Eloping to Scotland is easier than you think...

You would not believe how long it has taken me to put this short post together! I’ve spent hour upon hour trawling through Government websites, Society/Association websites, wedding blogs, even Wikipedia, to gather information, and still had to make a phone call and send a couple of emails to clarify a few conflicts. The process of eloping to/getting married in Scotland is actually pretty simple, but you have to make your way through a virtual labyrinth for a basic wedding checklist! Anyway, here it is, in just three steps…


Step One – Find Your Backdrop

Wedding ceremonies in Scotland can take place almost anywhere – you are only really limited by the stretch of your imagination, so stop your search immediately for ‘wedding venues Scotland’, and instead begin the search for a wedding ceremony location that is yours and yours alone. All you need is permission from the landowner and you’re away! You should find most folk willing to allow small weddings on their land, as long as you reassure them you will be vigilant about shutting gates and clearing up afterwards, e.g. confetti/champagne corks, etc. You may not even need to pay for the privilege! On the other hand, if you need extra peace of mind, there are many elopement packages available with estates and hotels in Scotland who can make every last arrangement for you. We booked a little holiday cottage in the middle of nowhere for a week, and were married on the Wednesday morning a few yards up the track by the side of the loch. On our third anniversary, we revisited the little old tree we stood under when we said our vows. It was that extra bit more special knowing that that particular spot was our own!

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Step Two – Choose Your Celebrant

There are three types of legally recognised wedding ceremonies in Scotland – Civil Registrar, Religious and Belief…

Civil Registrar Ceremonies are strictly non-religious and performed by an employee of the government, in a Registrar’s Office or at a place agreed with the registration authority on an individual basis. You are given three or four wedding ceremony scripts to choose from and you should be able to mix and match exerts to personalise the wording. You have the option to include readings and music, and to write your own wedding vows in addition to the statutory vows. A registrar is appointed on your behalf, so if the district Registrar’s Office is in a large town or city, you are unlikely to have the opportunity to meet them beforehand. However if your ceremony location is more remote, there would be far less registrars serving the area, so you may well be given the chance to sit down with them. If you have any more questions, it might be an idea to call the Registrar General.

A Religious Ceremony can take place almost anywhere is Scotland, and of course vary greatly from one religion to the next, so I’ll leave you to do your own research in to this! You should be able to obtain a list of approved celebrants in the area where you wish to marry from any district registrar.

A ‘Belief’ Ceremony, notably Humanist. Humanism advocates the philosophy that you can live your life morally and with meaning, without holding religious beliefs. A Humanist ceremony is legally recognised in Scotland and allows you complete freedom in how, where and by whom your ceremony is conducted. You can set the tone that’s right for you as a couple, write your own script and promises to each other and choose which, if any, rituals you might like to include, such as hand fasting, candle lighting, sand pouring or even create your own, that is completely individual to you. Everything you need to know about Humanist wedding ceremonies can be found on the Humanist Society website. To choose a Humanist Celebrant in Scotland see the Humanist Society Scotland’s listings.

There is a Fourth Option – A Civil Ceremony can be conducted almost anywhere by an Independent Celebrant and there is no system of belief dictating anything about the ceremony. A Civil/Independent Celebrant allows you to choose readings, poems and music based on your own values, wishes and beliefs, religious or otherwise. The major downside, is that this type of ceremony is not yet legally recognised in Scotland, so you would have to undertake the legal formalities at a Registrar’s Office. The Association of Independent Celebrants are in negotiations with the Government as we speak to get this changed. You can choose a celebrant from the list provided by The Scottish Independent Celebrant Association.

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Step Three – The Paperwork

Around 10 to 12 weeks (or a minimum of 29 days) before your wedding date, you will each need to submit a M10 form by post, to the Registrar’s Office for the area in which you are getting married. They will then provide you with an Extract of Schedule – available for collection in person, from the Registrar’s Office from 7 days before the wedding date – which you, your celebrant and your witnesses will sign on the day of the wedding and you will then return to the Registrar’s Office by post within three working days.

You are required by law to have two witnesses present at your wedding. If you’re not planning to have any guests, we would be more than happy to be your official witnesses. You will need to submit a Witness Details form to the Registrar’s Office alongside your M10 forms.

