Is it really legal?
Yes. Really. If you want a fully legal Pagan wedding, we can ensure that your handfasting is fully legal and will be recognised throughout the world as such. And you really can get married where, when and how you want. Honest. Click here for the National Records of Scotland (previously General Register Office (Scotland)) web-site which answers lots of questions about the legal aspects of getting married in Scotland.
This sounds ideal, what do we do if we want to book?
Do you specialise in any types of wedding?
Well ... we've performed small intimate weddings with just the couple, the Celebrant and two witnesses present, and also much bigger weddings with a hundred guests, but most of our weddings do tend to be for smaller gatherings. We never intended this, of course, and our services are open to ANYONE, but most of our couples tend to be people who have been married before and now want something which is about THEM, with a focus on the ritual and their own particular relationship. We allow ourselves a little self-congratulation for those ceremonies we've performed for couples where the bride and groom have different beliefs (most often where one is a Pagan and the other is a Christian), where we've been able to design a ritual which is fully acceptable to both of them. Likewise, we are diplomatic when performing weddings where the couples' beliefs differ from their invited guests or family. We find that by using inclusive and open language in our rituals, situations such as these can be dealt with sensitively and to everyone's satisfaction. In fact, the words we hear most often from wedding guests are: "I was really nervous about attending a Pagan wedding, but those words were so beautiful ..."
Do you do surprise ceremonies?
Although a surprise wedding sounds romantic, we are not allowed by law to perform legal weddings unless both parties are fully understanding that they are entering into a legal marriage contract. Refer to this official advice from the National Records of Scotland. We are, however, open to the possibility of performing non-legal betrothals, engagements, proposals, Blessings and renewal of vows ceremonies on the request of just one person but only after some discussion as to its appropriateness please.
Do you have any sample rituals we could view please?
Of course, for weddings you can download some samples on our "Sample rituals" page. These are just ideas for you to see what is possible, YOUR ceremony will be unique to you.
What is the Registrar's involvement in a legal Pagan wedding in Scotland?
The Registrar prepares the paperwork called a Marriage Schedule, from the information supplied on the M10 form which you complete. You need to show your Marriage Schedule to your Celebrant before your wedding ceremony can proceed. During this process the Registrar checks who you are and that you are free to marry each other. You pay a small fee to the Registrar for this. You collect the Marriage Schedule from the Registrar before your wedding. Immediately after your wedding ritual, you, the Celebrant and 2 witnesses sign the Marriage Schedule. Within 3 days (preferably less) you return the Marriage Schedule to the Registrat to register your marriage with the National Records of Scotland (this can be done by post if you make arrangements with the Registrar to do so). At this stage you also purchase a copy of your Marriage Certificate for a further fee from the Registrar. The Registrar does NOT perform the marriage ceremony, that is done by your Celebrant.
How much notice do we have to give?
To us: as much notice as possible please. We can and will perform rituals with no legal status at short notice, depending on our availability, but we prefer as much notice as possible so that we can provide you with the level of service we aim to provide.
To the Registrar (for rituals with legal status only): a minimum of 29 days and a maximum of 12 weeks. The minimum can be waived in very exceptional circumstances at the discretion of the Registrar.
Do we need a special pen and ink to sign the Marriage Schedule?
Yes, you need to sign in black ink using a fountain pen. We will loan you this for your ceremony. You don't need to buy one!
Where do you recommend we get married? Is there anywhere we CAN'T hold a ceremony?
Our most popular location is the Ring of Brodgar, a 5000 year old stone circle, but Orkney has so many beautiful places to choose from! Have a think about the sorts of natural places you like and we will be happy to make recommendations, or perhaps have a read of Helen's Blog to see if anywhere especially appeals to you.
Please don't ask us to conduct a ritual anywhere that is unsafe or where access to the public is generally denied. We are happy to advise on this.
We are generally not able to obtain permission to perform ceremonies at sites which are owned or managed by other religious faiths. Likewise, out of respect to other religious faiths, we will not ask to perform rituals in any site owned or managed by them; although we are honoured if ever invited by them to do so. Please note that this specifically means we are NOT able to conduct ceremonies in the Italian Chapel and / or St Magnus Cathedral.
Where is Orkney and how do we get there?
Please look at our "Getting here" page all about how to get to Orkney and travelling within Orkney.
Can you recommend anywhere for us to stay?
