To hold a legally-binding marriage ceremony in Scotland, as you’d expect there are a few things you’ll need to do:
Be the age of 16 or over!
Scots Law allows for people to get married from the age of 16 or over (age 18 in England and Wales).
Check the Scottish Government’s guidance
The Scottish Government’s Marriage in Scotland webpage is a great starting point to find out about Scotland’s legal marriage process. More detailed information and access to the required paperwork can be found on the I Want to Get Married in Scotland page of the National Records of Scotland, the government body responsible for marriages in Scotland (my sister works here).
Find your Marriage Officiant
Once you know where you wish to be married, you’ll need to find a Registrar, Humanist Celebrant or religious official to officiate your ceremony and make it legally binding. Each district in Scotland has its own Registry Office(s) where you can book a Registrar from. Find a Registrar from the National Records of Scotland’s Directory of Registrars. If you wish to hold a Humanist ceremony (I like these!), then go to the Humanist Society of Scotland and Find your Celebrant.
Submit your Marriage Notice
Regardless of the type of ceremony you’re holding, you must each submit an M10 Marriage Notice form and your fee to the Registrar of the district where your marriage will take place. This must be received a minimum of 29 days prior to your marriage, and no more than three months in advance. If you want peace of mind it’s best to do this early as possibe. Contact the Registrar first. Remember this isn’t your Registrar or Celebrant’s first gig! They will give advice and answer any questions you may have. See the M10 Marriage Notice Guidance Notes and Form. If you’re having a religious or Humanist Society marriage, the religious official or celebrant will provide accompanying information which must also be submitted with the M10 form.
Proof of identity and residency
You must each provide your Birth or Adoption Certificates as well as valid passports and proof of your residency. If you’re eloping to Scotland from a country outwith the European Economic Area (EEA), then you’ll need to apply for a Marriage Visa. This you’ll need to submit with a Declaration of Immigration Status Form.
If either of you have previously been married, you must provide a Decree of Divorce or Marriage Dissolution document. If this isn’t in English you’ll need to provide a certified translation carried out by a professionally qualified translator.
For your marriage to be legally binding in Scotland it must be witnessed by two persons aged 16 years or over. If only the two of you are travelling this can be tricky. However, your witnesses don’t need to be arranged in advance. Myself and photographers have often been the formal witnesses to a wedding. It’s an honour. Indeed, I’ve been pulled off the street on more than one occasion to witness a wedding in the Edinburgh Registry Office!
If you are accompanied by your witnesses though, you can include their details along with your M10 Marriage Notice form, and their names will be added to the official Marriage Schedule document.
The Marriage Schedule
The Marriage Schedule is the document produced by your Registrar after receiving and verifying all the documents you’ve submitted. If you’re holding a religious or Humanist ceremony which isn’t held in a Registry Office, you must collect this from your Registrar before your wedding. It’s usually available seven days prior to your wedding. You can’t be married without it!
You must give your Marriage Schedule to the person conducting your marriage ceremony. Both of you, your two witnesses and the celebrant will sign your Marriage Schedule during the Signing of the Register. Now your marriage is legally binding!
And don’t forget…
You must return your signed Marriage Schedule to the district Registry Office within three days (days, not working days!) of your ceremony. If you don’t do this, all your hard work will have been in vain!
This is your final step to make your marriage fully legit and legal. Congratulations!!