Ministers of the Church of Scotland are authorised to perform marriages. The Church does not regard marriage as a sacrament and ministers are free to marry people who are not members of the Church of Scotland. However, if neither the bride nor groom is a member of the Church, the first approach should be to the minister of the parish in which one or other of them resides.
Can anyone be married in a Church of Scotland church?
The Church of Scotland is 'national', in that every district has its parish church. The parish minister is willing to discuss conducting marriage for any member of the parish. If you are not a church member, the minister will want to discuss with you whether a religious ceremony is what you are looking for, whether it will have meaning for you, and whether he or she agrees it is appropriate in your situation.
Can divorced people be remarried in the Church of Scotland?
Marriage is not understood in the Church of Scotland to be a sacrament. Whilst believeing and asserting as a Church that marriage is for life, a minister may conduct the marriage of a divorced person whose former spouse is still alive. He or she, however, will wish to be certain that problems which gave rise to the first divorce are not likely to be repeated. The future well being of children from the first marriage is also taken into account. The final decision rests with the minister concerned.
Can people come from outwith Scotland to be married in a Church of Scotland church?
Yes, this is possible. Marriage in Scotland takes place under Scots Law, and those people who satisfy its requirements may be married. However, the local minister also has to agree to conduct the wedding. In practice, some ministers are not able to marry everyone who comes from without their parish; some locations have a very high demand for weddings and it is not possible to fit these in as well as more immediate parish duties. In all cases, a minister will wish to interview a couple before agreeing to marry them, so that he or she is satisfied that a religious ceremony is appropriate. It is helpful if the couple have a reason for approaching a particular parish minister - family, knowledge of the place, etc. The minister may suggest that the couple arrange for their own minister to conduct the wedding.
Can a minister of another Church conduct a wedding in Scotland?
Yes, if the Scottish Registrar is willing to accept him or her. For this, the registrar may need documentary evidence that the minister is in good standing with his or her home Church. The minister of the church in which the marriage is to be celebrated would also need to give approval.
Is it true that a minister can marry a couple anywhere?
Yes, but not all are willing or able to do so. Some may feel, for example, that a particular location does not contribute as well as a church does to the meaning of the ceremony. However, it is now possible for civil weddings to be carried out by registrars outside Registry Offices in approved venues.
What should I do next?
It is important to arrange a date with a minister before making other arrangements. The local registrar should be approached not more than three months and not later than a 29 days before the date of the wedding. The intention to be wed will be displayed at the Registrar's Office and, if no objections are lodged, a marriage schedule will be issued, which must be produced at the wedding for signing. This is then returned to the Registrar's Office who will then issue the marriage certificate.