An Englishman’s Experience of Scottish Wedding Traditions
This September, I ventured to Aberdeen for the wedding of my girlfriend’s sister. As a native of Yorkshire, it’s fair to say I was both excited and a tad bit nervous to experience a Scottish wedding and some typical Scottish wedding traditions!
Whereas I’ve been to plenty of weddings in England, it was my first experience of ‘The Big Day’ in another country. Whilst Scotland does neighbour my home country, Aberdeen is still a long way from home and I had a feeling I’d be in store for a departure from the normal English wedding routines I’d become familiar with.
I had a great time in Scotland, and at the wedding! Here are the things that really stuck in my memory of a lovely weekend and a beautiful occasion.
Kilts, of course, were the first thing that jumped to mind when I found out I was going to a Scottish wedding and I guess were always going to be the first thing I mentioned! They’re universally recognised and associated with the Scots, so I was looking forward to seeing them for real.
Both my girlfriend and her family tried to persuade me to wear one but, in the end, I bottled it. Whilst I do regret not taking my chance to wear a kilt, it turned out for the best in the end as the best man was also English and wearing a kilt for the first time, so I didn’t steal any of his limelight!
All I can say is the groom and his best men looked fantastic in the full Scottish attire, which, as I now know includes a sporran (basically a pouch), brogues and a small knife tucked into the sock. I also learnt the tartan design is not necessarily picked at random or by preference: each design represents a specific clan, so there’s meaning behind what each person is wearing.
The Bag Piper
Perhaps my favourite Scottish touch to the wedding was the bag piper, who played at the gates to the church as the guests arrived and who brought the bride and groom into the reception. You could hear his music as you made your way to the venue and it grew louder the closer you got.
It is difficult to describe the effect this had on the sense of occasion: it really was a fantastic touch and, as I say, still stands out in my mind. It transformed the atmosphere and passers-by were drawn to the church, where large crowds eventually gathered.
Definitely my highlight of the wedding and the weekend!
Balmoral Chicken and Stovies
Next then I should say something about the food, which again was superb. Although the starter and desert were pretty standard (carrot and coriander soup and soufflé), the main course was a uniquely Scottish dish – Balmoral chicken with a whiskey sauce. Essentially the dish is chicken, wrapped in bacon and covered in a creamy whiskey sauce.
Even if you’re not a native to Scotland, this is a dish I highly recommend trying yourself at some point. At the wedding, it was the perfect dish to complement the lovely and emotionally charged speeches from the groom, best man and father of the bride.
For supper, we had another unique Scottish snack that was completely new to me – stovies. Stovies are a stew of potatoes and corned beef, accompanied by oatcakes.
Finally, the best way the round up my experiences of the Scottish wedding is with a mention of the Ceilidh dancing, a traditional form of Gaelic dancing which took place after the food.
It’s fair to say I was a bit out of my depth when I attempted the dancing and I struggled with some of the most basic routines! From what I was told, most Scots learn these dance moves in school, so there’s no shame in being slow to pick them up.
All in all it was a great day and I really hope it wasn’t the last Scottish wedding I’ll attend!
A guest post by Michael Smith – a marketing bod who works for Paper Themes, blogging for the first time about his wedding experiences!
Creative Common image: King’s College: http://www.flickr.com/photos/national_library_of_norway/
Category: Wedding Color & Theme Ideas