Of course, many of our friends run B&Bs, hotels and self-catering lets - or there are places where we have stayed ourselves which we can recommend. Please see our "Where to stay" page. Please note we can only recommend places, we cannot make bookings on your behalf for legal reasons and because we are Celebrants, not wedding planners.
Can we include our pet(s) in our ritual?
Yes, please look at our "Include your pet!" page.
Are there any other Celebrants in Orkney?
We do not have any sort of "exclusive franchise" on offering Pagan weddings in Orkney so we are happy to recommend other Scottish Pagan Federation Celebrants, but because we are based in Orkney, if you did want to have a legal Pagan wedding in Orkney (or Shetland or the Highlands of Scotland), we are likely to be the most inexpensive option for you in terms of travel expenses. If you want to get married in Orkney but don't want to have a Pagan celebrant, we are happy to recommend Celebrants and Ministers from other beliefs (many of whom we know through Orkney Interfaith) as well as Registrars if you wish to have a civil wedding ceremony.
Do you perform rituals outside of Orkney?
We are able and licensed to perform legal rituals and ceremonies throughout Scotland (and non-legal rituals anywhere in the world) and we are both willing to travel on request (expenses would be due). However, for rituals further south than the Highlands of Scotland, we would recommend contacting other Scottish Pagan Celebrants who would be nearer, simply because their travel costs will necessarily be lower than ours (they won't have to take a ferry nor will they have a long drive). We can contact other Scottish Pagan Celebrants on your behalf on request.
We are in a same sex relationship, can you perform a wedding for us?
YES! We are delighted that from 2015 we have been able to perform legal weddings for same sex couples! The Scottish Pagan Federation have been active in campaigning for a change in the law and now it's finally happened. Previously we have been pleased to perform non-legal Blessings in conjunction with, but separate from, a Civil Partnership arranged through a Registrar, but from 2015 we no longer have to compromise and neither do our couples.
We're in a polyamorous relationship (more than two people), can you perform a wedding for us?
We would be delighted to perform non-legal relationship Blessing rituals for people in polyamorous relationships but, sorry, the ritual would have no legal status.
We're not Pagans, can you perform a wedding for us?
Let us reassure you that you certainly don't have to think of yourself as a "Pagan" to use our services! Most couples who contact us tell us that they are not Pagan but in our experience, couples expressing a wish to have a marriage ceremony performed by us often don't identify themselves with any named religion, instead many just have an affinity with nature, or consider themselves to be more spiritual than religious, or think of themselves as agnostics - what they do have in common is that they are seeking something with a bit more depth than a civil ceremony with a Registrar, but without wanting to take the route of a conventional church wedding. So, if you are looking for a religious Celebrant in order to enable you to get married in a non-licensed venue, we may be able to help.
We're not from the UK, can you perform a wedding for us?
Scottish marriage law permits marriage rituals performed by an approved Scottish Pagan Federation Celebrant to be treated as a fully legal Pagan marriage under the Marriage (Scotland) Act 1977 and to be recognised as fully legal throughout Britain and the rest of the world. However, if you are travelling from outside the UK you are advised to obtain independent legal advice on this, especially if you require marriage visas or have any issues to do with residency. To date, Orkney Pagan Weddings have performed rituals for couples from USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Norway, Sweden, Germany, Italy, Ukraine, England, Wales, Ireland, Scotland and, of course, Orkney! Please refer to this official advice for foreign nationals and to this information here.
We don't live in Scotland, or Orkney, do we have to be resident for a period of time before the wedding?
You are allowed to get married in Scotland even if you do not reside in Scotland. And again, unlike England and Wales, you do not have to be resident in Scotland for any period of time before your wedding. This means that anyone travelling to Orkney from outside Scotland, including overseas, can be officially married in this manner. You can even do the preliminary paperwork with the Registrar by post, telephone and email.
We have Orcadian roots, what can we include in our wedding ritual to make it more traditional?
I have a middle name I never use / a nick-name which I prefer to my legal name, can I use that in the ritual instead of my full legal name?
Yes, this is possible, we will be happy to advise. For non-legal rituals, you may call yourselves whatever you wish!
How much will it cost?
Please look at our "Costs" pages for guidance on our charges. Please note that until we know what you require for your ritual, it is difficult for us to quote accurately, so please provide us with as much information as possible.
Why are you asking us for a deposit before you know what your total charge will be?
