As Scotland elopement photographers, one of the most common questions that we get asked by couples looking to plan a Scottish elopement is: “what’s the best month, time of year or season to elope in Scotland?” To help answer this question and demonstrate how the Scottish landscape changes through the seasons (and what to expect weather-wise from each time of year) we’ve created this handy guide on the subject! So, if you’re currently planning an elopement wedding in Scotland…read-on!
Before we get into the month-by-month pro’s and con’s of each month and season, we feel it’s important to start by making three key points:
1. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS BAD WEATHER, ONLY INAPPROPRIATE CLOTHING
Scotland is beautiful in all seasons and in all weather. We find that most elopement couples are free-spirited, laid-back, fairly adventurous souls who love nature and the great outdoors and want their wedding day to be an experience, with a bit of adventure thrown-in. If this doesn’t sound like you, or if your idea of a perfect wedding day is one in which the sun is 100% definitely shining; where it’s definitely not going to rain; where there’s not a hair out of place; where your wedding clothes remain pristine, perfect and utterly mud-free the entire day; and every aspect of your day is rigidly planned-out with a set-in-stone timeline (elopements are, by nature, fairly spontaneous and relaxed days)… we would suggest pausing to think about whether or not an outdoor elopement wedding in Scotland is the right thing for you. BUT if all the above sounds right up your street, you’re in the right place!
2. SCOTLAND ELOPEMENTS: BE PREPARED FOR FOUR SEASONS IN ONE DAY!
The second point that we make to couples planning an elopement in Scotland, is that the Scottish weather is notoriously changeable! Folk often comment that it’s not unusual to experience four seasons in one day, or joke that if you don’t like the weather, wait 10 minutes (or head to the neighbouring glen). Living in Scotland ourselves, we know these to be true at times! We’ve shot elopements where there has been snow, rain, hail and sun all within the space of a single day! It’s the changeable nature of the Scottish weather that makes the landscape and light so dramatic and interesting.
To illustrate what we mean, we’re including a selection of images (below) that were captured during an Isle of Mull elopement in June (typically classed as ‘Scottish summer’)…you can see just how changeable the weather was across the day!
3. WHAT HAPPENS IF IT RAINS ON OUR ELOPEMENT WEDDING DAY?
The third and final point that we feel it’s important to make before we get into our month-by-month breakdown is that if you are planning an elopement in Scotland, we would strongly suggest that you prepare yourselves for the possibility of rain . Whichever month you choose, there is always a chance that it might be wet on your wedding day. However, that being said, we find that even in winter it’s pretty rare for heavy rain to set-in, unabated for an entire day. In Scotland, particularly on island locations like Skye, weather-fronts usually move through fairly quickly. If you give it an hour or two, the chances are that a shower will pass-over.
The unpredictable nature of the Scottish weather is one of the reasons that we strongly recommend booking your elopement photographer for the entire day. While we’re more than happy to shoot in rainy conditions (indeed, we totally embrace wet weather as it’s super-atmospheric!), we know that utterly torrential rain can be a bit of a distraction to the beautiful and heartfelt vows that you are exchanging. Having your photographer there for the whole day gives you the greatest flexibility to dodge the showers, and aim for the fair weather windows, should the weather be inclement on your day. As Scotland elopement photographers this is one of the main reasons that our packages are all for full-day coverage, because we’ve learnt from experience that having this flexibility on the day ensures that our couples will have the most relaxed, best possible experience on their day—and the best possible photos! We’ve never had an outdoor elopement wedding ceremony not go ahead outside as planned…
Keen for us to capture your elopement in Scotland?
SCOTLAND ELOPEMENTS THROUGH THE SEASONS
Having said all of the above, it is possible to give a rough guide of what to expect from a Scottish elopement through the seasons, and to demonstrate how the Scottish landscape changes throughout the year. One of the things that we love most as Scotland elopement photographers is the way the colours and textures in the landscape evolve throughout the seasons. The same location can look completely different in spring, summer, autumn and winter.
The aspect that changes most significantly throughout the year is the light: daylight hours in Scotland vary dramatically between the summer and winter months. At midsummer (21st June) the sun sets around 22.30, with the sun spending most of the day high above you. In midwinter (21st December), it sets around 15.30-16.00 and describes a low arc over the lower horizon. Given that sunset is one of the best times of the day for beautiful and atmospheric couples portraits, it’s worth checking what time sunset will be at the time of year that you are considering for your Scotland elopement wedding. People also don’t realise that the sun sets in the north-west horizon in summer and the south-west horizon in winter. In fact, the sun only really sets due west during late-March and late-September. This means that the way the landscapes come into shadow as the day progresses varies across the year, bringing a very different characters to different glens.
