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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!