7 Scottish Wedding Traditions You Need To Know

by Lindsay Shapka in , ,


I have learned first hand that Scottish weddings are not for the faint of heart โ€” they are loud, rowdy, and a whole lot of fun! Here's everything you need to know to be the life of the party (and not insult anyone) at the next Scottish wedding you attend. 

Men wear kilts (NOT skirts)

I learned first hand that you never tell a Scottish man that he has a "nice skirt".

Apparently, the difference between a kilt and a skirt in Scotland is that underwear is never worn under a kilt, and the men I've met at weddings are more than happy to prove that to you (especially after a few scotches).

On another note, don't compliment ANYONE on their pants...

Women don't make speeches

Traditionally only the father of the bride, the best man, and the groom make speeches at the reception โ€” the women don't say anything (sorry Maid of Honor). 

Our North American tradition of showing slideshows and videos at weddings has not made it into Scottish weddings yet either. 

The MC or Host is usually an employee of the venue

Instead of getting your best friend, sister, or cousin to MC the event, the venues at Scottish weddings usually supply a host that announces speeches, food, dancing and generally moves the event along.

Though it doesn't lend itself to the colorful jokes that usually come from a family member or friend, it does make everything incredibly efficient. 

Scotch is not for sipping

Every time I met someone new (which was pretty much everyone at the wedding I attended), they would take me directly to the bar for a drink.

Scotch would be ordered and I was not expected to slowly sip and enjoy this incredibly strong liquor, I was expected to shoot it back.

I have not managed to stay sober for long at a Scottish wedding. 

You better like bagpipes

Pipers play before and after the ceremony, and they pipe the newly married couple into the reception.

It is a tradition for the bride to offer the piper a drink once they have made it to their seats to thank him (pipers are usually male) for his time and talent. 

Eat the tablet, wear the thistles

This could just be from my own experience, but both of the Scottish weddings I have attended had the Scottish thistle (an official symbol of Scotland) present on the men's lapels and in the bouquets.

They also served or gave away tablet as part of the party favors. Tablet is a sugary melt-in-your-mouth confection that tastes a little bit like a harder version of fudge (aka AMAZING). 

Reels are crazy fun (find a local to show you the steps)

Traditional Scottish reels are SO MUCH FUN.

They are a mix of line dancing, square dancing, and highland dancing.

If you are a non-Scottish female, be prepared to be flung around the dance floor by your Scottish dance partner.

Don't worry about looking foolish though, everyone will be too busy trying to master the steps to pay any attention to you! 

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Scottish wedding traditions you need to know