Welcome to the 6th installment of our 5 part series on an American’s Guide to Eloping in Europe. Yep. You read that right. We added one. Promise, it’s not bad math, it’s just us getting REAL excited after hearing your feedback! Welcome to the bonus blog, hellllloooo eloping in Scotland! Baby, this is what you came for. Land of thee Calvin Harris.
Scotland is the Northernmost of the four countries that form the United Kingdom of Great Britain. Surrounded by the North Atlantic Ocean to the West and North, the North Sea to the East and across the border to the South you’ll find England.
So, when is the right time to elope in Scotland
The best time for eloping in Scotland is during spring (late March to May) and fall (September to November) according to Audley Travel. Temperatures are warmer by spring, with averages of 43°F to 59°F, although there will still be snow in the mountains of the Highlands and the Cairngorms.
What’s in your wallet?
A credit card presumably. All major credit cards can be used across Scotland, with Visa and MasterCard being most widely accepted. In Scotland, the unit of currency is the pound (£), which is used throughout the entire UK. As of March 11, 2023, the current exchange rate is $1 for .83 £.
Can Americans elope in Scotland?
YES! And it’s actually easier than most of the other UK countries we have devolved into. You can get married in Scotland if you’re:
- aged 16 or over
- in an opposite sex or same sex relationship
- not married or in a civil partnership with someone else
- not closely related
- capable of understanding what marriage means and of consenting to marriage
How can I legally elope in Scotland?
There are 2 different types of marriage ceremonies you can have while you are eloping Scotland:
- civil ceremony – can take place in a registration office or anywhere agreed with the registrar, except religious premises
- religious or belief ceremony – can take place anywhere by someone approved to conduct a ceremony
Can foreigners get married in Scotland?
Once again, YES! Truly our favorite answer to share with you.You’ll both need to complete and send a Marriage Notice form to the registrar in the area you will be married in but that’s the only special qualification. This should be done between three months and one month before your wedding date. (We can help remind you!)
When you send in your Marriage Notice form, you’ll need to include:
- a fee to register your marriage – check with your registrar office how much this will be
- your birth certificate
- evidence of where you live, for example a bank statement with your address
- your divorce certificate if you or your partner were previously married
- your dissolution certificate if you or your partner were previously in a civil partnership
- a death certificate if a previous spouse (husband or wife) or civil partner has died
- your passport or another document that provides evidence of your nationality
- your certificate that you are free to marry under the law of your own country if you don’t live in the UK
Elope in Scotland as an American
For those of us that call home in the states, you need to get a certificate from the U.S. to say there’s no reason why you cannot be married. This needs to be given along with your marriage notice to the registrar at least 29 days before the wedding.
Soooo what does that document look like? A “No Record of Marriage” from the U.S. will suffice. This is a very different process from the rest of the UK. Wiki explains that’s due to the differences in Scots law and role of the separate established Church of Scotland. These differences led to a tradition of couples from England and Wales eloping to Scotland, most famously to marry at border towns such as Gretna Green.
The National Records of Scotland website is your resource for all things legal.
If you’re not sure what you need to do, you can contact:
National Records of Scotland
Marriage/Civil Partnership Section
New Register House
3 West Register Street
Phone: 0131 314 4447
If all of this sounds overwhelming, you can get the legality completed in the states and then have a celebration in Ireland.
OR, we can be Donna to your Harvey and help with all the admin and intricacies. Give us a call, and let’s plan out how you are eloping in Scotland!
Now that you know what to bring, let’s get you there.
flying to Scotland
Scotland has three main international airports: Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen. Glasgow handles most nonstop scheduled flights from North America; all three have a reasonable spread of European flights.
If you fly into the UK for a couple days you can then take the train over to Scotland. You can catch a direct train from London Kings Cross to Aberdeen or take the sleeper train from London Euston. Your train will arrive at Aberdeen Rail Station which gives you easy access to the city centre. Trains will take between 7 and 10 hours.
If you joined us for our Americans guide to eloping in Ireland, make it a two day elopement and take the ferry over to Scotland! There are 2 ferry routes operating between Northern Ireland and Scotland offering a combined total of 12 sailings per day. P&O Irish Sea operates 1 route, Larne to Cairnryan which runs 7 times daily. Stena Line operates 1 route, Belfast to Cairnryan which runs 5 times daily.
Let’s get you around
In Scotland, there is no wrong choice for transportation. There are a ton of public transportation options including trains, buses, ride shares, and ferries. However, there is also SO much to see when you drive and then you aren’t shackled to someone else’s schedule. We recommend booking a car, and booking in advance. Turn on alerts for deals and savings!
Let’s pinpoint which King of the North location appeals to you.
With a historical old town, quirky urban backdrops and alluring history to boot, Edinburgh has everything you could need for a romantic escape to the city to be married. Cities are quickly becoming one of our favorite elopement destinations. It’s accessible for where to stay, what to eat, and traveling around. Moreover, we LOVE finding you little pockets of magic. Our Paris Elopement Inspiration is a perfect example. Finding those centuries old bridges and secluded spots in a big city – making you feel like it’s all yours – swooooon!
