Everything you need to know about getting married outside in Scotland

An outdoor ceremony set against one of the country’s jaw-dropping landscapes will create memories to treasure for a lifetime

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Magnificent views of Loch Lomond at Boturich Castle

If you’ve ever idly mentioned that you’d quite like to get married outdoors, your words have probably been met by terrified and/or baffled expressions and less-than-helpful ‘I hope it doesn’t rain!’ comments.

Yes, of course, it’s true that Scotland gets plenty of damp days. However, it is equally true that it is perfectly dry and even sunny a lot of the time too. So what happens if your luck is out and there’s a downpour on your day? Can you move your celebrations elsewhere? And what are the benefits of tying the knot in the great outdoors?

Did you know that a humanist celebrant can conduct wedding ceremonies anywhere in Scotland, as long as permission has been granted by the landowner? This means a lot of the country is up for grabs for you to make your own for the day. There are just a few conditions, explains Craig Flowers of Independent Humanist Ceremonies: “Once you have the owner’s consent, and providing the Registrar has been notified of the location prior to the ceremony, a humanist celebrant can conduct a legal wedding in any location, inside or out.”

Apart from the freedom this gives you, what else do you gain? “The obvious benefit is that if you get the weather and have a beautiful location, outdoors can be stunning, whether you’re on the shores of a loch or in the grounds of a stately home,” says Craig.

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Newlyweds sharing a moment by the shore at Ardanaiseig

You and your guests will be surrounded by stunning vistas if you marry in a scenic place – something that Scotland has no shortage of. “An outdoor wedding at Paxton House, for example, overlooks the beautiful River Tweed,” points out wedding planner Lindsey Hunter of the sumptuous stately home in Berwick-upon-Tweed.

The grounds of stately homes and the shores of lochs are among the most popular options for couples choosing to marry outdoors in Scotland. Sandra Cunningham at The Lodge on Loch Lomond knows why: “The benefit of being married outside at Loch Lomond is the gorgeous backdrop that you and your guests will enjoy while the ceremony is conducted, along with access to the beach and the amazing images that can be photographed as a result.”

If planning a wedding is an enormous task, planning an outdoor wedding just adds an extra layer of complexity. With everything else you’ve got to contend with, you’re probably thinking that the last thing you want to be worrying about is the heavens opening right before you say I do. Thankfully, there are plenty of top tips to help you should you decide to marry outdoors.

“First of all, always have a plan B,” stresses Lynsey Kidd, head of ceremonies at the Humanist Society Scotland.  “Next, consider accessibility and think about your guests,” she adds. “Elderly or infirm people may struggle to walk on a beach, for example.” She also recommends thinking carefully about which shoes you plan on wearing. Stilettos in a field of long grass? Not a good idea!

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The sprawling grounds at Cambo Estate hold endless locations for an outdoor ceremony

“And be very specific about precisely where you want to get married,” she continues. “Grid references may be required if it’s on a beach or up a mountain – mountains and beaches can be quite big!” Don’t forget to check crucial information, such as the tide timetable of your beach – or you may find yourselves up to the ankles in salt water before you know it.

We can’t put it off any longer – we need to talk about the weather. What should you do if you have arranged to get married outdoors, and the forecast is for torrential downpours all day long? This is where your plan B comes in; there should always be another option. Make sure your venue has another space that can be transformed quickly with chairs for your guests as a back up. And if the sun does make an appearance later on, you can always nip back outside with your photographer to grab some shots in the grounds.

Bear in mind that it doesn’t work the other way: if your plan is to marry indoors, you can’t just change your mind and pick a spot anywhere you like outside when you see it’s a sunny day. “Two entirely different locations cannot be used, as the legal paperwork submitted prior to the wedding usually has the address and postcode of the location stated,” advises Craig. As long as you stick within the boundaries of your venue and grounds, you’ll know your celebrant can carry out the ceremony, come rain or shine.