Our Highland Wedding

Our Highland Wedding

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Ceilidh Time

We chose to have a Ceilidh (pronounced Kay-Lee) following our wedding ceremony as our Scottish reception.

The word Ceilidh, in the original ancient Gaelic, means "companion."

A Scottish Ceilidh is basically a party... which is what a wedding reception is. It is generally accepted that a ceilidh includes food, fellowship, music, and dancing.

My wonderful daughter and my brother learned many Scottish folk dances... a few were included at the ceilidh, but we soon realized space was an issue and the dancing dwindled... but the dances were fun to learn!

Canadian Barn Dance - Colonel MacLean of Ardgour - Donald MacLean's Farewell To ObanWe had music, Scottish folk music, and the ever present bagpipe music from the field at McRae Meadow as the various pipe and drum bands marched by the Clan Lindsay tent throughout the evening.

Master bagpiper, Jon Shell, did an amazing job of piping to, from, and during the wedding ceremony.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

First Steps, Ringing Bells, Horseshoe and Scramble

One of the traditions we chose to include in our wedding was "The First Steps Together" as man and wife... we walked around the outside of the circle of "our people" taking our first steps together as a married couple. When we completed our walk, our guests welcomed us back into the circle, symbolizing their show of support, love, and encouragement as we began our journey together as husband and wife, surrounded by the love of family and friends.

Another tradition was the Ringing of the Bells... we provided our guests with small bells and asked them to ring the church bells at the end of the wedding ceremony to joyously declare the marriage. The sound of bells was also said to drive away evil spirits.

We included the Scottish tradition of having a toddler (my granddaughter and my niece teamed up for this one) hand a horseshoe to the bride as she walks out of the church with her husband. The horseshoe signifies good luck in the marriage.

Upon leaving the church it is a Scottish tradition for the bride and groom to scatter coins to the assembled children to collect. This scattering is referred to as a "Scramble." Legend has it that this token will be constantly returned to the bride and groom throughout their marriage.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Tartan Pinning

In Scottish wedding lore, the uniting of families through marriage brought forth peace and good will among clans, strengthening all extended family in love and support. The pinning of the groom’s tartan upon the bride is a tradition of the Scots that has existed for millennia.

During our wedding ceremony, we had our guests say the following Scottish Wedding Blessing with us as the tartan was pinned on...
"A thousand welcomes to you with your marriage kerchief,
May you be healthy all your days,
May you be blessed with long life and peace,
May you grow old with goodness and with riches”

The tartan sash was pinned with my groom's gift to me... a Luckenbooth Pin

Called the Luckenbooth because they were sold from the locked booths of the Royal Mile, adjacent to St. Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh. This type of love token seems to go back to at least the 1600s. Luckenbooths were traditionally exchanged between lovers on betrothal. They were sometimes pinned to the shawl of the first baby to protect it from evil spirits. There are many surviving antique brooches of this type in museums in Scotland. Some of these were made by traveling tinkers and sold to gentlemen for their ladies. Some have passed from generation to generation to become valuable heirlooms. Sometimes inscribed phrases such as "Of earthly joys thou art my choice" are evidence of their purpose. They are probably the most romantic type of brooch in Scotland's history, hence their enduring appeal. This type of brooch even came to America and simple forms of the brooch were cut from coins and used for trade among the Eastern Woodland Indians. Many people know about the traditional Claddagh ring of Ireland with its crowned heart but fewer know of this wonderful traditional love token.

The brooch given to me by my new husband bears the inscription "Wrong not the heart whose joy thou art."

