Every culture has its own traditions surrounding marriage, but being based in Edinburgh, I thought I’d share my favourite wedding traditions in Scotland. Some of them are relatively new; some are as old as our beautiful Scottish hills! There are so many pre-wedding rituals, and plenty of traditions after the wedding that I’ll just mention a few relating to the ceremony itself. If you’re planning to include some of these traditions in your own wedding, don’t forget to mention it to your wedding photographer so he can capture it for you!
Lucky White Heather
A sprig of white heather is tucked into the bride’s bouquet to bring her luck. Digging in to this tradition, Scottish At Heart suggests it stems from the 3rd century, when Ossian’s daughter Malvinas, lost her fiancée, Oscar in battle. Oscar had sent her a sprig of purple heather, but when her tears fell on hearing the news, it turned white. This prompted her to say
‘although it is the symbol of my sorrow, may the white heather bring good fortune to all who find it.’
and the tradition of lucky white heather has continued to this day. In modern times, it’s often included in buttonholes and centerpiece decorations as well as the bouquet.
In the past, the Wedding Walk was the formal march of the wedding party to the church led by a piper. More recently, pipers are used to welcome the guests before the ceremony, and play while the newlyweds exit the church. A tradition particularly popular with pipers for some reason, is the toast to the piper at the reception. The bride offers the piper a dram to toast the happy couple.
A Silver Sixpence in Her Shoe.
Most of you know the old rhyme, “Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue”, but a surprise to me when I got married was “..and a silver sixpence in her shoe!” Looking into it, I found it originates in Aberdeenshire and Angus and has spread from there. Originally, it was meant as a “safety net” for the bride so she had the means to escape her husband if he turned out to be a bit of a rotter (!), but in more modern times it has come to symbolise wealth and prosperity in the marriage.
The Bride Stands on the Left Side of the Groom.
The Scottish tradition is that the bride stands on the left hand side of the groom, leaving his right hand free to fend off foes (or even the bride’s family!) with his sword! Well, it’s not a proper wedding without a fight…
The Scottish Quaiche
The Quaich is a shallow silver cup with two handles. Traditionally, it was used to celebrate a bond between clans, with the leaders taking it in turns to drink whisky from the quaiche. In weddings, passing a quaiche around the bride and groom and their families symbolises their bond in life after the wedding ceremony has taken place.
My favourite part of a wedding when I was a child! Growing up, large numbers of local children would wait outside the church where a wedding was taking place. After the ceremony, the bride’s father would throw a handful of coins in the street for the children to “scramble” over. Lots of knees and elbows were deployed to get to the coins on the ground before anyone else! The scramble is another tradition through to bring good financial fortune to the happy couple. Sadly, I haven’t seen one for a while.
Will you be using any of these in your wedding?