Are you dreaming of a romantic and adventurous mountain elopement in Scotland? Do you see yourself exchanging your vows surrounded by nature and overlooking an amazing view? If so, this guide is for you!
First up: can you legally get married on a mountain in Scotland? The answer is a resounding ‘yes’! There are many awesome things about Scotland, and one of them is that you can legally get married at the top of a mountain, overlooking incredible scenery, just as long as you are accompanied by a registered celebrant. No matter what country you are from, this marriage is legally recognised the world over. Follow-up question: ‘Do you know of any celebrants who will marry us on top of a mountain in Scotland?’ Answer: ‘Again, yes, we absolutely do!’
Read-on to discover more about planning your mountain wedding here in Scotland.
Mountain elopement weddings are becoming increasingly popular here in Scotland, as adventurous, outdoorsy, nature-loving couples are deciding to escape tradition, go off the beaten path and combine the incredibly personal and special act of exchanging their marriage vows with a bit of an adventure. If you love nature, the great outdoors, and are down for a hike on your wedding day, then read-on to discover more about creating the Scottish mountain elopement wedding day of your dreams!
If you are excited to start planning an adventurous mountain elopement wedding here in Scotland (or anywhere else in the world) do feel free to get in touch! We both love capturing love stories amidst the mountains (and Jim is a trained Mountain Leader) so we are always down to help and guide couples as they plan an epic mountain elopement wedding day. As we photograph as a husband-and-wife team, we can also act as your witnesses as well as your photographers. Win-win!
FIVE THINGS TO THINK ABOUT WHEN PLANNING YOUR SCOTTISH MOUNTAIN ELOPEMENT WEDDING
1. LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION!
It sounds obvious, but the first thing to think about is whereabouts in Scotland you want to base yourselves. There are 282 Munros in Scotland (Munros are mountains above 3,00 feet or 914.4 metres); 221 Corbetts (those between 2,500–3,000 feet); and 222 ‘Fionas‘ (formerly ‘Grahams’, of between 2000–2,500 feet); and literally hundreds of smaller tumps in of 500 ft or less—sometimes the lower tops are the better stage for viewing the bigger ones around you. So you are spoilt for choice when it comes to Scottish mountain elopement wedding locations!
When it comes to planning an awesome adventurous elopement wedding in Scotland, different parts of the country have different strengths and weaknesses. For example, the Isle of Skye has some great mountain hikes, loads of really cool accommodation options and some absolutely top-class restaurants, which will make for an amazing time during your stay. BUT it is also one of the most popular tourist hot-spots in Scotland. So if you want to escape the crowds, it might not be the ideal place for you. Glencoe also has a wide variety of incredible mountain walking routes to suit all abilities. But, being a very sparsely populated area, you don’t have nearly so much choice when it comes to characterful accommodation and really good eateries. If you want to stay somewhere cute, cosy and cool AND also have your ceremony in Glencoe, then it’s going to mean a 30-60 minute drive.
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GETTING OFF THE BEATEN PATH
If you’re someone who prefers to get off the beaten path, rather than follow the crowds, then Torridon, Assynt and Wester Ross are wild, rugged, and spectacular. They’re also typically much quieter than Glencoe or the Isle of Skye. However, with these areas being more remote, the selection of great accommodation and really nice restaurants can be thin on the ground. There are some absolute gems, however, and we have a ‘little black book’ of them, which we share exclusively with our elopement couples! But these typically get booked up 6-12 months in advance, so it’s really worth planning ahead.
The Cairngorms National Park has some epic hikes. But a lot of these require quite a lengthy walk-in before you start your ascent, so mountain bikes can be a big help here! Perthshire and The Trossachs are often overlooked in favour of the more insta-famous Glencoe or Skye. But these are locations with great hikes, loads of cosy and stylish accommodation and several award-winning restaurants. Essentially, it really pays to research your area in detail!
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2. HOW MUCH HIKING DO YOU WANT TO DO?
Secondly, it’s important to be honest with yourselves about your level of hill-walking fitness. When was the last time you went on a mountain hike? How far was it and how long did it take you? It’s best to plan around your ability and how much hiking you really want to do on your elopement wedding day. You can do anything from a simple 30-60 walk to a scenic spot in the mountains, to a full-day hiking elopement adventure—maybe even camping-out the night before or the night of your elopement wedding, to get an incredible sunrise or sunset in an amazing location all to yourselves!
We suggest that you sit down with your partner (make a ‘date night’ of it) and begin to imagine your ideal day. Will you wake-up early for a sunrise hike? Will you take things easy and aim for a sunset ceremony. In the summer months, starting the day later and aiming for sunset can give you the best light through to around 10 pm—the summer days are long, but the light is often not good quality when the sun is bright and directly overhead in the middle of the day. You might you camp-out at your ceremony location the night before, have coffee watching the sun rise and then get into your wedding clothes. Or do you want to start your day in a cosy cabin or cottage, have a gentle-but-scenic hike to exchange your vows, and then return to a hearty dinner in a local pub or restaurant? The possibilities are endless and the choice is yours!
