Scottish Wedding Traditions for your Ceremony

Over the years, many wedding traditions have been left out and now most are completely forgotten or unknown...

Enjoy a traditional scottish wedding at the Kinkell Byre, nestled in the St Andrews countryside in rural Fife.

However, like all trends, we tend to see them back in fashion again at some point and we are seeing lots more Scottish wedding traditions becoming the ‘in thing’ again.

So… here are some of Scotland’s most well-known wedding traditions for you to consider incorporating into your big day.

  1. The Kilt

    This tradition hasn’t actually gone anywhere, as it’s the most popular attire for the groom and groomsmen here in Scotland. We certainly see most of our grooms at Kinkell Byre in kilts. Anyone with some knowledge of Scottish history, or those who have been watching the well-known series Outlander, may already know a little kilt history… The kilt dates back to the late 16th and early 17th centurys where highland men wore kilts daily to represent the clan or family they belonged to, like modern day Football shirts.

    However, in 1746 the kilt was banned after the Scottish lost the Battle of Culloden and it was nearly 40 years before the ban was lifted. It was then that the tradition formed for Scottish men to wear a kilt to formal engagements. To this date, it is very rare to attend a wedding or formal event in Scotland without seeing many men in kilts.

    Nowadays, kilts would normally be in your ‘clan’ tartan with matching flashes, a white shirt, and kilt jacket of your choice with matching waistcoat, wool socks and tie. If you don’t have a clan tartan, you could always go for a district tartan, national tartan, fashion tartan, or any other number of versions; check out the Visit Scotland Tartan Guide for help. You would then accessorise with a sporran (a pouch to make up for the lack of pockets on a kilt), kilt pin, cufflinks and a sgian dubh (a small knife that sits in the mans sock). We see a lot of grooms at the moment making the traditional kilt outfit a little more modern by wearing a tweed or suit jacket set, and some grooms go for a more traditional look by adding a ‘plaid’, which is a piece of tartan of varying length options which is pinned over the grooms shoulder.

    Many years ago it was a standard wedding tradition in Scotland for the bride to buy the groom his shirt for the wedding, and for the groom to buy the bride’s wedding dress. However, today it’s more common to hear that the bride’s parents buy the wedding dress and the groom is left to sort his own shirt!

  2. Traditions for the Bride

    The main tradition that we tend to hear brides participate in is the classic;
    Something old
    Something new
    Something borrowed
    Something blue
    And in Scotland, a sixpence in her shoe.

    With each ‘something’ representing something significant; the bride’s ties to her family, her bright new future, something borrowed from a married friend for luck, and something blue as a sign of faith. The final line is sometimes left out, but it originated in Scotland, so we think it’s very important! The sixpence represents good fortune and prosperity for the new couple.It was also seen as good luck for the bride to have white heather hidden in her bouquet, to wear a ‘lucken booth’ (a brooch which tends to be passed down from the Mother’s family) and to have her feet washed. Traditionally, older and happily married women would wash and dry the bride’s feet the morning of her wedding… but I can’t see that becoming a trend again anytime soon!

  3. Bagpipes

    Like the kilt, the bagpipes remain a strong tradition in Scotland and most weddings at Kinkell Byre have bagpipes playing for the arrival of the guests. Bagpipes create very beautifully distinct and heart-warming music, and sound amazing inside the Kinkell Byre venue thanks to our high ceilings!

  4. The Scottish Quaich

    This has recently had a comeback. With humanist ceremonies becoming the most popular type of ceremony here in Scotland, couples are able to create a very versatile ceremony, adding in whatever traditions they want

    What is a Scottish Quaich?

    It’s pronounced similarly to the word ‘quake’ but with a softer ‘ch’ ending instead of the hard ‘k’. A Quaich is a two-handled shallow cup that traditionally would have been carved out of wood, but now tends to be silver or chrome, with Celtic engravings, but is always filled with whisky. It’s sometimes referred to as the ‘love cup’ as both the bride and groom take a handle each and drink from it. This symbolises the trust and bond between the couple toasting to their marriage. The Quaich would then be passed around the family, starting with the more important members.

  5. Handfasting

    Again this is becoming a big trend, even more so this year. Handfasting is when the bride and groom each take a piece of their ‘clan’s’ tartan, and use it to tie their hands together to symbolise the joining of the couple. and their two families. This is where the phrase “tying the knot” comes from!

  6. The Reception

    Surprisingly, food was never a big part of weddings in Scotland. Normally the family would all make something and it would be put in the middle of the dinner table for everyone to help themselves. A Scottish dish called stovies is something you still see at many weddings, which is made with potatoes, meat and gravy mashed up together and served with Scottish oatcakes (it tastes much better than it sounds and it is great for soaking up the alcohol).

  7. The Wedding Cake

    It’s long been a Scottish wedding tradition that the wedding cake is made as soon as the couple announce their engagement. This would normally be a sweet fruitcake that is topped with brandy regularly and iced before the wedding. The cake would be made up of two tiers, the bottom for the wedding party and the top tier was always kept for the first child’s christening.


If you’re thinking about incorporating one or all of these traditions into your wedding ceremony at Kinkell Byre, the most important thing to remember is have fun with it! It’s your day and you make the rules. Not all of these traditions are something we expect to see a lot of, but just incorporating a few of them into your day will certainly make it feel a little more Scottish.

Posted: 29.11.17

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