Scot-Talks - Paul Bissett, the Scottish Raconteur

Scottish & Celtic Weddings

Wedding officiant certification

Paul Bissett is a certified wedding officiant, specializing in traditional Scottish & Celtic weddings.
Paul was born in Edinburgh, Scotland and raised in the village of Blackness on the river Forth.


Handfasting wedding ceremony
There is some historical discrepancy of whether it was originally meant to be a betrothal or a genuine marriage. It is claimed to be a holdover from pre-Christian Celtic marriage laws.

Then - A priest or minister wrapped the couples hands in the end of his stole to symbolize the Trinity of marriage--the man and woman joined by God.

Now - The couples hands are wrapped using an especially made cord or embroidered cloth, especially of clan tartans. If both in the couple are Scottish then both tartans are entwined to symbolize the joining of the clans.

Handfasting Ceremony
Do you, < >, take < > to be your wife, 
To be her constant friend, 
her partner in life, and her true love?
To love her without reservation, 
honor and respect her, 
protect her from harm, 
comfort her in times of distress, 
and to grow with her in mind and spirit?

Do you, < >, take > >to be your husband, 
To be his constant friend, 
his partner in life, and his true love?
To love him without reservation, 
honor and respect him, 
protect him from harm, 
comfort him in times of distress, 
and to grow with him in mind and spirit?

Handfasting Ceremony - Blessing
In times past it was believed that the human soul shared characteristics with all things divine. It is this belief which assigned virtues to the cardinal directions; East, South, West and North. It is in this tradition that a blessing is offered in support of this ceremony.
Blessed be this union with the gifts of the East. 
Communication of the heart, mind, and body 
Fresh beginnings with the rising of each Sun. 
The knowledge of the growth found in the sharing of silences.
Blessed be this union with the gifts of the South. 
Warmth of hearth and home 
The heat of the heart's passion 
The light created by both to illuminate the darkest of times.
Blessed be this union with the gifts of the West. 
The deep commitments of the lake The swift excitement of the river 
The refreshing cleansing of the rain 
The all encompassing passion of the sea.
Blessed be this union with the gifts of the North 
Firm foundation on which to build 
Fertility of the fields to enrich your lives
A stable home to which you may always return.
Each of these blessings emphasizes those things which will help you build a happy and successful union. 
Yet they are only tools.
Tools which you must use together in order to create what you seek in this union.

Handfasting Verse
Now you are bound one to the other
With a tie not easy to break.
Take the time of binding
Before the final vows are made
To learn what you need to know - 
To grow in wisdom and love.
That your marriage will be strong
That your love will last
In this life and beyond.
Family Tartan
Every Scottish clan, or Celtic clan, has their own family tartan. Traditionally the groom pins a "plaid" or sash of his family tartan on his bride after the exchange of rings. This symbolizes the bride joining her husband's clan.

Luckenbooth Brooch 
A traditional Scottish wedding brooch given to the bride by the groom on their wedding day, and subsequently pinned to the shawl of the first baby to protect it from "evil spirits".




Dirk for cutting the wedding cake
 Dagger, provided by the piper, used by the bride to cut the cake. The bride's hand is guided by the groom.



Heather, Wedding Boutonniere
Traditional flower used in bridal bouquet as a lucky omen. It can also be dried and kept as a keepsake over the years.


Horse shoes

Lucky bride's Horseshoe

Symbol for luck. Sometimes worn on the bride's arm, or a page might deliver one to the bride as she arrives at the chapel for the ceremony.


Wedding Scramble
 "The Scramble". Old tradition of the groom throwing a handful of coins to children, this can be done when leaving home for the church or at the church. Custom says it that this token will be constantly returned to the bride and groom throughout the marriage.


Lucky bride's sixpence

Traditionally the bride has an old sixpence in her shoe for good luck.

Some other symbolic traditions include:
--the husband gives the wife wheat to provide for our home
--the wife gives the husband some woven cloth to provide for our home
--the husband gives a dagger for the defense of our home
--the wife gives a Bible for the spiritual defense of our home

Quaichs are often incorporated into wedding ceremonies, sometimes the newly married couple may hold the quaich for each other while they take a drink (often whisky) to symbolize their love and togetherness or perhaps the couple might pass the quaich around the wedding party as an acknowledgement of the part they played in the wedding.

Quaich for wedding toast

Gaelic Phrases of Love

Gráim thú - I Love You 
A Grá - My Love 
Anam Cara - Soul Friend (soul mate) 
A stor - Darling 
Grá mo Chroí - Love of my heart 
Leannán - Lover 
Mo grá thu - My love to you 
Tugaim mo chroí duit go deo - I give my heart to you forever 
Go síoraí - Eternally
Le grá go deo - With love forever 
Gráím thú (I love you)
Tá grá agam duit (I have love for you)
Táim i ngrá leat (I’m in love with you)
Ádhraím thú (I adore you) 


Traditional Celtic Wedding Vow
Ye are Blood of my Blood, and Bone of my Bone. 
I give ye my Body, that we Two might be One. 
I give ye my Spirit, `til our Life shall be Done. 
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 cannot 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.

Traditional Celtic Wedding Vow
I vow you the first cut of my meat, the first sip of my wine, 
from this day it shall only be your name I cry out in the night 
and into your eyes that I smile each morning; 
I shall be a shield for your back as you are for mine, 
nor shall a grievous word be spoken about us, 
for our marriage is sacred between us and no stranger shall hear my grievance. 
Above and beyond this, I will cherish and honor you through this life 
and into the next.

