Just how does a couple go about arranging a traditional Scottish wedding ceremony here in Perth W.A.? Well, it’s actually much easier than you might think.
My heart skips a beat each time a couple chooses me as their wedding celebrant but it does a wee cartwheel when they tell me they want a ceremony that pays homage to their Scottish roots.
Why? It’s the prospect of a traditional Scottish wedding; the skirl of the pipes, the sway of the kilts and the splashes of tartan that are all things so very close to my heart.
So, how do you go about adding that uniquely Scottish touch to your wedding ‘down under’?
Fortunately, there is a large Scottish community here in Perth and with it comes a healthy range of vendors you can draw on to help you create a real Scottish experience for your special day.
As a Celebrant with deep Scottish roots, I am always happy to walk couples through the options available to add that 'tartan touch', in terms of rituals, verses and vendors. Let's take a look at some of the options.
Options to consider for your Scottish wedding ceremony here in Perth
By far the two most popular rituals I am asked to include in Scottish wedding ceremonies here in Perth are Handfasting and Quaich rituals
This is a ritual that dates back to the Middle Ages. It was a time when a couple could consider themselves to be legally married with a simple exchange of consents - even if it was done in the middle of a forest and with only a couple of birds for witnesses (If you’ve seen the movie ‘Braveheart’ this might add a bit of context to the scene where Wallace marries his childhood sweetheart in the woods).
By the 16th century a Scottish couple would be considered legally married after a religious ceremony where a minister had bound their hands together in their Clan Tartan. This is actually where the term “Tying the Knot” comes from – we Scots just seem to invent everything! Don’t we?
Modern day Handfasting is purely ceremonial and has no legal basis here or in Scotland. To bind the hands in the ceremony, we use either ribbons in the colour scheme of the wedding party, or a tartan with special significance to the family. The Celebrant, or a special guest, will “Tie the Knot” while reciting the words:
"this is your love, take it."
"this is your soul, protect it."
"this is your heart, don’t break it"
It’s no secret that we Scots love a 'wee dram'!
In fact, the sharing of a dram of whisky can be found at the heart of many rituals and traditions in Scotland, not the least of which is the ritual use of the quaich.
Used throughout the centuries to greet friends and visitors with a welcoming drink of whisky, the Quaich is a timeless reminder of the enduring Scottish values of friendship and hospitality.
Today its use is limited to special occasions. At weddings, the Quaich is seen as a symbol of the shared love between the wedding couple.
After the signing of the register, the bride and groom share a drink of their choice from the loving cup in celebration of their marriage being signed, sealed and delivered!
As the couple drink from the quaich, the Celebrant, or a significant guest, declares:
"As you share this drink, you promise to share all that the future will bring.
All the sweetness the cup of life holds for you is sweeter because you drink it together.
Whatever drops of bitterness you taste are less because they are shared.
Drink now from this cup, and acknowledge to one another that your lives have now become one."
I think you’ll agree they are beautiful words (and I have to say, I do believe they sound so much better in an authentic Scottish accent. But, of course, I am biased!)
There are other lesser-known rituals that may also be worthy of consideration:
A Sixpence in the Bride’s Shoe
This is a tradition that is believed to have originated in the North East of Scotland.
I'm pretty sure you are familiar with the old wedding rhyme:
"Something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue."
But did you know that the original verse has another line? The rhyme actually concludes with the words:
"A lucky sixpence for your shoe."
These words refer to the tradition of the bride’s father placing a sixpence in her shoe as a token of luck, love and good fortune. (Sounds uncomfortable to me! I would think any bride considering walking down the aisle with a foreign object in her shoe might want to have blister cream close at hand.)
The wedding scramble is tradition common across many areas of Scotland. It is believed to bring good fortune to the married couple.
Tradition has it that the father of the bride showers children with coins as he and the bride-to-be leave home to travel to the church.
It is a ritual that I can vividly recall participating in as a kid, mainly because it was a very lucrative pastime!
Lucky White Heather
The story of how white heather became a symbol of good luck has its origins in the dawn of Scottish history.
Oscar, an ancient Celtic warrior, was tragically killed in battle before he could marry his sweetheart.
A messenger delivered news of his death along with a spray of purple heather for his sweetheart: a final token of Oscar’s undying love for her.
His fiancee was heartbroken. And when her tears fell upon the flowers, they immediately turned white. This magical event prompting her to say:
"Although it is the symbol of my sorrow, may the white heather bring good fortune to all who find it."
To this day, white Heather is considered to be lucky for brides, and adding a spray of it to the bride’s bouquet, or the table decorations is very popular at Scottish weddings.
Personally, I like to wear a sprig of heather on my lapel to every wedding ceremony as my symbol of good luck to the couple.
Other Services and Recommended Vendors
Dave Sinclair: Bagpipes
No Scottish Wedding would be complete without a piper!
There are many popular Scottish tunes that can be played on the pipes at weddings. One tune I particularly like is Highland Cathedral. It’s haunting melody really speaks to me of Scotland and its people. It gives me goose bumps every time I hear it.
