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NEW VENUES FOR CIVIL MARRIAGES

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A 2002 Act of the Scottish parliament has widened the choice of venues for civil marriages ??? and almost 2,700 coupl...
A 2002 Act of the Scottish parliament has widened the choice of venues for civil marriages ??? and almost 2,700 couples chose one of the new venues in the Act's first 13 months.

The Marriage (Scotland) Act 2002 allows registrars to conduct civil marriages outwith registration offices. Over 420 places have been approved by local authorities as suitable venues, including castles, hotels, golf courses, ships, a lighthouse and even a former jail.

The new arrangements may be contributing to an increase of approximately 3 per cent in the total number of civil marriages in Scotland in the last year.

Speaking from Edinburgh Castle's Gatehouse Suite (one of the approved places) registrar general Duncan Macniven said:

'The Marriage (Scotland) Act 2002 has already made a difference to the people and economy of Scotland. Couples who want a civil marriage ceremony can choose from a wide variety of places for their special day ??? in addition to the traditional registration office.

'People who run castles and hotels have seized this excellent opportunity to offer their properties as civil marriage venues.

'This greater choice has also brought advantages for the tourism industry. Thirty per cent of marriages in Scotland are now 'tourist weddings' in the romantic settings which Scotland can offer ??? not only to celebrities but to all visitors.'

Legislation

On 24 March 2000, Euan Robson MSP lodged a proposal for a Marriage (Scotland) Bill:

'To permit civil marriages to be solemnised at locations other than registration offices; to authorise local authorities to license locations for that purpose; and to charge fees to meet related costs and for connected purposes'.

The Bill followed extensive consultation carried out in 1998 by the registrar general for Scotland. The civil marriage proposals were originally brought forward by the lodging of Euan Robson's Member's Bill in March 2000 and developed into the publication on 21 June 2001 of the Scottish Executive's proposals and draft legislation in the White Paper Civil Marriages Outwith Registration Offices.

The Marriage (Scotland) Act 2002 came into force on 25 April 2002. It can be viewed on the HMSO website. The Act was followed by The Marriage (Approval of Places) (Scotland) Regulations 2002 (S.S.I. 2002 No. 260), which came into force on 10 June 2002. The text of the Regulations is available on the HMSO website. In addition, on 10 June 2002, the registrar general issued his 'Guidance to Scottish Local Authorities on the Approval of Places for Civil Marriage'. The Guidance can be viewed on the GROS website. That paved the way for local authorities to begin approving places.

The Marriage (Scotland) Act 2002:

* permits civil marriages to be solemnised at locations other than registration offices;

* authorises local councils to approve locations for that purpose and to charge fees to meet related costs and for connected purposes;

* enables the Registrar General for Scotland to give guidance to local councils.

Marriages in Approved Places

The first civil marriage conducted under the new legislation was on 5 August 2002 at the Busta House Hotel in Shetland. Since then, a wide range of places has been approved. The register of approved places can be viewed either by council area or approved place name. There are currently 423 approved places and 2,666 marriages had been carried out as at end September 2003.

Annex A lists some of the more unusual venues where civil marriages have taken place. These include a golf course, a distillery and even a jail. Annex B provides some useful statistics, including that:

Ø the new arrangements may be contributing to an increase in the total number of marriages in Scotland (of about 3 per cent). In a full year of the new arrangements (October 2002 to September 2003), there were 30,504 religious and civil marriages, compared with 29,621 in calendar year 2001.

Ø There is strong deman d for civil marriages in approved places (representing 8.5per cent of all marriages between October 2002 and September 2003, and 19 per cent of all civil marriages in that period);

Ø there is some shift from religious marriages to civil marriages (civil marriages were 43.7 per cent of all marriages between October 2002 and September 2003, against 38.8 per cent in 2001);

Ø some 30 per cent of all marriages between October 2002 and September 2003 were tourism marriages (i.e. neither of the couple resident in Scotland). In 4 per cent of weddings, neither of the couple was resident in the UK.

