Are you thinking of eloping to Glencoe in the Scottish Highlands? Or are you already in the process of planning your romantic Glencoe elopement wedding?
That’s so exciting, we love outdoor elopement weddings! In our experience, it’s the most unique and personal way to exchange your vows and to celebrate your love! As Scotland based photographers, we know Glencoe extremely well. We’ve captured elopements here in all months, in all seasons and in all weather! We’re here to share our knowledge and experience with you and give you all the insight and guidance that you need to plan an adventurous mountain wedding surrounded by the beauty of the Scottish Highlands.
In this planning guide, we’ll give you the low-down on the best places in Glencoe for an elopement wedding ceremony, practical advice on the logistics of planning a relaxed and fun elopement day in Glencoe (including the legal elements) and some recommendations for celebrants, and other suppliers as well as some characterful accommodation options.
Planning a wedding doesn’t have to be a lengthy, stressful procedure. We’ve had lots of couples organise an amazing elopement wedding day in less than six weeks. We’ve done the work so that you don’t have to. So grab a cup of coffee, a notebook and pen…and read on!
Welcome to Glencoe in the Scottish Highlands!
Glencoe has to be one of the most dramatically beautiful and other-worldly places in Scotland. This steep-sided glacial valley in heart of the Scottish Highlands is known for its breath-taking mountains including Buachaille Etive Mor and Bidean nam Bian, its heather-clad landscape, its foaming rivers and waterfalls and its wildlife—including red deer and golden eagles. This spectacular part of Scotland has even featured in films such as James Bond’s Skyfall and several Harry Potter movies! The long, straight route that runs through the length of Glencoe takes you through the heart of an ancient volcano and has to be one of our all-time favourite road trips!
WHERE ARE THE BEST PLACES TO ELOPE IN GLENCOE?
The 5 Best Glencoe Elopement Locations
We’ve photographed many elopements and outdoor weddings in Glencoe. Whatever the season and whatever the weather, Glencoe is always spectacular. It’s worth noting that Glencoe is popular with tourists (and with very good reason). So as Scotland elopement photographers, we want to give you a bit of insider-knowledge into a few of our favourite places to elope in Glencoe.
1. BUACHAILLE ETIVE MÒR
Buachaille Etive Mòr is one of the best known and loved of all the Scottish Munro peaks. The epic view of the mountain from the main A82 road is spectacular and it’s one of the most photographed sights in Scotland. Imagine having this as the background to exchanging your vows! This location looks particularly spectacular at sunrise, which would also mean that it’s quieter than in the middle of the day.
Due to its proximity to the road, and also to the King’s House Hotel, this is not the most secluded ceremony location in Glencoe. So we would usually suggest it as the backdrop to some epic couples portraits, rather than your elopement ceremony itself. That is, unless you wanted to put on your hiking boots and climb up the mountain itself to say your vows! We love nothing more than a mountain wedding. The hike is 13km/8 miles and takes 7 hours in summer, but you don’t have to go the whole way up to enjoy incredible views!
2. GLENCOE COTTAGE
The picture postcard view of the lonely white cottage (correctly known as the Lagangarbh hut) in the foothills of the mountains is another iconic Scottish view. The area does draw a lot of tourists, and the hut itself is a mountaineering bothy, so if you would like this backdrop as the setting for your elopement wedding ceremony, we would recommend heading there for a sunrise or sunset slot to avoid the crowds. Do keep in mind that sunrise and sunset times vary considerably in Scotland throughout the year so check what time sunrise/sunset times will be on your wedding day.
3. GLENCOE LOCHANS
One of the things that we love about Glencoe are the lochans (small lakes) that are scattered throughout the valley. Their peace and tranquility creates a beautiful contrast to the drama and majesty of the mountains. They are often more sheltered on days where the wind is strong or the weather is wet. We have a few favourite quiet spots that we are happy to share with the couples we work with. Just ask us for details.
4. THE PASS OF GLENCOE
There are two epically beautiful mountain pass locations that only require a short walk for these incredible views. They’re perfect spots for a peaceful mountain wedding and are tucked-away from the main tourist route, allowing you to get away from the crowds and exchange your vows in splendid isolation. If you feel that this might be the ideal backdrop to exchange your vows, just get in touch, we would love to document your elopement adventure!
5. GLEN ETIVE
Off the main Glencoe Valley lies the smaller, more peaceful Glen Etive where you will often encounter herds of friendly deer! A varied landscape of mountains, rivers, waterfalls and forests, it’s a lovely spot to exchange your vows amidst the beauty of nature and have fun exploring with your love afterwards, perhaps with a picnic along the way!
