How To Get Married In Scotland or Elope: A Destination Wedding Guide For Foreigners

How We got married in Scotland A beginners guide for foreigners who want to elope

Usually when I tell people that my husband and I eloped to Scotland, there is a short pause…….

followed by  “Wow!”

followed by “Why?”

and maybe even a “How did you manage that?”

Since I already explained why we eloped to Scotland here, I thought I would explain exactly HOW we did it.

How to get married in Scotland

In this post, I will give you a high level view of everything we did and everything you need to know to get married in Scotland, from required documents and residency requirements to what to expect. 

*NOTE: This is NOT a guide for UK Citizens.  

What We Had To do To Get Married In Scotland.

First of all, anyone can get married in Scotland.

**UPDATE**As of 2014 same sex marriage is legal in Scotland..

There are no residency requirements or pre-requisite to fulfill other than the fact that we had to be at the registrars office the day before to check in.

You do however need to meet the below requirements to get married.

  • You are both 16 on the day of your marriage
  • You are not already married.
  • The marriage needs to be legal in your home country. (Americans and Canadians you are covered here and you don’t even need to register it once you return home)

First Gather Up All Your Documents

Family photo at registrars in scotlandThe first thing you need to do is get all the documents and paperwork  in order and you need to give yourself enough time to do it.

I recommend starting at least 3 months in advance.

Please check with the nearest embassy since this list may be incomplete and rules are subject to change.

You will need the following DOCUMENTS and PAPERWORK

  1. Two “marriage Notice forms” or M-10 form. One for each of you. You can download the M-10 form from the registrars office.
  2. Birth Certificates for both of you. They must be original
  3. Divorce Decree: If you were married before, you must provide a divorce decree or a death certificate if that person is deceased. (They must be certified)
  4. “Certificate of no impediment” (CONI). Contact your home country’s civil authority to obtain this. It is to prove that you are free to marry. Only foreigners need do this step.  Without it,  you will not be able to marry in Scotland. The only exception is if you have lived in the UK for 2 years as a resident.
  5. Valid Passports to prove your nationality.
  6. Visa: Even if you do not need a visa to enter the UK like Americans and Canadians, you will probably need to get a special visa which allows foreigners to marry in Scotland.
    We had to get a biometric visa and some fingerprints. Do this in advance. It took us weeks to get an appointment. Contact the UK Border Agency (Tel No. 0870 606 7766) .
  7. English Only: All documents must be in English so plan accordingly to allow enough time to get a certified translation along with your original documents.

The link below has all the information including the M-10 Form I mentioned above. http://www.gro-scotland.gov.uk/regscot/getting-married-in-scotland/i-want-to-get-married-in-scotland-how-do-i-go-about-it.html

Next, Contact the registrars office in Scotland To Book A Date.

You can contact the registrars office no more than 3 months before your planned wedding date but no later than 15 days before your intended date of marriage.

Don’t wait until you have collected all the necessary documents. Call them as soon as you can to book a date. Scotland is a very popular place to get married remember?  Then when you finally do have all your documents, mail them to the registrars office.

General Questions

Can I have a religious ceremony or a civil one?

Blake and Catherine standing in front of the Edinburgh castle

You can have either a civil or a religious ceremony from any belief system.

Blake and I opted for civil ceremony.

Can I get Married anywhere within Scotland?

Religious Ceremonies: Yes, you can get married almost anywhere including in a castle, on a boat, in a park or anywhere you can cook up provided you can arrange for it with a minister, clergyman, pastor, priest or other person entitled to do so.

Civil Ceremonies: You have three choices. 1-get married in the registrars office which is kind of like a court house or city hall. 2-Choose one of the pre-approved places in your registrars area. (Check at the Marriage/Civil Partnership section for the list of approved places. Here is the link http://www.gro-scotland.gov.uk)

3- For a fee, you can have a civil ceremony some place not on the approved list like in a castle.

What if I want to have a bachelorette or stag party?

Andre standing in front of a kilt store in Scotland

Stag parties and bachelorette parties can be a lot of fun and if you are one of the lucky ones who actually have friends and family willing to Travel all the way to Scotland, then why not have one last hoorah before you tie the knot.

You may want to hire a service to plan your party rather than ask your best man or woman to plan it in a country they are unfamiliar with.

What About Formal Wear For The Groom?

When in Scotland, many guys choose to wear Kilts but if  the groom is feeling like going with a plain old tux, he can always rent one at places like the Psyche Formal Hire service.

Blake opted to wear a suit which we bought in Paris the week prior…

you need 2 witnesses for the ceremony: we grabbed two strangers off the street.

2 complete strangers were our witnesses.

What if we do not have witnesses

We didn’t have any witnesses so we waited out front of the registrar hoping some passer-by would agree to be our witnesses.

In the end there was another couple registering to get married and they offered to be our witnesses. Phew…

Apparently, this type of thing happens all the time.

Standing in front of the place where the Scottish crown jewels are housed.

Conclusion

Whether you want to elope or you want an intimate wedding, If you love to travel and you’re feeling a little adventurous, Scotland just might make the perfect place to exchange your wedding vows. 

 

About the Author

Annie André Is a half Thai, half French Canadian/American freelance writer, digital marketer and author of THE LIVE IN FRANCE GUIDE,, an expat travel and lifestyle blog featuring, destination guides, inspiration, travel tips and personal adventures and advice on living in France.

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