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How to Elope in Scotland

A Complete Guide to Scotland Elopement Planning for both UK and International Couples

We're Ella Mai Elopements, and we plan elopements in Scotland for a living.

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We want you to make the absolute most of your time and money, without missing out on the best that Scotland's elopement industry has to offer.

We're here to help you take the stress out of your elopement planning, and add a whole lot of magic and meaning to your special day!

Let's get started!


If you've been considering an elopement, or you've already started your own elopement planning journey - this page is for you. We're about to clue you in on the main things you need to do for planning a really beautiful elopement.

There's a lot of content here, so make sure to bookmark it or save it to your Pinterest board to look at later! We've included lots of links to our free downloads too, so be sure to save them or pin them for later!

Table of Contents

 

What is an elopement?

An elopement is a scaled down version of a wedding, a celebration rooted in love and intentionality, instead of an event based on guests and expectations. Eloping turns your wedding into a unique experience - not only by choosing adventure over mainstream expectations, but by giving you opportunities to create meaningful, authentic memories.

 

Forget about all your preconceived notions about weddings and elopements. Elopements don’t have to be secretive, or even legal ceremonies. A lot of folks nowadays are planning elopement trips with their closest friends, or immediate families, and celebrating in a way that makes them happy. A Scottish elopement can be just the two of you in a glen that took all day to get to, or it can be at a trendy Edinburgh restaurant with your family and friends - or maybe somewhere in between.

 

Your elopement can be anything you want it to be. 

 

You don’t even have to stick with the expectations of an elopement itself! All you have to do is celebrate your love in a way that feels true and authentic.

 

At Ella Mai Elopements, we help you plan your elopement in the most authentic way possible, connecting you with the country’s best elopement suppliers, and weaving personalisations and luxurious details throughout. We plan elopements all over Scotland, and cater to everyone. No matter your race, religion, sexual orientation, or home country - we are here to help take the stress out of wedding planning and add a whole lot of magic and meaning to your special day.

 

Legal Requirements

 

As an Ella Mai Elopements client, you will receive a personalised Marriage Paperwork Guide with all the details specific to your elopement location, date, celebrant, and witnesses - with links, documents, and clear instructions - but we’ll also walk you through the whole process step-by-step when it’s time. If you would rather bypass the paperwork process completely, you can have a Symbolic Ceremony in Scotland, and complete the legal formalities at home.

 

It is illegal for anyone other than yourselves to complete your marriage paperwork, so unfortunately we cannot do this part for you. Although, our client guide includes all the information and links you need - you just have to click submit.

 

The earliest you can submit your paperwork is 3 months before your elopement date, but we suggest reading through the materials and preparing the information ahead of time. It’s always a good idea to understand the legal requirements of eloping before you even begin planning your elopement. These are the basic elements to your marriage paperwork:

 

Step 1: M10 Forms

 

First, you’ll have to decide exactly where you want to have your ceremony. Then you must “give notice” to the nearest registrar by calling to let them know your intention to marry, and provide the exact date, time and location. You can look up a map of Scotland’s registrars online, but we’ll send you the contact details for the exact office you need to get in touch with.

 

Then you both will need to complete M10 Forms (a separate one each), and send by post to your registry office. You will also need to complete a Celebrant and Witness Form, and the Declaration of Status Form. All of these forms can be found online, but we will also send you the links and instructions in your Marriage Paperwork Guide.

 

Step 2: Marriage Visas

 

First you check if you need a marriage visitor visa here. If you don't, then you get to skip this step!

 

All of the visa applications for the entire UK are handled by the Home Office. They are known for extreme delays in returning applications - even if you choose priority or expedited options - so we advise beginning this process immediately at the 3-month mark.

 

You will need valid intention to marry, so you can either show proof of your booking with Ella Mai Elopements, or your correspondence with the Registrar office. 

 

You can apply for your Marriage Visitor Visa online. Follow the advice of your local authority (you most likely will need to make a biometrics appointment). Once you have completed your online form, it will give you all the necessary information you need to go ahead.

 

Once you have heard back and have your Marriage Visitor Visa, you must pass this onto your registry office as soon as possible so they can complete your marriage licence.

