Married in a Tartan Dress

bella tartanThe warmer months are coming, and so is the wedding season. As it’s considered to be one of the most important days in one’s life, it’s usually carefully planned and thought-over in every way possible. If you or your partner has Scottish ancestry, it might be a great idea to get married in a Scottish style!

The groom’s outfit is a quite complicated one, but the one that shines the brightest is of course the bride! There is a vast array of wedding dresses on offer, but the one for a Scottish Wedding should be special. Traditional whit or ivory might suit you well, but what about a tartan dress? Which pattern should you choose? When to start planning? What about the guests?

Read about Tartan on the Catwalk

tatan setAt kilted weddings, both the bride and the guests wear the tartan of the groom. It was thought of as a sign of respect and honouring his clan, but nowadays it’s not as obligatory as it used to be, especially at marriages between a Scottish bride and a foreigner. There are a variety of options – every guest can come wearing their own tartan, and the bride’s “transition” from one family to another can be marked by a traditional ceremony of pinning the tartan. The member of the groom’s family, usually the groom himself or his mother, pin a rosette or a sash in her new clan tartan to the wedding dress. Today it is sometimes done the other way round – if a groom with no clan is being accepted in the bride’s clan.

The other option is wearing one of the universal tartans – there are plenty to choose from. Each one has its own meaning, so you may do a little digging into the subject and choose the one that suits you and your partner best. In fact, you can even design your own tartan. It’s a pricey choice (if you hire a designer rather than make your own pattern, this can cost around £1,000, but it’s the weaving of fabric that is usually the most expensive undertaking), but on the other hand – you may be establishing a new tradition for your family, and besides having your own pattern is always an original choice, designating family identity and being a one of a kind souvenir from this special day. The tartan might be used also as a nice accent in your flat or house – the accessories in the family tartan will make your home look cosy and warm like nothing else.

Bring back the memories of The Royal Wedding!

bustierBut what about the dress itself? There are plenty of designs available here too. The 2015 trends vary – according to the portal, on one hand we have over the shoulder necklines, on the other – tulle in every possible form. The colours also tend to be unconventional – the pastel versions of every kind of colour seem to be appropriate this season, especially soft browns and blues. The other interesting trend is wearing a cape – and that’s a perfect way to show off your clan adherence! The trend opposite to the over the shoulder necklines is the collar – made of see-through fabrics or in the form of a strap around the neck, exposing the shoulders. This glam style is also in fashion, being a tribute to elegance, while at the other end of the catwalk we can watch dresses in a totally relaxed and nonchalant style, being appropriate for a beach wedding or if you want to have a ceremony in a less formal style. The other styles that seem to have the fashion gurus’ approval are deep V’s, cutouts, elements made of short dressfeathers, flouncy sleeves, turtlenecks, laser-cut floral patterns, crop tops, fringe, metallic fabric, corset bodices (another great idea to combine with your tartan!) and sheer skirts. As you can see, there are a huge range of styles to choose from – and the tartan patterns fit perfectly into many of these. If you want to show off your heritage, the kilt and Scottish-related shops are worth visiting – they might have your perfect tartan dress, but… you’ll have to be patient. These dresses are usually at least made to order, if not to measure – and that means that it takes time to prepare them and you should leave extra time for fittings once the dress arrives. What is more, if you did design your own tartan, or your clan’s pattern is quite rare, you have to bear in mind that it’s again the process of weaving that will take most of the time (it might be even several months), so if you are considering this option you have to make up your mind quickly and order the dress in advance. When ordering a brides dress, you may also consider buying the whole wedding outfit, with a matching kilt for the groom and all the accessories. It is usually a bit cheaper since it’s a set, so it may be a bit of relief for your budget.

Read How to Make a Kilt

Remember that the dress doesn’t have to be flashy and catwalk-like – if you prefer a more modest style and like making practical purchases, you can always wear a simple, knee-length tartan dress. This solution has many advantages – it’s significantly cheaper, the dress can also be worn during other occasions, and the whole outfit is certainly more comfortable. This can be perfect if you have a small ceremony for the closest family and friends.

Whichever dress you choose – you have to feel good while wearing it, be yourself and be proud of your Scottish heritage!