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3. CHOOSING YOUR CEREMONY LOCATION: ARE YOU BRINGING GUESTS WITH YOU AND ARE THEY 100% DOWN FOR A HIKE TOO?
The third BIG question to ask yourselves is whether you intend your elopement wedding ceremony to be just the two of you, plus your celebrant and your two witnesses (which could be us as your photographers!)? Or do you envisage having some friends, family (or both!) there with you to share in the moment? If it’s the latter, are they going to be physically able to hike to the ceremony spot that you hope to use? And are they going to be ok with embracing whatever the weather throws at you on your wedding day? We often find that couples fall in love with the idea of a mountain elopement wedding ceremony, but also want to invite some much-loved guests. This can turn into a bit of a ‘tug of love’ between the epic mountain wedding ceremony location that you have chosen, and what your guests can physically manage.
In Scotland, there is typically a trade-off between beauty, accessibility and privacy when it comes to ceremony locations. There are so many beautiful locations for a Scottish mountain elopement wedding ceremony, but some are more accessible than others. There are some that you can drive right up to, so they are both beautiful and accessible. However, because they are so accessible, they are also very popular and unlikely to be peaceful and private (unless you opt for a sunrise ceremony). Other locations require a bit of a hike; they are stunning, but less easily accessible, and because they are less accessible and less well-known, you can feel confident that there will not be a bus load of tourists watching with their iPhones at the ready as you exchange your vows!
We are always happy to advise our elopement couples on the perfect mountain wedding ceremony location for them. Keen to work with us?
4. DRESS APPROPRIATELY!
We strongly recommend that you take a moment to think about the sort of attire that’s going to work well for an adventurous hiking mountain elopement wedding day in Scotland! The first and foremost consideration is about safety, comfort and practicality. The second consideration is about how what you wear is going to look in your photos when you reach your epic mountain destination!
There are some great tips about mountain safety and general good conduct that we highly recommend you check-out.
For your attire, we would suggest that you consider the following:
– What’s going to be practical to hike in? Is your attire comfortable, flexible, durable and hard-wearing? People have been stalking the hills in tweed for 200 years, so it’s not unsurprising that a tweed suit works well for many walks.
– For dresses, we would strongly recommend avoiding a style with a tightly fitting skirt: if you can’t do a star-jump in it or walk upstairs without it riding up, then it’s not a good choice for a mountain elopement wedding!
– We would also suggest avoiding a dress that’s going to be bulky, stiff and heavy to wear. If a dress is heavy on the hanger, think how tiring it’s going to be wearing it for an entire day! Also think about how much heavier it’s going to be if it gets wet and muddy on the mountainside.
– For maximum visual impact and general romance in your photos, we would recommend a dress with a very fluid and flowing skirt that has lots of movement when it’s captured by the wind. Typically, the lighter-weight and more floaty the material, the better it works in the wind. The more stiff and starchy the material, the less it will move when you do. Try a few out: see how the fabric moves when you twirl around; does it float & flow?
– You can choose to hike-up to your ceremony spot in your outdoor gear, then get changed when you reach your ceremony destination. But remember to choose a dress or suit that’s going to pack-up well into a rucksack. A great big puffy, weighty tulle dress is going to be a big effort to get to the top of a mountain, and it probably won’t unpack looking that great once you’re there!
– Bring layers! We can’t stress this enough! Whatever season you choose, the temperatures will decrease as you get higher and the wind-chill increases. So layer-up! Under-garments, leggings or woollen tights under dresses, long-johns under trousers, down jackets, gloves and hats are all a must for a mountain elopement wedding in Scotland – even in summer!
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Footwear is SUCH a key thing that we’re going to devote an entire section to it! Folks, we cannot stress enough how important your choice of footwear is to your safety, warmth, comfort and general enjoyment on an adventurous mountain elopement wedding day here in Scotland!
Unlike many mountain hikes in places like the US national parks, Switzerland and the Dolomites, which are typically a clearly demarcated, gravel or stone-paved route that’s fairly evenly surfaced and well-drained, mountain hikes in Scotland can often involve going onto uneven, muddy or even wet and boggy surfaces. So you really need some hard-core hiking boots, rather than ‘trail shoes’ (which are more like chunky trainers). When we say ‘hiking boots’, we mean boots that are: leather, waterproof, with ankle support (so above ankle height) and with a sturdy tread on the sole. The images below will give you the right idea.
THE 5 BEST MOUNTAIN ELOPEMENT WEDDING CEREMONY LOCATIONS IN SCOTLAND
We should preface this by saying that, following the principle of Leave No Trace, we are very passionate about keeping beautiful places unspoilt by the ‘Instagram Effect’. So we keep our absolute favourite mountain elopement wedding ceremony locations a secret – to share exclusively with our elopement couples. If you would like to be one of them, do get in touch.
