how to elope in scotland bride and groom walking in the mountains

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How to Elope in Scotland:

The Ultimate Guide for 2022

Updated 11th December, 2021

Updated: 20th November, 2021

Are you thinking of having an elopement in Scotland?

Scotland has it all for anyone seeking an adventure: ancient castles, huge waterfalls, endless valleys sweeping through the mountains, peaceful lochs, ancient towns. The list goes on!

Eloping in Scotland sounds great! But how do I start planning?

This guide to Scottish elopements has been written with you in mind. It contains everything you need to know to start planning.

Read further for how to elope in Scotland

How to Elope in Scotland - bride and groom hugging next to a waterfall

10 Steps to Plan Your Scotland Elopement

STEP 1. Choose your location

Choosing the place for your Scotland elopement is important because it’ll need to be specified on your paperwork.

There are many famous places to elope in Scotland and gone are the times when you needed to run off to Gretna Green to elope. From fairytale-like islands to the untouched wilderness, Scotland has it all.

10 Beautiful Places to Elope in Scotland

1. Glencoe – You can find my Glencoe elopement guide here.

2. Isle of Skye – You can find my Isle of Skye elopement guide here.

3. Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park

4. Cairngorms National Park

5. Torridon

6. Assynt

7. Edinburgh

8. Outer Hebrides

9. Isle of Arran

10. Isle of Mull

How to elope in Scotland - groom leading bride past a loch surrounded by the Cuilling mountains in Scotland

STEP 2. Decide on a date (When is the best time to elope in Scotland?)

The Scottish highlands is known for having some pretty dramatic weather, regardless of the season! So, there really isn’t a best time to elope in Scotland. It depends a lot on the type of weather/scenery you like and your availability.

My advice is to fully embrace the mood. The conditions can change so much, so there’ll likely always be a break in the weather.

bride and groom looking into each other's eyes on their scotland elopement

Although Scotland is beautiful year-round, the time of year you choose to marry depends on how you envisage your day being.

March – May and September – late November are outside of the peak season and likely to be less busy. These months can gift gorgeous golden morning and evening light, perfect for your ceremony and couple portraits.

The winter months will give more dramatic weather and you’ll see our mountains capped in snow.

The summer months have longer days and warmer weather. If you’re planning on going on multiple hikes on your trip, the routes are likely to be more hiking-friendly.

groom hugging bride from behind at Eilean Donan Castle in Scotland in the background and the wind is blowing her dress and hair

STEP 3. Find your elopement celebrant or officiant

To make your wedding ceremony legal, you have three options: humanist, religious, or registrar.

The Humanist Society Scotland has an extensive database of registered celebrants. I’d be happy to recommend celebrants I’ve worked with, however, Rona the Humanist Celebrant is a personal favourite and is officiating my elopement in 2022.

For a registrar, you’ll need to contact the local office nearest to your chosen location. You can find a full list here.

For religious ceremonies, you can still get married anywhere as long as you have an authorised religious celebrant to attend and officiate. You can contact your local place of worship for guidance on this.

celebrant using cloth to wrap around bride and groom's hands during their Isle of Skye fasting ceremony in Scotland

STEP 4. Contact your suppliers and start to book

Think about which suppliers you may need. This could be hair and make-up artists, florists, attire, accommodation, a photographer/videographer. Photographers and videographers will typically book up 12-24 months in advance, so getting this sorted early on in the process is key.

STEP 5. Complete your paperwork

You can legally get married anywhere outdoors in Scotland. You’ll both need to complete a Marriage Notice Form (M10) , which currently costs £70. This must be handed in no earlier than 3 months prior to the date and no later than 29 days before.

STEP 6. Apply for your visa (if you’re eloping to Scotland from abroad)

If you’re from a country outside the European Economic Area, you’ll likely need a Marriage Visitor Visa, which you can apply for no earlier than 3 months before you travel – it also allows you to stay for up to 6 months. Currently, this costs £95.

