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 — 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 — 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

A Dose Of Inspiration: Quotes By Writers, Actors, and More to Inspire Travel and Adventure

by Lindsay Shapka in , ,

“Never go on trips with anyone you do not love.”
— Ernest Hemingway

“But I am a born pilgrim. Even when I am feeling really lazy or I’m missing home, I need take only one step to be carried away by the excitement of the journey... I realize that I will never reach my goal by staying in the same place all the time. I can speak to my soul only when the two of us are off exploring deserts or cities or mountains or roads. ”
— from Aleph by Paulo Coelho

“It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.”
— Oscar Wilde

“Attitude is the difference between an ordeal and an adventure.”
— Unknown

“If adventures do not befall a lady in her own village, she must seek them abroad.”
— Jane Austin

A map is the greatest of all epic poems. Its lines and colors show the realization of great dreams.
— Gilbert H. Grosvenor, National Geographic Magazine Editor 1914

“If I had to give you one piece of advice, it would be this: don’t be intimidated by other people’s opinions. Only mediocrity is sure of itself, so take risks and do what you really want to do. Seek out people who aren’t afraid of making mistakes and who, therefore, do make mistakes. Because of that, their work often isn’t recognized, but they are precisely the kind of people who change the world.”
— from Aleph by Paulo Coelho

“Some things weren’t meant to be tamed. For example, YOU.”
— Unknown

“I decided, very early on, just to accept life unconditionally; I never expected it to do anything special for me, yet I seemed to accomplish far more than I had ever hoped. Most of the time it just happened to me without me ever seeking it.”
— Audrey Hepburn

“We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. Medicine, law, business, engineering — these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love — these are what we stay alive for.”
— Robin Williams

“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.”
— Ben Franklin

“My head is a hive of words that won’t settle.”
— Virginia Woolf

“I wonder how many people I’ve looked at all my life and never seen.”
— John Steinbeck

“We travel because distance and difference are the secret tonic of creativity. When we get home, home is still the same. But something inside our minds has changed, and that changes everything.”
— Jonah Lehrer

“Realize your youth while you have it. Don’t squander the gold of your days, listening to the tedious, trying to improve the hopeless failure, or giving away your life to the ignorant, the common, and the vulgar. These are the sickly aims, the false ideals, of our age. Live! Live the wonderful life that is in you! Let nothing be lost upon you. Be always searching for new sensations. Be afraid of nothing.”
— from The Picture Of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

“You can never visit the same place twice. Each time, it’s a different story. By the very act of coming back, you wipe out what came before.”
— from The Last Little Blue Envelope by Maureen Johnson

“The only thing that you absolutely have to know, is the location of the library.”
— Albert Einstein

“I write to give myself strength. I write to be the characters that I am not. I write to explore all the things that I’m afraid of.”
— Joss Whedon

“Although no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.”
— Carl Bard

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What's The Difference Between Ice Cream And Gelato?

by Lindsay Shapka in , ,

The difference between ice cream and gelato

Colorful mounds of sweet iced goodness sit in glass-topped coolers, enticing those walking by to stop and purchase a scoop (or two) of melt-in-your-mouth flavors like lemon, Nutella, and blood-orange creamsicle.

Nothing beats gelato.

But, then there's ice cream — served in crunchy waffle cones in favorite flavors like vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry, or mixed with things like cookie dough, or cheesecake.


Both are delicious, have some flavors in common, and even have similar textures at times.

In fact, the word "gelato" actually means "ice cream" in Italian.

So what is the difference between ice cream and gelato? 

Fat content

Ice cream is made with cream and egg yolks and has a minimum fat content of 10%.

Gelato uses more milk than cream, uses fewer egg yolks (if any) so contains more like 5-7% fat at the most. 


Gelato is churned at a slower speed than ice cream, so it is denser because not as much air is whipped into it.

Gelato is usually around 30% air, while ice cream contains around 50% air. This makes ice cream a little bit fluffier.


Ice cream is served frozen, while gelato is served at a slightly warmer temperature so it doesn't lose the elastic texture that makes it so enjoyable!


Gelato tends to have a more intense flavor than ice cream because there is less fat and it doesn't coat the mouth in the same way.

7 Things I Learned From Being A Female Rugby Player

by Lindsay Shapka in ,

1. Get used to hearing; "You play rugby!?"

That phrase, accompanied by a head to toe scan of your body, is the typical response when someone (usually a male someone) learns that you play the sport. Believe it or not, female rugby players are not ugly, bearded, or 300-pounds. 

2. Everyone is welcome

Every body type, nationality, and skill set is welcome if you are willing to work your butt off every time you set foot on the pitch. 

3. Your teammates always have your back

The bond you have with your teammates is unlike anything you will experience in any other sport.

After a full game of pushing yourselves further than you thought possible, putting your hands and faces way too close to each other, and protecting each other from getting killed on the field, a certain unexplainable closeness is inevitable.  

4. Grudges are left on the field

Nothing surprised me more than seeing how opposite teams interacted in the clubhouse after even the toughest of games. Each side understands that in this incredibly physical sport, injuries happen, and competition ends when the last whistle blows.

5. Everything will hurt — a lot

Adrenaline is an incredibly potent drug that manages to keep all the pains at bay until you finally slow down and step into the shower.

Then you can expect to limp, cry out and need bandages for the next week, leading people you interact with to think that you are a battered wife/girlfriend. 