For any other questions about the legalities of getting married in Scotland, try the National Records of Scotland website and Citizen’s Advice Scotland. Failing that, your celebrant should be able to advise you on everything you need to know.


I hope this post has been helpful. I know we could have done with something like this when we decided to elope to Scotland!

elope definition (e·lope)


verb: run away secretly in order to get married. “later he eloped with one of the housemaids”

synonyms: run away to marry, run off/away together, slip away, sneak off, steal away; run off/away with a lover “perhaps they’ll elope to Gretna Green”


Nowadays, the term elopement has a broader meaning. By all means flit off in the night for a secret ceremony the way the term once intended, but if you fear that your loved ones may be disappointed that they missed out, we’d recommend giving them a heads up. Perhaps a little gathering of your nearest and dearest after the fact, with bubbles and a slideshow of emotive photos may ease the blow! Alternatively, if you don’t want all the fuss of a big wedding, but can’t imagine getting married without your parents and best friends by your side, invite them along. A wedding with a handful of guests could feel just as intimate and meaningful, but you’d still be breaking free from all the expectations of a so called ‘proper’ wedding!

Why elope? Privacy/intimacy/romance, spontaneity, break free from formality, escape the word ‘should’, get married wherever you want – even in the great outdoors, combine your elopement with your honeymoon, with do the unexpected, no people pleasing, save time planning, no guest list and/or table plan politics, avoid coordinating a gazillion wedding suppliers, save a considerable amount of money and splurge on the items that are important to YOU! After all, your photos, your rings, your memories and each other are the only things you get to keep!


Eloping is easier than you think – find out more…

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Kind words from Heather&Jack

“We cannot thank Tino&Pip enough for capturing the love and details of our day so beautiful!y!

For us, our photographer was one of the most important decisions we would make for our wedding day. After the day is over, it is the photos that will keep the memories alive and remember all the small things that the mind might forget. We spent a lot of time researching and comparing photographers, but as soon as we landed on Tino&Pip’s website we were in love! The photos they had taken of other people’s weddings, people we didn’t even know, made us feel like we were there. They weren’t just capturing the physical things, but the emotions that went along with them. 

In the lead up to the day Penny and Martin were so helpful and reassuring and full of good ideas for creative shots! They are such a lovely couple who work so well together and make you feel instantly at ease, which is just what you need when anxiety kicks in on your wedding day! They mingled in with our guests so well we almost forgot they were there! When we received the photos just two weeks after the wedding, we relived the emotions of the day all over again. It was lovely to see the moments they had captured that we missed in the craziness of the day! Everyone has commented on how uniquely beautiful the photos are, and we will be recommending them to friends for years to come! 

Thank you guys!” Heather&Jack


Heather also sent us photos of the thank you newspapers full of photos that they sent out to their friends and family – what a brilliant idea! You can see photos of the spreads in the Personal Projects section of Heather’s graphic design website. Incidentally, she is taking commissions for personalised stationary and wedding signage!

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Kind words from Ruth&George

“Penny and Martin documented the day beautifully. They blended in and took natural shots of genuine moments that captured everyone’s emotions which is what we wanted as apposed to tons of posed shots. We wanted pictures that would show the mood of the day in years to come and this is what they achieved effortlessly.” Ruth&George  

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Kind words from Rachel&Chris

“We just wanted to say that you guys are amazing. The feedback we’re getting from our wedding photos is outstanding. You captured the whole day in such a perfect way. We took Chris’s mum (who sadly missed the wedding) through the photos at the weekend and she said she felt like she’d actually been there now. We’ve shown other photographers and they are all saying that you shot the best wedding photographs that they have ever seen. Some snaps have even been used as reference on a shoot with Ray Winstone… which is funny!… Everyday someone new is commenting on how great the photos are. Chris’s company (a CGI company) have said the quality and retouching on the pics is outstanding. You’ve pleased a really tough crowd! Thank you so much again and we’ll definitely be in touch to order an album as we can’t stop looking at our pics online so we might as well look through a book instead!” Rachel &Chris