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Getting Married in Scotland

What form does a marriage ceremony take in Scotland?

There is no legally prescribed form of words to be used in relation to 'marriage vows' in Scotland. The marriage ceremony can be conducted in English - or in any other language (including Gaelic and Scots), so long as all parties (including the celebrant) can understand the language (with the services of a translator if necessary).

The Civil Marriage Ceremony

Whether you are planning your civil ceremony to take place in a registrar’s office, or at a venue approved for civil ceremonies, you may choose to personalise your civil ceremony.  You may incorporate readings, poetry, music or indeed your own personal vows to one another, in addition to the Statutory Declarations you must make.

In many Local Authorities the registrar will provide you with samples of appropriate readings. There are also many publications available from which you can choose suitable readings.  As a civil ceremony is non religious in all aspects, all readings and music must be of a secular nature.
Registrars will be happy to assist in the planning of your civil ceremony, whether you choose to have a simple, quiet ceremony, or a large grander event.  However, there are certain statutory aspects which must be included in all legal marriage ceremonies.

It is always advisable to let the registrar know your wishes for your ceremony well in advance of the date of your marriage. 

The order of ceremony example below is the usual form a civil ceremony will take

  • Arrival of Groom and Guests
  • Arrival of Bride and Attendants
  • Welcome & Introduction by Authorised Registrar
  • Definition of Marriage
  • Statutory Marriage Declarations
  • Exchange of Rings
  • Pronouncement of Marriage
  • Signing of the Marriage Schedule

The Religious Marriage Ceremony

Religious marriage ceremonies vary greatly, depending on the religion involved.  They include marriages by celebrants of many Christian denominations, and celebrants from other religions such as Jews, Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus.  They also include celebrants from other belief systems, notably Humanists. 

The detail of the ceremony is decided by the celebrant.  But the form of ceremony must include, and must be in no way inconsistent with,

  1. a declaration by the parties, in the presence of each other, the celebrant and two witnesses, that they accept each other as husband and wife; and
  2. a declaration by the celebrant, after the foregoing declaration, that the parties are then husband and wife.



Page last updated: 8 June 2011

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