ANNEX A

SOME UNUSUAL VENUES

AT WHICH CIVIL MARRIAGES HAVE TAKEN PLACE

Council Name of Place

Aberdeenshire Sixteenth Fairway, Insch Golf Course

Argyll & Bute Loch Lomond Youth Hostel, Arden

Dundee City Frigate Unicorn, Dundee

Edinburgh, City of Royal College of Physicians, Edinburgh

Eilean Siar Callanish Stones, Callanish

Fife West Sands Beach, St Andrews

Highland On Board MV Royal Scot at Borlum Bay Loch Ness

Moray Robbie Dhu Centre, Glenfiddich Distillery

North Ayrshire Garbh Allt Bridge, Glen Rosa, Brodick

North Lanarkshire At the Carousel, Strathclyde Country Park

Perth & Kinross Kenmore Beach, Kenmore

Scottish Borders Jedburgh Castle Jail

Shetland Islands On Board the St Sunniva, Holmsgarth Quay

Stirling Stone near Monachyle Mhor Hotel

ANNEX B

Marriages

Number of civil marriages outwith registration offices between 5 August 2002 and 3 0 September 2003 (provisional)

Council area Total

Aberdeen City 11

Aberdeenshire 73

Angus 24

Argyll & Bute 75

Scottish Borders 204

Clackmannanshire 14

West Dunbartonshire 40

Dumfries & Galloway 1150

Dundee City 51

East Ayrshire 15

East Dunbartonshire 17

East Lothian 1

East Renfrewshire 4

Edinburgh, City of 148

Falkirk 41

Fife 67

Glasgow City 36

Highland 109

Inverclyde 0

Midlothian 21

Moray 53

North Ayrshire 73

North Lanarkshire 22

Orkney Islands 10

Perth & Kinross 120

Renfrewshire 10

Shetland Islands 17

South Ayrshire 54

South Lanarkshire 70

Stirling 124

West Lothian 7

Eilean Siar 5

Grand Total 2666

Civil and religious marriages in 2001

Celebration type Total Percent

Civil 11487 38.8

Religious 18130 61.2

Other 4 -

Grand total 29621 100.0

Marriages between 1 October 2002 and 30 September 2003 (provisional)

Total Percent Percent

Inside registration office 10723 35.2 43.7

Outside registration office 2595 8.5

Religious 17181 56.3

Other 5

Grand total 30504 100.0

Marriage Trends

No of couples married

1998 1999 2000 2001 2002

29668 29940 30367 29621 29826

Marriages in 2001 and between 1 October 2002 and 30 September 2003 by country of birth (provisional)

2001 2002/2003

Percent Percent

Neither party born in Scotland

Civil - registration office 11 10

Civil -designated building 0 0

Civil - approved licensed venue 0 4

Civil - approved 'one off' venue 0 0

Civil - other 0 0

Other 0 0

Religious 16 13

Total Percentage Neither party born in Scotland 27 28

Neither party born in UK

Civil - registration office 2 3

Civil -designated building 0 0

Civil - approved licensed venue 0 0

Civil - approved 'one off' venue 0 0

Civil - other 0 0

Other 0 0

Religious 2 2

Total Percentage Neither Party Born in UK 4 5

Marriages in 2001 and between 1 October 2002 and 30 September 2003 by country of residence (provisional)

2001 2002/2003

Percent Percent

Neither party resident in Scotland

Civil - registration office 10 9

Civil - designated building 0 0

Civil - approved licensed venue 0 5

Civil - approved 'one off' venue 0 0

Civil - other 0 0

Irregular 0 0

Religious 19 16

Total Percent Neither Party Resident in Scotland 29 30

Neither party resident in UK

Civil - registration office 2 2

Civil - designated building 0 0

Civil - approved licensed venue 0 0

Civil - approved 'one off' venue 0 0

Civil - other 0 0

Other 0 0

Religious 3 2

Total Percent Neither Party Resident in UK 4 4

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