Traditional Celtic Wedding Vow
“I pledge my love to you, and everything that I own.
I promise you the first bite of my meat and the first sip from by cup.
I pledge that your name will always be the name I cry aloud in the dead of night.
I promise to honor you above all others.
Our love is never-ending, and we will remain, forevermore, equals in our marriage.
This is my wedding vow to you.”

Traditional Wedding Blessing
May God go with you and bless you, 
May you see your children`s children, 
May you be poor in misfortune and rich in blessings, 
May you know nothing but happiness from this day forward. 
May joy and peace surround you both, 
Contentment latch your door, 
And happiness be with you now And God Bless you ever more. 
May you live your life with trust, And nurture lifelong affection, 
May your lifelong dreams come true for you,
Move ever that direction,
May the road rise to meet you, 
May the wind be always at your back, 
May the sun shine warm upon your face, 
The rains fall soft upon your fields. 
May the light of friendship guide your paths together, 
May the laughter of children grace the halls of your home. 
May the joy of living for each 
other trip a smile from your lips, a twinkle from your eye. 
And when eternity beckons, 
at the end of the life heaped high with love, 
May the good Lord embrace you 
with the arms that have nurtured you 
the whole length of your joy-filled days. 
May the gracious God hold you both 
in the palm of His hands. 
And, today, may the Spirit of Love
find a dwelling place in your hearts.

Medieval Celtic Wedding Ceremony
I, N., take the N to my wedded wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or worse, for richer or poorer, for fairer or fouler, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us depart, according to God's holy ordinance; and thereunto I plight thee my troth.
I N. take the N to my wedded husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, to be bonny and buxom at bed and at board, to love and to cherish, till death us depart, according to God's holy ordinance; and thereunto I plight thee my troth.
Wedding Vow
By the power that Christ brought from heaven, mast thou love me. 
As the sun follows its course, mast thou follow me. 
As light to the eye, as bread to the hungry, as joy to the heart, 
May thy presence be with me, 
Oh one that I love, `til death comes to part us asunder.
Vow of Unity
We swear by peace and love to stand, 
Heart to heart and hand to hand.
Mark, O Spirit, and hear us now, 
Confirming this our Sacred Vow
Scottish Wedding Prayer
Lord help us to remember when 
We first met and the strong 
love that grew between us. 
To work that love into 
practical things so that nothing 
can divide us. 
We ask for words both kind 
and loving and hearts always 
ready to ask forgiveness 
as well as to forgive. 
Dear Lord, we put our 
marriage into your hands.

Celtic Wedding Blessing
Happy is the bride that rain falls on
May your mornings bring joy and your evenings bring peace.
May your troubles grow few as your blessings increase.
May the saddest day of your future
Be no worse than the happiest day of your past.
May your hands be forever clasped in friendship
And your hearts joined forever in love.
Your lives are very special,
God has touched you in many ways.
May his blessings rest upon you
And fill all your coming days.
We swear by peace and love to stand,
Heart to heart and hand to hand.
Hark, O Spirit, and hear us now, 
Confirming this our Sacred Vow.
A Scottish Wedding Blessing
A thousand welcomes to you with your marriage. 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.

flags and bunting

Very popular, used in many weddings, even outside of the Scottish heritage. The piper most often plays at the arrival or departure. The piper would be given a "wee dram" in appreciation of his playing.

Practicing the Ceremony
Even if you have been to many weddings, a rehearsal of a large wedding ceremony is crucial.  It helps everyone feel at ease.  Without it, questions will arise in the moments leading up to the ceremony, causing unnecessary anxiety.  The rehearsal should take place at the wedding site.  If you don’t have access to it, it’s a good idea to run through the ceremony elsewhere.  The rehearsal is usually scheduled for the evening before the wedding, to be followed by the rehearsal dinner.  Anyone who has a role in the ceremony should attend the rehearsal.  This includes the entire wedding party, the officiant, readers, parents, and musicians.  If someone can’t be there, make sure he or she is briefed before the wedding.  At the rehearsal, walk through the entire ceremony twice.  Establish pace and timing, and make sure the participants know their proper places and responsibilities.  Rather than recite the actual vows at this time, the bride and groom usually review with the officiant what will be said and when.

It was once considered bad luck for the bride to participate in the rehearsal, and a superstitious bride may still prefer to have a relative or friend stand in her place as she watches nearby.  Many brides, however, prefer to take part in the rehearsal. 

Just before the processional begins in a Christian Wedding Ceremony, the officiant takes his or her place, with the groom on the officiant’s left, and the best man on the groom’s left, all facing the guests.  The ushers (groomsmen) may also stand at the front or they may start the procession….walking in pairs.  They are followed by the bridesmaids in single file.  The maid or matron of honor enters next, behind the bridesmaids.  As another option, the ushers (groomsmen) and bridesmaids can enter together, in pairs, with the best man escorting the honor attendant.  If a ring bearer and a flower girl are in the wedding party, they are the last ones down the aisle before the bride, who is traditionally escorted by her father, on his left arm.  Today a bride often asks her mother to walk down the aisle with them, on her other side. 

Wedding Processional


In a Christian Wedding Ceremony, as the musicians start the celebratory recessional music, the bride and groom turn to each other, link arms, and walk briskly back up the aisle as husband and wife.  They are followed by the flower girl and the ring bearer, who are followed by the maid or matron of honor and the best man.  Next come the bridesmaids and the ushers (groomsmen) in pairs, with the women on the men’s right arms.  Ushers (groomsmen) should return to assist guests and direct them to the receiving line or reception site. 

Wedding Recessional