Scottish Wedding Traditions Part 1, by Funk Conspiracy
Funk Conspiracy’s guide to Scottish wedding traditions. Like the weddings we all know and love, but with a Scottish ‘twist’ – and a bit of tartan thrown in for good measure!
Traditional Scottish dress:
Scottish brides usually wear a traditional white or cream wedding gown. The bride’s father and the groom and his party wear full Highland dress in the traditional tartan colour of his clan. The bride also wears a horse shoe on her arm for good luck.
Traditional outfits for the groom and males consist of: Bonnie Prince Charlie jacket and waistcoat, kilt (tartan skirt), tartan flashes to match, white hose (long socks), ghillie brogues (shoes), kilt pin, sgian dubh (a small single edged knife tucked into the top of the hose), black belt with buckle, formal sporan with chain strap (a sporan is a pouch worn at waist level), wing collar, shirt, black or coloured bow tie, and a piece of lucky heather on the lapel. They also have the option of wearing a fly plaid, which is anchored under the epaulette on the shoulder of the jacket and secured by a large plaid brooch.
Bridesmaids wear whatever the bride has chosen to match her dress and it may include a little tartan accessory. Before 1500 women just wore the best dress that they had, but in 1499 Anne of Brittany wore white, and this caught on. Some have interpreted it as a sign of chastity.
Wedding bouquets tend to include tartan ribbons or bows. Celtic knotwork engagement and wedding rings are still popular today and these date back to the 1500’s.
After the wedding ceremony it is traditional for flowers, petals, or confetti to be thrown at the departing couple. In some rural areas the newly-weds throw coins to the children who have gathered outside the church to watch. This is called a ‘scramble’ and is the reason children make a bee-line for local weddings! As the couple leave the ceremony the groom dips his hands into his sporran, and throws all his loose change out on the ground for the children to scramble for.
Scottish Wedding Music:
The bagpipes can be used to add atmosphere and grandeur to a wedding. The piper, in full Highland dress, stands at the church door and plays as the guests arrive. Later he leads the couple from the church to the car.
A Ceilidh band is a common feature at many Scottish weddings. This is likely to feature traditional instruments playing folk music and a caller who speaks over the microphone and explains the steps of the dances to groups of couples on the dance floor. These high energy group partner dances are lots of fun and a great way for your guests to meet each other. The dances have wonderful names such as 'Strip the Willow', 'The Dashing White Sergeant' and 'The Gay Gordons'.
Because of the demand for Ceilidh wedding music many Scottish function bands double as Ceilidh bands, so they can play for the Ceilidh then have a set of popular music later using the same musicians.
Traditional wedding reception festivities can easily last all night and the newly-wed couple begin the dancing. Before the evening has finished the bride and groom leave as quietly and secretly as they can and go to a pre -arranged destination for their wedding night - often leaving for the honeymoon the following day. At the end of the evening guests often gather in a circle before leaving and sing ‘Auld Lang Syne’.
More wedding traditions to follow next time. Bye for now.
Written by Navella Caretto.