Scottish Wedding Traditions

Handfasting, The Blessing and/or presentation of the family sword, the pinning of the family tartan, the presentation of the new family kilt and many other traditions can be included in the ceremony if desired.

Suggested Ceremony Music For Pipers



Highland Cathedral

Mairi's Wedding

The Skye Boat Song

The Cradle Song

Canon in D

Ode to Joy   

Flowers of Scotland

Brides Entrance

For All Those Endearing Young Charms

Bridal Chorus

Joy Cairns

Come to the Hills

Highland Cathedral


Scotland the Brave

Highland Laddie

Mairi's Wedding

Cullen Bay

The Rowan Tree  


Special Events --- Remembrance of Family

Amazing Grace

Danny Boy

Special Events --- Unity Candle

She Moves through the Fair

Amazing Grace


When To Have The Piper Play!

Believe it or not, it is important to limit the amount of playing. Most ceremonies are indoors and the pipes are loud in confined spaces. NOTE: Make sure you have permission to have a piper playing inside your church. Some may not allow a piper inside but rather outside.

Before the Ceremony

I recommend the piper begin about 15 minutes before the start of the ceremony. That is when most of the guests are there and he will be most appreciated.

The Processional

Have your piper stand in the rear of the church. The piper can play for the entire wedding party as they enter NOTE: Make sure the piper has a special tune for just the bride

During the Service

If you are planning a remembrance to a loved one during the ceremony, you should limit it to one song.


A Scottish Wedding Blessing

Mi\le fa\ilte dhuit le d'bhre/id, Fad do re/ gun robh thu sla\n. Mo/ran la\ithean dhuit is si\th, Le d'mhaitheas is le d'ni\ bhi fa\s.

(English Translation)

A thousand welcomes to you with your marriage. May you be healthy all your days. May you be blessed with long life and peace, may you grow old with goodness, and with riches.


Old Scottish Wedding Traditions

The following information directly reflects the old traditions of a Scottish Highlands wedding ceremony. They will help you in creating the perfect wedding celebration or just make for some fun reading of the way things use to be!

Most of these customs are no longer practiced in full, but to make your ceremony unique and memorable for your family and guests, you should consider adding one.

Before the Ceremony  

The Luckenbooth

Penny Bridal or Silver Bridal

Feet Washing

Open House

The Bride's "Taking Out"

The Groom's "Stag Night

"Creeling" of the Bridegroom    

Morning of the Ceremony

The Silver Sixpence

The Wedding Procession

The Church


During the Ceremony

The Pipes

Hand Fasting

Pinning of the Tartan

Presentation of the Sword

 After the Ceremony

The Horseshoe 

The Scramble

The Reception

Wedding Cake 

1st & 2nd Dance

The Shaim Spring

After the Reception

The Walk Home         


Before The Ceremony

"The Luckenbooth"

Called the Luckenbooth because they were sold from the locked booths of the Royal Mile, adjacent to St. Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh. This type of love token seems to go back to at least the 1600s. Luckenbooth's were traditionally exchanged between lovers on betrothal. They were sometimes pinned to the shawl of the first baby to protect it from evil spirits. There are many surviving antique brooches of this type in museums in Scotland. Some of these were made by traveling tinkers and sold to gentlemen for their ladies. Some have passed from generation to generation to become valuable heirlooms. Sometimes inscribed phrases such as " Of earthly joys thou art my choice." are evidence of their purpose. They are probably the most romantic type of brooch in Scotland's history, hence their enduring appeal. This type of brooch even came to America and simple forms of this brooch were cut from coins and used for trade among the Eastern Woodland Indians. Many people know about the traditional Claddagh ring of Ireland with its crowned heart but fewer know of this wonderful traditional love token. If you do historical re enacting or just love to enjoy Scottish traditions, this is a perfect piece to purchase for yourself or a loved one.


During The Ceremony

The Pipes

It would not be a Scottish wedding without the bride entering the venue, and the Bride and Groom departing, to the sound of the bagpipes. Most professional pipers know the routines of the ceremony and will know what to play and when to play it! Also, they are most always positioned outside of the venue to protect the ears of your guests.

Hand Fasting

Hand fasting is a Celtic wedding ceremony from the middle ages. It was a temporary marriage that lasted for a year and a day. Unlike the English that had a friar in most villages, most in Scotland did not a have local minister or priest to perform a marriage ceremony, so couples would perform a hand fasting which legally bound them until someone of the clergy would pass through the village and could perform a ceremony. In a modern ceremony, a hand fasting is incorporated into many wedding ceremonies in a way to honor their Celtic heritage. The couples hands are bound together in a cord or a tartan cloth during their vows. This is to show that from that point forward, they are no longer two, but are one!

Pinning of the Tartan

Following the proclamation of husband and wife this additional ceremony takes place, "The pinning of the tartan". This ceremony is customized to each family depending on whether the bride or the groom is being accepted into the clan. For instance if the bride is marrying into the clan, any member of the groom's family may present the bride with clan tartan in the form of a rosette pin or sash which is fastened with the clan badge. Often this presentation is pinned or dressed to the bride as acceptance into the grooms clan. Many times the groom himself will pin or dress the bride, but it is quite emotional when the groom's mother does the pinning.

Presentation of the Sword

As listed above in the pinning ceremony, many celebrations may take place that also includes the "Presentation of the sword". This is a beautiful tradition where the groom presents his bride with a family sword that will be given to their first born son or; the Brides family would present the Groom with their sword as an act of acceptance into the family and signifying the obligation and responsibility to now protect her.


After The Ceremony

The Horseshoe

This Scottish tradition is for a toddler to hand a horseshoe to the bride as she walks out of the church with her husband. The horseshoe signifies good luck in the marriage.

The Scramble

Start collecting your change for this uniquely Scottish custom. As a gesture to insure good fortune in your marriage, many couples opt to continue the tradition of the scramble. Upon leaving the church the bride and groom scatter coins to the assembled children to collect. Legend has it that this token will be constantly returned to the bride and groom throughout the marriage.


The Reception

The Ceilidh (pronounced "kay-lee") is Gaelic for party or gathering

Traditional Scottish Wedding Cake

The traditional Scottish wedding cake consists of two tiers of brandy-flavored fruitcake. The cake is baked at the time of the couple's engagement. Only one tier is eaten at the wedding celebration, while the other is saved to celebrate the birth of the couple's first child.

The First, Second and Last Dance

The new couple leads off the dancing with a traditional reel, and the bride's second dance is reserved for the person of the highest rank among the guests. The Sword Dance is usually performed at a traditional wedding in Scotland, which is similar to an Irish jig or a Highland fling.