We’re so excited that the ScottishParliament passed the Marriage and Civil Partnership law on Tuesday in a 105-18 vote, giving same-sex couples the freedom to marry. With the first legally recognized nuptials set to take place this fall, we thought we should brush up on our Scottish wedding traditions. Whether you’re planning a destination wedding or want to celebrate your Scottish heritage, these are some of the most fun customs that we’ve come across!
The Speerin: Think asking your loved one’s family for their blessing is tough? In old Scottish tradition, the request is awarded only after a series of hurdles, trials and tasks made by the father.
Luckenbooth Brooch: Assuming you conquered the Speerin, the luckenbooth brooch is a Scottish love token, similar to the engagement ring, that is exchanged by a couple when they become engaged.
The Wedding Sark: Traditionally, the wedding sark is the gifting of a shirt from the bride to her groom to wear on the wedding day and in return, the groom pays for the wedding dress. Of course, this can be adapted if you’re both wearing dresses (give an accessory!) or if you’re both wearing suits. The important takeaway is that you’re wearing something gifted to you by your loved one when you walk down the aisle.
Blackenings: Perhaps the origin to the modern day bachelor party, blackenings are a ritual during which the groom-to-be is captured by his friends, stripped down and “blackened” using things like feathers, soot and flour. He’s then paraded through the village, with his friends trying to make the experience as embarrassing as possible.
Feet Washing: The night before the ceremony, an older married woman washes and dries the bride’s feet to bring good fortune.
A Sixpence in the Shoe: We know the saying as “Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue,” but the original version continues to say “A Sixpence in her shoe.” Placing a coin in your shoe is supposed to bring good luck and similarly along the Scottish borders, a sprig of heather hidden in the bouquet does the same.
The Wedding Scramble: Also known as the Warsel, it’s tradition for the father to throw a handful of coins for children to collect as the bride steps into the car to head to the ceremony. Obviously in modern times, this can be done with the bride(s) or groom(s), but we can’t promise that the kids will go crazy for pennies.
Two Ceremonies: It was tradition to have one ceremony in Gaelic and then another in Latin during which the Celtic tradition of hand-fasting (a tradition that’s widely popular today) would take place.
Creeling: After the ceremony, a couple is “creeled” as they exit the church. A basket filled with heavy stones is strung across the doorway with ribbon and the couple cuts the ribbon, letting the basket fall to the ground. It is hoped that it will bring health and prosperity to the newlyweds.
Traditional Grand March: The first dance to take place at a wedding reception, it begins with the newlyweds marching, followed by the wedding party, parents and then, guests. This is basically the first dance tradition that we celebrate today.
Cog: At an Orkney wedding feast, ale was consumed from wooden vessels known as cogs. The recipe that was drank varies from each family but it’s usually a potent mixture of hot ale, gin, brandy and whisky. The cog is first drank by the couple and then passed around to guests, constantly being replenished.
Second Night: Think wedding weekends are a recent development? Think again! Scottish couples often held a “Second Night,” a celebration the day after the wedding that continues the drinking and dancing.