When people talk of getting married in another country, we commonly think of weddings on tropical beaches with steel bands playing into the sunset. However, since Madonna married Guy Richie in Skibo Castle in Scotland in 2000, more couples have considered getting married north of the border. In fact getting married in Scotland has long been popular for runaway brides and grooms from England, with the border village of Gretna Green a popular destination for hundreds of years. Gretna remains a popular choice and today it is estimated that as many as one in six of all weddings that take place in Scotland take place in Gretna Green.
It’s no longer possible to elope on a spur of the moment decision, however, as a notice of your intent to marry, along with all the required documentation, has to be submitted to the registrar at least 15 days before the wedding. But it is easy for foreign nationals to have a legal civil wedding in Scotland and the internet can help you arrange it.
Gretna Registration Office has its own website at gretnaonline.net which has all the information you need including downloadable forms. It also has useful links to wedding suppliers in the Gretna area. Civil marriages in Scotland must take place at a location approved by the Registrar of Marriages. As well as registry offices there are large numbers of other locations which are approved including hotels and the famous old blacksmiths shop in Gretna where modern couples can still marry. It is also possible to apply for approval of any location on a one-off basis but this will be down to the discretion of the local registrar.
Church weddings in a number of religions or denominations have full legal recognition in Scotland and you will not need to have a separate civil wedding. You must still comply with the civil requirements and obtain for your celebrant a Marriage Schedule issued by the local registrar. The normal paperwork for a wedding within your religion must also be followed.
Wedding receptions are possible at all budgets but shop around, and if you can, visit Scotland before you come to marry to look around venues and make your final decisions. Many venues offer wedding planning services at no extra cost which can be really useful if you are planning your wedding from a distance.
The wedding section of Scotland’s Official Tourism website is very helpful and full of advice and information about getting married in Scotland. It can be found at scottishwedding.visitscotland.com and also includes a list of Scottish wedding traditions.
Good luck with your Scottish wedding and don’t forget to place a sixpence in the bride’s shoe.