Eloping in Scotland would be a dream come true for most travel-loving couples. Heck, I would go to Scotland to get married again! If the thought of eloping in a different country makes you want to curl up in a ball, I get you. But don’t you worry! I’ve put together everything you need to know about how to elope in Scotland. Happy reading!
How many guests are invited to your Scotland elopement?
Obviously, Scotland is a pretty far away place if you live in the U.S. So when you’re planning a destination wedding in general, you need to decide on how many guests you’re inviting. If you’re planning it for just the two of you, then that will be the easiest route to go (and the least expensive). But if you want a few friends and family there, that changes things a bit!
If it’s going to be more than just the two of you, you’ll have to think a lot more about the flow of your elopement day early on. Will they need transportation to get to your ceremony site? Where are they going to stay? Are you providing food after your ceremony? These are things to think about before beginning to plan your Scotland elopement! The answers to these questions will also affect your budget, which we’ll talk about next.
Create your Scotland elopement budget
Once you’ve decided on how many guests (if any) you’re having for your elopement, it’s now time to create your budget. Here are a few things to consider when setting up your wedding budget:
- Cost of travel: airfare, hotel/accommodations, transportation, & passports
- Elopement vendors: Photographer, videographer, planner, florist, & hair & makeup artist
*Because you’re eloping, we’re assuming that you won’t need vendors such as a caterer, DJ, etc. for a reception. But if you are planning one, don’t forget to add in the cost of them!
- Elopement attire
- Celebrant (Scotland’s version of an officiant)
- Activities: Make sure you leave some room in your budget to have some fun (and drink some whisky) in Scotland besides getting married.
Where should you elope in Scotland?
A great thing about Scotland is that you can get married anywhere. In the hills, the lakeside, on the side of the road, literally, anywhere you want. How cool is that? Consider whether you want to get married at a venue or outdoors when you decide where to elope in Scotland.
If you want to get married lakeside, check out these locations:
- Loch Trool is located in Galloway Forest Park and is one of the most scenic lakes in Scotland. Galloway is also Scotland’s first Dark Sky Park, so it’s one of the best places to go stargazing in Europe. And if you want to elope with a view, nearby is the highest point in southern Scotland.
- Loch Tummel is said to have the best views of the beautiful Scottish countryside in Perthshire. The foliage colors in this part of Scotland are particularly scenic, so you can tailor when you elope here to what kind of colors you want to see.
- If you don’t want to stray too far away from the city, Loch Lomond is the best choice. It’s actually the largest inland stretch of water in all of Britain! It’s located in The Trossachs National Park, with plenty of things to see and do nearby if you’re looking for an adventure.
If you want to elope in the hills, check out these locations:
- The Isle of Skye is a very popular and scenic island in Scotland, connected to the coast by a bridge. When you visit the Isle of Sky, you’ll see rugged landscapes, picturesque quaint little fishing villages, and even medieval castles! How freakin’ cool is that? This is one of my personal favorite places to visit in Scotland, and I think it would be a perfect place to elope.
- Ben A’an is a mini mountain in the Trossachs of Scotland, with multiple lakes nearby to explore! The hike up to the peak is very short but very rewarding, and the sunsets from the peak are a sight to write home about. Keep in mind that this spot can get busy on sunny weekends, so it might be best to elope here during the week.
Elopement venues in Scotland
- Raemoir House – If you’re inviting guests to your Scotland elopement, this would be such a perfect venue! You won’t be bothered by tourists or foot traffic since it’s very private and secluded. You rent out the entire house when you book, and everyone can stay on the beautiful property for convenience. Imagine being able to party all night with your friends after you elope! That kinda sounds like a dream to me…
- Riddle’s Court – Right in the heart of Old Town Edinburgh, Riddle’s Court is an intimate and romantic elopement venue suites for up to 50 guests. The interior of the space looks like it was made for royalty… oh wait, it was!! You can even stay the night in the King’s Chamber with your partner after your ceremony and a day spent exploring Edinburgh.
- The Lodge – This venue specializes in creating personalized, intimate celebrations for anyone wanting to get married with their closest friends and family. They’re nestled in a corner of the Scottish Highlands so of course, you’ll have the coolest scenery for a ceremony backdrop as well as photos. Whether you want to elope on the shore, on the dock, or indoors, The Lodge will have a spot you’ll love!
What time of year to elope in Scotland
What time of year you should elope in Scotland heavily depends on where you elope. Scottish weather is very unpredictable. If you’re not down to have a bit of spontaneity on your elopement day and go with the flow, then an outdoor elopement in Scotland will probably ruffle your feathers a bit too much. But you’re good to go if you don’t mind the unpredictability!
Another thing to keep in mind is that the daylight hours in Scotland greatly vary depending on the time of year. In the middle of summer (mid-late June) the sun doesn’t set until around 10:30 p.m. If you’re planning a sunset elopement, you probably don’t want to do that during the summer unless you’re a night owl! In the winter, the sun sets anywhere from 3:30-4:00 p.m., which is pretty early.
Another disadvantage of eloping in the summertime is that it is tourist season in Scotland. We can for sure find a secluded place to elope that will still take your breath away. But if you want to explore the city, there will be a lot of foot traffic to deal with, and airfare & hotels will be more expensive than in the offseason.
My personal recommendation would be to elope in the spring or fall. If you’re aiming for more consistent weather, aim for early April to late May. It’s not as cold as March, it’s fairly sunny, and there’s a low chance of rain. The sun sets around 4 p.m. in early April, and 10 p.m. in late May.
Scotland is pretty infamous for its moody, misty, foggy weather. If that’s the look you’re going for when you elope, then I suggest planning for fall! Mid-October to mid-November is when the fall colors are the most vibrant in Scotland.
How to legally elope in Scotland
Before you do anything, you should find a registrar/celebrant to perform your marriage ceremony. They will help guide you through the entire process and answer any questions you might have! Once you’ve found one, it’s time to submit your marriage notice to the registrar of the district you intend on eloping. Once you’ve decided on a location, do your research and find the nearest one! You are required to submit one form per person, along with a service fee of €70.
If you aren’t a resident, in order to elope in Scotland you must obtain two things: a marriage schedule (otherwise known as a marriage license in the U.S.) and a marriage visitors visa. You can apply for your marriage schedule up to 3 months before your wedding date, but no later than 29 days prior. Keep in mind that you should apply for your visa before applying for your schedule! You can file for your schedule, once that is approved.
Next, it’s time to decide on your marriage witnesses. Scotland required two witnesses, and they can be anyone! You will have to submit this form once you know who your celebrant is and who your witnesses are.
When you’re in the country for your elopement, you have to pick up your marriage schedule in person. Be sure to check the local hours of the office you need to pick it up from! Again, your celebrant can help you figure all this stuff out. After you’ve officially eloped, don’t forget to return your marriage schedule to the registrar’s office within 3 consecutive days. If you don’t do this, your marriage will not be considered legal and that would just be a huge pain in the ass.
Now you know how to elope in Scotland!
Woo hoo! Now you know exactly how to elope in Scotland. You can thank me by taking me along with you! But seriously, as a destination wedding photographer, I love traveling for all types of weddings. To get in touch with me, you can fill out my contact form! I’ll get back to you as soon as I can, I promise. In the meantime, let’s be friends on Instagram!