Our pals over at Independent Travel Cats have scouted Edinburgh activities out. Edinburgh Castle is the most recognizable landmark in the city, it sits atop a volcanic peak and dominates the city skyline. The castle was the setting for a number of important historical events in Scotland. Fun fact – J.K. Rowling wrote most of the Harry Potter books in Edinburgh Scotland, and you can still visit some of these places today. Rowling moved to Edinburgh in 1993 and once said in an interview: “…Edinburgh is very much home for me and is the place where Harry evolved over seven books and many, many hours of writing in its cafés.” If you are a PotterHead, they have dedicated an entire blog to HP in Edinburgh.
day trip to Stirling castle
Check out Stirling Castle, just an hour outside of Edinburgh. They’re open 9:30am-5pm and you can check out the Queen Anne Gardens, take in the scenic views of the castle, and soak in the fact that you’re standing as a part of history! Fun fact, the lawn was a bowling green in the 1620’s. Daaaamn that’s why we elope in Scotland!
If you are eloping in Scotland., book your stay at the Kilchrenan House. This elegant Victorian building has a superb location by the sea overlooking Oban Bay. Kilchrenan is the best place to stay followed by your ceremony at Sutherlands Grove, about 45 minutes north. Enjoy a gentle riverside stroll through a grove of towering firs, or climb beside a dramatic gorge carved out by the rushing Abhainn Teithil Burn in search of waterfalls and lofty bridges. Truth – waterfalls are not great for sharing vows over the roaring falls. Exchange your love among the trees then let’s take some epic waterfall photos. I mean, not sure if anything can beat our Iceland elopement with waterfalls, but let a lass try!
Just 30 minutes away from Oban is the eerie AF (but definitely awesome) Kilchurn Castle. The cliffs surrounding the once fortress bring epic to a whole new level. The way the sun hits… ooooh la la! There goes our photography nerd alert again!
After your ceremony, return back to Oban and have a celebratory dinner at Coast Restaurant. The modern Scottish restaurant is in a former bank building, offering local seafood, fish and meat dishes.
Book your elopement weekend! Glengarry Castle Hotel is a comfortable country house hotel with a jewel of a setting by Loch Oich, which lies between Loch Ness and Loch Lochy at the heart of the Great Glen in the Highlands of Scotland. Say that three times fast. It is central for touring the Scottish Highlands to Inverness, Ben Nevis, Fort William, Eilean Donan Castle and the Isle of Skye. The family owned and run hotel enjoys a reputation for Highland hospitality. The ruin of Invergarry Castle lies within the hotel grounds near our main entrance. This is a bucket list item if you are eloping in Scotland.
Less than an hour from the Glengarry Castle Hotel is Glenfinnan Viaduct. For all Harry Potter fans – Ron and Harry’s hexed car is flung around and around the Glenfinnan Viaduct, swooping in and out of its arches. In other Harry Potter films, the viaduct simply offers a beautiful scene to the train’s peaceful journey to magical Hogwarts Castle. Book yourself on the Harry Potter Train experience!
If you can’t get enough of the highlands, Glencoe is an hour away and is the perfect backdrop for our adventure couple’s moody elopement. It is a VERY small town, but the landscape is its BIG draw. Along Dusty Roads outlines some of the best hikes while calling the area, “a highlands masterpiece.” With all of the various landscapes within reasonable travel distance, you can soak up a fricken lot of adventure.
Isle of the Sky
About an hour away from Invergarry is the Broadford House. This Bed & Breakfast is in the heart of Isle of Skye. Each guest receives an individually tailored experience, from giving directions to the local pub or advice on what to see if you have limited time on the island!
During an Isle of Skye elopement, you can enjoy kayaking, rock climbing, cycling, and chilling with long haired cows. Our adventure pick is the Fairy Pools. This is the PERFECT place to elope. At the foot of the Black Cuillins near Glenbrittle are the Fairy Pools, beautifully crystal clear blue pools on the River Brittle.
(Bathing) Suit up!
These famous Fairy Pools entice visitors from all over the world, as they make some great ‘Wild Swimming’ for those brave enough to enter the cold water. If freezing cold water isn’t your jam, we can still get some fantastic photos.
The walk to the pools uses the same route there and back. The complete return distance to the first main waterfall and pool is 2.4km, with the average time to complete the walk being 40 minutes (with no stops). Most people will spend some time working their way up the river from the first waterfall exploring the different pools. The walk is rated as ‘short’ in length and ‘medium’ for difficulty.
Stay at the AirBnB choice, No.49. This apartment is in the heart of the Scottish Highlands just 2.5 to 3 miles from the city centre of Inverness. It is situated on the first floor of the beautifully restored Great Glen Hall, surrounded by landscaped gardens and lovely views and which offers guests a quiet, peaceful, relaxing stay. There are many scenic walks and pathways nearby as well as a duck pond. TBH if their cows have long hair, we are super curious to check out the ducks. For any keen golfers there are golf courses in the area with the Kings Golf course close by. Eloping in Scotland never looked so fierce!
One of the most iconic and well-known locations in Scotland, Loch Ness is just a 30-minute car or bus journey south from Inverness. Shrouded in mystery and legend, head out on a boat trip to learn more about the Loch Ness Monster and all the tales and stories of how she came to be. Afterwards, pay a trip to the ancient ruins of Urquhart Castle, which is perched on a vantage point above the loch and provides spectacular views for miles around – a great day out in Inverness!
Hope this guide helps you plan for eloping in Scotland a wee! If you are looking for a deeper dive, join our contact list. Look forward to hearing about your unique love story and how Honeybee Weddings can customize an elopement package for you!