Friday, 4 April 2008

Dotting the "i"s...

One of the great joys of being a celebrant is that we deal with the fun bits of the wedding - meeting the couple, creating and delivering the ceremony - and the Registrars do all the painstaking (but crucial) investigative work behind the scenes - checking you really are who you say you are; checking you're not actually married to someone else; checking that you understand what you're getting yourself into; and - when they've done all that - producing the all important Marriage Schedule. 

So, what do you do if you want to get married in Scotland? First of all, go to the General Register of Scotland site, read the information and download the Form M10, which is the Marriage Notice. Before you complete it, phone the Registrar local to your venue and they'll give you advice. 

I think these are the most important (but not the only) things they'll tell you:
Before the wedding 
  • If you've never been married, you need to get your completed M10 to the Registrar 4 weeks before the date of the wedding. 
  • If you're divorced, get it in 6 weeks beforehand.
  • The normal minimum is 15 days but in exceptional circumstances, they can be and usually are extremely helpful.
  • When you send in or hand over the M10, the Registrar will want to see your passport, birth certificate and (if relevant) divorce papers.
  • During the week before your wedding, at least one of you must go in person to the Registrar's office to collect the Marriage Schedule.

During the wedding
  • You need two witnesses over the age of 16 
  • The schedule must be signed with a fountain pen using indelible black ink (don't worry, I'll bring that)

After the wedding
  • The schedule must be returned to the Registrar within three days (I usually suggest giving it to one of the mums as they tend to be the most 'responsible adult' on the day, and asking them to drop it off on their way home the next day)
  • If you want a copy of the signed marriage schedule, they'll give you one in exchange for the appropriate fee.

By the way, when you get to the GRO site, you'll notice it doesn't mention humanist ceremonies. Instead it says, "If you want a civil rather than religious marriage (which includes other belief systems), the Registrar will be able to help you choose a day and time and tell you what fees you are likely to pay."

Which I find confusing. Although you might expect a secular, non-religious humanist wedding to be "a civil marriage", it isn't. Humanism is one of the "other belief systems" referred to above. Never mind - if you let them know you're having a humanist ceremony, at the very least they'll know what you're talking about.


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