Did You Know?
- How to Get Married in Scotland
Quite apart from the local population, Scotland has always been a popular place for marriage for couples from outside of the country. There is obviously the romantic setting but there are also practical issues. First of all there is no mandatory residency requirement . Secondly, the minimum age for getting married in Scotland with no parental consent is 16 (18 in England and Wales). While these days youngsters may no longer elope to Scotland for that reason, in places such as Gretna Green (just over the border from England) the romantic notion of tying the knot there still persists - they have over 5,000 weddings a year in that village.
Of course, Madonna gave the idea of a wedding in Scotland a boost with her well publicised nuptials at Skibo Castle, near Dornoch, north of the capital of the Highlands, Inverness. She said that she had chosen Scotland because it was "dripping in atmosphere" and is so beautiful. She praised the Scots who had looked after her so well and described her week at Skibo castle as "a truly magical experience".
- Both parties must be at least 16 years old and not related too closely - some of the less obvious prohibitions include aunt, uncle, niece, nephew.
- They must be unmarried at the time of the wedding or produce documentary evidence that earlier marriages have ended by death, divorce or annulment.
- The couple must not be of the same sex.
- Check that a marriage in Scotland is valid in the country where you live. Most countries do accept Scottish marriages (including those where the parties are aged 16 or 17, even if they are not allowed in the country of domicile).
- The parties must be capable of understanding the nature of a marriage ceremony and of consenting to marry.
- Form M10 (see links below) giving notice of marriage, the requisite documentation (see point 7 below) and the fee must be sent to the Registrar for the district where the marriage is to take place. It is often helpful to telephone the Registrar before completing these forms. Normally the notices should be sent four weeks before the intended date (longer if checking of divorce papers etc is required). The minimum period is 15 days before the wedding but if there are any technical problems which need to be resolved, the marriage may not take place on the planned date. You cannot submit the M10 form more than three months in advance. However, most Registrars will accept a provisional booking date well ahead of the date - but the forms must still be submitted in the proper timescales.
- All documentation should be submitted to the Registrar either in person or by post (not e-mail) after it has been signed by both parties. It will include original birth certificates, certificates of final divorce or previous spouse's death certificate (if applicable). If you live outside of the UK you will be required to produce a "certificate of no impediment" from a competent authority in your home country. If this document is not in English, you must supply a certified translation.
- Although it is not necessary for the couple to go to the Registrar in person before the wedding, one person must attend personally in the seven days prior to the wedding (the wedding day does not count here). If you are having a religious ceremony (see below) the Registrar will issue the Marriage Schedule at this time.
- If one of the people getting married lives in Scotland and the other in England and Wales, the notice can be given by the latter person to the Superintendent Registrar in the district in which they reside. After 21 days, they will issue a certificate of marriage - which must be sent to the Scottish Registrar.
- Scotland is the only country in the UK where there is no residency requirement before you can get married. But see also point 8 above.
- You will require two witnesses, both over age 16, to be at the wedding and sign the documentation afterwards.
In Scotland, authorised religious ministers can perform marriage ceremonies anywhere and (theoretically) at any time of the day or night. Of course, many religious weddings will be performed in a place of worship. But if you want to wed in a hotel or a castle, on top of a mountain or on a boat, if the minister agrees and you have two witnesses, you can do so.
Most religions will have a standard form of wedding ceremony and vows, but many allow some latitude. There are sites which give a form of wording for Scottish wedding vows (and even in Gaelic, if you know how to pronounce the words - sorry I don't!). These can be varied to suit individual taste - but the minister will literally have the final word on what he/she will accept as appropriate.
Remember that ministers are busy people so give them as much notice as possible of the intended date of marriage.
It used to be that Registrars could only carry out marriages in designated Registrar's Offices where wedding suites are usually very well appointed and flowers, photographs etc can be arranged. Again, the Registrar will have his/her own standard form of words but these may be amended with the approval of the Registrar. Again, forward planning and consultation is advisable. The Marriage (Scotland) Act 2002 permits civil marriages to be solemnised at locations other than registration offices and local councils approve locations for that purpose. This has allowed a wide range of places to apply for approval to be permitted to be used for a civil wedding. Each authority keeps a register of every approved place within its area for which a period approval has been granted, containing the name, description and full postal address (if any) of the approved place and the name and address of the approval holder.
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