What form does a marriage ceremony take 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 place agreed with the registration authority, 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 legal 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. Couples may be permitted to have religious readings or hymns forming part of their marriage proceedings.  Any content of that nature would not be carried out by the registrar.  Usually couples prefer family members or friends to do this.  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
  • Legal Marriage Declarations
  • Exchange of Rings
  • Pronouncement of Marriage
  • Signing of the Marriage Schedule

The Religious Marriage Ceremony

 Religious or belief marriage ceremonies vary greatly, depending on the religion or belief 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 if it is an opposite sex marriage must include, and must be in no way inconsistent with,

  • a declaration by the parties, in the presence of each other, the celebrant and two witnesses, that they either accept each other as husband and wife or accept each other in marriage or make both declarations; and
  • a declaration by the celebrant, after the foregoing declaration, that the parties are then husband and wife or are then married, or make both declarations.

 The form of ceremony if it is a same sex marriage must include, and must in no way be inconsistent with,

  • a declaration by the parties, in the presence of each other, the celebrant and two witnesses, that they accept each other in marriage; and
  • a declaration by the celebrant, after the foregoing declaration, that the parties are then married.