On Barra, it was traditional to sprinkle water on the marriage bed and bless it. In Mull, it was
customary that the young couple sleep in a barn for their first night and in Lewis they lived for a
week with the bride's parents before going to their own home.
Celtic practices were part of ceremonies for many hundreds of years and had roots in pagan rituals.
Tying the knot originated from the bride and groom ripping their wedding plaids (clan tartans) and
tying the two strips together as a symbol of the unity of the two families.
According to Gaelic tradition it is unlucky to marry in the month of May or during a waning moon.
In Aberdeenshire even now the 'blackening' is a ritual performed with great relish. The engaged
couple are captured one night by so called 'friends' and covered with foul substances such as treacle,
feathers, soot etc and then paraded around the village and usually the pubs. It takes days to wash
Tradition says sew a hair onto the hem of a wedding dress for luck, or let a drop of blood fall onto
an inner seam. The bride must never try on a complicated dress in advance of her wedding day. To
facilitate this tradition a small section of the hem is left unsewn by the dressmaker until the last
The bride, when she leaves home for the last time as a single girl, should step out of the house with
her right foot for luck
Penny Bridal or Silver Bridal
These festivities, also known as Penny Weddings, were renowned for feasting, drinking, dancing
and fighting and were enjoyed by all except the clergy - who disapproved of such raucous
behaviour. Gifts were made to the newly weds towards the cost of the wedding feast and the
celebrations started on the eve of the wedding with singing, toasts and the ceremony of ‘feet
A tub of water was placed in the best room, in which the bride placed her feet, her female friends
then gathered around to help wash them. A wedding ring from a happily married woman was
previously placed in the tub and it was believed that whoever found the ring would be the next to
The men folk were outside the door making jokes and attempting to watch through the doorway.
The bridegroom was then seized by the women and made to sit at the tub. His legs were none too
gently daubed with soot, ashes and cinders - quite a painful procedure!
The Wedding Procession
The following day the bridal party made their way to the church, flower petals being thrown in front
of the bride, but if they encountered a funeral or a pig on the way, it was considered bad luck and
they would return home and set out again. The first person they encountered was called the first
foot and 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.