Scotland Elopement Planning Guide 2023

Filed in Elopement Guides — January 5, 2023

Why Elope in Scotland?

Where do I start? Scotland is one of the most beautiful countries in the world, with vast landscapes of towering mountains, crushing waterfalls, magical lochs and hidden forests. It is also the only country within the UK in which you can legally marry anywhere, so the possibilities are endless. 

So whether you have a connection with an area of Scotland, or you want to make your wedding all about you and your story, or you simply just want to keep things intimate and get married in a beautiful setting, eloping in Scotland may just be for you.

Choose a Location

When it comes to location, you will be completely spoilt by choosing to elope in Scotland. Whether it be Glencoe, the Isle of Skye, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs or the Cairngorms, there are almost unlimited options. 

Within each of these regions are a multitude of settings, such as mountains, rivers, lochs and forests. It can seem daunting if you don’t already have a location in mind, but this is where I am able to provide some options based on your interests. 

It is important to settle on a location relatively early in the planning process since ceremony location is required for your marriage paperwork.

Pick a Date

Next up is when to get married – also a requirement for your marriage paperwork. The Scottish countryside goes through some huge shifts in colour throughout the year, with the oranges and browns of autumn appearing September to November, and the rich greens in late spring. 

It should also be worth considering that the summer months are usually the busiest in Scotland, but we can always find a secluded spot to hold your ceremony. 

Find Your Celebrant

Humanist ceremonies, for many people, are the perfect way to elope in Scotland. A humanist celebrant will work closely with you to craft your ceremony, and provide options for any old Scottish traditions you may want to include, such as tying the knot. 

The Humanism Society Scotland is the best place to start, and is a directory of humanist celebrants who are legally able to marry you.

Find Your Witnesses

One final detail that needs deciding before you can submit your marriage paperwork is deciding who will act as your witnesses. 

To legally elope in Scotland, you must have two people to witness your marriage, and this is straightforward if you are being accompanied by family and friends. However, if you are keeping things intimate, I am able, and privileged, to act as one of your witnesses on the day. 

Complete the Paperwork

Whether you are planning a civil, religious or belief ceremony, the process is largely the same when it comes to applying for your marriage schedule. Both parties are required to send an M10 Marriage Notice form to the nearest registrar to the area in which you plan to elope. For example, the M10s for a Glencoe elopement would need to be sent to the Fort William registrar’s office. This form also contains important information for those travelling to Scotland from outside the UK for their elopement. 

The M10 form and any accompanying paperwork should be submitted to the registrar’s office no earlier than three months, and no later than 29 days before the date of marriage. It’s also worth pointing out that many registrars allow for photocopies to be used for your documents, with the originals shown when collecting the marriage schedule before the ceremony, but check with your registrar first.

If you are visiting from overseas, you may require a marriage visa to conduct the legal ceremony in Scotland. You can check whether you need a visa and find out the steps to obtaining one here. In most cases, the timeline for completing this paperwork aligns with the steps for the marriage schedule, and so it is best to start completing these documents together when you are three months from your wedding date.

Collect Your Marriage Schedule

You should receive a call from the registrar once your marriage has been approved, and your marriage schedule can be collected from the registrar’s office no earlier than seven days before your elopement. Please check the office’s opening times and factor in this trip to collect your marriage schedule into your travel plans, as you can’t hold a legal ceremony without it! 

On the morning of your ceremony, your celebrant will collect your marriage schedule from you ready for the ceremony.

After the Ceremony

The marriage schedule must be returned to the registrar’s office within three consecutive (not working) days of your ceremony so that the marriage can be registered, so make sure this visit is also factored into your travel plans. Fortunately, many registrar’s offices have a post box so that you can drop off your marriage schedule on a weekend if necessary. 

After receiving your marriage schedule, the registrar will then begin the process of issuing you a marriage certificate! 

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