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Scottish Wedding Ceremonies

What form does a marriage ceremony take in Scotland?

There is no legally prescribed form of words to be used in relation to “marriage vows” in Scotland. The marriage ceremony can be conducted in English - or in any other language (including Gaelic and Scots), so long as all parties (including the celebrant) can understand the language (with the services of a translator if necessary).

Scottish Wedding Ceremonies take one of two forms - a Civil or a Religious Ceremony.

 

Civil Marriage Ceremony

Civil Ceremonies must take place in a venue approved for civil ceremonies. Therein, you may choose ways to personalise your civil ceremony.  You may incorporate readings, poetry, music or indeed your own personal vows to one another, in addition to the Statutory Declarations you must make.
The registrar you select will provide you with samples of appropriate readings. There are also many publications available from which you can choose suitable readings.  As a civil ceremony is non religious in all aspects, all readings and music must be of a secular nature.
 
Registrars will be happy to assist in the planning of your civil ceremony, whether you choose to have a simple, quiet ceremony, or a large grander event.  However, there are certain statutory aspects which must be included in all legal marriage ceremonies.

It is always advisable to let the registrar know your wishes for your ceremony well in advance of the date of your marriage. 

The order of ceremony example below is the usual form a civil ceremony will take:

  • Arrival of Groom and Guests
  • Arrival of Bride and Attendants
  • Welcome & Introduction by Authorised Registrar
  • Definition of Marriage
  • Statutory Marriage Declarations
  • Exchange of Rings
  • Pronouncement of Marriage
  • Signing of the Marriage Schedule

 

Religious Marriage Ceremony 

Religious marriage ceremonies vary greatly, depending on the religion involved.  They include marriages by celebrants of many Christian denominations, and celebrants from other religions such as Jews, Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus.  They also include celebrants from other belief systems, notably Humanists.  The only condition that is imperative when choosing your celebrant is that the celebrant is authorised to conduct such religious ceremonies according to the Marriages (Scotland) Act 1977.

The detail of the ceremony is decided by the celebrant. However, the form of ceremony must include, and must be in no way inconsistent with:

A declarartion by the parties in the presence of each other, the celebrant and two witnesses, that they accept each other as husband and wife; and

A declaration by the celebrant after the foregoing declaration, that the parties are then husband and wife. 

 

Whether you are planning a civil or religious ceremony, you are required to submit notice forms to the registrar in the district where you plan to marry. This must be done in the three months preceeding your chosen date, but no later than 15 days before your date.

Also, if you are coming from abroad for your wedding in Scotland, you should obtain a certificate issued by your local civil authority that states there is no obstructing factor to your marriage (for example, documentary evidence that any previous marriages in another country have been ended). More documents may also be required, dependant on your nationality and previous marital status.

The above is only a short summary of Scottish Wedding Ceremonies. Please see the General Registrar For Scotland for more detailed and specific information, relevant to your specific marriage circumstances.  

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