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  1. #1
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    Wedding Ceremony - Presentation of the Sword

    Hi all,

    I'm curious if anyone is familiar with this Scottish wedding ceremony. From what I've found online, it involves the groom kneeling to present his family's sword to the bride as a promise of protection. I'm not sure if there are any other formalities involved, such as what the groom or priest should say at that point. Have any of you seen/done this ceremony in practice?

    I will be wearing a kilt and a late 19th century claymore to my wedding, and being a swordsman this ceremony is something I would love to include. The priest is fine with it, though he wasn't familiar with the ceremony when I mentioned it. None of the guests would be the wiser if we improvise, but I'd like to be more traditional if possible.

    Thanks for any advise! I'll be sure to share pictures after the big day.
    - Dylan Lauber

  2. #2
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    Let's be really clear: this would all depend on where the wedding was being held & under whose auspices. Many denominations wouldn't permit this to be part of their rituals.

    Secular or other denominations . . . .

    Who knows?
    Rev'd Father Bill White: Retired Parish Priest & Elementary Headmaster, lover of God, people (most of them!) dogs, joy, humour & clarity. Legion Padre, theologian, teacher, philosopher, linguist, dreamer, traditionalist, bon-vivant, encourager of hearts & souls & a firm believer in dignity, decency, & duty. A proud Sinclair.

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  4. #3
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    I'm with Fr. Bill on this. I am an M.C. for our Roman Catholic Parish and as such work with couples on their wedding ceremony plans. This would not be allowed in a Catholic liturgy.

    That being said, in our family (yes Scottish Catholics) several Scottish traditions are used during the reception such as pinning of the tartan etc. Perhaps you could come up with a nice simple ceremony to present your bride with a sword during the reception.

    CTBuchanan
    President, Clan Buchanan Society International

  5. #4
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    Yes, that's a good suggestion that I often make, but didn't think of. What you do at the reception is up to you and your bride.

    The same goes for promises (vows?) that wouldn't be permitted in many churches, mine included. Feel free to stand up and make your promises at the reception because it's not before God and the church.
    Rev'd Father Bill White: Retired Parish Priest & Elementary Headmaster, lover of God, people (most of them!) dogs, joy, humour & clarity. Legion Padre, theologian, teacher, philosopher, linguist, dreamer, traditionalist, bon-vivant, encourager of hearts & souls & a firm believer in dignity, decency, & duty. A proud Sinclair.

  6. #5
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    Let's answer the first question first. No, this is not a tradition. It might be a thing that people who like to dress up in bodices and great kilts have adopted, but as a Presbyterian clergy I have plenty of resources from Scotland none of which involve a sword. I doubt you will get one positive response to this being a thing.

    Now, as for your priest being good with it.... I am assuming that you are being married outside the church. If it is inside the church, then he should not be. The sanctuary is sacred space and as such weapon are traditionally forbidden. Just a year ago I had the opportunity to be present at the regimental home church of the 48th Highlanders of Canada. Because of this, the troops did not have weapons with them, save for the escort to the colours, who stood sentry outside the church. All the officers removed their swords and stowed them before entering the sanctuary. THIS is the highland tradition.

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  8. #6
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    I've never heard of this, and weapons certainly would not be welcome in any church or Kirk I know of, unless on a true military occasion.

    I believe you must have found this in some sort of Historical context. Since you are referring to History. You then have to be careful whether you are referring to a highland clan wedding or a lowland Scots wedding . In either case the majority of people would not have had a claymore to carry or a sword, unless they were either aristocracy or clan chief level (or one of their close retainers).

    Frankly today, this would come across as more Hollywood than traditional Scots or Gaelic.
    "We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give"
    Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill

  9. #7
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    A presentation of gifts would be appropriate during the reception (dowry comes to mind) while a promise of protection would be offered (to the father by the groom) for receiving his daughter's hand.

    Today this would seem an antiquated gesture. This from an old coot taught to escort while wearing sword and gloves in the late 1950's.

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  11. #8
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    My son had a kilted wedding, presided over by a genuine Presbyterian minister. No swords were in evidence, in spite of his mom and me being sword dealers at the time. The groomsmen got swords as gifts but these were handed out later. My son presented a tartan sash to his bride at the end of the service to symbolize her entry into the Clan.

    I have never heard of the ceremony you describe but, if your priest has no objection then go ahead. I have seen much stranger things than that happen during wedding ceremonies, which are not really solemn occasions, I suppose...mine wasn't. But, I think this sword thing has nothing to do with traditional Scottish wedding ceremonies. If you have not asked yet, I strongly suggest you see what the bride thinks about it and let that be your guide.

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  13. #9
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    I know a friend (now widowed) has a silver wedding sword hanging by her front door that has their names and wedding date inscribed. And I’ve seen pictures of them at the reception holding it.
    However I know it was a civil ceremony held at a castle which was built as a tourist attraction and function venue in the 1970’s with a medieval theme.

    I’ll ask her what the significance of the sword was at the marriage celebration.
    Howeve like others I can’t see a priest/pastor allowing a sword being involved if the service is in a consecrated church.

    Later in the grounds (if a church service) something may be possible.

  14. #10
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    Just spoke to my friend
    Her husband was 1st Generation Australian, his mother was from the highlands...
    “Crossing The Swords” was a family tradition where a sword from each family was crossed and the couple jumped over them.
    Yes it was a civil marriage celebrant not a religious ceremony.

    Make of that what you will.

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