Scottish Wedding Traditions
Housed in our elegantly refurbished church building and serving as a centre of excellence for the Great Highland Bagpipe and its music, our uniquely Scottish venue is the perfect place to say "Aye-Do!" If you'd like to celebrate your Scottish heritage as part of your big day, this week's blog takes a look at traditions you could incorporate to your wedding for a touch of Caledonian charm...
Handfasting is an old Pagan custom that dates back to the time of the ancient Celts. Originally, an entire handfasting took place over a period of a year and one day and served as a trial marriage. If you couldn’t handle each other for those 366 days, then you probably needed to check out! On the other hand, if you were still blissfully in love at the end of the year, you would take the next step together and get married.
Many variations of the traditional handfasting are now performed as part of wedding ceremonies, with the hands of the couple clasped and fastened together with cords as they make their vows. The wrapping of the cords forms an infinity symbol around their hands, then ties a knot that symbolically binds the couple together as they declare their unity. To add a personal touch to the handfasting, you could also make the cords out of the bride and groom's clan tartans.
Quaichs have been used in Scottish wedding ceremonies for centuries. A traditional, two handled cup, the Quaich is often referred to as a “love cup”, as the bride and groom each take one of the handles to take a drink, showing that they trust each other to share the cup. A Quaich is often filled with whisky, but this is the perfect tradition to add your own twist to as you can fill the cup with a drink of your choice. You could also combine two drinks to symbolise the two of you becoming one! Couples frequently use the Quaich at the reception for their first toast together.
Toast to the Piper
A particularly popular tradition at The National Piping Centre! Once the piper has played the bride and groom to the top table, the bride will offer them a dram, for the piper to then perform a toast to the newlyweds. The groom will then toast the piper before they pipe their way out of the room. Again, a Quaich of whisky will generally be used for this tradition.
We love a ceilidh at The National Piping Centre! The Traditional Grand March is often the first dance to take place at a wedding reception, which starts with the bride and groom marching around the dancefloor to traditional Scottish music, before they are gradually joined by the maid of honour and best man, followed by both sets of in-laws, and all of their guests until everyone is up and dancing. If you're feeling a bit shy, another twist on this tradition would be to kick off the ceilidh with a reel, such as the Orcadian Strip the Willow, so that everyone can join in.
Including a reading during your ceremony is a popular way of adding a traditional touch or personal twist to your wedding. These are some of our favourites!
Blessing of The Hands
These are the hands of your best friend, young and strong and full of love for you, that are holding yours on your wedding day, as you promise to love each other today, tomorrow, and forever. These are the hands that will work alongside yours, as together you build your future. These are the hands that will passionately love you and cherish you through the years, and with the slightest touch, will comfort you like no other. These are the hands that will hold you when fear or grief fills your mind. These are the hands that will countless times wipe the tears from your eyes; tears of sorrow, and tears of joy. These are the hands that will tenderly hold your children. These are the hands that will help you to hold your family as one. These are the hands that will give you strength when you need it. And lastly, these are the hands that even when wrinkled and aged, will still be reaching for yours, still giving you the same unspoken tenderness with just a touch.
Blessing for your marriage
May your marriage bring you all the exquisite excitements a marriage should bring, and may life grant you also patience, tolerance, and understanding. May you always need one another -- not so much to fill your emptiness as to help you to know your fullness. A mountain needs a valley to be complete. The valley does not make the mountain less, but more. And the valley is more a valley because it has a mountain towering over it. So let it be with you and you. May you need one another, but not out of weakness. May you want one another, but not out of lack. May you entice one another, but not compel one another. May you embrace one another, but not out encircle one another. May you succeed in all-important ways with one another, and not fail in the little graces. May you look for things to praise, often say, "I love you!" and take no notice of small faults. If you have quarrels that push you apart, may both of you hope to have good sense enough to take the first step back. May you enter into the mystery that is the awareness of one another's presence -- no more physical than spiritual, warm and near when you are side by side, and warm and near when you are in separate rooms or even distant cities. May you have happiness, and may you find it making one another happy. May you have love, and may you find it loving one another.
Although not Scottish, we loved hearing this reading at a wedding held here, so we thought we'd share it with you for something a little quirkier!
A lovely love story - by Edward Monkton
The fierce Dinosaur was trapped inside his cage of ice. Although it was cold he was happy in there. It was, after all, his cage. Then along came the Lovely Other Dinosaur. The Lovely Other Dinosaur melted the Dinosaur’s cage with kind words and loving thoughts. I like this Dinosaur thought the Lovely Other Dinosaur. Although he is fierce he is also tender and he is funny. He is also quite clever though I will not tell him this for now. I like this Lovely Other Dinosaur, thought the Dinosaur. She is beautiful and she is different and she smells so nice. She is also a free spirit which is a quality I much admire in a dinosaur.
But he can be so distant and so peculiar at times, thought the Lovely Other Dinosaur. He is also overly fond of things. Are all Dinosaurs so overly fond of things? But her mind skips from here to there so quickly thought the Dinosaur. She is also uncommonly keen on shopping.
Are all Lovely Other Dinosaurs so uncommonly keen on shopping? I will forgive his peculiarity and his concern for things, thought the Lovely Other Dinosaur. For they are part of what makes him a richly charactered individual. I will forgive her skipping mind and her fondness for shopping, thought the Dinosaur. For she fills our life with beautiful thoughts and wonderful surprises. Besides, I am not unkeen on shopping either. Now the Dinosaur and the Lovely Other Dinosaur are old.
Look at them. Together they stand on the hill telling each other stories and feeling the warmth of the sun on their backs. And that, my friends, is how it is with love. Let us all be Dinosaurs and Lovely Other Dinosaurs together. For the sun is warm. And the world is a beautiful place.