Couples say ‘I don’t’ to the big wedding and yes to eloping to Scotland – The Scotsman

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It is possibly peak romantic – eloping to Scotland to get married, just the two of you, in the heart of a misty glen or in the shadows of a fairytale castle.

Now, such is the draw of the pared back and more private affair, National Trust for Scotland said more people were now booking elopements than traditional weddings at the charity’s properties.

While the nuptials may be lower key, their settings are designed to stun. For £1,500, couples can hold their wedding in Glencoe with an NTS Land Rover serving as the wedding car and a personalised quaich included in the package to allow the couple to share a warming dram. The Glenfinnan Monument, Brodie Castle in Arran and the chapel at Crathes Castle in Aberdeenshire are also popular location.

A couple married in Glencoe by Loch Achtriochtan, a popular National Trust for Scotland location for those chosing to elope. PIC: National Trust for Scotland /Christina Smith
A couple married in Glencoe by Loch Achtriochtan, a popular National Trust for Scotland location for those chosing to elope. PIC: National Trust for Scotland /Christina Smith

David Sutherland, NTS visitor services manager for functions and events in Aberdeenshire, said Americans accounted for most of their elopement bookings although Scots too were favouring the alternative weddings.

Mr Sutherland said: “It is the most popular package that we have at the moment. I was a witness seven times last year for elopements and I have more elopments in the books now than I do big weddings.

“Mainly we get a lot of American couples coming over, that is our biggest market, but a lot of people would rather do the low key more personal thing right now. It has probably got a lot to do with cost too, as it is much cheaper .

“All the couples are looking more for that intimate, just-about-them private time. Or they are just going for very small. We had one last week and it was just six people – the couple and both sets of parents. The bride was from Ireland, he from New Zealand.

“Every single couple is different in their reasons for doing it.”


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Elopements have a long history in Scotland with couples coming over the border to tie the knot since a change in wedding law in the 18th Century when couples in England had to wait until 21 before marrying without parental consent.

Now, as the trend gains new traction, several companies and photographers in Scotland are specialising in elopements or ‘micro’ weddings.

Mr Sutherland said he was on hand to share local knowledge with incoming couples. He persuaded one pair arriving at Edinburgh not to get an Uber to Banchory and also sourced a hairdresser in Aberdeenshire who could style the bride’s dreadlocks.

He added many American couples had found connections to particular castles through their family tree.

He said: “We also have the runaway thing. People who have big families and those who don’t want to put on a big shocker of a wedding. We had one recently, it was a local couple actually, and they just wanted to do low ke, thyey didn’t want to have the drama of who to invite, who not to invite so they did it themselves in complete secrecy. They said they were having their engagement party later on that day and then that is when she walked out in her wedding dress and told everyone they had just got married. That was a lovely day.”

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