Unlike in England and Wales, you can have a fully legal Pagan wedding in Scotland. 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 (if travelling from outside the UK you are advised to obtain independent legal advice on this).
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 Scotland from outside Scotland, including overseas, can be officially married in this manner.
To date, Orkney Pagan Weddings have performed rituals for couples from USA, Canada, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Norway, Sweden, Germany, England, Wales, Ireland and Scotland!
Possibly the most important point for couples who do consider themselves to be Pagan, is that they do not need to have a religious ceremony as well as a subsequent civil ceremony at a registrar's office in order to legalise the marriage (as is still required in England and Wales). In Scotland the religious ceremony IS the legal ceremony (exactly as if, for example, you were getting married in a church).
Scottish law also allows religious marriages to take place anywhere that the landowner’s permission has been obtained, so this means that couples can get married at the venue of their choice as long as the ritual is conducted by a Celebrant approved by the Registrar General (including SPF Celebrants). This means that it is possible for couples to have a legally binding wedding ceremony of their own choice, where and when they want it – they can even write the ceremony themselves!
Helen is one of the Scottish Pagan Federation Celebrants registered with the General Register Office for Scotland, so although either Helen or Mark (or both) can officiate at your wedding, for your marriage to be legal, Helen does have to be named as being the Celebrant at the ceremony and does have to perform the legal formalities mentioned below.
If you have your own priest or priestess who you wish to perform the ceremony, and you require a Celebrant in order to comply with "the legal bits", Helen is willing to consider co-officiating. We can also perform handfastings or renewal of vows with no legal status, at your request.
Sadly, at the present time, the law currently only permits same sex couples to be joined in Civil Partnership, not legal weddings - although on 25 July 2012, the Scottish Government announced that they would bring forward a bill to allow same sex couples the right to religious weddings ... but no date yet! The Scottish Pagan Federation have been active in campaigning for a change in the law in this matter but, until we have an agreed date, we would both be happy to offer same sex couples a religious handfasting and Blessing, but this would have no legal status. This could be in addition to a Civil Partnership arranged through a Registrar, but it must be separate from any legal ceremony. We are hopeful of a change in the law imminently. We would also be pleased to perform non-legal wedding rituals for people in polyamorous relationships.
We do not have any sort of "exclusive franchise" on offering Pagan weddings in Orkney so we can recommend other Scottish Pagan Federation Celebrants, or Celebrants from other beliefs too - but because we are based in Orkney, if you did want to have a legal Pagan wedding in Orkney, we are likely to be the most inexpensive option for you in terms of expenses. We are able to perform rituals and ceremonies throughout Scotland and are both willing to travel on request (expenses would be due). For rituals in the West Mainland of Orkney, including the World Heritage Site, we do not charge for travel expenses.
The General Register Office for Scotland states that “As Paganism is a very individualistic religion, no restrictions will be placed on the manner of ceremony which may be used by Celebrants for legal Religious Marriage, as long as these comply with Scottish law” (in other words, Pagan weddings do not have to have any set format), however you do still have to go through some legal formalities. For your marriage to be legal, your ceremony must include the following declarations at some point:
1) A separate declaration by each person being married, in the presence of
the person they are marrying, and in the presence of two witnesses and
a Celebrant, that they take the other as husband / wife.
2) After these declarations, a declaration by the Celebrant that both parties
to the marriage are now husband and wife.
Apart from these formalities, your ritual really can take the form of your choice: from the very simple, to the highly ceremonial.