Are you thinking of eloping in ScotlandThis guide is for you!

Scotland has earned its place as one of the world’s top elopement destinations, and it’s easy to understand why! Just a couple of hours’ drive from the bustling heart of Edinburgh or the urban streets of Glasgow, you’ll find some of the most breathtaking, rugged, and romantic landscapes imaginable. From serene lochs, enchanting isles, mist-covered mountains, tranquil beaches, or ancient pine forests, Scotland has it all.

Whether you’re dreaming of eloping in Scotland or simply seeking some fresh ideas and inspiration for your perfect wedding day, this comprehensive, step-by-step guide will help make your dream a reality in 2024 or 2025. You’ll be surprised at just how straightforward the process can be!

Nestled in Oban, just a stone’s throw from the majestic mountains of Glencoe, I’ve had the joy of capturing the magic of Scottish elopements and weddings for the past two years since making the move from Tennessee. With this experience, I can proudly call myself an expert in Scottish Highlands elopements.

This guide is a culmination of everything I’ve learned since moving to Scotland, combined with over a decade of experience as an elopement and wedding photographer. I’m confident it will be incredibly helpful for you.

If there’s anything more I can assist you with or if you’d like to chat about your plans, please don’t hesitate to reach out!


HOW TO PLAN YOUR SCOTLAND ELOPEMENT IN 2024


TABLE OF CONTENTS


STEP 1: Choose a location for your Scottish elopement

Scotland truly offers something for everyone. With its wild rivers, ancient forests, serene lochs, tranquil beaches, and mystical mountain tops, it’s impossible not to fall in love with every inch of this wild and beautiful land.

If you’re dreaming of a romantic city elopement, Scotland won’t disappoint. You can wander the historic streets of Edinburgh, explore the vibrant neighbourhoods of Glasgow, or soak in the storybook charm of Elgin near Inverness. There are countless enchanting spots to choose from for your perfect elopement.

Some popular places to elope in Scotland


STEP 2: Pick a season (what is the best time of the year to elope in Scotland?)

A question we often hear is, “When is the best time to elope in Scotland?” Without a doubt, the prime months are March, April, May, September, October, and November for reasons I’ll outline below. However, I truly believe that any time of the year is perfect for eloping in Scotland. Each season has its own unique visual charm, so it really depends on the vibe you’re seeking.



Spring (March, April, & May)

Spring is a wonderful time to elope in Scotland. The busy tourist season hasn’t kicked off yet, making it easier to book charming accommodations and have a wider selection of elopement suppliers. The days begin to lengthen, but you can still enjoy that beautiful golden light and rich colours in the afternoon. Just remember, March can still be a bit chilly, so bringing along a warm layer like a coat, cardigan, shawl, or scarf will keep you comfortable.


Summer (June, July, & August)

The Highland landscape is lush and green, offering a stunning backdrop for your elopement. However, one important factor to consider during this time of year is the light. The days are generally much brighter, and sunsets occur later in the evening. When planning your ceremony and portrait shoot, it’s wise to take this into account to increase your chances of capturing that beautiful evening light for your elopement portraits.

For busy tourist hotspots like the Isle of Skye, it’s usually much quieter early in the morning and in the evening, making these times ideal for a more intimate and serene experience.

Fall (September, October & November)

The Scottish landscape transforms into a stunning tapestry of earthy tones—greens, yellows, oranges, and browns. It looks as if we have been transported into an artist’s palette.

The tourist season starts to wind down, giving you a better chance to enjoy the landscape in peaceful solitude. With the sun setting earlier, you can catch some of the most beautiful light in the early afternoon, especially on clear days. Don’t forget to bring layers, it can still get cold.

Winter (December, January & February)

If you’re dreaming of snow-dusted mountaintops for your Scottish elopement, then winter is the ideal season. During this time, you’ll need plenty of warm layers, and since daylight is shorter, it’s best to plan your ceremony around midday or early afternoon.

With the tourist season at its lowest ebb, popular locations are wonderfully quiet, allowing you to experience the serene beauty of the landscape almost entirely on your own. And if fortune smiles upon you, you might even spot a deer or two on your special day!


STEP 3: Find the right celebrant for you


Registrar ceremonies in Scotland

The next step in your wedding planning journey hinges on your personal preference for either a registrar, religious or a humanist ceremony. If you opt for a registrar wedding, you can easily get in touch with the local registry office through the link provided below.

https://www.nrscotland.gov.uk/files/registration/reglist.pdf


Religious ceremonies in Scotland

For those considering a religious ceremony, the Church of Scotland offers a flexible approach, allowing ceremonies to be held in various locations, subject to the approval of the church authorities. Whether you envision exchanging vows in a traditional church setting, a scenic outdoor location, or even a unique venue of your choice, the Church of Scotland can often accommodate your wishes, ensuring your special day is both meaningful and memorable.


Humanist ceremonies in Scotland

Humanist ceremonies can be one of the easiest ways to tie the knot while also personalising your ceremony to your story. They can be personally tailored and offer many symbolic gestures such as hand-fasting, oathing stones, or drinking from a Quaich.  If you’re planning to elope outdoors, a Humanist celebrant could be an ideal choice. These celebrants are not only open to adventure but are also well-versed in conducting ceremonies in diverse outdoor settings. Their readiness to hike and their experience in various weather conditions make them perfectly suited to create a memorable and personalised ceremony amidst nature’s beauty.

https://www.humanism.scot


STEP 4: Organise the legal stuff

Many couples from outside the United Kingdom choose to have their legal ceremony in their home country, followed by a symbolic ceremony in the picturesque landscapes of Scotland. However, if you prefer to have your legal wedding ceremony in Scotland, rest assured that the process is quite manageable.