If you wish to book a date, we will require a non-returnable deposit of £75-£100. This secures the date just for you. We will not ask for a deposit until after we have agreed with you that we are the best people to perform your wedding and that your wedding plans are possible. We will usually not require any more funds from you until we have finalised what you require and your ritual has been written, at this stage we will be in a position to agree with you the likely total fee due (using the guide to our proposed charges as stated on our "Costs" pages). We will make it clear what our fee includes and what it does not include. At this stage we will ask you to sign a personalised version of our contract which we will email to you. When we accept a deposit for a booking we cannot accept any other work on that date, your deposit covers us for any loss of income should you cancel your booking for any reason. If we are able to, we can hold your deposit against a different date (if that date is free) if you subsequently need to change the date of your ritual.
We belong to a coven / grove / group with our own Priest / Priestess whom we would like to perform the ritual, can they?
If you have your own Priest or Priestess whom you wish to perform the ceremony, and you require a Celebrant in order to comply with "the legal bits", we are willing to consider co-officiating but we would ask that your Priest or Priestess is prepared to fully co-operate when working with us in order to ensure that the legal requirements are properly fulfilled.
We would like our wedding guests to have speaking parts in the ritual, can they?
Of course! Weddings where the guests are active and perhaps call quarters or read selected texts are very welcome. We are happy to discuss including your guests in your ceremonies, we would only ask that you check first with your guests that they are happy with this, simply as a courtesy please (because some people can be quite shy about this). This option works especially well when the couple have children - the children can be included to Bless the marriage so that the whole family can be part of your wedding ritual.
Can we combine a baby-naming ceremony with a marriage ceremony?
Of course! This option works exceptionally well as a Blessing for the whole family.
Do you make hand-fasting cords?
Yes, we do, on request, and here is some information. Usually we recommend that couples make their own cords, if they are able to. The simplest method is to three cords (one to represent the bride, one the groom, and one to symbolise your relationship together) then plait them together whilst imagining you are mixing into the weaving everything you would wish for your marriage! We have seen some beautifully artistic cords produced, but we are happy to make them for you, to your instructions, if you don't feel up to the creative challenge of making your own.
We don't like / drink mead / alcohol / honey ... we want something different to drink such as whisky ... we want to include food for our guests.
Our standard procedure is to provide mead for the couple only. On request we can provide a non-alcoholic mead (made from a mediaeval recipe which includes apple juice and honey and spices but please provide notice that you require this). We will suggest alternatives if we have them or will acquire them if you specifically request them and there may be an additional charge for this. You are also welcome to provide your own preferred tipple of choice. For vegans we recommend something from The Orkney Wine Company ... Black Portent is lovely. If you don't wish to have a toast or a quaiche, we can omit this from your ceremony. For food as part of the ritual we recommend that it is symbolic only, rather than the main meal, perhaps a loaf of bread to share, a cake to cut, oat-cakes ... you are welcome to provide this yourselves or we will acquire them if you specifically request us to and there may be an additional charge for this.
We want to jump the broomstick, can we? Can we keep the broomstick?
We can loan you a traditional besom to jump which we decorate with seasonal flowers. We make a small additional charge for this. If you wish to keep a besom afterwards, we make mini-besoms which you can jump over at the same time as the besom. Alternatively you can bring your own broomstick or mini-besom.
Do you make any other crafts?
Yes, we make a range of other items for your special day and spiritual practice, please see our crafts pages.
Can you help us to arrange our reception and other wedding things?
We are Celebrants, not wedding planners. We only plan the ceremony itself. We are happy to make recommendations to you and you can find many of them on our "Links" pages, but we are not able to make bookings for you with other agencies, you would have to do that yourselves. We can recommend an Orkney-based wedding planner on application.
Can you recommend a photographer for us?
We are happy to make recommendations to you and you can find many of them on our "Links" pages. For couples on a budget we offer a wedding photography service ourselves with prices starting from just £75, rising to £150, please contact us for further information.
We need a piper / harpist / drummer!
We are happy to make recommendations to you and you can find recommendations for musicians on our "Links" pages.
Do you have any testimonials?
How do we get married at the Ring of Brodgar?
Historic Environment Scotland own or manage many of the ancient and historic sites in Orkney, including the Ring of Brodgar, and we have excellent relationships with their staff which facilitates gaining permission for rituals. As we are both trained archaeologists, Historic Environment Scotland know that we would never do anything to harm their properties and that we will advise couples on what is feasible and practical. We can assist with liaising with Historic Environment Scotland to gain permissions but please start by completing and submitting the forms which can be downloaded by clicking on the buttons below.
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