When Can you Elope in Scotland?
Strangely, maybe, this is one of the most Googled questions when it comes to elopements in Scotland. And there isn’t really a page that sets out to answer this directly. So this is what we are going to do today.
Firstly, let’s establish what it means?
Is the question; Legally, when can I elope in Scotland? Or is it; Practically when can I elope in Scotland?
Let’s answer both.
Mygov.Scot states 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 (see below for a list of relations you cannot marry)
- capable of understanding what marriage means and of consenting to marriage
Unlike in England, you can also get married practically anywhere. Scottish law allows couples to marry anywhere, even outdoors, as long as the ceremony is conducted by a religious official, registrar or a non-religious Humanist Society Scotland celebrant.
When it comes to time of day, our friends South of the border have to get married in winter daylight hours – basically between 8am and 6pm. There is no such requirement up here. So choose the time of day that suits you best.
So you can get married where you want and when you want.
But if I am honest, I don’t think the boring, legal practicalities are what are being asked here. I think people are asking when is a good time to get married. So let us delve in to this. This guide is written from the experience of being Scotland Elopement Photographers as well as actually living in the Highlands – something most elopement photographers do not!
If you are getting married in Edinburgh, the time of year makes very little difference. Yes, some months may be a bit busier and more chance of rain, but in reality, there is very little change to the city.
For the purpose of this guide, let us assume you are eloping to The Highlands and Islands and work our way through the months.
January – A cold, dark month. Maybe not a great start to this guide you may think but I see things differently. I say cold and dark not as negatives, but as positives. Scotland is most Scotlandly (is that a word?!) when it is cold and dark and dreich (wet). January is fab month with a great chance to see plenty of snow, possibly making the ideal backdrop to your elopement photography.
February – Very much like January but with even more snow and probably slightly colder. The daylight hours are getting longer however so you will have even more opportunity to capture amazing images. If you are getting married in either January of February, we highly recommend you bring warm clothing and plenty of blanket layers/coats.
March – This is usually the month where the snow starts to melt away although it is common for the tops to still be white in April. The snow melt causes much higher water levels which can make for some really spectacular waterfall backdrops if that’s the location you are going for. Tourist season is starting to pick up so expect hotel prices to rise.
April – The first signs of Spring and greeness returns to the mountainsides. Some wildflowers will be starting to bloom which can add a little extra colour punch to your images. The ground may start to dry out making walking in a wedding dress or kilt that bit easier. Easter usually falls in April and with it school holidays. Expect much more expensive hotel rates.
May – by now, unless things have gone really wrong, Spring has well and truly sprung. Bluebells and rhododendrons will add colour to your images, the ground will be drier to walk on and the midges will be starting to wake up. May can often see cheaper accommodation and is actually the driest month. If you don’t like rain, this may be the month for you.
Ok…. Let me stop for just a moment and mention midges. Midges are wee beasties that have been put on this earth with the sole intention of annoying people. They don’t do anything else. Even if an entomologist emails me to say they have another use I wouldn’t believe them. Midges are out between May and September. In May, it is usually just the males out and about who don’t actually bite you. June to September sees the females come and wreak havoc.
Midges are much worse in the West. They loiter around boggy ground and still water. They don’t come out in direct sun or strong breezes. They are most active during the period surrounding dawn and dusk.
They are an annoyance but they won’t do you any real harm. No more mentions of midges – promise!
Back to the guide!
June – Relatively warm and dry, this month is when the Scottish Summer Holidays start so you can probably expect higher accommodation prices and for things to be a bit busier. The countryside should be looking it’s lushest with the trees and grass at their most luminous. Daylight hours are very long and in the far north it doesn’t really get properly dark.
July – Very similar to June, except this time, the English summer holidays have begun so expect very high accommodation costs. July also sees the start of the heather bloom which is a massive draw to much of the highlands and can add beautiful colour to your images.
August – Again, similar to July in so much as that school holidays occur in this month meaning high accommodation prices. Although Scottish term does start in early August. August also holds the warmest month title – although don’t get too excited. Average temperatures for the month only reach about 17 degrees here in Glen Coe so you are more likely to need a jumper than a bikini! Daylight hours start to considerably shorten as well so keep this in mind when booking your elopement.
September – by now, English and Scottish school holidays have ended and accommodation costs start to fall. September tends to still be quite warm and dry and the last of the purple heather remains. Daylight hours continue to shorten and the evenings are much cooler. Rainfall starts to increase as we head in to Autumn.
October – with October we see Autumn colours illuminating the glens although the last few years this has been very late and more in November than October. The deer rut is also taking place which is a great sight and you will see more deer in the Glens and the lower ground. These can make for wonderful additions for your elopement images. Snow will start to appear overnight on mountain tops.
November – As I mentioned previously, the Autumn colours will either be in full swing or pretty much done – although in saying that, the grasses and bracken on the mountains will usually be a deep red which makes for lovely images. The month of November is quite wet and will often see the first serious snowfall, with the possibility of snow at all levels. Accommodation will be at its lowest price for the year although many local, rural businesses do close for this low period – so keep that in mind if you were hoping for plenty of meals out.
December – Now we are properly back in to winter and snow is possible at any point. The mountains will have their winter coats on for the majority of the month and deep frosts can occur on any given day. Accommodation prices tend to creep back up for Christmas and Hogmany, although like November, many local businesses will still remain closed. As with all the winter months, driving can be tricky but it is unusual to see mass road closures.
And there you have it! A month by month round of general conditions in Scotland.
So is there a best time for when you can elope to Scotland? Probably not. You can do it at any time – each month has its pros and cons. If you really pushed me for my favourite months I would go with either October or February. Both months are full of interest (Autumn colours and snow respectively) but as the weather cannot be guaranteed I wouldn’t worry what time of year you went for – you will still come away with amazing images and, most importantly, a new spouse!
Thanks for reading!