Getting married in Scotland

I am sure you will have heard people saying you need to post your banns or that you need to submit paperwork to the registry office, but what does that actually mean?

Historically, the banns (or notice of the proposed marriage) were proclaimed in the kirk before the congregation on three successive Sundays in case there was any impediment to the marriage. If the bride and groom lived in different parishes the banns were proclaimed in both although not necessarily on the same dates.

This still happens in some churches, but you can not legally get married without paperwork issued by the Registry office  It’s a very simple process and involves the submission of a M10 form and relevant documents to prove your identity and citizenship.  Information from the National Records of Scotland website guidelines will be of great benefit to you.

The following abbreviated guidance notes shown below are from the National Records of Scotland, but it is advisable to follow the link above to their website for full guidance.

By law both parties to a proposed religious or belief or civil marriage must submit the relevant notice forms to the registrar of the district in which the marriage is to take place, thus informing the registrar of their intention to marry. This means that both parties must be aware of the proposed marriage and independently complete and sign the declaration on the marriage notice form (M10 form). Failure to give proper notice can result in a marriage being postponed or prevented from proceeding. Notice must be given in the three-month period prior to the date of marriage and NOT LATER THAN 29 DAYS BEFORE THE DATE OF MARRIAGE.

Submit the notices early enough to enable the registrar to be satisfied that you are free to marry one another. Normally notices should be in the registrar’s hands about SIX to EIGHT weeks before the marriage but if either of you has been married or in a civil partnership before, the notices should be with the registrar EIGHT weeks beforehand. The minimum period is 29 days before the date of the proposed marriage, but if you leave things as late as this you could be faced with the need to postpone your wedding ceremony.

Only in exceptional circumstances will the Registrar General authorise a marriage to take place if 29 days’ notice has not been given. If you are having a humanist ceremony contact the Celebrant who is to perform the ceremony before completing the marriage notice forms. This is particularly important if the marriage is to be in towns and cities, where large numbers of people may want to be married at certain times of the year.

Although you need not both attend personally at the registrar’s office to hand in your marriage notice, at least one of you should attend there personally. You will then need to collect the Marriage Schedule from the same Registrar’s office. Personal attendance is also necessary at this stage. When you give notice you will be required to sign a declaration to the effect that the information given on your notice is correct.

As a safeguard against simultaneous marriage and/or civil partnership the Registrar General makes a subsequent check of the information.

If time is getting short it is better to give notice first and then pass the documents to the registrar when they become available; but they must be made available to the registrar in advance of the marriage. Provided the documents are in order the marriage can then proceed as arranged.    

Your Celebrant will normally take you through your legal obligations at your Ceremony planning meeting, but remember, we are always here to help and please just get in touch if you have any questions on submitting your paperwork

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