6. HIDDEN PLACES & SECRET SPOTS
We are always happy to recce a super-romantic Glencoe elopement wedding ceremony location just for you! Get in touch if you would like to discuss some alternative locations for your Glencoe Elopement!
BEST GLENCOE ELOPEMENT ACCOMMODATION – romantic elopement wedding accommodation & venues
It’s worth noting that accommodation in Glencoe Valley itself is quite scarce. But we’ve put together a list to some characterful places to stay that are either in or within easy reach of Glencoe:
Glencoe House Hotel is a beautifully restored historic house with stunning loch views. There are 14 luxurious suites and an excellent restaurant. It’s a 15-20 minute drive to Glencoe.
Mhor 84 is a super-cool boutique hotel that does amazing food. Simple, stylish rooms and a cool Scandanavian-vibe. We would suggest booking the cottage or one of the largest of the rooms – to allow enough room to capture the best ‘morning preparation’ photos. It’s a very scenic 45 minute drive to Glencoe.
Inverlochy Castle Hotel is a characterful, classy hotel with a Michelin starred restaurant situated in the foothills of Ben Nevis. It’s a 40 minute drive to Glencoe.
Dalness Estate – Sleeps 14. The Dalness Estate is set amidst stunning scenery in Glen Etive, which branches off Glencoe, this characterful shooting lodge is the perfect setting for a weekend house party with your nearest and dearest. There’s also a cottage sleeping two, for couples eloping alone.
Camisky Lodge – Sleeps 14. Camisky Lodge is a really lovely Victorian lodge near Torlundy, Fort William. It’s located in a peaceful countryside setting on the banks of the River Lochy. You can reach Glencoe in 45mins.
Ard Daraich – Two cottages sleeping 4 & 2 respectively. Ard Daraich is a super-characterful self-catering cottage set amidst beautiful gardens with views of the sea loch, which you can hear from the four-poster bed. We’ve stayed here ourselves and absolutely love it. We would strongly recommend opting for the ‘Garden Apartment’ (rather than the ‘Garden Studio’ – which is quite small, and less good for photography). The ‘Garden Apartment’ is wonderfully characterful, spacious and makes for beautiful ‘getting ready’ photos.This would definitely be our top choice were we eloping in Glencoe. It’s a scenic 45 minute drive to Glencoe, via a 5 min car ferry at Corran, but so worth it!
Glenceitlein Cottage – Sleeps 4. Set in a secluded and tranquil spot on Glen Etive, this simple cottage is perfect for couples wanting to get away from it all.
Glen Etive Cottage – Sleeps 4. Like Glenceitlein Cottage, this is a simple cottage in a tranquil setting in Glen Etive. You will step out of your front door into the most beautiful surroundings!
THE LEGAL DETAILS
Did you know that you can legally get married almost anywhere you like in Scotland, as long as your ceremony is conducted by a registered celebrant?
Do take some time when choosing your celebrant: their personality and approach will inform the atmosphere of your wedding ceremony and can support you in the legal elements of your day. Your elopement is a day that’s unique and special to you, so make sure you find a celebrant that you connect with on a personal level. Most celebrants understand that couples will want to speak to several different celebrants before making their decision.
The Humanist Association of Scotland has a list of approved celebrants. If you would like some recommendations from us, we think the following people bring a lovely warmth and wisdom to the ceremonies they conduct (in no particular order): Ashton Easter, Neil Lynch, Viv Adam, Rona Burstow, Francesca Leigh, Kathryn Hanson, Halde Pottinger and Laura Gillespie.
In terms of logistics, you and your partner will each need to give notice to the district registrar for the area where you intend to marry. For most parts of Glencoe, this is Fort William.
**It’s important to note that you must give the notices to the district registrar no earlier than 3 months and no later than 29 days before the date of the marriage.** There is more detailed information on the paperwork required from the National Records of Scotland [PDF].
GLENCOE ELOPEMENT WEDDING: SUPPLIER RECOMMENDATIONS
Wild Flower Workshop: beautifully wild and rugged floral creations that look amazing against a Scottish landscape. Barbara is based in Glasgow, where we live, so she can drop your flowers round to us and we can bring them with us on the day, if that makes things easier!
Little Botanica: Wonderfully whimsical floral designs created with an artistic approach:
PUBS & RESTAURANTS
The Clachaig Inn: The Boots Bar at The Clachaig Inn in the centre of Glencoe offers a cosy place to warm-up and maybe grab some lunch in the middle of your elopement day. There’s a roaring fire, hearty Scottish food and friendly staff.
