The Significance of Scottish Identity

When we launched our ‘Win a Luxury Scottish Elopement’ giveaway at the beginning of the month, we asked the question ‘why would you like to get married in Scotland?’, and so far the answers have been as varied as the good old Scottish weather!  From the incomparable beauty of Scotland’s land and seascape to the warmth & friendliness of its people, it appears that there’s infinite reasons why couples are choosing to marry in Scotland, and it’s not just resident Scots that are saying “I do” in the land of whisky and heather.

Last year, 5,907 marriages took place on Scottish soil where neither partner was resident in Scotland (that’s 21% of all marriages) and many of these happy couples came from across the pond, where over 9 million Americans and 5 million Canadians identify themselves as having Scottish heritage.  Given this information, it came as no surprise at all to find that our competition has been incredibly popular with our American and Canadian brothers and sisters.  In fact, in response to the question ‘why would you like to get married in Scotland‘, almost all American & Canadian answers relate to the strong and enduring sense of Scottish identity they enjoy based on their heritage.  

The tradition of Scottish folk spreading out across the world spans back through several centuries.  In fact, the first records of Scots reaching Canadian shores was WAY back in 1010AD and comes from the ‘Saga of Erik the Red’ where two Scottish slaves were shipped to Newfoundland as part of a Viking expedition.  When the longships moored along the coast, the Vikings sent the Scots ashore to run along the waterfront in an effort to gauge whether it was safe for the rest of the crew to follow!  Today it is estimated that there could be as many as 100 million people throughout the world who possess a sense of Scottishness based on distant ancestry. 

As a team of Celebrants covering the length and breadth of Scotland, we frequently get the opportunity to embrace the magic of officiating at the weddings of couples from overseas who have made the journey to their Mother Country to tie the knot. When Paula Wilkinson married Brad & Brittany MacLean at Duart Castle in August, she was pleased as punch to get to share in the excitement of their big day: “Brad, Brittany and I had corresponded frequently in the months leading up to their wedding on Mull and it was clear from the beginning that this wedding was about more than just saying “I do”, it was also about Brad’s incredibly proud MacLean heritage and welcoming Brittany into the Clan”.

Duart Castle is perched on the southeast corner of the island of Mull and has been the ancestral home of Clan MacLean for centuries.  Translated directly from Gaelic to mean Black Point due to the volcanic rock on which she stands, Duart Castle is undeniably atmospheric and romantic and was strategically positioned high upon a foundation of black rock almost seven hundred years ago.  With its 3m thick walls, a vertical drop onto the serrated rocks below and far reaching views spreading out across the mainland, it’s easy to see why Duart Castle has been more or less unconquerable throughout its lifetime and remains a symbol of strength, resilience and reliability and the reason why one of medieval Scotland’s oldest and most powerful clans, the MacLeans, fought for centuries to keep it as their stronghold.  

On their wedding day, Brad and Brittany were accompanied by their parents and a handful of relatives including their gorgeous children, Braelyn & Brydan, who did a marvellous job in their roles as flower girl and pageboy.  Although it was a fairly wet and wild west coast day, the happy couple decided to brave the weather and enjoyed an outdoor ceremony overlooking the beautiful Sound of Mull.  During the ceremony, Brad & Brittany exchanged personal vows in the manner of hand fasting, an ancient Celtic marriage ritual.  While Brad’s ribbon was made of MacLean tartan, Brittany’s was a mixture of fabric from her wedding gown and Cape Breton tartan!  The perfect combination to bring together each of their ancestry.

After the ceremony, the group retreated to the shelter of one of Duart Castle’s cosy and history-steeped reception rooms where the Marriage Schedule was signed and some clan malt whisky was shared between the guests who sipped from the traditional Scottish quaich.  Throughout the reception, the group were joined by Lachlan MacLean, the 28th Chief of Clan MacLean and his wonderful wife, Rosemary, which made for a wonderful surprise for Brad & Brittany to meet the official leader of their clan in person!

For Brad & Brittany, as well as thousands of couples from across the world, the reason for marrying in Scotland is more than just an Instagram-worthy elopement opportunity (although, let’s face it, as far as country’s go, it’s pretty damn photogenic), it’s about celebrating their heritage and gaining an understanding of their family’s history, which in turn helps uncover part of their own identity.

Thanks to:

Photographer:  Trevor Wilson of Silver Photography

Venue:  Lachlan & Rosemary MacLean of Duart Castle

Couple:  Brad & Brittany MacLean

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