6. Rugby is not a "cute" sport

You are covered in tape, wearing a mouthguard, have your nails cut as short as possible, no jewellery, and your hair pulled back as tight as possible to prevent anyone from pulling it (really, that happens). 

You are not there to impress the boys on the sidelines, you are there to kick some ass. 

7.  Women can drink impressive amounts

There are women who can outdrink men triple their size — many of them are my former teammates.

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Travel Tip: Don't Sit Down When Dining In Rome, It Will Cost More!

by Lindsay Shapka in , , ,

An article published in The Telegraph a few years ago told the tale of a few tourists in Rome who kicked up a stink when they were charged 42 Euros for two ice creams and a bottle of water in a cafe. Thinking that they were being scammed, they even went so far as to get the police involved.


They called the police. 

But it turns out that the cafe had done nothing wrong, as the prices were clearly marked on the menu that they failed to read.

But wait. How is it possible that ice cream and water can actually cost that much?

Simple, they were charges A LOT more because they sat down at a table to eat rather than taking their ice cream to-go. 

I learned very quickly while living in Italy that as soon as you sit down in a cafe, the price of coffee, water, beer, pastries, gelato — pretty much everything — doubles or even triples in price!

Italy doesn't have a culture of tipping in restaurants, let alone cafes, and even though there are always open tables, if you look carefully you will see that they are rarely filled by locals. Unless they are located in super touristy areas, cafes are not usually staffed to serve people during the day, so prices go up to reflect the additional work required by the few staff that are there.

So what do you do if you don't want to pay the sit-down prices? 

Coffee is usually served warm (not hot like we are used to in North America) so that it can be drunk quickly while standing at the bar, while pastries, snacks, and gelato are easily eaten while walking, sitting on the edge of a fountain or overlooking an ancient ruin.

It is legal to drink anywhere in Italy, so when it comes to beer, or other alcoholic beverages, it is cheaper to buy a bottle at the local grocery store and then enjoy it while perched on the Spanish Steps, rather than in a stuffy cafe. 

Restaurants are, of course, a different story. There you are expected to sit down and enjoy a long leisurely dinner. But keep in mind that most restaurants aren't open until dinner time. 

My advice?

Employ the grab and go strategy that the locals use or make sure you look very closely at the menu — there are usually two prices listed. And, if you really need to sit down in a cafe, try and get a few blocks away from the major tourist sites, as their prices will be the highest.  

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Don't Sit Down When Dining In Rome

10 (Mostly False) Things You Didn't Know About Canada

by Lindsay Shapka in ,

  1. In Canada, the tuque (a winter/all-year hat that is usually made of cotton, wool, or a beaver pelt) is the number-one-selling article of clothing — more popular than underwear, t-shirts or jeans. (And that's not including the ones that are handmade by your grandma or your crafty friends.) 
  2. Almost 80% of Canadians just mouth the words during the French part of the national anthem. 
  3. Canada is the leading country in the world for holding the door open for ladies.
  4. The average Canadian weighs 0.7 Americans (sorry American readers!)
  5. The average Canadian says sorry over 45,000 times a day.
  6. At 9,970,610 square kilometres, Canada is one of the largest countries in the world (yes, it is larger than the United States of America). 
  7. Four out of five Canadians spend seven hours a day commenting on the weather.
  8. Canada has 27% more snow blowers than all other nations on earth combined.
  9. Hockey was invented to prove to other countries that we not only understand why water freezes, but we can also do something neat with it — 95% of Canadians play hockey (the other 5% don't have legs). 
  10. The most popular drinking sports in Canada are: curling, darts, fantasy hockey, lawn mowing, soccer momming, and accidental tobogganing.

For more completely false (yet highly entertaining) facts about Canada, check out the book Stats Canada: Satire On A National Scale compiled by the experts behind @stats_canada

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Don't Make These Mistakes! Editor Pet Peeves You Need To Know

by Lindsay Shapka in ,

We all make mistakes — I am sure there are many of them on this site that I've missed!

Nobody is perfect, and making errors (every once and awhile) is normal. When I am wearing my Editor hat, however, I have a lower tolerance for certain mistakes when it comes to resumes, query letters, professional emails, and professional writing. 

There are a few mistakes that I see over and over that make me (and pretty much any editor) completely crazy. They are the mistakes that usually cause me to stop reading an email or deny a new writer a chance because they are the types of mistakes that should be caught with some simple proofreading. 

Applying for a new job? Trying to get something published? Sending a professional email? Make sure NONE of these errors are in your writing before you hit send! (Or on a sign for all to see like in the photo below!)

Editor pet peeves you need to know


  • IT'S means it is or it has. Example: It's a beautiful day out OR It's been great getting to know you!
  • ITS is the possessive version. Example: The dog hurt its paw OR The art gallery is celebrating its birthday. 


  • YOUR is a possessive adjective referring to something someone has or owns. Example: I saw your job listing in the newspaper.
  • YOU'RE is a contraction of you are. Example: I hope you're having a great day! 


  • THERE is used to show that something exists or is the opposite of here. Example: There is a plate on that table OR The book is over there. 
  • THEIR is used to show possession. Example: All of their friends are crazy! 
  • THEY'RE is a contraction of they are. Example: They're having a huge party next weekend! 


  • THEN is used to describe something that is coming next, a point in time, in addition to, or in that case. Example: I went to work and then out for dinner; I will call you then; It costs $40 and then there is a tax on top of it OR I'm hungry! Then eat! 
  • THAN is a conjunction used in comparisons. Example: Tom is taller than Sally. 

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