To begin, you’ll need to complete the necessary legal paperwork, which is relatively straightforward. Both partners are required to fill out a “Marriage Notice Form,” also known as an “M10.” This form is essential for receiving your wedding schedule, allowing your ceremony to proceed legally and smoothly.

In addition to submitting your M10 forms within three months of your elopement date (but no later than 29 days before), a fee of approximately £100 is required. Alongside these forms, you’ll need to present your passports, birth certificates, and proof of address.

Once these documents are submitted and fees paid, you can collect your marriage schedule in person from the local registrar of your chosen ceremony location. This final step occurs seven days prior to your elopement date, ensuring all legal requirements are met for your special day in Scotland.

It is also important to stay in close contact with your celebrant throughout this process. Given their extensive experience with wedding ceremonies, they can provide invaluable assistance and guidance. 

More information can be found here.



STEP 5: Apply for a marriage visa (if eloping in Scotland from abroad)

If you wish to legally elope to Scotland from abroad (outside of the United Kingdom), you will need to apply for a marriage visa. Detailed information about the marriage visa and the application process can be found at the link provided below.

Scotland Marriage Visa Details

Cost: As of July 2024, the Scotland marriage visa costs £115. Should you prefer to expedite the application process, there is an option to pay an additional fee for faster processing.

Duration of Stay: The marriage visa permits you to reside in Scotland for up to six months, giving you ample time to prepare for your wedding and enjoy your stay.

By securing a marriage visa, you ensure that your elopement to Scotland is not only romantic but also fully compliant with legal requirements. This allows you to focus on creating unforgettable memories in one of the world’s most enchanting destinations.

https://www.gov.uk/marriage-visa



STEP 6: Find witnesses for your elopement ceremony

In Scotland, you are required to have two witnesses over the age of 16 to legally marry. If you are planning to elope to Scotland alone, I would be honoured to serve as one of your witnesses. My husband, Ben, who is also a videographer, would be equally delighted to assist. This ensures that you have the necessary support to make your special day both legally compliant and beautifully documented.



STEP 7: Book other elopement suppliers and accommodation

My best advice is this: ensure you secure your photographer, videographer, celebrant, hair stylist, makeup artist, florist, and accommodation as soon as possible. Photographers, in particular, tend to book out years in advance, so do not leave these crucial elements to chance. Early planning will help ensure that every aspect of your special day is beautifully captured and runs smoothly.

Make sure you prioritise mid-week dates to increase your chances of securing the best suppliers and to avoid the hustle and bustle of tourist groups. Opting for a weekday wedding not only provides more availability but also ensures a more intimate and serene experience for your special day.



STEP 8: Decide what to wear for your elopement

The magic of Scotland lies in its unpredictability. No matter the season, the weather can be capricious, dramatically transforming the mood of the landscape.

The best advice is to embrace whatever Scotland offers and lean into the experience. Regardless of the time of year, it’s wise to bring layers and even a change of clothes. If you’re eloping in the rugged Highlands, sturdy leather walking boots are a must.

Practical Tips for Eloping in Scotland

Clothing:

  • Americans, a special note (I’m calling you out because I’m one of you and have made this mistake too): while practical rain gear from brands like North Face, Mountain Warehouse, and Dick’s Sporting Goods is useful, it doesn’t always translate well in photos. Opt for clothing with earthy tones, perhaps a stylish cardigan or a fashionable (yet warm) coat.

Preparation:

  • Consider a pop-up changing tent, which I can bring along. This allows you to hike to the location in comfortable gear and then change into your wedding attire on-site. However, I will still ask you get ready in the morning at your accommodation so I can capture those special moments as well. So you will have to change a few times.

I’ve photographed in all kinds of weather all over the world, so I’m prepared for anything. Just enjoy what Scotland has to offer and trust that we will create stunning memories together.


STEP 9: Get married and hand in your paperwork

It’s time to enjoy your elopement day and have an unforgettable experience, complete with incredible photos and video to cherish forever.

Important Note:

For your marriage to be legally recognised, you must submit your marriage schedule to the local registrar office where you were married within three days of your ceremony. This step is crucial to ensure the legality of your marriage.

Relish every moment of your special day, knowing that all the important details are taken care of, allowing you to focus on creating beautiful memories in Scotland.



I hope this guide has provided you with valuable insights and inspiration for eloping in Scotland, answering your key questions about planning a Scottish elopement. If you’re searching for an elopement photographer to document your adventure in Scotland, I’d love to hear about your plans. Feel free to send me a message below!

Scotland Elopement Packages

I offer a range of Scotland elopement packages and coverage options tailored to suit your specific needs. If you’d like further information, please get in touch. I’d love to chat, learn about you, and hear all about your exciting plans!

Weddings & Elopements

July 7, 2024

HOW TO ELOPE TO SCOTLAND–YOUR GUIDE FOR 2024

meet your photographer

Hi! I'm Aly– A Scotland based cinematic photographer. I work side-by-side with my husband (and videographer) to capture dreamy, velvety, vibey stories just like yours. 😎🎬📸

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