Highland Wedding Traditions

Weddings have changed dramatically throughout the years along with the traditions that go with them. The Scottish Highlands are well known for having unusual symbolic wedding traditions that date back as far as the 13th century. In the past many of these traditions were based on superstition and folklore. In modern society wedding traditions are based less on superstition and more on creating a showpiece and adding a bit of light hearted fun to the wedding.

‘Blackenings’ are a ritual still performed in many areas of the Highlands. First the groom is held captive by his friends and is stripped of clothing down to the waist, tied to the back of a trailer and ‘blackened’ using substances such as ash, flour, treacle, and feathers! He is then driven through the town whilst his friends try and grab the attention of everyone around, shouting and singing, purely to embarrass the poor groom!

In some areas, this tradition takes place for both the bride and the groom. It usually takes place a few days before the wedding and thought to be related to historic washing rituals in the fact that the bride and groom need to be dirty before they are cleaned although the true origin of this tradition is unknown.

Another unusual tradition still taking place in parts of Scotland is a ‘scramble’ that involves a handful of coins being thrown around the time of the bouquet toss intended for the children to collect. In the past it has been referred to as ‘The Grushie’ that means ‘healthy and thriving’ and it was said to provide the bride and groom with prosperity throughout their marriage.

Hand fasting is also a popular Scottish wedding tradition, which dates back to the 18th century. We have seen the tradition of hand fasting become a central part to many of the Humanist ceremonies we conduct.

These are only a few of the many wedding traditions that exist in Scotland. to give you an idea of what else you could include with your ceremony have a look here.

Have you included any traditions that we’ve not mentioned? What are they. We’d love to hear from you.


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