elopement guide scotland

How to elope in Scotland

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    So, you decided to elope. Hear me out.

    The past few years, elopement wedding grows in numbers as more couples decide to be married this way. Term elopement itself has changed from escaping and get married secretly to a fashionable, intimate and relaxed wedding ceremony. Elopement wedding may not be for everyone. Some couples want a big wedding for all the family and friends, wedding cake and all the show related. On the other hand, the appeal of a romantic wedding without the traditional wedding ceremony bounds and stress put on the bride and groom is understandable. It's just you and your love, live the moment enjoy the day, breath the mountain air and contemplate the view if you have an outdoor ceremony in one of Scotland's breathtaking spots by the loch, in the forest or one of the mountain hills. So how to elope in Scotland? I hope below guide will help to make a decision.

    1. Getting down to the nitty-gritty of Scottish elopement

    1.1 Choose place, date and time for an elopement ceremony

    You need to know these three details in advance before you submit to local authority registrars. The good news is, in Scotland, you can be legally married or have civil partnership ceremony wherever you like. It creates endless choices for couples to elope. On the other hand, it can be tricky to pick the location for elopement ceremony. Here you'll find my 10 amazing places in Scotland to elope. Choose the date and place wisely. Popular destinations of the Scottish Highlands like Isle Of Skye or Glencoe are getting busy over the Summertime. Avoid touristy spots in the summer, unless you are okay with a group of tourist watching. Also, you need to book accommodation way in advance as decent places to stay are scarce to find in the holiday season. Restless little creatures called midges can spoil your ceremony or holiday. July and August are the most active months for biting midges, especially in damp, quiet valleys of north-west Scotland. Right, I made summer sound like the worst time to have an elopement in Scotland. But there are workarounds to avoid that little niggles.

    1.2 Pick the right celebrant for you

    Regardless of religious or belief ceremony or by a civil ceremony, you need to contact with celebrant before registrars. Don't hesitate to ask questions - celebrants are usually happy to help experts on this field. For outdoor, nature-loving couples, the best choice would be the humanist ceremony. Humanist Society Scotland would be the place to look for authorised and fully trained Humanist celebrant. 

    1.3 Get the paperwork ready

    With decided place, date and your celebrant, you need to send over marriage notice (M10 form) to one of the local Scottish registrants. Here is contact list published by National Records of Scotland of local authority registrars (PDF). Although the absolute deadline for documents submission is 28 days before marriage day, you should consider sending your papers at least three months before your marriage. Don't send last minute. Registrar office will need time to investigate your petition and will need a good reason for the late notice. You take the risk of postponing your elopement wedding day. You can hand out documents personally to the office or send by post. The latter is a good practice, especially in the current pandemic situation.

    If you are willing to have an elopement from another country like the United States, you need to complete Marriage Visitor visa. Fees cost £95 at the present day. As for UE countries, I'm not sure with current Brexit law transition but will update once new rules apply.

    1.4 Decide who is going to be your witness

    For having legal marriage, you need two witnesses for your wedding. It can be anyone if you plan to elope only as a couple. Hairdresser, make up artist, your photographer or videographer - adult person around who understand language. A good practice is to take perhaps two close friends or family members on board.

    The marriage schedule document
    Once your marriage notice documents have approved by the local registrar, you'll need to collect the marriage schedule document from the office personally, not earlier than seven days before the elopement. You should get the call that your documents are ready. After your wedding ceremony, you must send back within three days. It is crucial as your marriage won't be valid! This part is handled in most cases by your celebrant or can be done by yourself.

    And that's it in the short brief. The whole process is pretty straightforward. If you need more details, go check nrscotland.gov.uk 

    1.5 Find elopement dedicated planners

    All steps mentioned above, although not that hard to do and pretty straight forward, are time-consuming. Usually, elopement and wedding planners can do all that work for you in one package. Wedding planners have a broad list of suppliers, celebrants, videographers and photographers. They will handle most of the logistics for you plus all paperwork and legalities advice beforehand. So you have a hassle-free package with all you need for your elopement day in Scotland. Wild Hearts Elopement planning service is the one I recommend. Down to you is to relax and enjoy your beautiful wedding with your love.

