ELOPING IN SCOTLAND? THE COMPLETE GUIDE FOR ADVENTUROUS COUPLES
*Updated 17th January 2022
Do you want to elope to Scotland in 2022 or 2023? We’ve compiled everything you need to know in our comprehensive guide to planning your Scotland elopement. Feel free to reach out if you have any more questions, or want to get started with your planning.
Table of Contents
Table of Contents
What is an elopement?
Quite simply, it’s a wedding without unnecessary extras, focused on your intimacy and connection. An alternative to a big traditional wedding. An elopement is a day dedicated to you. A celebration of your love for each other and your life ahead together. As photographers and lovers, we know it’s the intimate moments that count. Tender kisses. Walking hand in hand. A loving embrace. But all too often these moments are interrupted by the need to cut the cake, have the first dance or say goodbye to Auntie Brenda…your day dictated by others.
Scotland is a magical place- remote, wild, beautiful, with varied landscapes, rugged mountains, stunning beaches, and peaceful lochs. This is why we believe Scotland is one of the best places in the world to elope. Eloping in Scotland will give you an experience you can’t get anywhere else in the world.
Where can I elope in Scotland?
Unlike in the rest of the UK you can elope anywhere in Scotland– on a beach, up a mountain, anywhere you wish. All you need is a registered celebrant and you are good to go.
“Scotland is one of the best places in the world to elope“
Who can elope in Scotland?
The great news is that anyone can have a Scotland elopement. If you are not from the European Economic area or Switzerland, there are a few extra steps to take including applying for a Marriage Visitor Visa which costs £95 and can be applied for up to 3 months in advance of your wedding. Read more information about preparing your visa paperwork for eloping in Scotland on the UK government’s website.
These guys are just the bees knees! I’ve never known wedding photos like these before! Our friends and family say the photos really captured not only the beauty of what eloping in remote countryside is all about but also our raw emotions.
Clare and Matt
How to Elope In Scotland
Having a Scotland elopement takes a lot of planning, which can be an overwhelming process and you might not know where to start. Let us take the stress out of it with our 13-step guide to eloping in Scotland, whether you are local, or if you are having a Scotland elopement as a foreigner.
1. Choose your SCOTLAND elopement location
Think of a place that’s special to you. Or a place you’ve always wanted to visit. Close your eyes. Feel the sand in your toes and the wind in your hair. Then imagine saying ‘I do’ right there. That’s the beauty of a Scotland elopement, the world’s your oyster without boundaries or borders. Not sure where to choose? Start with the scenery – mountains, beach, forest, lakes, or city.
If you need help narrowing down a location then we can help, we’re seasoned travellers and can put together a list of personalised locations just for you. It’s important to choose a location early as you need to specify it for your paperwork.
2. Choose your date/time of year to elope
Scotland is beautiful at all times of year – but you should consider the day length (in mid-winter there can be less than 7 hours of daylight), the average temperature, and tourism season. If you want the place to yourselves weekdays and off-season is always quieter.
Our favourite seasons for a Scotland elopement are the autumn (for the stunning colour in the forests) and spring (for the warmer days and wildflowers), but every season has its charm, and there is no bad time for a Scotland elopement.
We can advise you on the best time of year to suit your preferred elopement location.
3. Decide what activities you want to enjoy on your elopement day
Eloping means that you don’t have to stick to the timeline of a traditional wedding day. Planning the timeline of your elopement day is one of the exciting things about elopement planning. Eloping means doing what you love best – walking your dogs, sipping cocktails, dancing, hiking, sailing, exploring somewhere new or wild swimming. Whatever makes you happy, the most important thing is that you do you.
They made the whole experience way less stressful. We’re so glad we found Oli and Steph, they put so much energy into our photography and now we have the most beautiful images to remember our day.
4. Find your vendors
Eloping requires far fewer vendors than a traditional wedding but there are still some things that you will want to book. The only vendor you officially need is a celebrant. In Scotland this can be either a religious or a belief celebrant. We recommend finding a Humanist celebrant through the Humanist Society Scotland to conduct a unique ceremony focused on your love for each other. We can also give our personal recommendations for our favourite Scottish celebrants.