 

Step 3: Marriage Schedule

 

You will be contacted by your registry office with approval of your forms, and they will give you the information on what you need to do next (if anything).

 

You will need to phone once more (usually a month to a week prior to your elopement) to confirm the date and time you will collect your Marriage Schedule. This is the document that you bring to your ceremony to sign with your celebrant and witnesses. Usually you will collect one-two weekdays prior to your elopement date.

 

Go to your appointment to collect your licence, and be sure to bring all your original documents with you. Put your Marriage Schedule somewhere safe, and bring it to your ceremony. Without it, you will not be able to get legally married!

 

After your ceremony, you need to return your signed Marriage Schedule and completed Celebrant and Witness Form back to your registry office within THREE days of your elopement date. We recommend hand delivering it, but you can also send it back via post. Then you can sit back, relax, and enjoy the post-wedding bliss!

 

Witnesses

 

You will need 2 witnesses at your ceremony, and they will sign your Marriage Schedule. If you’re not bringing any guests, these witnesses can be your planners, photographers, or even passers-by! They just have to be willing, and close enough to hear and witness the entire ceremony. Witnesses are not needed for non-legal ceremonies.

 

Blessing Ceremonies and Symbolic Ceremonies

 

Blessing or symbolic ceremonies are non-legal wedding ceremonies where you do not have to complete any special paperwork or visas. You also do not need to have an affiliated celebrant, or witnesses. You may choose this option to allow for more freedom to tailor your elopement to your preferences.

 

Ella Mai Elopements plans both legal and non-legal ceremonies, so please send us an enquiry if you’d like to learn more about which option is best for you!

 

Planning Roadmap - Free Download!

 

There are a lot of elements to planning an elopement. Even though it's not a traditional wedding, there are still a lot of moving parts. Not only do you have to organise all your suppliers, keep track of payments, watch your budget, and style all the details - but you also have to be on top of all your legal paperwork and marriage applications. Not to be extreme, but if you don't do it properly, you put your entire elopement at risk!

 

So before diving in, we recommend writing down an outline of everything you need to plan. This is the best way to stay organised and make sure you do things in the right order.

 

If you’d like to plan like the Ella Mai team, download our FREE Elopement Planning Roadmap!

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FREE DOWNLOAD

Looking for guidance to help you start planning your elopement? Look no further—our elopement planning workbook will get you well on your way to creating an amazing elopement experience.

It's only 8 pages long, and has over 30 prompts to help you brainstorm ideas and nail down the details you need to create your own authentic elopement experience. It's seriously so helpful. Once you have that in front of you, grab a pen (or digital annotating app) and keep reading!

 

Brainstorm Elopement Ideas

 

This is where the fun begins! Get clear on your vision before getting bogged down in the details. It will make your planning journey so much easier, and you're more likely to end up with an elopement that is true to you. As you go through all your ideas, Pinterest boards, and inspo pictures - write down ideas in your Elopement Planning Workbook so you can keep track of everything you want to incorporate!

Collect Elopement Inspo

 

As stylists, we love a good inspo board. Find images online of the kind of things you like most - locations, flowers, colours, activities, food, attire, and anything else you can find. As you collect images, your overall vision will become clearer. Check out our Real Elopement Stories for inspiration, or Pinterest!

Recent Elopements:

Choose Your Activities

 

How do you like to spend time together? Do you like hiking or kayaking? Do you like museums and local hotspots? Are you foodies? Think about what a perfect date would look like, and plan your elopement based on that!

 

Some fun ideas include:

  • Sailing, catamaran, or boat cruise

  • Wildlife tours

  • Hiking or climbing trips

  • Fly fishing or wildlife stalking

  • Canoe or kayak trips

  • Whisky tasting at a local distillery

  • Culture tour guided by a local expert

  • Relaxing spa day or massages

  • Cooking class or food tour

 

The options are endless - but the Ella Mai team will show you what is possible and help you create your own amazing elopement.

 

Choose Your Location

 

There are literally endless spots around Scotland for eloping. Not only is the scenery beautiful, but it is one of the only countries in the world where you can legally get married anywhere - up a mountain, by a river, in a forest - you name it, you can probably have your ceremony there!

