Guide to planning an Elopement in Scotland

Guide to planning an Elopement in Scotland
November 19, 2019 Sandra Henri

Images by Lina Hayes


Are you overwhelmed by the idea of planning a traditional wedding? Eloping is the best way to remove stress and expectation from your day, and gives you the freedom to create something that truly represents your values.

Some of the 1001 reasons to elope:

  • You can combine your wedding with your honeymoon
  • Your chosen location can be remote, off the beaten track and extra memorable
  • Invite just your nearest and dearest, or no one at all
  • The whole planning process is simplified – all you need to arrange are celebrant, photographer/videographer and your attire.
  • By saving money on a large guest list, you can invest in other areas more meaningful to you.
  • Less cost, less waste, more presence.



Eloping in Scotland

Lina Hayes, Aussie photographer currently based in Edinburgh, shares with us her love of this wild and magical place, and guides us on how to make the most of eloping in Scotland.


Lina’s favourite locations in Scotland

This, in my opinion, is one of the most exciting parts of planning your elopement! You can go almost anywhere, and experience anything you want! Scotland is an incredible part of the world to elope and boasts magical mountains, forests, lochs, castles and landscapes to explore and create a truly memorable experience. A few questions to consider are what sort of scenery do you love? What season will you be travelling in? How will you get there?



Isle of Skye

If you are looking for a dramatic setting for your elopement, the Isle of Skye should be at the top of your list. Wandering amongst the clifftops along of the Quiraing might leave you thinking you have travelled to another world.



Torridon is undoubtedly a hidden gem of Scotland’s West Coast and one of my all-time favourite locations here. Rugged mountain tops, often dusted in snow, stand tall above tranquil bays and secluded woodlands. This region is a favourite for lovers of all types of outdoor activities (including hiking, climbing, mountain biking, kayaking and many others) and yet the area has not become crowded or lost its charm. The villages here are small and humbled by the majesty of the landscape surrounding them.  Also a great choice for lovers of seafood or classic Scottish country hospitality.



For many, Glencoe is the heart of the highlands and its multitude of jagged mountains, gushing streams, secluded glens and tumbling waterfalls are the images that will likely first jump into your head whenever someone mentions the Scottish Highlands. While the area is popular with tourists, and with good reason, there are still many places here to find yourself alone in nature, and some are not as far off the beaten path as you might imagine. The landscape truly does have something for everybody here, and while it looks stunning covered in winter snow or glorious in summer sunshine, my favourite season in Glencoe is Autumn. The landscape takes on radiant golden hue, which adds colour to the greyest of highland days and positively glows in the morning sunshine. This region is also extremely popular with lovers of the outdoors but is far more accessible to many surrounding cities and other places of interest.




History buffs will love getting lost in the maze of cobbled laneways through Edinburgh’s historic stone buildings.  The city’s skyline is defined by a mix natural and man-made landmarks but nestled on a peak of its own, somewhere between the crags of Arthur’s Seat and the monuments of Carlton Hill, sits the castle which proudly guards over the city streets below.  A day spent wandering can be a full-body experience as the sound of bagpipes is often heard echoing through the streets and in the right weather and the smell of malted barley and hops from the city’s famous breweries lingers through the air.  This is no big problem because when your feet are too tired to carry you any further, you will be spoiled for choice when it comes to drinking and dining, with a mix of old-style pubs and whisky bars, full of character or modern gastronomic delights.



Can you have guests?

Eloping is about choosing to create a day that is important to you, without any judgement from others, where you can be present and take in every moment of the experience. An elopement doesn’t have to mean running away with just the two of you. You can choose to have guests at your elopement! Choosing the people who are closest to you and truly accept you as you can bring even more joy to your day.



What to wear?

My best piece of advice if you want natural and spontaneous photos is to wear an outfit you can move in! This will give you more options for portraits, and you’ll feel much more comfortable during the entire experience. I recommend shoes that will keep your feet dry and are comfortable to walk in. Be ready with lots of warm layers and waterproof clothing so that you’re ready for anything that the unpredictable Scottish weather throws at you!



The Weather

Whatever you think the weather is going to do in Scotland, it will most likely do the opposite. The good news is that the weather constantly changes, and it’s this changing weather that creates beautiful light and spectacular photos. Be prepared with the right gear, be flexible, patient and ready to embrace anything, and you will be rewarded!


The part you should read…legalities!

Some couples choose to do the paperwork another time, either in their home country or on another day. Clare Digance (a celebrant with the Humanist Society Scotland) provides her guidance below for those wanting to make it official on the day:

“Eloping to Scotland is relatively straightforward and I always direct couples here for the official guidelines. Every country has different requirements but, ultimately, all you need to be legally married in Scotland is a date and location, the correct paperwork, someone authorised to conduct your wedding you and two witnesses. The interesting bit, ‘how’ you get married, is up to you.

Imagine you’re in muddy boots on a heather-laden hillside or bare-footed on the stony shores of a loch. A friend is telling your story whilst you hold the hand of the person you’re about to marry and you’re remembering how you felt when you met, got together, got engaged…. Between you, you’ve created a wedding ceremony filled with warmth, honesty and love. It’s quiet, beautiful and damn near perfect.

Or maybe you’re surrounded by the people you love. You’re all on a grand adventure and you’ve gathered them around you in the most glorious castle (Scotland has a lot!). The sun is setting. You’re about to get married. Whisky glasses clink, candles flicker and your guests settle back and lose themselves in a ceremony full of love and laughter, a million miles from home and it’s everything you’ve ever dreamt of.”




Your elopement deserves to be documented from start to finish. Full day coverage means you’ll have a beautiful gallery of images from the entire day to share with your family and friends, and for both of you to look back on.


Scotland Wedding Photographer


Eco-fy your elopement

Nature provides us with incredible backdrops and it’s important that we take care of it. There are a few things that I recommend to make sure we are respectful of the earth.

  • Not going off the path if it means potentially impacting flora
  • Offset your carbon emissions by donating to organisations such as Greenfleet.
  • Choose second hand where possible – some of my favourite wedding outfits have come from an op shop!
  • If you choose to include flowers go for locally grown, seasonal and floral foam free.
  • Choose eco-friendly vendors where possible, who align with your views.



Have any questions on planning your elopement?

Working with a photographer who can help you plan your day is the key to creating the best elopement possible. If you choose to work with me, I am much more than just your photographer – I can guide you with my expertise and help you build an unforgettable experience.

Lina Hayes x


You can get in touch with Lina HERE.



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