What Kind of Wedding Ceremony is Right for You?

If you are about to read this post, then you are considering your wedding or the renewal of your vows in Scotland. Firstly, congratulations on your brilliant choice of location!

The ceremony itself is key to your wedding planning. Yes, the party and all the gorgeous details are special, but it is the ceremony that really holds the meaning and the heart of a wedding day.

The great news is, that ANYONE from any country, faith or sexuality can get married, change a civil partnership to a marriage, or renew their vows here in Scotland. What could be more romantic or adventurous than doing so right in the middle of the dramatic Cairngorms National Park?

Legal or non-legal, the choice is yours. The only no-nos are;

  • being under 16 years old,
  • being too closely related,
  • being married or in a civil partnership already,
  • being incapable of understanding what marriage means and of consenting to marriage!

So, as long as you don’t fall into one of these categories, read on in the knowledge that you will be welcomed with open arms here in the Highlands.

Here is a quick overview focusing on the all-important wedding ceremony that will take you into the next chapter of your lives together, helping you make the right decision for yourselves. 

In a nutshell:

In Scotland you can be legally married in either a religious or belief ceremony, or by a civil ceremony as long as you have 2 witnesses aged 16 years and over. It can be conducted in any language including Gaelic and Scots, as long as both of you, your witnesses and the celebrant, can understand.  There is also no need for you to live in Scotland for any length of time beforehand. 

A wedding celebration

Exchanging rings at a wedding

Religious or Belief Wedding Ceremony

A religious or belief ceremony can vary greatly depending on the religion or belief system, and will be performed by a minister, clergyman, pastor or a celebrant who is approved to do so under the Marriage (Scotland) Act 1977.  To be legally binding, you need to make an advance application at a Registry Office in the district that you wish to marry. (I can help you with all those details at a later date)

The benefits of a religious ceremony:

  • You can choose from one of many ancient, beautiful churches in the Cairngorms National Park. Or the wonderful thing about Scotland is that you can be married anywhere provided that the minister agrees. 
  • You can have your entire wedding day in one place.
  • If you wish to, you can request that a minister from another church conducts your wedding.
  • You can choose your hymns and readings and include your faith, front and centre in your ceremony.
  • You can have a blessing in a church or with a minister if you would like to renew your vows.
  • A church wedding is quite easy to set up and you don’t need to think about hiring in seats or a stage.

However, things to consider:

  • The choice of music and readings may be restricted.
  • Some ministers may object to certain photography or videography inside a church.
  • If the wedding is in a church, you will need to move venue for the reception.

Benefits of a belief ceremony:

  • At a belief ceremony such as a legally recognised Humanist wedding, you work closely with the celebrant to write your own vows based on mutual love and respect for each other.
  • A humanist ceremony can take place anywhere….oh yes, let’s get adventurous now!
  • You can stay at the same venue throughout the day.
  • You choose your own music and readings to create your bespoke ceremony. 
  • The ceremony can include one of many ancient traditional rituals such as handfasting or candle lighting.

Things to consider:

  • There can be no mention of anything religious.

For any type of religious or belief wedding ceremony you will need to attend the Registrar’s office within the 7 days prior to the wedding to collect your Marriage Schedule.  This is something to consider when planning the length of time that you spend here in Scotland.

Civil Marriage

The civil ceremony is performed by a Registrar and is legally binding.

Benefits of a Civil Marriage:

  • You don’t have to have your nuptials at the Registration office. In Scotland, it is the Registrar who is licenced to marry, rather than the venue. This means that he/she can perform a civil ceremony any place that is agreed by them.  You can get your outdoor wedding, your rustic village hall, private estate or even your dream castle.
  • You can have all your celebrations in the one place.
  • If you are an atheist, then this option is perfect for you.
  • If you want quick….this is your option too.  The legal vows can be said in under 15 minutes!
  • The Registrar brings your Marriage Schedule on the day so there is no need to collect it prior to your day.

Things to Consider:

  • A civil marriage may lack the drama and atmosphere associated with a religious/belief ceremony and be very short.
  • There are strict guidelines.
  • You don’t meet the registrar until the day so there is no opportunity to form a any bond with the person who marries you.

Non-Legal Wedding Ceremony:

Independent celebrants can perform beautiful non-legal ceremonies should you be looking to renew your vows.  They can also perform wonderful non-legal wedding ceremonies although you will still need to do the legal formalities with a registrar. There are many celebrants to choose from and by talking to a few, you will find one that you connect with.

Finally, one last option is for a loved one or special person of your choice to perform a non-legal ceremony for you.

So many options………

To summarise, if you are looking for legal, then it’s a choice of religious or belief ceremony or a civil marriage. If you are looking for non-legal, look for an independent celebrant, a religious blessing or your best friend!  You can find more information on the National Records of Scotland website.

If you would like some further help, look no further……I am here! I live in the Cairngorms National Park and I look forward to chatting with you about your wedding ceremony dreams.  I can help you with lots of wedding planning advice including all the important decisions on your wedding day, right down to the tiniest detail. Take a look at my website and the services I offer.  If you would like to have a chat with me, please do get in touch by filling in my contact page

Scotland doesn’t have to feel so far away when you have someone there to help you.

Read my next blog post all about the Intimate Wedding.