    2.Seasons for Scottish elopement

    2.1 Spring. March, April and May

    Months when daylight starts to last longer after short, winter days. In March snow may fall occasionally and mountain peaks still can be covered in the snow. In late April and May, hills get green and nature starts to bloom again. In March you can get some good bookings for hostels and romantic cottages at touristy places like Isle of Skye or Glencoe.

    2.2 Summer. June - August

    It's the period when days are starts early and ends late. That leaves you plenty of time to do your planned activities. The best moment for a photo session would be early morning or late evening. Sunrise starts at 5 am and sunset usually last to 10 pm. Worth note is the fact most popular places are getting busy with tourists, pick your elopement spot wisely. Also, early booking is mandatory if you plan an elopement in a popular area.

    why elope to glencoe

    2.3 Autumn. September - November

    Early Autumn is my favourite time of the year in Scotland when flora nature turns in to all shades of orange colours. It's just simply beautiful. It is a perfect time for photographers to capture all those colours. In highlands, hills turn in to the gold shade. Temperatures are not so low and harsh yet, in November some snow, especially in higher parts of the country are expected. Pitlochry (Perthshire) in Scotland was one amongst the best places in the world to visit over Autumn time in Lonely Planet rank.

    2.4 Winter. December - February

    For the couples who enjoy quiet off-season time and prefer that romantic time of cosy moments by the fireplace. Days are short, the good news is, the sun is so low, it makes the most wonderful light and famous, low dramatic skies add to the whole winter highland atmosphere. Be well prepared though to embrace elements in Highlands. Umbrellas, good shoes, all sorts of blankets and waterproofs are a must.

    3. How to prepare for an elopement and what to wear?

    Scotland is an island surrounded by the sea from every side. That means the weather can be moody and unpredicted. The good news is, heavy shower usually goes away, need to be patient. It is true all four seasons can be in five minutes time period. Expect heavy showers for the whole year. A cold wind is a common thing in January and February. I usually have backup blankets and umbrellas in the back of the trunk. Good waterproof jackets will keep you safe from the elements, although wool wraps will be looking better on the photos. Good selection of serapes offers Lochcarron of Scotland and tartan blankets, The Tartan Blanket Co.

    Shoes. The best advice is to have comfy ones. And waterproof if possible. Dr Martens style shoes would be great for roaming in the wilds. In worst-case scenario wellies, under the dress won't be seen anyway!

    places to elope scotland

    10 amazing places in Scotland to elope

    Table of Contents

      Why have an elopement in Scotland?

      Scotland is a beautiful, raw nature scenery country. If you are adventurous, an outdoor couple, you have many options to choose. The short answer would be, you can have an elopement ceremony pretty much everywhere. Elope to Scotland means you have freedom the get married anywhere you want. Choice of many lochs for, hills and mountains to hike can be overwhelmed for couples not familiar with wild Scottish outdoors. Here I narrow down to most popular, epic or scenic places in Scotland to elope.

      1. Glencoe and Glen Etive

      Glencoe is about 2.5 hours drive from Glasgow over very scenic A82 road. Or 3 hours drive from Edinburgh. Waterfalls, lochs, gorgeous viewpoints to stop and admire the landscape, breath in the fresh air. The route over Glencoe has it all, a popular w amongst tourist, been featured in such movies like Skyfall and Harry Potter series. In result, at the weekends or summer time, road and car parks can be quite busy.

      Once you get off the road, a little bit deeper into the wild, everything gets calm and remote. Glencoe well deserves to be one of the best places in Scotland to elope.

      For hillwalkers and mountaineers, Aonach Eagach Ridge walk path is a real test. If you take that hassle, the views are rewarding.

      places in Scotland to elope

      To re-create Skyfall experience, turn left from A82 to Glen Etive after Glencoe Ski Resort. This place is truly magical. In winter could be covered with snow and over the summer, shades of hills and mountains are so green, is mesmerised. Autumn makes hills in golden shades colour.