But to give you some ideas and inspiration to get you started, here are our Top Five suggestions for a Scottish mountain elopement wedding ceremony:
1. ADVENTUROUS MOUNTAIN ELOPEMENT WEDDING ON THE ISLE OF SKYE
The Isle of Skye has become a world-renowned location for destination elopements and weddings…and with good reason – it’s stunning! Most people head to the instagram-famous tourist spots: The Quiraing, The Fairy Glen, The Fairy Pools, Neist Point Lighthouse and The Storr. But for couples who are game for a bit of a hike, there is The Needle, which is accessed via a circular walk around The Quiraing: https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/skye/quiraing.shtml The epic views from this location is 100% worth the walk!
2. ADVENTUROUS MOUNTAIN ELOPEMENT WEDDING IN GLENCOE
As with the Isle of Skye, Glencoe has some epic and easily accessible elopement ceremony locations that you will have undoubtedly seen on Google and Instagram. Over the past few years, we have seen these becoming increasingly popular, to the point where there are often multiple wedding ceremonies taking place at these locations on any given day, so a ‘ceremony clash’ is highly possible at certain times of the year!
But a hike into the mountains can take you to find some peace and privacy away from the instagram-famous and over-crowded locations.
In Glencoe, anything from a 45 min walk to a day-long hiking adventure can give you a completely different perspective on this beautiful valley, as well as much more seclusion for your elopement wedding ceremony.
For Beginners looking for a hiking elopement in Glencoe, there is The Lost Valley. Or, for more experienced hill-walkers, there is Buachaille Etive Mòr (one of the most photographed mountains in Scotland). If you are not familiar with the route yourselves, we would highly recommend either engaging a mountain guide to lead you and your photographer, or making sure that your photographer has mountain guiding experience.
3. ADVENTUROUS HIKING MOUNTAIN ELOPEMENT IN PERTHSHIRE & THE TROSSACHS
There’s a serene beauty and gentle majesty about Perthshire and The Trossachs, which draws us to these stunning parts of Scotland every time we visit. Both areas are highly accessible (1-1.5 hours drive from Glasgow and Edinburgh) and yet it feels like you are stepping into a softer, calmer and more serene world.
While tourists flock to the famous ‘honey-pot’ locations like Loch Lomond and Loch Katrine, the rest of this beautiful area remains remarkably off the usual tourist trail. This means that these mountains are ripe for exploration and discovery by couples keen to avoid the elopement hot spots like the Isle of Skye and Glencoe, and opt for somewhere unique and special to them (with much less chance of running into another elopement couple during the course of their day!)
For couples planning a Scottish mountain elopement wedding in this area we would suggest Conic Hill (for Beginners) and for Intermediate hikers, Ben Venue. Both of these locations would be more peaceful during the week than at the weekend.
For adventurous couples keen for a mountain elopement wedding in Perthshire or The Trossachs, we’ve scouted-out a few totally hidden mountain elopement locations just for you! Are you and your partner are interested in working with us?
4. ADVENTUROUS HIKING MOUNTAIN ELOPEMENT IN THE CAIRNGORMS NATIONAL PARK
The Cairngorms National Park is one of our favourite parts of Scotland. We love it for its serene beauty, its lush evergreen forests, amazing autumn colours and vibrant outdoor community. It’s about 2.5-3 hours from Edinburgh and Glasgow. For couples planning an adventurous hiking elopement in the Cairngorms, the area around Aviemore (an international hub for outdoor pursuits) would be a great place to base yourself, as there are lots of amenities. We’d suggest not staying in Aviemore itself as there are prettier areas with cute Airbnbs or hotel within easy striking distance of the town. Alternatively, there are stunning areas around Braemar, which is a characterful and historic village in the south of the Cairngorms.
In terms of mountain elopement wedding ceremony locations, you might like to check-out the following: Meall a’ Bhuachaille or the Ryvoan & Loch Uaine Circuit (for Beginner-Intermediate); or Ben Macdui for more advanced hikers.
Are you keen to plan a Cairngorms elopement wedding with us?
5. ADVENTUROUS HIKING MOUNTAIN ELOPEMENT IN ASSYNT, TORRIDON OR WESTER ROSS
For the off-the-beaten-track adventure-seekers, there are few places better than Assynt, Torridon and other parts of Wester Ross. These places are in the very north-west of mainland Scotland (on the same level as the Isle of Skye) but they receive much fewer visitors each year. The closest airport is Inverness (1.5-2 hours drive), and once you start driving north, the empty roads and endless vistas will unfold before you. It really is a special place.
If you think that eloping in Assynt, Torridon or Wester Ross feels like the right setting for you? We would love to hear from you!
We hope that you have found this guide to adventurous mountain elopement weddings in Scotland informative and useful! The outdoors is our ‘happy place’, so we always get excited when couples reach-out to us about their Scottish elopement adventure, especially when a bit of a hike is involved.
If you would like to chat about your plans in more detail do get in touch (even if your dreams and ideas about your elopement wedding are still in the really early stages)! We would love to hear from you.