Everything you need to know about getting married in Scotland

Fancy getting married in Scotland? From ceremony types to paperwork and traditions, here’s exactly what you need to know.     

scottish wedding ceremony

 

Can anyone get married in Scotland?

Yes! Scotland is significantly more relaxed and flexible about where and how you can get married, making it an attractive location for Scots and non-Scots alike.

Foreign nationals may be married in Scotland so long as they are not subject to immigration control . If so, an entry visa may be required. If you live within the European Economic Area (EEA) the arrangements for marrying in Scotland will be the same as those for a couple living in the UK.

COMPLETE THE PAPERWORK

You and your partner must each send a completed M10 marriage application form no later than 29 days before the wedding,

Once you’ve submitted your M10 forms the register office will prepare your Marriage Schedule. This is the document you, your celebrant and witnesses sign during the ceremony. Click here for guidance notes and a link to your M10 marriage application form.

After the wedding you must submit the signed Marriage Schedule to the register office within three days. Your marriage certificate will then be sent out.

RECORDING A CHANGE OF NAME

If you choose to change your name, you’ll need to contact people such as your employer, your bank, the Passport Office and DVLA with your marriage certificate and a covering letter.

Make sure the name you book your honeymoon under and the name on your passport are one and the same to ensure a trouble-free airport departure.

saying vows - Emma Gray Photography
IMAGE | Emma Gray Photography

DECIDE WHAT TYPE OF CEREMONY YOU’LL HAVE

RELIGIOUS | Church of Scotland services can be held anywhere so long as your minister approves. Believers of other faiths are welcome too. Roman Catholic ceremonies are slightly different and must be held in a place of worship in regular use. Either you or your partner has to have been baptised in the Catholic faith.

If one of you isn’t Catholic you’ll require special dispensation from a local Catholic Bishop. You may also have to attend marriage preparation classes.

FIND OUT MORE ABOUT RELIGIOUS WEDDING CEREMONIES IN SCOTLAND

CIVIL | If you don’t fancy incorporating any belief elements into your big day then a civil ceremony is perfect. This is conducted by a registrar and can take place in a register office or another approved place.

** Same-sex couples who formerly had a civil partnership can convert it to a marriage. You can either fill out and sign an application form in the presence of a registrar or hold a civil, religious or belief ceremony. Your marriage will then be legally recognised as having started on the date you registered your civil partnership.**

FIND OUT MORE ABOUT CIVIL CEREMONIES IN SCOTLAND

INTERFAITH | A lovely, personal option for couples of any faith, two different faiths, or none at all. “Words, readings and music can be religious, non-religious or something in between,” says interfaith celebrant Jane Patmore. “You can include symbolic gestures such as handfasting or candle lighting. Ideal for couples who want flexibility, or hold different beliefs, or want to respect their family traditions.”

FIND OUT MORE ABOUT INTERFAITH CEREMONIES IN SCOTLAND 

HUMANIST | This type of ceremony let couples say in their own words on why they are getting married. They can also marry couples anywhere in Scotland. Tim Maguire, registered celebrant with the Caledonian Humanist Association has performed ceremonies at the tops of Monroes and on remote beaches, as well as in castles and hotels.

FIND OUT MORE ABOUT HUMANIST CEREMONIES IN SCOTLAND

Bride and groom on beach - Jarvie and Jones Photography
IMAGE | Jarvie and Jones Photography

GETTING MARRIED IN SCOTLAND, YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED

What are wedding vows like in Scotland?

According to the Registrar General of Scotland: “There is no legally prescribed form of words to be used in relation to ‘marriage vows’ in Scotland.”

While certain types of ceremony will follow a set format, others will allow you to write your own.

It’s a good idea to have personal religious or non-religious readings at your wedding ceremony too. All ceremony types allow readings.

We’ve pulled together some of our favourite non-religious ceremony readings – take a look! 

How can I incorporate Scottish wedding traditions into my ceremony?

From tartan to a sprig of white heather, Scotland has its very own wedding traditions. Some of the most popular and well-known are:

  • handfasting
  • drinking from a quaich
  • wearing tartan in the form of a kilt or trews
  • bagpipe music

There are lots of other specifically Scottish wedding traditions that you can include not just in your ceremony, but before and after it.

 

I don’t currently live in Scotland. Can I elope?

Gretna Green has ensured Scotland is associated with the romance of eloping. Big family affairs aren’t everyone’s idea of the perfect ceremony and some couples can’t face a big white wedding.

All you need is your celebrant, paperwork and two witnesses. You could always throw a big party at a later date!

Can I get married outdoors in Scotland?

 

Unlike in England and Wales where you can only tie the knot outside if you’re under a roofed structure, you can get married anywhere in Scotland.

With so much stunning scenery to choose from, you’ve got your pick of glens, mountaintops, beaches and loch banks. (We also have amazing indoor wedding venues, too though!)

 

Start planning your Scottish wedding ceremony with our inspiration and advice