Friday, September 3, 2010

Celtic Wedding Vows

We chose the following vows for our Celtic wedding, written by Morgan Llywelyn

You cannon possess me for I belong to myself
But while we both wish it, I give you that which is mine to give
You cannon command me, for I am a free person
But I shall serve you in those ways you require
And the honeycomb will taste sweeter coming from my hand
I pledge to you that yours will be the name I cry aloud in the night
And the eyes into which I smile in the morning
I pledge to you the first bite of my meat and the first drink from my cup
I pledge to you my living and my dying, each equally in your care
I shall be a shield for your back and you for mine
I shall not slander you, nor you me
I shall honor you above all others,
and when we quarrel we shall do so in private
And tell no stranger our grievances
This is my wedding vow to you.
This is the marriage of equals

Thursday, September 2, 2010


A Romantic Guide to Handfasting: Rituals, Recipes & Lore
Handfasting is a Celtic wedding ceremony from the middle ages. It was a temporary marriage that lasted for a year and a day. Unlike the English who had a friar in most villages, most in Scotland did not have a local minister or priest to perform a marriage ceremony so couples would perform a handfasting which legally bound them until someone of the clergy would pass through the village and could perform a ceremony. In a modern ceremony, a handfasting is incorporated into many wedding ceremonies in a way to honor their Celtic heritage. The couple's hands are bound together in a cord or a tartan cloth during their vows. This is to show that from that point forward, they are no longer two, but are one!

The phrase, "Tying the Knot" may have come from this wedding tradition.

Following is the ceremony we used for the Handfasting portion of our wedding ceremony:

The Handfasting Ceremony
The Minister will start with: “Know now that since your lives have crossed, you have formed ties between each other. The promises you make today and the ties that are bound here will cross the years and greatly strengthen your union. With full awareness, know that you declare your intent to be handfasted before your friends and families."
Minister asks Bride and Groom: Do you still seek to enter this ceremony?
Bride and Groom answer: “Yes, we seek to enter”
Minister says to Bride and Groom: I bid you look into one another’s eyes (hands the cords to the best man.)
(Bride's name), will you honor him? (I will)
 (Groom's name), will you honor her? (I will)
Bride and Groom, will you seek never to give cause to break that honor? (We will)
And so the binding is made. Join your hands. (The first cord is draped across the hands.)
(Bride's name), will you share his dreams? (I will)
(Groom's name), will you share her dreams? (I will)
Bride and Groom, will you dream together to create new realities and hopes? (We will)
And so the binding is made. (Second cord is draped across hands.)
(Bride's name), will you share his laughter? (I will)
(Groom's name), will you share her laughter? (I will)
Bride and Groom, will both of you look for the brightness in life and the positive in each other? (We will)
 And so the binding is made. (Third cord is draped across hands.)
(Bride's name), might you ever burden him? (I might) Is that your intent? (No)
 (Groom's name), might you ever burden her? (I might) Is that your intent? (No)
Bride and Groom, will you share the burdens of each so that your spirits may grow in this union? (We will)
 And so the binding is made. (Fourth cord is draped across the hands.)
Pam, might you ever cause him pain? (I might) Is that your intent? (No)
 Hugh, might you ever cause her pain? (I might)  Is that your intent? (No)
Hugh and Pam, will you both share each other’s pain and seek to ease it? (We will)
And so the binding is made. (Fifth cord is draped across the hands.)
(Bride's name), might you ever cause him anger? (I might) Is that your intent? (No)
(Groom's name), might you ever cause her anger? (I might) Is that your intent? (No)
 Bride and Groom, will you together take the heat of anger and use it to temper the strength of this union? (We will)
And so the binding is made. (Sixth cord is draped across the hands.)
The minister hands the ceremonial book to the best man then ties the cords together and states: The knots of this binding are not formed by these cords, but rather by your vows. For always, you hold in your own hands the making or breaking of this union.
The cords are then removed and placed on the altar. 

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Some Wedding Traditions Originating in Scotland...

The Oathing Stone 

In Scottish wedding customs, the groom is pledging to "provide and protect." An oath given near a stone or water was considered more binding. Some believe the phrase "set in stone" came from this custom.

The "First Foot"

The first person the bride encountered was called the "first foot" and as part of the celebration, would be given a coin and a drink of whisky by the bride. He would then have to accompany the bridal party for one mile before being allowed to continue on his way.


Bridesmaids were traditionally dressed similar to the bride. Their purpose was to be decoys, confusing the evil spirits and faeries, thus protecting the bride.

Bride to the Groom's Left

As a warrior's prize, a captured bride needed to be held with his left hand so his right was free to fight off her family or foes.