How do Scottish wedding traditions compare with the rest of the world?

The Scottish Wedding Show takes a look at some fascinating and unusual customs from home and away


Tying the knot may be a universal celebration, but how we celebrate varies depending on our culture and religion. Tossing the bouquet, sharing the first dance and cutting the cake may seem like the norm in Scotland, but other cultures have significantly different ways to celebrate their big day.


Drinking from quaichs has been popular in Scottish wedding ceremonies for centuries to symbolise the binding together of two people in love, friendship and trust. It sees the bride filling the two-handled silver bowl with whisky before passing it round the wedding party – let the celebrations begin!

In Germany, the bride and groom demonstrate their strength as newlyweds in a rather different way. After the ceremony, the happy couple work together to saw a log in half. This represents the first obstacle you face in your marriage and symbolises how by working together you can accomplish anything.

If you fancy a bit more romance on your big day, a Filipino tradition might be the way to go. After they have said their ‘I dos’, the bride and groom release a pair of white doves – one male and one female – to represent a harmonious life together.

In Australia, the focus is on the couple’s friends and family. Guests are given stones or marbles to hold throughout the ceremony, before being placed in a ‘unity bowl’ at the end of proceedings. The couple take home the unity bowl as a reminder of their friends’ and families’ support.

Lucky charms and rituals

‘Blackening’ the bride or groom is a traditional Scottish ritual which still goes on today in some rural parts of the country. In the run up to the wedding, the bride-to-be and/or groom are captured by friends and covered in a mix of treacle, eggs, baked beans, flour and feathers, before being loudly paraded around town. The custom stems from the practice of trying to ward off evil spirits, but it’s also believed that if they can withstand this kind of treatment, the couple can handle anything that comes their way in marriage.

If you prefer something more subtle, a popular good luck charm in the Scottish borders is a sprig of white heather hidden in the bride’s bouquet – perfect for those who like to keep things simple!

In Romania they like to shake things up by ‘kidnapping’ the bride from the reception! Guests whisk her away to an undisclosed location while they negotiate a ransom. Typical requests? Usually alcohol! Once the deal is struck, the kidnappers return the bride to the reception in exchange for their payment.


The Lang Reel is a Scottish dance from coastal villages, where the wedding party begin dancing from the harbour and continue through the streets, with each couple leaving the reel when they pass their home. This continues until the only couple left are the bride and groom, who have the last dance. It all sounds a bit exhausting to us, however the tradition is still very much alive in some north-east fishing villages!

During a traditional Irish wedding, the bride has to keep at least one foot on the ground at all times while dancing. If not, legend has it that fairies will swoop in and carry her away!

Across in Greece, the bride and groom have to dance for their wedding gifts. Known as the ‘Money Dance’, the newlyweds take to the floor while their friends and family come up and pin notes to their clothes, draping them both in money or even adorning them with cash crowns – we certainly wouldn’t mind adopting this generous tradition!

Steeped in heritage and with strong geographical ties, these customs prove there are many ways to celebrate your wedding. Make sure your big day reflects your personality and beliefs by incorporating rituals that mean something to you. When it comes to love and weddings, there are no boundaries!

The Scottish Wedding Show takes place on 8th and 9th October at the SECC, with tickets costing from £10.