What you need in order to Get married in the Isle of Harris and Lewis in the outer hebrides in Scotland
The perfect wedding location in Scotland for romantic couples
Are the Isle of Harris and the Isle of Lewis separate?
The Isle of Harris in the south and the Isle of Lewis in the north, in the Outer Hebrides may sound separate, but they are actually two parts of one island. Who knows how this happened? Perhaps it was because different clans ruled each island in the past,, or perhaps it’s because their landscapes are so different from each other.
Check out the location of the two main wedding venues in the Outer Hebrides: Lews Castle and Talla Na Mara
Chances are if you’re thinking about having an Isle of Harris wedding or the Isle of Lewis, you’re from Australia, the USA or the UK and have some Scottish blood in your family.
I’m sure my mother’s Scottish ancestry is part of why I love and feel so drawn to the Isle of Harris and Lewis.
Or maybe you just know you need to get married in a beautiful place where you feel a deep connection with nature and the sea?
Turquoise seas on beaches that rival the white sands of the Caribbean, the romantic windswept landscape and the feeling of tranquillity and peacefulness are just a few of the reasons that the Isle of Harris and Lewis are perfect for UK destination weddings.
Getting married in Scotland: the legal stuff
If you're a NON-uK CITIZEN
Click the picture box to find out what you need to apply for a marriage visitor's visa
If you want an Outer Hebrides wedding, and you’re not a UK resident, you’ll need to apply for a marriage visitor visa from the gov.uk website.
Make sure you do the paperwork for your marriage visa as early on as possible, as sometimes the government reports delays in processing applications. And you don’t want to have to worry about your visa being ready on time. You may be able to apply for your application to be expedited but expect to pay more.
Both UK and NON-UK Citizens need a Scottish Marriage licence
Click the picture box to access the RM1 leaflet from the NRS
If you’re a UK citizen, an Irish citizen or you have settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme, you won’t need to apply for a marriage visa.
But you will need to apply for a Scottish marriage licence. You can see the current rules on applying for this in the RM1 leaflet from the National Records of Scotland (NRS).
M10 Scottish marriage licence form
Click the picture box on the left to access a PDF of the M10 form
You’ll need to complete an M10 form from the National Records of Scotland (NRS) as part of applying to get married in Scotland.
If you’re not sure what forms you’ll need to complete, you can email the National Records of Scotland with details of your situation and they will be able to advise you.
Where can I get married on the Isle of Harris or Lewis?
FAQ about Isle of Harris and Lewis weddings
Scotland is a lot more flexible than England, where you have to get married in an approved location. In Scotland, you can get married anywhere—on the beach, a castle, even outside a hut or a bothy overlooking the cliffs of the Isle of Harris.
So if you’ve set your heart on getting married in a particular spot on the island, like the Callanish standing stones, you can!
Are there any castles on the Isle of Harris or Lewis for weddings?
If you’re looking for a Scottish castle for your wedding on the Isle of Harris or Lewis, then you need to decide if you want one that’s habitable, or a ruin, for an elopement location or a photoshoot after the wedding.
If you’re travelling in from overseas, and have guests travelling in, you might want to consider venues that have experience of wedding planning and management, so you don’t have the headache of planning a wedding from so far away.
Lews Castle is based in Stornoway, the capital, in the north of Lewis. They can tailor the wedding for between 10-100 guests and they have 22 rooms for guests to stay in.
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What other venue options are there?
If you want something a little more modern and different, Talla Na Mara is an arts and entertainment centre on the Isle of Harris, owned and operated on behalf of the West Harris community, and it’s just south of Luskentyre beach and within easy reach of one of my favourites beaches, Scarista beach.
If you’re having a larger wedding, this is an ideal venue, as they cater for up to Our main hall and bespoke marquee can cater for up to 140 guests for a wedding breakfast and up to 200 evening guests.
You can of course rent a house or a bothy and even get married outside it, if that's what you want. Links for the Vrbo.com, VisitOuterHebrides.com and Airbnb.com websites are below. Just be careful to check any cancellation fees, as some websites or companies don't give refunds.
Help! Where do I start with my Outer Hebridean wedding?
Pick your wedding venue
You need to decide on the location first and then choose your celebrant and check they're free, and then you can fix the date for your wedding. If you're planning a larger wedding check your VIP guests can definitely make your dates before booking.
Check the legal stuff
I recommend you download all the guidelines on the marriage visitor visa, if you need one, and the wedding licence rules. You won't be able to apply for your marriage visitor visa until 3 months beforehand, but you may want to gather all the information in advance so you're ready as soon as you can apply.
Make your travel arrangements
Decide how you're going to get to the Isle of Harris or Lewis and book your travel tickets and other hotel accommodation. Note that if you're travelling by ferry, Calmac Ferries release their sailing timetable on the 1st of January of each year.
If you’re having a larger wedding, I really recommend having a website with all the details, and advice for your wedding guests, especially if they need to apply for visas and book their own accommodation etc.
Book your suppliers
I really recommend you book both a photographer and a videographer to document your 'once-in-a-lifetime' experience.
You'll also need a florist, hair and make-up artist and catering for the day, unless you plan to do your own. Maybe you’ll want a bagpipe player, a band, traditional Scottish wedding outfits,
If you’re having an elopement and need witnesses, then your photographer and videographer can do this for you.
Spring and Summer....
and Autumn and Winter... weddings on the Isle of Harris and Lewis are always beautiful...
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Margaret Soraya Photo
If you don’t hire a photographer and a videographer for your Isle of Harris or Lewis wedding, you’re missing out, especially if you have family coming from all over the world to your Scottish wedding.
I highly recommend Margaret Soraya for photography; she has years of experience of photographing weddings on the Isle of Harris and Lewis and I’ve worked with her several times. And you want a photographer and a videographer who work well as a team, which we do!
Click on the photo above or the button below to see her website and find out more about Margaret and what she does.
I specialise in videos of your wedding day or trip, whether it be an intimate elopement or a huge family affair with family and friends from Scotland, the UK, the Us or Australia.
I offer either documentary style videos where I’m a fly on the wall during your entire trip, or I can provide a cinematic video with overlay music, your ceremony, speeches or other types of voiceover for your wedding in the Isle of Harris or Lewis.
As each wedding is unique, I work with you to create a wedding video that’s personal to you and that you’ll love. I also provide full ceremony and full speeches films in my packages if you want these.
I've done my best to ensure the information I've provided in this post is accurate and presented to the best of my ability, but please note this is not legal advice and readers should contact the relevant government organisation or consult a lawyer for specifics on Immigration Law.