National Records of Scotland

Preserving the past, Recording the present, Informing the future

We would like a family friend to solemnise our marriage. Is this possible?

We would like a family friend to solemnise our marriage. Is this possible?

In Scotland a religious or belief marriage may be solemnised only by a minister, clergyman, pastor, priest or other person entitled to do so under the Marriage (Scotland) Act 1977. If it is a religious or belief marriage you are planning and your family friend is not already authorised to act as a celebrant, the Registrar General can grant a temporary authorisation for a particular marriage. A temporary authorisation can only be granted to someone who is affiliated to a religious or belief body and who is supported by office bearers of that body to conduct a marriage ceremony on its behalf.

Please note that an application for a temporary authorisation cannot be considered any earlier than 3 months before the date of a proposed marriage. Anyone applying for a temporary authorisation should forward the following information on the first occasion they apply to Marriage Section at New Register House. The address of New Register House is on our where to find us page.

  • A copy of their religious or belief body's constitution or statement of faith, which should contain the aims and beliefs of the group together with details on the appointment of office bearers.
  • Number of members both locally and throughout the United Kingdom if applicable.
  • How often the local body meets for religious worship or to uphold or promote philosophical beliefs - evidence that the local body meets regularly must be produced e.g. sermon dates, calendar of the religious/belief body’s events, minutes of meetings.
  • A copy of the wording of the proposed marriage ceremony.
  • Their full name and the designation they would use when signing the Marriage Schedule eg Minister, Pastor or Lay Preacher.
  • Letters from two office bearers of the religious or belief body  supporting their application and testifying to their status within the group.
  • The full names of the couple, the date and place of the marriage. 

    A civil marriage may be solemnised only by a registrar or an assistant registrar who has been authorised by the Registrar General for the purpose.