WINTER ELOPEMENT IN SCOTLAND: DECEMBER – FEBRUARY
Average temperature: 6-8 degrees Celsius (but it can often be lower, so pack your thermals!)
Sunset: 3.30 pm (mid-Dec) to 5.30 pm (mid-Feb)
Let’s start with winter elopements: December, January and February are all winter months here in Scotland. Traditionally, winter is considered ‘low season’ for weddings. But it’s actually one of our favourite times of year in Scotland—especially for elopement photography! There’s often snow on the hills, and the landscape is really magical and pretty. The days are short in Scotland in winter, with sunset between around 3.30pm in mid-December to 5.30pm in mid-February. With winter elopements in Scotland, it’s important to note that it’s all about quality not quantity: while the days are short, the light is consistently GREAT for photos! This is because the sun remains low in the sky throughout the day which makes the light beautifully atmospheric (and perfect for photography) the entire time. It also means that you’re not waiting around until late at night for sunset portraits! With winter elopements, we suggest a ceremony time of no later than 12 noon, to make sure you have enough daylight to explore the landscape and capture lots of beautiful images.
The other benefit of a winter elopement in Scotland is that there are fewer tourists at this time of year. This means popular elopement locations like the Isle of Skye and Glencoe are less crowded and you will get your pick of the best accommodation (except for Christmas and New Year, for which the nicest accommodation books-out 6–12 months in advance).
Winter weather in Scotland is often chilly, with average temperatures around 6-8 degrees celsius between December–February, so come prepared! We always recommend lots of layers—tights or thermals under your clothes, and fingerless gloves (so that you can exchange rings whilst keeping warm!) A 4×4 vehicle can be advisable, especially for elopements in the Cairngorms and Glencoe in January and February where there may well be ice and snow. That being said, the main roads in the Scottish Highlands are cleared and gritted regularly, so there is rarely a problem with accessibility.
The images below were captured during winter elopements in Scotland between December and February.
WANT TO SEE WHAT A SCOTTISH WINTER ELOPEMENT WEDDING DAY LOOKS LIKE?
Click here to see the full story of a real life winter elopement in Scotland: Hannah & John, Scottish Highlands.
Ready to plan your Scottish elopement?
EARLY SPRING ELOPEMENTS IN SCOTLAND: MARCH
Average temperature: 8 degrees Celsius (but it can often be lower, so pack your thermals!)
Sunset: 18.00 (early-March) to 20.00 (late-March)
We’re dividing spring elopements into two, because there’s quite a difference between weather conditions and general vibe in March compared to April/May in Scotland. In March, temperatures remain around 8 degrees Celsius. So, as in winter, you still need to wrap-up warm. March is a bit of a ‘wild child’ month in Scotland—it’s the one where you are most likely to get the proverbial ‘four seasons in one day’ weather. That being said, March is also one of the more dramatic and visually interesting months for a Scottish elopement. Some of our all-time favourite images have been captured in March. If you’re a couple who loves a bit of drama and are drawn to the misty, moody mountain look—and you aren’t afraid of the elements—we’d say that March is definitely the month for you! The images below were captured during March elopements in Scotland.
WANT TO SEE WHAT A MARCH ELOPEMENT IN SCOTLAND LOOKS LIKE?
Click here to see the full story of a real life March elopement wedding: Kat & Stuart, Assynt.
Ready to plan your Scottish elopement?
LATE SPRING ELOPEMENTS IN SCOTLAND: APRIL & MAY
Average temperature: 12–15 degrees celsius
Sunset: 20.00 (early-April) to 22.00 (late-May)
April and May are often some of the sunniest, driest, mildest months in Scotland, so if you’re not very keen on cold weather, it’s a great time to visit! The trees and hedgerows are slowly coming into bloom, wildflowers scatter the fields and mountainsides and there’s a sense of promise and exhilaration in the air. During April and May, the colour and character of the Scottish landscape really changes: tones move from yellows, russets and browns into vibrant greens as the leaves on the trees unfurl towards the end of April. During late spring, the days are getting longer and the nights are drawing out (sunset is between around 8 pm at the beginning of April and 10 pm by the end of May).
The flip-side of this is that the bright, sunny weather that we often get in Scotland at this time of year means that you’re probably less likely to get the misty, moody, mysterious mountain vibes that a lot of couples associate with Scottish elopement weddings. If it’s the really dramatic misty, moody mountain look that you’re after as a backdrop for your elopement wedding day, we’d perhaps suggest opting for an early-spring, autumn or winter elopement, when you are more likely to get these conditions.
