Scottish Wedding Traditions

Unique Celtic Traditions

Scotland shares many of the same wedding traditions of Ireland because they have similar Celtic roots. Both countries consider it bad luck for a wedding party to meet a funeral procession on the way to the wedding - should that happen the couple must return home and begin their journey anew. However, there are plenty of wedding traditions unique to Scotland.

Prior to the wedding, the bride's family hosts a viewing of the wedding presents. Guests who have given a wedding gift are invited to view all the gifts given to the couple, after they're unwrapped. Afterwards the bride is escorted through the town by her friends who bang on pots and pans to announce the upcoming wedding. Grooms also spend a night out with friends, however he is further embarrassed through a Scottish wedding tradition called the blackening. During a blackening, the groom is covered with feathers, molasses or treacle and soot, and then tied to a tree. Although it sounds cruel, like today's bachelor and bachelorette parties, it's all done in fun.

On the eve of the wedding, the bride's female friends and family members participate in a feet-washing ceremony and all present help wash the bride's feet. The wedding ring of a happily married woman is placed in the tub of water with the belief that the woman who finds the ring will be the next to marry.

As for the wedding day, there are many popular Scottish wedding traditions. It is considered a token of good luck for both the bride and the groom to wear or carry a sprig of white heather on their wedding day. On the way to the church, the bride must give the first person she sees a coin and a drink of whiskey. This person is called the "first foot" and is expected to join the bridal procession for one mile.

Following the wedding ceremony a scramble takes place; the groom scatters coins outside the church while the wedding guests and other bystanders cheer on the local children as they scramble to pick them up.

Older wedding traditions include the penny wedding, penny bridal, or the silver bridal - the predecessor of today's stag and doe parties. With a penny wedding, guests give the couple gifts to help cover the costs of the wedding dinner and reception. Penny weddings are festive, lively events with plenty of feasting, drinking, singing and dancing.

However, it's during the ceremony that you'll find one of the most beautiful and significant of Scottish wedding traditions. The bride and groom tie strips of their wedding tartan together in a knot, symbolically uniting the two clans. A variation of this custom involves the groom pinning a piece of his tartan to the bride's dress, thus confirming her bond to his clan - the most poignant and heartfelt Scottish wedding tradition of all.

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