 

Here are some important things to consider when researching elopement locations in Scotland:

 

  • Transportation and accessibility - how long are you willing to spend just getting to the spot? Do you want to make that process part of the fun (i.e. Land Rover, hiking, boating, etc.)? Do you need to be able to walk or drive to it?

  • Seclusion - Do you mind if there are folks passing by while you say your vows? Or would you prefer to be completely alone? Those postcard-worthy locations tend to either be busy with tourists, or really remote. Which is more important to you?

  • Accommodation, food/drink, and activities - have a look at nearby areas. Where do you want to have your wedding meal? What about staying the night? Are there other things you want to do while you’re there? During our elopement planning process, we send you an extensive travel guide featuring some amazing activities, food and drink, and accommodation options in your elopement location.

 

The most important thing about your ceremony location is that you check out the spot in advance, or have someone do it for you. You’ll need to know the EXACT location for your marriage paperwork. That’s why we always scope out our elopement locations for our clients ahead of time.

 

Popular Elopement Locations in Scotland

 

We have over 50 recommended spots across Scotland. When we share our list of locations, we also highlight 3-4 top picks just for you based on what kind of place you’re interested in (cliffs, ocean, mountains, castles, cityscape, etc.). Typically, we organise locations into these categories:

Edinburgh -

 

The ancient roads of this city are begging to be explored, iconic sites everywhere you look, and hidden gems down every alleyway. Wander the whimsical closes of the Old Town, say your vows on the ancient sites of Calton Hill, or pick from this city's endless list of fine dining and top-rated hospitality to celebrate your love. If you only visit one place in Scotland, let it be Edinburgh.

Glencoe -

 

The Glencoe National Nature Reserve is one of the most recognisable places in Scotland - and if you've ever wanted to visit the Highlands, this is the place to come. The iconic lochs and glens have been used as filming locations for Harry Potter, Outlaw King, Braveheart, James Bond's Skyfall, and so much more. With mountains everywhere you look, and tons of trails to explore, it's genuinely impossible to be bored. Once you're here, you'll know why they call it the "Heart of the Highlands." 

Isle of Skye -

 

The Isle of Skye is one of the more remote, rewarding locations to visit in Scotland. This Inner Hebridean Island is known for iconic scenery and landscapes, regular wildlife sightings, some of the best trails in the UK, world-class seafood, and slow island living. An unplugged trip to Skye will leave you feeling refreshed, renewed, and ready to say goodbye to civilization for good. 

Cairngorms -

 

The UK’s largest National Park, and it has everything you could need: lochs, forests, mountains and amazing sweeping landscapes. The Cairngorms is an incredibly special place, with lots of great activities to do, and full of natural history. A truly magical experience will be had here. 

Northern Highlands -

 

Home to Scotland’s wildest landscapes, and the largest intact habitat for wildlife. There are no words that can describe how breathtaking this part of the country is - from the rugged mountains to sandy white beaches to castle ruins and lochs -  the sheer wild beauty here is not to be missed. It is also one of the best places to stargaze, with some of the darkest skies in Europe. The Northern Highlands are like nowhere else on earth.

 

When we share our list of locations, we also highlight 3-4 top picks just for you based on what kind of place you’re interested in (cliffs, ocean, mountains, castles, cityscape, etc.).

 

Where Should You Elope? Take the Quiz!

 

It can be really hard to decide where to elope in Scotland. Take our quiz to figure out which area of Scotland best fits you!

 

Once you know what area you’d like, it’s still hard to even know what your specific options are! You might like one area - like Glencoe, or Isle of Skye - but there are tons of ceremony spots within each elopement location. It’s hard to know which exact spot to have your ceremony. Maybe there’s a perfect one for you that you don’t even know about!

 

As a client, you’ll gain access to our Master List of Elopement Locations as soon as you book with us. Browse through over 50 different ceremony locations that we’ve scoped ourselves, with images, links, and example elopements for each one. Ask us unlimited questions, narrow it down to multiple favourites, and let us help you choose the perfect one!