Third Anniversary Of Royal Wedding

Three years on from the amazing spectacle of William and Catherine’s royal wedding, the couple are now firmly established as part of the working Royal Family – an institution many Brits are fond and proud of. As they continue their tour of New Zealand and Australia with young Prince George, we have a look back at their lives together and, of course, some of the ways in which Scotland is special to the happy young couple!

Wedding of Prince William and Catherine MiddletonKate and Wills first met in St Andrews, a beautiful town on the Fife coast with a strong history of golfing and Scotland’s oldest university, founded in 1413! It was at St Andrews University that the couple were first introduced, and within a year moved into a shared flat with two other friends. It was about a year after this that the British media first suspected that their relationship had progressed from friendship to romance, but during the entirety of their university careers, William and Kate were able to maintain an excellent level of privacy thanks to their close friends and the support of the Royal Family and the University.

This changed upon their shared graduation in 2005, and marked the beginning of a turbulent period in their relationship, as they struggled with a huge amount of media attention. After a brief split in 2007, they reconciled and became stronger than ever. In late 2010 their engagement was officially announced and just five months later, they married.

Read about Orkney

The wedding – as I’m sure everyone remembers – was spectacular. Taking place in Westminster Abbey, the ceremony was watched by nearly 2, 000 people in person, and millions more around the globe – and Kate and William of course took part in some of the traditions of the British Isles. Unusually for a member of the Royal Family, William named his brother Harry as his Best Man, instead of the usual term “supporter”, used by Royal males for this role. Kate likewise chose her sister, Pippa, as maid of honour, another traditional role, and these two were responsible for planning their siblings’ stag and hen parties respectively. On the day all of the bridal party looked picture perfect; Harry in his full Blues and Royal dress uniform complemented Prince William, who also wore one of his military uniforms, his choice was that of the mounted officer of the Irish Guard rank which he holds. The bride wore an already iconic satin and lace creation from the British designer Sarah Burton, working for the Alexander McQueen label, and Pippa also wore a beautiful gown from the same designer.

Kate also observed the tradition of “something old, something new, something Royal Carriage Wedding borrowed, something blue” – the “something blue”, a piece of blue ribbon stitched into her bodice, might be a classic choice; but the antique lace, new Royal crest diamond earrings, and borrowed tiara – from the Queen no less – might be beyond the reach of most brides! After the ceremony the newly-weds were whisked off in a luxurious and stately horse-drawn carriage to Buckingham Palace, where the Queen hosted a luncheon reception for a number of guests who represented William and Kate’s private and public lives – including many heads of state, religious leaders, and celebrities. After this, the happy couple and their attendants, including four bridesmaids and two pageboys, appeared on the Palace balconies with their parents, to greet the crowds of well-wishers who had gathered outside, then moved on to have a completely private dinner and evening reception for only their friends and loved ones which went on, like many weddings, ‘til the early hours of the next morning!

Learn about Highland Games

In keeping with their relaxed approach to public life, William drove himself and new wife to their official residence, at the time Clarence House, after the luncheon reception to change outfits and get some time alone. In keeping with his fun approach to public life, Prince Harry made sure it was decorated in full “Just Married” fashion, including ribbons, balloons and novelty license-plate! This added a great touch of fun to what was, publically at least, a very sombre and grand occasion, in keeping with the status of the Royal Family and the seriousness with which the couple took their vows of marriage.

Immediately after the wedding, William and Kate were given new titles. They are mainly known as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, but when in Ireland are known as Baron and Lady Carrickfergus, and when in Scotland they are the Earl and Countess of Strathearn. Strathearn is valley leading between the rivers Earn and Tay, very close to St Andrews where they met, so the Queen’s decision to take this previously defunct title out of retirement and confer it upon her grandson and his new bride truly shows how understanding she is of the emotional significance St Andrews and Scotland has to the couple.

The royal familySince their marriage, the young royals have represented the British Monarchy abroad on three tours now; firstly to the US and Canada just a few months after their marriage, then  Singapore, Malaysia, Tuvalu and the Solomon Islands the following year as part of the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations. As Kate was soon expecting a child, they took a break from travelling for a time, but soon after the birth of their son, Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge, Prince William withdrew from active military service and the Cambridge family now work as full time royals. This is their first major tour since the birth of little George, and in another sign of the modernity of their approach to life, he is accompanying his parents on their tour Down Under – and even attending events rather than being left with a nanny! Overall, it can’t be denied that Prince William and the Duchess Catherine continue to breathe new life into the British monarchy, and as they continue to take on public roles in speaking out for issues as diverse as children’s hospitals, conservation, the arts and many other charitable endeavours, their popularity continues to grow.