      For more info visit Glencoe Scotland

      Accommodation suggestions:

      Ideas for elopement and hiking:

      • Loch Tulla Viewpoint
      • Glen Etive Cottage
      • Aonach Eagach Ridge
      • Three Sisters Viewpoint

      2. Corrour elopement

      Anyone familiar with famous Trainspotting movie should remember remote train station scene. It is Corrour. You can get here by train to Fort William. it's the most romantic way to get there. Road developed to Corrour Accomodation Site is the remotest train station in UK. From the station, take a walk path to Loch Ossian.

      You’ll find Youth Hostel at the edge of Loch Ossian. Best place to book sleep over would be Corrour accommodation site with lodges and cosy cottages. Book in advance as places are limited.

      loch ossian youth hostel

      3. The Trossachs and Loch Lomond elopement

      It’s the area contains East shore of Loch Lomond across to west Stirling. Very scenic and romantic place pack with lochs hills and summits. Only about 1-hour drive from Glasgow could be an ideal choice from places in Scotland to elope.

      loch lomond elopement

      One of very beautiful and not too hard to hike summits is Ben Ann. Walk patch up to the top is easy, stone or gravel surface, just under an hour walk. Just imagine eloping on the top with a breathtaking view over Loch Katrine. 

      If you feel like a forest is more your thing of nature, I could recommend Aberfoyle and Callander forestry. My favourite place is Bracklin Falls, located above the town of Callander. It’s an easy walk up to forestry and the scenic old bridge over the river and most spectacular waterfalls, especially after heavy rain. It’s a good, easy walk patch, definitely worth to visit if not for the elopement spot.

      Tree Loch Forestry Drive just off Duke’s pass is another option. Although over the wintertime, forest drive is closed to the public.

      Access to Loch Lomond shore over The Trossachs is single file road from Aberfoyle to Inversnaid.  Easy access to a beautiful view of Loch Chon on the way to Inversnaid could be the best spot for a quiet, intimate wedding ceremony.

      Accommodation suggestions:

      4. Isle of Skye

      Travel takes 6 hour drive from Glasgow or Edinburgh. To get there you could either drive over the Skye bridge or take a ferry from Malaig. I’d recommend latter, short ferry cruise just add little bit more to your epic elopement adventure. Plus on the way to Malaig you can stop by Glenfinnan Viaduct, featured in several Harry Potter movies.

      Glenfinnan Viaduct

      The scenery on the Isle of Skye is just breathtaking. Skye is a perfect destination for elopements or small, intimate weddings. You can stop at any point, walk off the road and enjoy the gorgeous view. Most iconic is the Storr located on the north-east side of the island. The Storr, rocks composed of ancient lava are nothing you’ve seen before, The Storr is located just a few miles up north from largest town on Skye, Portree, where you can purchase supplies and petrol.

      old man storr elopement

      The Quiraing. Access to this place is by twisty, full of hairpins single file road. Once you start walking from the car park, you realise The Quiraing is unique and one of a kind with spectacular landscapes. It’s a touristy, most of the time busy walk path.

      Once you get off mainly muddy walk path (good boots needed!) you should have a quiet, intimate moment for your elopement wedding ceremony and photography session. At summer time those places can be busy. Remote parts of the island are up for suggestion if you like more intimacy. 

      Places to stay ideas:

      Complex information about accommodation on Skye you can find on Hidden Scotland page.

      5. Applecross, Torridon and Eilean Donan Castle 

      Few miles before the junction to Applecross and Torridon, you can stop by Eilean Donan Castle. Located at three sea lochs meet, Loch Duich, Loch Long and Loch Alsh. The famous, 13th-century castle is a popular place for wedding venues. 

      Applecross and twisty, dramatic road over Bealach Na Ba viewpoint drive along the coast to Loch Shieldaig is a hidden gem of Scotland. Plenty of places to stay and spend the night. 

      Torridon, usually less touristy place is packed with stunning places to have an elopement. Adventurous couples can hike over 5 Munros found in that area. If you make an effort to go as far as to have an elopement experience, you should not regret that decision. 

