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Congratulations! Time to Start Planning Your Big Day
So you're engaged and now you are starting to plan your wedding day. What kind of day are you hoping for? If you're looking for a Scottish-themed wedding, then you have come to the right place!
My husband and I recently got married, and it was an amazing day. We weaved Scottish tradition into every aspect we could. The pictures included in this article are all of our wedding day. Please read on for more helpful tips.
1. Location, Location, Location
The location of your big day is indeed a big decision to make, especially if you are having a Scottish-themed wedding! We picked our location based on its natural beauty: an old stone barn with a walled stone courtyard that had a fountain in the middle of it. The venue had very lush wooded areas and was tucked away from busy traffic. Located just outside of Peddler's Village in New Hope, Pennsylvania, Holly Hedge Estates made the perfect setting for our very memorable wedding ceremony.
We did not know at the time that even the venue fit in with Scottish traditions regarding making a vow. The Scots believed that any oath made near stone or water would make them more binding. Making a vow near both, the fountain in the middle and surrounded by stone walls, according to Scottish lore our vows were doubly binding.
2. Something Old, Something New
What traditions are easy to incorporate into a wedding day? First, I began with a well-known wedding rhyme— I made sure I had something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue, AND a lucky sixpence for my shoe.
The something old is to represent the bride's family and where she came from. I wore a rose cross pin that was given to me after my grandfather passed away as my something old. In this way, I was able to honor him and acknowledge the roots that I came from.
The something new is a symbol of optimism and hope for the future the newlyweds will have together. For my something new I wore a garter that was fashioned from my husband's family tartan.
Something borrowed is usually an item from a happily married family member or friend. The intention is that their good fortune will carry over to the new couple. My something borrowed was a pearl necklace, bracelet, and a matching set of earrings borrowed from my mother-in-law.
Something blue is to represent love, modesty, purity, and fidelity. I wore blue shoes as my something blue (but if I had found this site before buying my blue shoes I would have worn shoes from this site!) Tartan heels in your family's tartan? An amazing addition to a Scottish wedding! And with the blue in the Gunn tartan, I would have still had my something blue in my shoes.
The final section of the poem, a sixpence for your shoe, is often left out in modern western culture. This sixpence is to represent wealth and financial stability. I was lucky enough to have my husband's grandfather bring one when he came from Ireland to see the wedding. There are several wedding websites that sell keepsake sixpences so if you don't have anyone across the pond to bring you one you can purchase one for your wedding day. Don't worry about losing the sixpence if you put it in your shoe, to keep the sixpence in my shoe I placed the sixpence under the clear shoe cushion I wore in the toe of my shoe. It stayed put throughout the festivities.
3. Scottish Lore for the Ceremony
Having an outside wedding can be scary for a bride, however in Scottish lore a little rain is seen as something good. We were lucky enough to be caught in a skarrach, or a light rain shower, during our vows. This is seen as good luck as long as everything runs on time and it is not permitted to ruin the day. To have things run smoothly despite the rain shows that the couple works well together and that the union will last. Some things you can't plan so make the best of the obstacles and remember that even a rainy wedding day is special.
We did a sashing of the bride instead of a candle or sand ceremony. My husband's mother came up after the vows and pinned the clan tartan on me. This can be done by any member of the clan that is being joined. If your husband is joining your clan then you could have your mother, or yourself, pin a fly plaid on him. My husband entered the ceremony wearing his fly plaid as he was already a member of the Gunn clan.
4. Flowers for a Scottish Wedding
Another Scottish tradition is for the bride to carry Scottish thistle and white heather in her bouquet. Wild white heather is rare and is seen as a token of good luck, especially for a bride. The thistle has been seen as a symbol of Scotland since the 1500s.
In addition, to these flowers being in the bouquets I had the florist wrap the stems in the family tartan that I ordered directly from Scottish weavers. The groomsmen's boutonnieres were also wrapped in the tartan and consisted of white heather and thistle.
5. Scottish Wedding Music
We incorporated more Scottish tradition with the use of a harpist and a bagpiper. The harpist played as guests were seated and when the ladies walked down the aisle. She played an assortment of early Irish and Scottish tunes. The piper piped the groomsmen in and piped us all out of the ceremony and as we walked down to the reception. When the groomsmen came in the piper played Wendell's Wedding, which is a traditional piece used in Scottish weddings. I found the piper through the local Royal Scottish Dance Society.
