Types of marriage
- You can marry in either 2 ways in Scotland – by a religious/other belief ceremony or by a civil ceremony. The information provided here applies to civil marriages.
- A religious marriage (which includes other beliefs), may take place anywhere and can be solemnised only by a minister, clergyman, pastor, priest or any other person entitled to do so under the Marriage (Scotland) Act 1977.
- A civil marriage may take place in a registration office or at a mutually agreed venue by the registrar and couple and may be solemnised only by a registrar or an assistant registrar who is authorised by the Registrar General for that purpose.
How and when to give notice
- Each of you must complete and submit a marriage notice, along with the required documents and the appropriate fee, to the registrar for the district in which you want to register your marriage.
- Timing is important. The notices must be submitted early enough to enable the registrar to satisfy himself that you are free to marry one another. Normally notices should be with the registrar about 10-12 weeks. The minimum period is 29 days before the civil marriage, but if you leave things late you could be faced with the need to postpone your marriage.
- Only in exceptional circumstances will the Registrar General authorise a marriage to take place if 29 days’ notice has not been given.
- Although both parties do not need to attend personally to hand in your marriage notice, at least one of you may be asked to attend personally before the date of the marriage. This might be necessary to finalise arrangements with the registrar in the case of a civil ceremony.
- The registrar, in certain circumstances, will ask to see your valid passport or other document to provide evidence of your nationality.
Find out more about the legal requirements
Making arrangements for the marriage ceremony
- It is important to make early arrangements for the date and time of your marriage.
- If you are having a religious/other belief ceremony, contact the person performing the marriage before completing the notice of marriage
- For a civil marriage, make advance arrangements with the registrar, this is particularly important
- Arrange for 2 persons, aged 16 years or over, to be present at your marriage to act as witnesses.
- Be sure to let the person performing your marriage know if you make any change to your plans or decide to postpone or cancel your marriage.
Picking your venue
Picking your venue is one of the most important parts of arranging your big day, and if you have chosen to have a civil ceremony, due to legislation changes which took effect from 1st September 2014, there is no legal requirement for Registrars to officiate at only licenced venues.