We find that, while the weather in April and May is often glorious, this can mean that a little more flexibility within the day is necessary when it comes to getting the best photos for our couples. On overcast, cloudy days, the light is soft and diffuse and consistent and ideal for photography throughout the whole day (see the images from Emily and Alba’s May elopement below).
Whereas, on a bright, sunny day in April/May in Scotland, the character of the light is quite different (as you can see in the image below). On days like these, the light during the middle of the day is starker and the look of photographs will be less filmic. Typically, most photographers would usually try to avoid shooting on an exposed hillside in bright, midday sun as it doesn’t tend to lend itself to the nicest portraits (and it can also be quite hot and sweaty for the couple!)
Scottish weather in April and May can be surprisingly warm, which is great for riverside strolls, sea-dips and topping-up your tan. But if your elopement wedding day is forecast to be an absolute scorcher, we would suggest being open to some flexibility in your plans: perhaps moving your ceremony later into the afternoon, or to a more shaded location, then planning for a romantic couples shoot during the hour before sunset (7–8 pm in early-April to 9–10 pm in late-May) when the light is softer, gentler and more flattering for portraits. This will help your photographer to give you beautiful, evocative images that you will love.
For example, Emily & Ben (the couple below) had a very bright and sunny day for their April elopement. So they chose to have a relaxed morning, a late lunch and pushed their ceremony back until 5 pm, by which time the light had softened and it was much less hot (so better hiking conditions!) After their ceremony, they went for an early dinner and we met-up with them again later in a scenic spot close to their accommodation for sunset photos…
The photos below were taken around 8.30–9 pm on the Isle of Skye. You can really see the difference in the colours and quality of the light. These sunset images below were some of Emily and Ben’s favourites from their entire day.
SUMMER ELOPEMENTS IN SCOTLAND
Average temperature: 16-15 degrees celsius
Sunset: 22.00 (early-June) to 20.30 (late-August)
June–August are summer months here in Scotland. One of the first things that you will notice about summer elopements in Scotland is how much greener the landscape is. The snow will have disappeared from the mountain tops and everything is in full bloom. Weather-wise, Scottish summers are a bit of a fickle affair: there can be stretches of warm, sunny weather (average temperatures are 16-17 degrees Celsius, but there can be ‘heatwaves’ of 20-30 degrees Celsius on occasion). However, it can also be quite wet with intense, though often short-lived, periods of rain. So if you are planning a summer elopement in Scotland, pack your waterproofs as well as your suncream!
Scotland is a popular holiday destination, so it’s often very busy during the school holidays in July and August. The nicest accommodation typically books 6–12 months in advance in summer, so plan ahead! If you are hoping to have your ceremony in a popular location like Skye or Glencoe, we would recommend going for a weekday (Glencoe is particularly busy with weekend walkers and climbers in summer) and also being open to either a sunrise or sunset shoot, to get the scenic spots that you may have seen on Instagram to yourselves (you don’t really want a group of tourists watching your private elopement ceremony!) Alternatively, there are loads of stunning off-the-beaten track locations that are less ‘instagram-famous’ and aren’t on the tourist radar. We’re always happy to recommend our favourite out-of-the-way places!
WHY IT PAYS TO SHOOT LATER ON SUNNY SUMMER DAYS
As with April and May, the time of day that you shoot in summer can be really crucial! The longest day of the year in Scotland is 21st June, where sunset is around 10.30 pm. So, in summer, it really pays-off to have the flexibility in your day to shoot either at sunrise or at sunset if your day is forecast to be very bright and sunny. We typically liaise closely with our couples during the 48 hours before their elopement to fine tune timings based on what the weather forecast is predicting. Again, flexibility within your day is the key to getting the very best photos!
The images below were taken in the Scottish Highlands during a particularly warm and sunny elopement day in June. Compare these ceremony photos (immediately below) which were taken around 4 pm with the ones that we shot later in the evening (around 7.30–9.30pm) when the light had softened and become much more diffuse and the landscape was looking really beautiful…
After their late afternoon ceremony, Lauren and Harry deliberately planned an early 6 pm dinner at a neighbouring restaurant. This allowed us all to head back out into the mountains again for sunset. The photos below were captured after dinner, between about 7.30–9.30 pm in June.
Watching sunset over the mountains in an empty and peaceful valley was such a beautifully calm and meditative way to end their elopement wedding day…a really memorable experience.
ELOPING IN SUMMER: HOW ABOUT AN AL FRESCO DINNER?