Other vendors that you should definitely consider are a Scotland elopement photographer (hello!!) – (check out our Scotland elopement packages for more information), a videographer, a florist, and a hair and makeup artist. We can help you with local recommendations of the best vendors in your elopement location.
“Create a day that’s fun, full of things you love and focused on you.”
5. Book your Accommodation
Scotland has so many accommodation options, from grand old hunting lodges, to castles, to cool Air BnBs to glamping pods. When eloping in Scotland you will likely spend more time in your accommodation than if you were having a traditional Scottish wedding so we think it’s important to pick somewhere really special, and remember it’s going to feature in your wedding photos, so you want it to look cool.
It depends what your location is, but these are some of our favourite resources for finding the perfect accommodation for your wedding.
CoolStays – for extraordinary places to stay this is the definitive collection of amazing places to stay.
Huts and Cabins – for cabins on the shore through to luxury huts in the mountains
Air B n B – for loads of options throughout Scotland
We recommend looking for somewhere fairly close to your elopement location to cut down on travel time on your elopement day. Top tip: Driving in Scotland is slow, so even if it looks close on the map it may take a long time to travel.
6. Do the legal Paperwork
If you plan to have a legal ceremony during your elopement then there is some paperwork that you will need to complete, but before you start filling out paperwork you need to speak with your celebrant. They will be able to tell you exactly what you need to do, but if you are keen to read more then all the information you need can be found on the National Records of Scotland website, including this handy leaflet snappily called the RM1 leaflet, and also the Marriage Notice Form which needs to be submitted between 3 months and no later than 29 days before your wedding.
7. Finalise timeline with your photographer
Once all the paperwork is organised it’s time to finalise your elopement timeline with your photographer. The timeline will be completely unique to you as a couple, and we will help you craft an experience that reflects you as a couple, your passions, and interests.
8. Choose your witnesses
In Scotland you are required to have two witnesses to your wedding ceremony. This can be two of your guests, or if you are eloping just the two of you, then we are very happy to act as your witnesses. You need to decide this before your wedding day as you need to specify who your witnesses will be on your paperwork.
9. Travel to Scotland
All the planning is over and it’s time to travel to your location in Scotland for your elopement! We can help you with a list of ‘what to bring’ which will be personalised depending on your location and activity choice. Just don’t forget any paperwork and you are set to go! International travel into Scotland is easy as Glasgow, Edinburgh and Inverness all have airports, or you can travel up from London via sleeper train, or normal train. Once in Scotland the best way to get around is by car, so don’t forget your licence if you are going to hire a car.
10. Collect your marriage schedule
Before eloping in Scotland you need to visit your Registrar to collect your marriage schedule. This has to be collected in person by one of the people getting married in the seven days prior to your wedding, and without it your wedding cannot take place. So don’t forget to allow time in your travel schedule to fit this in.
11. Write your vows
One of the joys of eloping is that you don’t have to stick to a set wedding ceremony script, your ceremony and vows can be whatever you want. We recommend starting to write your vows well in advance of your elopement day, but finishing them off on your wedding morning, and writing them into beautiful vow books is a great way to kick off your wedding day.
12. Elope IN SCOTLAND!
It’s your elopement day, everything is planned, your elopement vendors have everything under control and the two of you enjoy your magical Scottish elopement.
13. Return your marriage schedule and you’re all done
Before you head home you must return your marriage schedule to the Registrar within three days of your wedding. Your celebrant will be able to help you further with arranging this.
Below we detail a few of our favourite Scottish elopement locations, but there are many more. Get in touch to discuss your options in more detail.
Best places to elope in Scotland
Hopefully most of your questions about eloping in Scotland have been answered by our step-by-step Scottish elopement guide. Now let us help you answer the question- Where to elope in Scotland?