Dave Sinclair regularly plays the bagpipes at my Scottish wedding ceremonies here in Perth.
Born in Dundee in 1957, Dave migrated to Australia with his family in 1965. He has been a local Policeman for 30 years and has played bagpipes for even longer.
When Dave was just 10 years old he decided to give the pipes a go and the rest, as they say, is history.
Dave has competed in Scotland with the Rockingham City Pipe Band; playing in various locations across Scotland including the beautiful Stirling Castle.
Dave says he enjoys playing at weddings because:
“I just love being able to contribute to someone’s very special day in a very special way.”
Dave has an extensive list of tunes to choose from and I know, from experience, he will go out of his way to find and learn any particular tune you might want to have played at your wedding.
I have one particularly beautiful memory of a bride coming down the great walk onto Trigg Beach to the sound of Dave belting out the theme tune to the movie 'Braveheart' – tell me, does it really get any better than that?
You can download Dave's current list of tunes here
Jane Jackson: 'Songs Fae Home'
Jane was born and bred in Scotland but now she is a local girl from Perth.
I have had the pleasure of singing with Jane (unfortunately not in a Scottish band) and I can vouch for her enormous talent.
Jane sings like an angel!
She has, literally, brought me to tears with beautiful renditions of such Scottish favourites as;
- “Wild Mountain Thyme,”
- “Caledonia,” and
- “My Love is like a Red, Red, Rose.”
Thoroughly Scottish, highly talented and a beautiful soul, Jane would make an amazing contribution to any wedding ceremony (Scottish or not).
Jane Smith: Bella Weddings and Events
Getting the styling of your ceremony venue just right really can be tricky. It is so much easier when you have someone on your side with an eye for detail and a creative flair....
Say hello to Jane Smith of Bella Weddings and Events
With just a few choice Scottish symbols and a splash of tartan, Jane will weave her magic to give you a spectacular arbour and an elegant seating area all with stunning Scottish flourishes.
You can get in touch with Jane to discuss your ceremony styling by clicking here
Adon Blake and Janine Kannemeyer: Iciris Weddings
If you are looking for a professional to make a video of your special day, you should definitely check out Adon and Janine at Iciris Weddings.
I’ve seen first hand the wonders these young and energetic videographers can work in delivering a wedding video with a real Scottish feel.
You can get a taste of their terrific work in this short video. It features a wedding we worked on together recently.
Kim and Andrew, the bridal couple, came all the way from Scotland to celebrate their wedding at the Marlee Pavilion in Kings Park.
It was a beautiful Scottish wedding with bagpipes, a quaich ritual and even truly authentic (and very happy) Scottish tears!
Heather and Jim Anderson: The House of Tartan
Let’s be honest, what Scotsman doesn’t love to dress up in a skirt- the tartan kind with swishy pleats in the back that is?
If your groom and his groomsmen are looking to go the whole hog in highland dress, we are very lucky to have a store in Perth that is totally dedicated to all things Scottish.
The House Of Tartan has kilts for purchase or choose from the largest range of hire kilts available here in Perth. I know Jim and Heather have a wealth of knowledge and experience to ensure your wedding party looks resplendent in whichever tartan you choose.
You can check them out here
Flowers are a significant part of any wedding. As I mentioned before a popular Scottish symbol is a sprig of white heather added to your bouquet for good luck.
Thistles are also popular at Scottish weddings (for obvious reasons). If you are having trouble finding Scottish thistles here in Perth, you might consider using Australian Eryngium Sea Holly, they have a very thistle-like look.
Your favourite florist should be able to guide you on the flowers available that will help create a look and feel that speaks of Scotland.
Chris Harding: Wedding Videos WA
Wouldn’t if be great if you could share your special day with family and friends back home in Scotland or, for that matter, wherever else they might be in the world?
Chris Harding of Wedding Videos WA does a great job of setting up a live streaming so that ALL your loved ones, all over the globe, can share in the joy of your very special day.
With the aid of their digital invite, absent family and friends are able to connect to the live stream and watch your ceremony unfold live and in all its glory – right from the comfort of their very own home!
You can find out more here
Are you ready to add that Scottish touch to your wedding ‘down under’?
Hopefully, now, you’ll agree that arranging a uniquely Scottish wedding ceremony here in Perth is really not too difficult at all.
So why not, as we say back home, 'Gie it laldy' and get started on that Scottish wedding ceremony you’ve always dreamed of.
If you would like to hear how I can help you pull together a ‘belter’ of a Scottish ‘doo’ that will not only pay homage to your Scottish roots but will also leave your guests ‘fair dumfoonert,’ you can arrange an obligation-free chat with me here.
There is little left for me to say now except for, 'Lang may yer lum reek!'
Joyce Mathers Celebrant is in no way associated with any of the vendors listed in this article. We only link to vendors we have worked with that offer products and services we think you will love. None of the links in this article are monetised. All opinions are our own. Please ensure that you do your own thorough research before making any final decision on the selection of vendors for your wedding.