      Applecross and Torridon accommodation ideas:

      6. Glen Roy National Nature Reserve

      To get there turn in to A86 when travelling from Fort William to Roybridge. Then take Braeroy Rd up to Glen Roy Nature Reserve. If travelling by car, you can park a vehicle at Glen Roy National Nature Reserve Car Park and take a walk up to Luib Chonnal BOTHY direction. Walking up Glen Roy there are noticeable, mysterious parallel lines horizontally. That distinctive line has been created by the last glacial at the end of the ice age.

      The route goes right beside River Roy and offers plenty of scenery to be amazed and waterfalls. Real into the wild Scottish highland experience.

      Near by accommodation ideas:

      7. Isle of Mull Elopement

      How to get there: Ferry from Oban to Craignure or shorter, cheaper ferry option from Lochaline to Fishnish. Mull is rich in clean, beautiful beaches, which is unique in the whole UK. Remote, looking like French Riviera beaches are on far south of the island. Temperatures like in South France are highly unlikely. On a positive note, most of the beaches are empty. Imagine a romantic, quiet elopement ceremony by the sea. How nice that would be. Paces worth consider MacKinnon’s Cave, Treshnish Walk. Tobermory is the capital of Mull with scenic walks around the town area. For more information visit isle-of-mull.net

      isle of mull elopement

      Accomodtion suggestions:

      8. Isle of Arran

      How to get there: Ardrossan (1-hour drive from Glasgow) to Brodick by ferry services. The cruise takes 1 hour. Ferry to Arran and back departs five times a day. Number one place to have an elopement would be Machrie Moor Standing Stones. Neolithic stone circles dated for 3500 BC creates that unique atmosphere of pre-historic religions and beliefs. Machrie Moor Standing Stones are part of Arran Coastal Way, 60 miles walk with diverse landscapes from sandy beaches to rocky cliffs. If you a fan of Scottish whiskey would be a good idea to stop at Lochranza and have a taste of traditional whiskey from Arran.

      Places to stay are located mostly along island coastal line. Here’s few of my favourite picks:

      9. Glen Cova and Glen Doll

      Breathtaking views, peaceful place closer to the east coast, at the south of Cairngorms National Park. A little bit over 2 hours drive from Edinburgh if you travel from the capital of Scotland. It’s well worth the effort. You can stay overnight in Glen Clova Luxury Lodges and have a ceremony and hiking the next day. Take walk path from Clova by trail up to Loch Brandy and have an elopement there.

      Another option I recommend - drive shortly down over local single file country road down to large Glen Doll car park. From Ranger Base take forestry walk by the White River up to Corrie Fee National Nature Reserve.

      10. Edinburgh Elopement

      The capital of Scotland has to offer great old architecture, many good hotels and b&b's to stay and cultural places to go. For the couples who enjoy infrastructure over wild nature wandering and facing so unpredictable rain showers. 

      A popular place for elopement in Edinburgh is Arthur’s seat. The walk takes about 2 hours from Holyrood Park with the view of the great city panorama. Another great place to have an elopement combined with couple photoshoot would is Carlton Hill located just little over a mile from Arthur’s seat.

      Edinburgh has too many pubs and places to go to mention them all. A short list of my recommended hotels and restaurants.

      Places to stay suggestions:

      Restaurants ideas serving vegan and vegetarian food:

      Places in Scotland to elope - summary

      Scotland is a large country with a small population. That leaves many more remote or great locations I did not include on the list. I hope this little read was somewhat helpful. But at the end of the day, it's your elopement day, that's how the tables turned. You planned. This definition is what I believe elopement is all about. Look in to like at the open, unwritten book you are about to write a page. Elopement can be super fancy, with a beautiful wedding dress. You get the hassle to climb at some viewpoint, epic place in Scotland. That's great if this is what YOU want. That's the beauty of elopement, doesn't matter where is, it's all about how you like to celebrate your beautiful love. Elopement can be in the back of your garden, Glasgow or centre of Edinburgh and be the same beautiful like a day on the Isle of Skye. It's your connection, is what makes it special.