Updated: 6th March, 2023
Are you thinking of having a Scotland elopement?
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!
Also, Scotland is home to more than 790 islands, which are mainly in the archipelagos of the Hebrides and Northern Isles. They're grouped into four categories: Shetland, Orkney, Inner Hebrides, and Outer Hebrides. The Atlantic Ocean borders the West coast and the North Sea is to the East. There are three main sub-divisions in Scotland. Huge mountains make up large parts of the Highlands and Islands, such as the Skye Cuillins and the Cairngorms. The Central Lowlands and Southern Uplands make up the other two parts.
Eloping to Scotland sounds great! But how do I start planning?
This guide to Scotland elopements has been written with you in mind. It contains everything you need to know to start planning and will give you some great elopement ideas too.
Read further for how to elope in Scotland
How 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.
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.
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.
STEP 3. Find your elopement celebrant or officiant
How can I legally elope in Scotland?
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. Below is a short selection of amazing celebrants I've had the pleasure of working with in the past:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Much Does it Cost to Elope in Scotland?
Eloping in Scotland can range from £4000 - £15000, depending on what you're after. However, my couples typically spend between £6000 and £10000.
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.
15 Best Places to Elope in Scotland
Scotland is blessed with some of the most beautiful scenery in the world. From cosy islands to rugged mountains, rolling hills, and dramatic waterfalls, there really is something for everyone.
Below are 15 of my favourite places to elope in Scotland.
1. Isle of Skye
3. Loch Lomand and the Trossachs National Park
4. Cairngorms National Park
5. Torridon and Wester Ross
7. Port Appin
8. Loch Tay
9. Isle of Mull
11. Isle of Arran
12. Outer Hebrides
13. Rannoch Moor
14. Glen Etive
15. Argyll and Bute
Scotland Elopement Packages
Scotland Elopement Photographer
As a Scottish Wedding Photographer based on the Isle of Skye, I've got lots of experience of the various ways you can elope in Scotland. 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 How to Elope with Family. 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 - mygov.scot
Getting Married - Citizens Advice Scotland
Marriage Visitor Visa - gov.uk