The Ceilidh

The Ceilidh, or wedding reception, is where many more wedding traditions are commonly seen.

Bell Ringing

Guests were supplied with small bells. When they were rung, the wedding couple was expected to exchange a kiss. Any type of small jingle bells would be adequate.

Special Dances

The bride was featured in the first dances, even as she is today.
  • The First Dance ~ The bridal couple would lead off the first dance with a traditional reel.
  • The bride's second dance was reserved for the person of the highest rank among the guests.
  • The Shaim Spring ~ the bride was given
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    the privilege of choosing the music for the Shaim Spring, a reel which she danced with the bridegroom, bridesmaid, and best man.
  • The Sword Dance was usually a performance for the last dance of the Ceilidh.
  • Guests would then gather in a circle and sing Auld Lang Syne.

Wedding Favors

A typical favor was five sugared almonds tied together in a pouch. The sugar symbolized the sweet aspects of life, while the almond symbolized the bitter. The five almonds represented health, wealth, fertility, happiness and longevity.

The Schenachy

A bard or storyteller would often entertain, especially for the children attending, telling stories and anecdotes.

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Originally a child’s call, thought to bring luck. At the reception, individuals or tables of guests would call it out for luck and fun. Possibly the call was combined with the Bell Ringing to encourage the bridal couple to kiss.

A Siller Spuin

The groom would give the bride a silver spoon to insure they never go without food.

The Toast to the Wedding Couple

Though adopted by the Scots, the Best Man's toast started in France, where the Best Man placed a piece of bread in the bottom of his glass, wished the couple well, then drank down to the toast.


The Water of Life, Scotch whiskey, would be used for the wedding toast, served in a quaich. The guests would also drink usquebagh.

The Wedding Musicians

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The Whistle Benkie was another colorful character seen at Scottish weddings. He was an itinerant musician, piper, harper, or fiddler. For loose change as payment, he would play at weddings or gatherings.

The Wishing Well

Often, in pagan ceremonies, couples would be married by water. The guests would toss pebbles into the water and make wishes for the couple.

Today, a decorative wishing well is available at the reception. Wedding guests can write their wedding wishes on small cards, then drop them into the well.

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