A fountain pen used to write on paper

Getting married – the legal process

You’ve decided on a humanist wedding in Scotland. Great – but what’s the legal process?

What you need to do in advance

Anyone marrying in Scotland must submit marriage notices. Each party to the marriage must complete an M10 form along with the supplementary witness form, and supporting evidence.

You need to submit these to the register office local to your chosen wedding venue, who will draw up the marriage schedule. This should be done around three months prior to the wedding, and no later than 29 days prior.  This is a legal requirement regardless of whether you choose a humanist, civil or religious ceremony.

You can read the official guidance and download the forms here.

What happens next

You need to collect the marriage schedule from the register office, usually during the week leading up to the wedding day. You or your partner must collect it in person. Remember – you need to bring this with you on your wedding day. Without it, your celebrant won’t be able to marry you.

On the wedding day

Legal declarations

Your celebrant and witnesses must hear each of you saying ‘I NAME accept you, NAME, in marriage’, although other words can be added in and around those. You can use just first names or full names, and your celebrant will declare you married using the same names.

Signing the marriage schedule

After you’ve made your legal declarations during the ceremony, the two of you, your celebrant, and two witnesses must sign the marriage schedule. Your witnesses can be anyone, provided they are at least 16 years old on the day.

You must sign the schedule using indelible black ink, and your celebrant will provide a fountain pen for this purpose. 

A couple and their humanist celebrant laugh during their wedding ceremony
image credit simonsstudio

After the ceremony

You now need to return the marriage schedule to the same register office within three days (not working days), although someone else can do this on your behalf. The registrar will prepare your marriage certificate and send it to you directly.


You might want to consider requesting multiple copies of your marriage certificate if you intend adopting one of the party’s surnames. This is because you can use the certificate as evidence of your name change, and photocopies are not normally accepted. If, however, you intend to adopt an entirely new surname, this can be done via statutory declaration.
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