Much as it can be great to have a really special restaurant meal on your elopement wedding day, we find that couples often feel quite tired after all of the excitement and emotion of their day. They just want to do something really relaxed and simple the evening of their elopement, then go for a special meal the following day. This also has the advantage of removing a fixed element (like a restaurant booking) from your day, which allows for greater flexibility. For summer elopements, an ‘al fresco’ dinner outside can be a really relaxing way to end your evening. Pack a hamper full of your favourite foods and drinks, head to a scenic spot and watch the sunset over the mountains or sea together… Plus, it means that you will be right there ready and waiting, when the light gets just perfect for portraits!
WANT TO SEE WHAT A SUMMER ELOPEMENT IN SCOTLAND LOOKS LIKE?
Click here to see the full story of a real life summer elopement wedding in Scotland: Christine & Alex, Isle of Mull.
Ready to elope in Scotland?
WARNING! SUMMER ELOPERS: BEWARE THE SCOTTISH MIDGE!
The one thing to be aware of with any outdoor activities in Scotland during the summer months (especially in the evenings) is the infamous Scottish midge! They’re teeny, tiny flies that bite and they can be a real pest! If there’s a breeze, it will keep them grounded, but on a still evening they can be out in force! You can buy a variety of midge repellents (we find that one called ‘Smidge’ is the most effective and widely available in stores and online). There is also a ‘midge forecast’ and map (yes, really!) that allows you to see how nuisance the midges are in your area. Check it out!
EARLY AUTUMN ELOPEMENTS IN SCOTLAND: SEPTEMBER
Average temperature: 14 degrees celsius
Sunset: 19.30 (early-September) to 20.15 (late-September)
Rather like early and late spring, there is quite a big difference between early autumn (September) and late autumn (October/November) elopements in Scotland. September is still very green (similar to June–August), as the autumn colours have not yet arrived. The weather is typically mild and it’s usually reasonably dry and sunny, and you often get warm ‘Indian Summer’ days. September is a lovely month in Scotland, as summer relaxes into autumn, there is a mellow feeling in the air. Although September is slightly less busy than July and August, it’s still a popular time to visit and you will need to book your accommodation well ahead. Below are some examples of September elopements in Scotland.
Sunset in early September is around 8.15 pm, moving to 7.45 pm in mid-September and 7 pm at the end of the month. This coincides with a lot of couple’s dinner times. With September elopements we particularly recommend checking what time sunset will be on your day, and arranging your evening plans accordingly if you are keen to get the very best sunset photos. Typically, the 30 mins before sunset and the 30 mins after sunset is the ‘sweet spot’ for soft evening light.
WANT TO SEE WHAT A SEPTEMBER ELOPEMENT IN SCOTLAND LOOKS LIKE?
Click here to see the full story of a real life September elopement wedding: Ruth & Barry, Isle of Skye.
Want more information about Eloping in Scotland?
LATE AUTUMN ELOPEMENTS IN SCOTLAND: OCTOBER & NOVEMBER
Average temperature: 9-12 degrees celsius
Sunset: 19.00 (early-October) to 16.00 (late-November)
From the beginning of October the autumn/fall colours start to develop, reaching their peak between mid-late October and mid-late November (autumn starts earlier in some years than others). Temperatures fall to around 9–12 degrees Celsius and there’s often a nip in the air in the mornings, so make sure you bring layers and wrap-up warm! Snow starts to settle on the mountain tops from mid-late October, but rarely covers the lower ground until December–January.
Autumn is a really atmospheric time here in Scotland. Mists often skirt the hills and linger in the glens and a rich array of colours enrich the landscape. The evenings draw-in rapidly as autumn progresses with sunset in mid-October being around 6.30 pm, moving to 4 pm in mid-November. For autumn elopements, we suggest a ceremony time of no later than 12 noon, to make sure you have enough daylight afterwards to capture the epic photos!
All of the images below were taken during October/ November elopements in Scotland.
WANT TO SEE WHAT AN AUTUMN ELOPEMENT IN SCOTLAND LOOKS LIKE?
Click here to see the full story of a real life autumn elopement wedding: Sarah & Ross, Glencoe elopement.
Feel that a Scotland elopement is for you?
So there you have it, a circling year of elopements in Scotland! We recommend sitting down with your partner and thinking about which is your favourite season and why? What sort of atmosphere do you want your elopement wedding day to have? What sort of colours in the landscape? Are you morning people—would you get-up early to have a stunning, but popular, location to yourselves at sunrise? Or are you evening people—happy to wait until later to have gorgeous sunset photos in summer? Do you like the idea of snowy hills and magical winter light? Are you happy to embrace the weather (the wilder, the better!) Would you prefer calmer, warmer and more verdant summer conditions? Or do you love the russets and golds of autumn? The choice is yours!If you are planning to elope in Scotland and would like an experienced local photographer to support and guide you towards creating the Scottish elopement wedding of your dreams, get in touch!