The Kings House Hotel: As lightly more formal restaurant with one of the best views in Scotland!
WHAT TO WEAR FOR YOUR GLENCOE ELOPEMENT WEDDING
As with the rest of Scotland, the weather in Glencoe is very changeable, even during the summer months. Between December and March there is likely to be snow on the mountain tops and it will be chilly. So come prepared! Layers, waterproofs and sensible, sturdy shoes are essential.
Whatever you choose to wear for your Glencoe elopement wedding will, of course, be a very personal decision. However, for your own comfort and enjoyment of your elopement adventure, we would suggest the following:
DO: If you are planning to wear a dress, choose with a skirt that has plenty of movement.
Opt for a style that will not restrict your movement and will allow you to have fun while you are exploring Glencoe without having to wrestle with your dress the whole day. Remember that you are likely to be walking up hills and jumping over streams. Make sure that your dress will allow you to do this. Plus, floaty dresses look amazing when they’re blowing in the wind!
WE WOULD ADVISE AGAINST: A really, big, heavy, bulky dress or a dress with a very tightly fitting skirt.
In our experience, a tightly fitting dress will be restrictive to your movement, and will probably prevent you from being able to fully relax and enjoy your day. Likewise, a big, bulky, heavy dress is likely to weigh you down and feel a bit cumbersome after an hour or so. Opting for something light & floaty, that will not restrict your movement and will allow you to relax and have fun while you are exploring your beautiful elopement location, is a great idea.
Layers will make a big difference to your general warmth, comfort and enjoyment of your day. Depending on the colour of your dress, cream or white merino wool tights or leggings work really well. Fingerless gloves are also a great idea. And, depending on the cut of your dress, a thermal vest or merino camisole would help you to stay warm.
In terms of footwear, some sort of lace-up brogue boot or even walking boots are ideal. The ground is often quite damp and boggy in places, so waterproof footwear will keep your feet warm and dry as you go adventuring.
Woollen shawls are an excellent way to add an extra layer – whilst also looking great against the Scottish backdrop. We love the Recycled Wool Shawls at the Tartan Blanket Company. They’re so beautifully made, and incredibly warm and wind-proof.
Every guy has a sense of what he looks and feels good in. Again, if we were to offer one piece of advice, it would be to consider the backdrop of your Scottish elopement wedding, and what will feel in-keeping with it with your Scottish highland surroundings.
A Tux or a sharp suit might totally rock for a city elopement. But you might want to consider something a little more rustic and informal for your Glencoe elopement. A hip tweed suit looks great amidst the mountains, plus they’re really warm, which is a definite bonus!
Walker Slater has stores in Edinburgh, Glasgow and London, but can also be purchased online. The offer excellent woollen and tweed suits that look great against the rugged Scottish Highland backdrop of Glencoe. You could opt for just a Harris tweed jacket or go for a contemporary classic two- or three-piece suit. The Edward cut is particularly fine.
Stewart Christie: Based in Edinburgh, the oldest tailor in Scotland, they offer high end tweed suits that look dapper and will last you a lifetime.
GLENCOE ELOPEMENT WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER
Photography is perhaps the most important investment that you will make in your elopement wedding. Your elopement photographer has the great responsibility of capturing the story of your elopement day—all those special, fleeting moments—to preserve these incredible memories forever and allow you to share them with your family and friends, who may not be present. Your photographer will also be perhaps the only guest(s) on this incredibly meaningful and personal day of your lives, and their personality and photographic approach will influence the atmosphere of your day. We really encourage couples to choose a photographer whose visual style they love, but also that they connect with on a personal level, too.
Most photographers are only too happy to speak with couples who are interested in inviting them to be a part of their elopement adventure. It’s a great way for them to get to know you better. We love hearing the stories behind how our couples met, their first dates and how their engagement took place! It’s also a chance for you to get a sense of them and how they would fit into your day!
It goes without saying that if you are looking for two friendly, fun, nature-loving Scotland-based wedding photographers to capture your elopement, we would love to hear more about your plans! We absolutely love shooting elopement weddings in Glencoe. It’s so epic! We feel so honoured and lucky to be part of our couples unique and special wedding day and we do everything that we can to ensure that they have the most amazing time! In addition to photographing their day, we have acted as witnesses for many of our couples and we would be honoured to do the same for you.
If you’re planning a Glencoe wedding or elopement, we would love to hear from you. Get in touch with us via our contact form, or click the button below.