The beginner’s guide to wedding ceremony types

The end result might be the same but there are lots of different ways to tie the knot.

Here’s a beginner’s guide to the main wedding ceremony types in Scotland…

IMAGE | Weddings by Hayley & Craig 

Religious ceremonies

Church of Scotland, Roman Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu – all religious ceremonies vary according to their traditions and beliefs.

All must be performed by an appropriately authorised celebrant but there are different rules regarding where ceremonies can take place and who can be married.

The Catholic Church, for example, normally requires ceremonies to be held in a church you regularly attend.

If you’re a same-sex couple, some Scottish Episcopal Church priests will happily marry you, and the Church of Scotland may follow suit in a few years.

For the specific rules and guidelines around the religious ceremony you’d like, your best bet is to get in touch with your local place of worship – they’ll happily explain all the ins – and – outs!


Civil ceremonies

Civil ceremonies offer a fuss-free way to tie the knot.

There are certain statutory aspects which legally have to be included, but you’ll have freedom to personalise your ceremony by incorporating any readings, rituals or music you like (although any religious content would not be carried out by the registrar).

Plus, civil ceremonies don’t have to take place in a register office.

If your registrar agrees to the location, you can have a civil ceremony pretty much anywhere you like.

If you’re planning to do something a bit different with either the location or content of your civil ceremony, we’d recommend running your ideas past your registrar for approval first.


Humanist ceremonies

We’re very lucky in Scotland to be one of only a handful of countries in which humanist ceremonies are legally binding. If you’re looking for a secular ceremony that offers lots of room for personalisation, this could be the option for you.

Whether you want to get married in the romantic wilds of the Highlands or celebrate your love of Harry Potter with a themed wedding, you’ll be able to create a totally bespoke ceremony with your humanist celebrant.

Consider tying in symbolic gestures, like a handfasting, to add an extra meaningful element.


Interfaith ceremonies

Interfaith celebrants offer great flexibility to couples of any religions, mixed religions or no faith to build a ceremony that speaks to both of your beliefs and family traditions.

You’ll be able to combine multiple different religious and/or secular elements. This can include vows and readings, religious blessings and traditional handfastings.

Whether you’d like a secular ceremony or you and your partner have different religions or beliefs, this is the ideal way to get married in a manner you’ll both feel happy with.


~ T H E  L E G A L  S T U F F ~

IMAGES | Weddings by Hayley & Craig


We know filling out forms isn’t the most glam of wedding tasks, but it is one of the most essential.

Your chosen celebrant will be able to give you specific guidance on all the necessary legal checkmarks you need to have in place for your wedding to be official. These are the three main stages:


You’ll need to submit an M10 Marriage Application Form to your local authority registrar no later than 29 days before your wedding.


Your registrar will prepare your marriage schedule. This is the official doc you’ll both sign on the day, along with your celebrant and witnesses.


You need to submit your marriage schedule to the register office within three working days of your wedding. Then you’ll be sent out your marriage certificate (the legal proof you’ve tied the knot!).

To find a registrar in your area, take a look at The Association of Registrars of Scotland’s list (it’s available on the National Records of Scotland website).