You can check if you need a visa by clicking here.

bride and groom walking through a field of green ferns at the Fairy Glen on their Scotland elopement

STEP 7. Decide who’re going to be your witnesses

Anyone can act as a witness as long as they’re over the age of 16. You’re of course welcome to bring family or friends. However, if it’s just the two of you travelling, the good news is that, as your photographer, I can be a witness – it’s always an honour to do this and I’m more than happy to do it. For a second witness, it’s worth asking your celebrant if they can help provide one.

STEP 8. Decide what to wear for your elopement

It’s been said that Scotland can throw four seasons at you all within an hour. As the windiest country in Europe due to the Easterly moving Atlantic depression, this means the weather changes quickly.

groom and bride holding hands walking through a field with hills in front of them on the Isle of Mull for their Scotland Elopement

I’d recommend sturdy hiking boots, multiple layers, and a waterproof/windproof jacket for moving between locations. This will ensure you’ll be able to make the most of your wedding day. For brides, I’d recommend choosing a dress which allows for movement and is, above all else, comfortable. It’s also worth considering bringing an outdoor blanket/shawl to wrap up in as well.

groom placing wedding ring on bride's finger during their Scotland elopement ceremony on the Isle of Skye

STEP 9. Collect your elopement Marriage Schedule

Your Marriage Schedule needs to be collected in person by either you or your partner from 7 days before your wedding from the registrar office local to your ceremony location.

I really hope you found this post useful. If you’re thinking of eloping in Scotland, I’d love to hear about your plans. Simply get in touch and I’ll be more than happy to offer you support and guidance.

STEP 10. Have an incredible elopement and hand in your elopement Marriage Schedule

In order for your wedding ceremony to be legally registered, you must arrange for this form to be submitted to the local registrar no later than 3 days after your ceremony.

How to Elope in Scotland - bride leading groom down a mountainside on their Scotland elopement

How Much Does it Cost to Elope in Scotland?

The cost to elope in Scotland is based on what kind of elopement experience you want. One of my recent couples came all the way from the US on a 2-week trip and paid a total of £6000/$7,500, which included all of their travel and accommodation, clothing, food and drinks, car hire, celebrant, photographer, videographer, and a few other details. You could spend less or more depending on what you’re looking for. The beauty of eloping in Scotland is that you can legally get married outdoors, so you don’t need to pay for a venue. As a minimum, the things you need are: yourselves, a celebrant, two witnesses, and your photographer. Choosing how to spend your budget wisely and on the things that really matter to you is important. Why not spend less on your clothing and more on a beautiful cosy Airbnb?

I’ve written a helpful guide which walks you through how much it costs to elope in Scotland, which you can read by clicking/tapping here.

Scotland Elopement Packages

Scotland Elopement Photographer

As a Scotland elopement photographer based on the Isle of Skye, I’ve got lots of experience of the various ways you can elope here. I’m also familiar with the landscape and can offer advice on the logistics of making your elopement plans come to life. I’d love to chat to you about your plans and help in any way I can. Just get in touch.

I’ve also created more helpful guides for you, from How to Elope on the Isle of Skye to the Top 5 Reasons to Elope. You can find more helpful guides by clicking/tapping here.

I offer a range of coverage options – you can read more about what I offer here.


Marriage in Scotland –

Getting Married – Citizens Advice Scotland

Marriage Visitor Visa –


Elopement Planning Guide PDF

the ultimate elopement planning guide


Stuck with how to start planning your elopement?

Download your free Scotland elopement planning guide here.

Selfie of David Conaty

Hi, I'm David, an elopement photographer based on the Isle of Skye in Scotland. I believe that eloping is the best way to get married for those of you who can't see yourself having a big wedding. I'll capture your day in a relaxed and stress-free way and be on hand to help you choose your perfect location, match you up with amazing suppliers, and more! I can't wait to hear from you.



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Scotland Elopement Photographer bride and groom hugging

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