Tag Archives: Registrar

It’s just a piece of paper…..

Some years ago, a couple who were getting married on the Saturday arrived at the rehearsal on the Thursday evening.

After greeting them, and before starting the practice, I always ask for the Marriage Schedule*

*(the Schedule is issued by the local Registrar, after notice of a marriage has been publicly posted for a minimum of a month and no objections have been made.  The couple have first to lodge an application form each – known as an M10 – with their personal details etc.). Without a Schedule, the celebrant can’t legally proceed with the wedding)

So, having asked them, after a lot of rummaging about in several carrier bags, the bridegroom-to-be produced…… the completed M10 forms.  They hadn’t lodged them with the Registrar.




Super panic stations!  The groom was a soldier and was about to be posted to Northern Ireland.  He wouldn’t be given married quarters if he….um…..weren’t married.

Well, given that we had a day’s grace before the Ceremony, on the Friday, we met with the Registrar to try to salvage the situation.

Guess who got pelters and a complete dressing down?  The thicko couple? Think again……moi!

How lax of me not to put in writing what they had to do; should have checked with them weeks before that they had followed proper procedures, and so on.

A piece of officially headed notepaper was more or less thrown across the desk at me, and I was ordered to write down an account of what had happened (including a solemn declaration that I had indeed arranged to marry them – and when that agreement had been made; well, to be honest, I couldn’t remember, but took a stab at ten months previously……this got a nod of approval from “the bride”)

Old hatchet face then faxed all the paperwork to the Registrar General’s office in Edinburgh, and, lo and behold…..permission was granted.

On leaving the Registrary Office, she warmly shook the hand of the young couple, saying “I hope you have a lovely day tomorrow, despite all this nonsense you’ve been put through” (the latter part of the sentence said while glaring at me), then dismissed us with a perfunctory wave of a hand.

And they lived happily ever after…..sort of…..I heard they divorced two or three years later!




A strange one!

A long time ago, I was covering for a Minister friend while he was off sick.  One Saturday he had been scheduled to conduct a wedding in his church.  I was asked to take the Service instead.

The Registrar, whom I knew well – and who was a member of that congregation – phoned me several days before the Ceremony was due to be held, and, without explanation, said something along the lines of “This is unusual, I know, but I’m not going to hand over the Marriage Schedule to the couple; I’ll bring it myself to the church five or ten minutes before the service and give it to you personally”

This she did (her office was across the road from the kirk, and she went there – unusually – on a Saturday afternoon when it was normally closed).

She hung about outside while the wedding service was being held, then came in afterwards to collect the completed document.

The ceremony passed without incident, so I’ve no idea what was going on……

…..however, I understand the battalions of plod were deployed later to the reception – held in a posh hotel in a neighbouring town.  Luckily, I wasn’t there, because I had excused myself – having apologised for having “a subsequent engagement”



And – very recently……

They were getting married on the Saturday, and the bride-to-be phoned me on the Thursday evening to check that everything was OK.

After reminding her what was involved in the ceremony, I finished by saying that she or her husband-to-be should (as is advised by the Registrar, if their Office is closed  as it would be on the Sunday) post the completed form through the letterbox of the Registrary Office – they were leaving the district on the Sunday – and that it would be processed when they opened up again for the next working week.

Their marrriage certificate would then be mailed to them some time afterwards.  However, I pointed out that it may take longer than expected as there was a bit of a backlog.

Gobsmacked…said she, “I thought that you would give us our Certificate after the Service!”  (all this had been carefully explained months before when we first made contact).

She continued, “We’re going on honeymoon at the end of the week, and I thought that I could just show my new Marriage Certificate at the airport check-in”

Being helpful, I suggested that she use her current passport- still, of course, in her maiden name (as many newly married women do).

Silence.  Then……”it’s expired”

“Well, how about going in person to the Passport Office on Monday, and getting a fast-track one; a replacement, though still in your maiden name?  They do this, but it will cost you extra.”

Reluctantly- “I suppose so”

Interrupting – “Is your flight ticket in your maiden name?”

Boldly – (as if I were a total eejit) “Of course not; in my new married name!”

We went round in circles. Passport, Marriage Certificate, Maiden Name, Tickets, Registrar, Passport, Marriage Certificate……Registrar, Flight, Passport….

After the ceremony, I chatted briefly with her.

No big deal. She’d contacted the Registrar who promised to process the Schedule and issue the Certificate sooner than soon.

Hope EasyJet or Ryanair staff are as laid back at the check-in counter.

Happy Honeymoon!




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Love and Marriage

The Marriage Act (Scotland) 1977 removed the legal requirement for a minister to ask the congregation at a wedding service if there were any objections to a couple getting hitched.  Since then,everything is “channelled” through the Registrar, who issues a “Marriage Schedule” which is the proof that, after intention to marry has been publicly displayed and no objections have been lodged, the couple is free to marry.

(re-reading the above, I sound like a Civil Servant!)

The Schedule must be in “in the hands” of the minister, before he or she legally can proceed.  That’s why it’s redundant now to ask if there are any objections to the wedding.  It is – effectively – our “green light” to conduct the ceremony without hindrance.

But before the 1997 legislation, we had to ask “If anyone can show good reason why this marriage would not be lawful, let him (sic) speak now, or forever hold his peace….. pause ….Since no one speaks against it, let us pray for John and Mary, before they commit themselves to each other in marriage”

On many an occasion, during the “pause” after the question, some “wag” (usually a pal of the groom) would theatrically cough loudly.

Once, I remember from these good old days, a baby cried ….. the bridegroom said to me, in a stage whisper, “does that count?!”

One  of literature’s greatest examples of someone not forever holding their peace can be found in Jane Eyre, when the heroine and Mr Rochester’s wedding ceremony is scuppered by Mr Mason turning up and mentioning that Mr Rochester already has a wife up in the attic, and their marriage is still legally binding even though she’s a sandwich short of a picnic and no longer good-looking.

Luckily, it’s never happened to me in 41 years of ordained ministry….. but never say never….

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For Better; For Worse

The Meenister’s Log

This was a strange one: I was helping out a neighbouring minister who was on holiday by conducting a wedding ceremony for him at his church.

First of all, the Registrar (whom I knew well) phoned me to say that she herself would  deliver the official paperwork to me half an hour before the service (it is the usual practice for the couple themselves, one or both to collect the marriage schedule in person).  It was also  a Saturday afternoon when she and her staff shouldn’t have been working.  No reason was given.

They were a pretty rough crowd who looked (and smelled) as if they had made record profits for a local hostelry.  Two large, burly guys with polis sized black shoes were standing at the back watching everything left right and centre.

The bride arrived fashionably half an hour late.  Her mother had a face on her that would freeze boiling water in an instant.

The couple barely looked at one another.  When it came to the vows, she hesitated then eventually said “I suppose so – I do”

After completing the paperwork, with the Registrar hanging around to collect it (!)  they tramped sullenly up the aisle, the plainclothes gents with the size fourteens following.

Amazingly, there was no violence, physical or verbal……… they reserved the big punch up for the reception!

I still don’t know what that was all about but I’ve a sneaky suspicion that my colleague, for whom I was covering, had deliberately timed his holidays to avoid that one.

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