The Wedding Ceremony

The wedding ceremony has to be the most important part of your whole day. As you stand before all of your guests and take each other to be man and wife, it really is what everyone is there for. But it’s not as simple as it may seem, and there are plenty of choices that need to be made before you walk down the aisle. This brief article discusses the differences between a Catholic service, a Church of Scotland service and a Civil ceremony.

Wedding Rings

Religious or Civil?

For most people this is a simple decision however it can sometimes be an obstacle if one of you wants something different to the other. In my experience, if somebody wants a religious ceremony then generally this is how the wedding has progressed – one persons religious beliefs have generally trumped the other persons lack of the same.


In Scotland there are two main faiths – Catholic and Church of Scotland. While there are others, I have concentrated on these two as the main ones, with no offence meant to anyone of another faith! The two faiths can sometimes lead to a difficult moment if there is a conflict, not always for the actual bride and groom, but for the families. You will also likely face some questions from the minister or priest in regards to how children will be raised and educated

Details of the specifics of a Church of Scotland ceremony can be found here, and a Catholic ceremony here.

For both ceremonies, there will be a place for hymns. Remember that a number of your guests may not be regular churchgoers, so try to choose hymns that you know are popular. We’ve compiled a list of popular wedding hymns which you can download from our Resources page. This provides a wee description of each hymn as well as a guide as to where the hymn could feature.

Both religious ceremonies require a civil element and without this marriage is not recognised. This includes the presence of two witnesses who must sign the marriage register.

Civil Ceremony

A civil ceremony is carried out by a registrar and contains no religious elements whatsoever – it cannot include any hymns, religious readings or prayers. This does not mean that the ceremony needs to be a cold, formal process. There are a huge number of readings available which can really personalise your ceremony, and the music as you walk down the aisle, sign the register and leave the ceremony can really stamp your mark.

The music of a civil ceremony can be played on a CD, or you could opt for something a little different such as a string quartet or a harpist. The musicians will have a library of music from which you can choose, and if you have something in particular which you would like playing at your ceremony, they may have the option to learn a piece especially for you.

You also get to choose your wedding vows. Your registrar will provide some of the more popular vows in the literature when you confirm your booking but you are free to write your own if you wish.

Whether you choose a religious or a civil ceremony, the choices you make will ensure your ceremony is unique. Spend some time with your registrar, priest or minister, as well as each other, and you’ll be able to create something truly memorable.