Guide to Church of Scotland Ceremonies

The Church of Scotland is often very welcoming to international wedding couples and you will find the majority of churches and chapels will be available for you to use for your ceremony.

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Three things must happen  for  the wedding to be declared legal

  • The minister must ask the guests present if there are any objections to the marriage.
  • Vows must make use of the words ‘husband’ and ‘wife.’
  • The wedding schedule is signed by two witnesses, the minister and the newly married couple.

Other than that, the rest of the service is often open to a little adaption subject to approval from the minister performing the ceremony.  Many ministers will have their own standard order or structure of ceremony, and most will be happy to talk you through your options and choices.  Your choices and ideas are important and whatever you choose should express in some way your own individuality.

  • You can have hymns or song or you can include other types of music or nothing.
  • You can choose your vows from a selection given by your minister or write your own.
  • You can have readings from the Bible, a poem, or the words of a song
  • You can exchange rings, receive the one ring or have none. You can use any other symbol, g. light a candle, have communion, offer  a gift or a special symbol of affection.
  • You can write your own prayers, make a speech or be flexible in what you include in the ceremony itself

Music

  • You can play music on CD
  • You can use church musicians, such as organists
  • You can have a piper play
  • You can have a live singer or string quartet
  • You can sing hymns or not

You will need music choices for

  1. When you enter the church
  2. Any hymns during the service
  3. During the signing of the marriage schedule
  4. At the end of the service when you leave

It is very  important  that you  make contact with the organist and/or piper  before your wedding to discuss the music

Order of Service

Below is an outline of the general structure of a Church ceremony, showing where there are options for you to personalise your ceremony and what you need to think about.

  Possible Choices
Entry of Bride/ Wedding Party You can choose to enter:
         Together
         Separately
         At the same time from  different places
WELCOME The minister does this
Hymn If you would like hymns, there would often be one here
PRAYERS The minister does this
STATEMENT OF MARRIAGE The minister does this
Exchange of Vows Choose from a selection of options from the minister, or write your own
Rings You can choose:
         One or two rings
         Exchange promises
         Ask the minister to make a
Other symbols If you  are having these then this is a suitable place for them
Blessing This is a blessing for you, which you can write or ask the minister to provide
Hymn If you are having three hymns then this is the place to have the second one
Reading(s) These can be biblical or from  some other source but should be approved by the minister in advance
ADDRESS The minister does this part
Hymn If you  are having three hymns this is another possible place to have the second one
Prayers for Others Names of people can be mentioned here who can’t be with you  either through illness, or distance or you can ask to pray for any issues close to your heart
Signing  of Schedule The schedule will be signed by the two witnesses, the couple and the minister.  Sometimes the minister may complete the details in advance leaving just the signatures to be added during the ceremony.
Hymn This is the place for your  final hymn choice usually, although you can instead sing while leaving the church.

 

Benediction The final prayer of blessing for the gathered congregation before  we leave the church
Leaving the church You would normally lead the bridal party out of the building

Vows

Your vows can be personalised or your minister might provide you with a variety of options to choose from.

Symbols

If  you are  exchanging rings  you may like  to offer one another a blessing.  Other examples of symbols would be to light a candle together or some other similar act or exchange of gifts.

Blessings

This is what the minister will say immediately after you  have exchanged your  wedding vows to bless your marriage.

Readings

Reading are completely optional but I would not suggest more than three unless they are very short.  You can choose almost anything from something biblical to a song lyric, poem and snippet from a story or film.   You can have a friend or family member do your readings or the Minister can do them if you prefer.

Benedictions

This is a prayer or blessing for everyone at the close of service and it is likely that the minister will have his or her own favourite words to use.