6. Wedding Attire
We also made sure to use traditional Scottish wedding attire whenever it was possible.
On the same website I bought my garter I was able to purchase sashes and brooches in the family tartan for my bridesmaids, flower girl, and myself. The girls wore their sashes to the ceremony but I did not wear mine until the sashing of the bride ceremony.
We used a traditional Scottish luckenbooth to pin the sash. A luckenbooth is a silver pin with two hearts entwined with a crown on top that is often given as a token of love.
The groomsmen all wore traditional Scottish garments that we rented from a kilt rental company I found in Arizona. They were the best company I found and they made it very easy to coordinate my entire bridal party. The main reason I chose them was that they had adult and child-sized kilts in my mother-in-law's family tartan.
Not sure what tartan to choose? Use this site to find out which tartan belongs to your family.
7. Scottish-Themed Wedding Reception
After the ceremony and cocktail hour were over the piper lead us down to the reception. Each table was named after a Scottish Clan and each place card had the corresponding tartan on it. The centerpieces matched the bouquets and had tartan ribbon wrapped around them.
My husband and I are not dancers so we had no DJ or band. Instead, we hired dancers to entertain our guests. We hired dancers to represent all the heritages between our families. German for my family, Irish for my husband's family, and Scottish for both families.
This was the most difficult part of the planning as the groups were hard to find. Irish dance groups seem to be just about everywhere but Scottish and German are less common. To find the German group I contacted the German Historical Society in Philadelphia and was given contact information for a wonderful group. The local chapter of the Royal Scottish Dance Society provided dancers, a piper, and a keyboard player. After the Scottish dancers were finished we had a group of girls from the Crossroads Irish Dancers come and do several traditional dances. The final group was the GTV Almrausch dancers.
I hope you found this useful!
An actual Scot on September 23, 2018:
Are you actually Scottish or just stealing their traditions to make your wedding more interesting? This is actually quite insulting.
Collor Acosta on May 14, 2018:
Oh my gosh!! This is perfect!!
I’m marrying into the clan Gunn as well and was looking for some ideas for our ceremony, this is exactly what I needed!
My boyfriend has no idea I’m planning this so all these ideas are very helpful!
Shauna on December 31, 2016:
I was looking for Scottish wedding ideas and came upon your article - what a great find. Thanks for sharing!
Holly Kline from South Jersey on April 15, 2013:
Great planning ideas! I've been to Holly Hedge, it's gorgeous.
Aimee (author) on June 15, 2012:
Thanks for stopping in Lonestar! We were very fortunate to stumble into this idea and find the Gunn tartan in the accessories we needed. We had already bought bridesmaids dresses before deciding to use the tartan so the fact that the sashes looked so beautiful on them was amazing! Be sure to check out my other wedding hubs, all loaded with pictures from the wedding!
LoneStarDream on June 14, 2012:
What a beautiful wedding! My children are of Scottish heritage on both their father and mother's side of the family. On my side (mother), we are also from Clann Gunn. My maternal great grandfather was William Wallace Gunn. We are also McNatt(Macnaughton) but I prefer the colors in the Gunn tartan.
Lots of ideas for future weddings in my family!
Tatara from Asia on August 03, 2011:
Always been a fan of Scottish culture...
Maude Keating from Tennessee on August 03, 2011:
I went to a Scottish wedding once, it was great fun.
Aimee (author) on August 03, 2011:
Thanks Nell! It's great to be back! Check this hub again in about two weeks. That's when the rest of my pictures will be done!
Nell Rose from England on August 03, 2011:
Hi, this is beautiful! and the photos were amazing! what a great hub, not only explaining your wedding, but all the little bits of information that will be so helpful to others planning their Scottish Wedding, rated up! and welcome back! cheers nell
Aimee (author) on August 02, 2011:
Thank you for all your wonderful comments! I will be adding more wedding planning entries soon! I hope you will subscribe to me if you haven't done so already!
Southern Muse on July 01, 2011:
Beautiful hub! My father's family is from Scotland, so I love your ideas and am going to use some to incorporate into my wedding! Voted up.
Susan Hazelton from Northern New York on June 22, 2011:
I love the Scottish thistle and white heather in the hair tradition. It sounds like a wonderful wedding. Congratulations.
Sabrina from Missouri on June 21, 2011:
This was an awesome and informative story, thanks for sharing! I really enjoyed reading it. Voted up. :)