed but you cleared it up for me. Thanks!

    Reply
  2. Rylee Hitchner

    Hey! Thanks for including a pic from our wedding!!

    Sara, for our ceremony, it actually wasn’t taken from the Scottish tradition, although that is a beautiful picture too! Ours was taken from the bible, when Jesus washes his disciples feet to show humility and service. (Which was a huge deal because the rabbi never did that and the disciples were shocked) We washed each others feet to symbolize that to each other and will do it every year on our anniversary :)

    Love this post too. So cool.
    xoxoxo

    Reply
    • Lindsay

      Hi Rylee,

      What a beautiful element to add to your wedding day! I thought it was unlikely that it stemmed from the Scottish tradition so it’s lovely to hear where the idea for your ceremony came from.

      Your wedding has been a huge source of inspiration for us the past few weeks! It was so so beautiful!

      Looking forward to meeting you in September :)

      Reply
  3. Ellie Jovner

    When I got married I was given a baby’s chamber pot filled with salt. Is this a scottish tradition and how did it originate and what does it signify? I would love to give one to my grand daughter who is getting married next month.

    Reply

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