Isle of Skye Elopement Locations
The Isle of Skye is undoubtedly one of the best elopement locations in the world. Its magical scenery will make you feel like you’re an extra in the Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones. If you are thinking of eloping in Scotland you should definitely consider it as your location.
The Isle of Skye is around a 5-hour drive from Glasgow and Edinburgh airports, and around 2 hours from Inverness. There is so much to see on the island so book a few days here to explore and take it all in.
Old Man of Storr, Isle of Skye
For the more adventurous couples the Old Man of Storr is a perfect option for your elopement ceremony. It’s a 45-minute hike up the hill, but the views from the top are totally worth it. Get married below the huge stone monoliths (the Old Man) created in an ancient landslide, with views out to sea of the Islands of Raasay and Rona. Top tip: have a sunrise or sunset ceremony to avoid crowds, as this is the most popular walk on the Isle of Skye.
Quiraing, Isle of Skye
Just five minutes’ walk from the Quiraing car park and you’re in an otherworldly landscape of high cliffs, and unusual rock formations. The Quiraing is another of Skye’s iconic locations, perfect for an epic elopement.
Although you can get to a great ceremony spot in a few minutes we recommend planning on spending longer and hiking out to discover everything the Quiraing has to offer. Follow the 4 mile loop walk that is one of our favourite hikes in Scotland.
Fairy Glen, near UIG
The Fairy Glen (or Faerie Glen) is a mountain landscape in miniature – made up of small, curiously rounded hills. For us it feels like you might see a hobbit at any minute. Yet another magical elopement location on the Isle of Skye.
Just a 10-15 minute walk from the road, the Fairy Glen is close to the village of Uig, and is in our top three elopement locations on Skye.
Neist Point Lighthouse, Isle of Skye
One of the most famous lighthouses in Scotland, Neist Point lies at the westerly tip of the Isle of Skye. You can walk down the steps to the lighthouse or admire it from a distance – it makes a dramatic backdrop for any elopement ceremony.
Other Scottish Elopement locations
Driving from Glasgow to the Scottish Highlands takes you through the valley of Glencoe, one of the most beautiful drives in Scotland. Glencoe was created by the explosion of a supervolcano 420 million years ago, and was further shaped by a glacier in the Ice Age 10,000 years ago. What is left are huge peaks towering over the valley floor, waterfalls cascading down the hillsides, and the perfect environment for exploring.
Glencoe is just 1.5 hours’ drive from Glasgow and 2.5 hours from Edinburgh. It can get busy but there are plenty of spots just off the beaten track, including a secret waterfall we discovered away from the tourist spots.
Loch Lomond and the Trossachs elopement
Loch Lomond is the biggest inland water body in the UK and at 24 miles long there are plenty of spots to stop off at when you elope to Scotland. The Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park covers 720 square miles and beyond the famous Loch Lomond there are numerous other beautiful lochs to consider for your elopement. Our favourites include the secluded Loch Arklet, the beautiful Loch Voil and Loch Katrine.
The park is also home to 21 Munros (mountains over 3000ft) giving plenty of options for a hiking elopement with great views.
Lying just to the north of Glasgow, Loch Lomond is the most easily accessible Scottish elopement location on our list.
The Cairngorms National Park, in the Scottish Highlands, is the largest national park in the UK, and is twice the size of Luxembourg! The Cairngorms are home to 4 of the 5 largest mountains in the UK, and over a quarter of Scotland’s forest. There are a huge number of location options for your elopement in the Cairngorms and this is our top recommendation for outdoors loving couples.
Find out more
We hope that this list of locations and our 13-step guide to eloping in Scotland has helped give you some ideas. For more information check out our elopement experience page and our Scotland elopement packages page.
We’re Oli and Steph Photography, we live on the Isle of Skye and we are Scotland elopement photographers who love nothing more than adventuring with like-minded couples in the mountains, and the forests and the beaches and… you get the idea! If you’re ready to talk more about eloping then get in touch and we can chat about your perfect Scotland elopement experience.