Just Married, in a Kilt

Bride and Groom outfitsWeddings topics come back around from time to time, especially when the spring or summer begins. It doesn’t mean of course that only these seasons are good to get marry in, but it is common around the world that the majority of wedding ceremonies take place during so called “warm months” (which obviously means something different for people in Scotland from those of you who live in Texas, for example :) ) . Last year we were writing about the wedding ceremony and its traditions. It is important for all of you with Scottish roots to know them and put into practice if possible, but it is also good to remember some basic facts about how the Scottish wedding should look. How to dress for this celebration and how to behave.

Read about Scottish wedding traditions

One of the most significant roles in a true Scottish wedding is the tartan or tartans. Not only the bride and groom wear tartan, but also wedding decorations often feature it. For some the question is – which tartan to choose? Traditionally, wedding guests from the bride’s side wear the host’s tartan as a token of respect. But there are many other options available. The second common approach reflects clans diversity and richness as well as clans union and tells men (and also women) to wear their own families tartans.  But what if someone doesn’t have his or her own family tartan? Remember that you can use tartans from different categories: district, memorial or even universal ones. If you still feel confusion in this area, feel free to read our Complete Tartan Guide.

Another important question is: How to dress for a wedding? For some of you it’s not a question at all – you’ve probably taken part in a Scottish wedding before, maybe more than once. But let’s be precise and consolidate our knowledge.

Learn about Scottish kilt outfits

The groom’s wedding outfit is complete, which means that it should include all the Kilt and Wedding outfit elementsappropriate Scottish outfit accessories. The most important is a made to your measurements kilt, preferably an 8 yard one, which has an excellent swing. You not only look perfect but also feel comfortable. It is acceptable to wear 5 yard kilt, too. Along with the kilt a formal Prince Charlie Jacket and 3 button waistcoat is usually worn, as well as a white wing collar shirt, and black bow tie. It is also nice to wear a fly plaid in the same tartan as your kilt. A fly plaid is a very formal piece of fringed tartan worn over the shoulder which is fastened with a brooch. It is important to remember not to wear this accessory unless you are a groom or a best man, or have been specifically requested to do so – you can’t upstage the groom.  Your wedding outfit (no matter which your role is during the ceremony) should be completed with:

  • plain kilt hose and
  • ghillie brogues – kilt shoes with no tongues and long laces.

Other accessories which a wedding outfit includes are:

  • (normally full dress) sporran,
  • leather belt with a belt buckle (why not wearing your clan crested one for this occasion?),
  •  pin for your kilt (same question here),
  • Sgian Dubh.

More about kilt outfit elements

The bride’s outfit is not that complex. To make a dream come true and looks like a real Scottish princess a bride wears a wedding dress. There is no official tradition stating what the dress should look like, so the bride will choose how she decides to incorporate her Scottish roots in her wedding outfit. She can wear a tartan dress or a dress with a tartan hem. The popular tradition called “sashing of the bride” says that the bride wears a sash in her husband’s tartan, presented to her by her mother-in-law. However, it is very important to wear the sash on the right shoulder as the left one is reserved for the clan chiefs. The bride may also decide to wear only a tartan ribbon or a shawl. Don’t forget to add some tartan touch to your dress even when you’re not the bride!

Read about tartan for ladies

Scottish wedding dressScotland is a special and unique place to be married. Not only does it have breathtaking landscapes, but the law here allows you to choose any wedding ceremony location! It’s because what matters is the person conducting the whole ceremony, rather than place. You can therefore enjoy romantic views when saying “I do”. This good news will please both Scottish people and people living elsewhere in the world considering Scotland for their nuptials.

Even if your Scottish roots go back to time immemorial, showing off your heritage during this very special event is a great way to honour your ancestries, and instill the love of Scotland in the youngest generation. Respecting the wedding traditions and wearing a full Scottish outfit are the best ways to do this!

HeritageOfScotland customers have applied our Scottish traditions to their weddings! See the gallery of their pictures and send your own to: