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The same applies in Scotland - you have to give notice to the Registrars, get a Marriage Schedule from them, then sign it after your religious (or other) ceremony and return it to the registrars. That applies to everyone up here. The process is a bit different from England, and you might "feel" that a pagan handfasting is being legally done by your celebrant, but the legalities have still been done beforehand - just on paper instead of in person
All legal marriages are recorded by the registrar's office, as are births and deaths. Any religious marriage ceremony conducted in Scotland has this process of collecting the marriage schedule from the local registrar's office - it is merely the legally required paperwork aspect of a legal wedding conducted by a religious / humanist celebrant instead of a civil wedding in a registry office conducted by a civil registrar as celebrant. It is not the civil registrar who conducts a religious marriage but a Celebrant from whatever religion.
The marriage schedule is part of both types of ceremony - it is the evidence that a marriage has taken place and it states the day, place and person conducting the marriage, as well as the wedding couple and their witnesses. It is signed by the bride, groom, two witnesses and the person conducting the wedding. When this is returned to the registry office, the marriage certificate is issued, as it would be in a civil ceremony.
When the marriage certificate is returned to the couple, the name and status of the Celebrant is clearly stated and, if, for example, it is a Pagan marriage conducted by one of the Scottish Pagan Federation's Celebrants who are approved to conduct legal Pagan marriages by the General Registrar Office (Scotland) , the status under the Celebrant's name is Celebrant- The Pagan Federation (Scotland).
I've been legally marrying couples in Pagan ceremonies in Scotland since 2005 and assure you this is how it works.
There are two aspects to any wedding - a legal component which is the legal registration bit, and your choice of "ceremony" to mark an important step in your lives.
In England CofE clergy are also Registrars so they are doing both things at once, but most other religions and belief systems don't have that, so they require you to have a civil ceremony to cover the legal parts, and then (before or after) you can do whatever is important for your beliefs.
The same applies in Scotland - you have to give notice to the Registrars, get a Marriage Schedule from them, then sign it after your religious (or other) ceremony and return it to the registrars. That applies to everyone up here. The process is a bit different from England, and you might "feel" that a pagan handfasting is being legally done by your celebrant, but the legalities have still been done beforehand - just on paper instead of in person. And you still have to pay for the legal component (£70 for the paperwork if you're not actually having a civil ceremony).
So, nobody is treating pagans differently.
Oh and gay people would also have to pay separately for their civil partnership ceremony and any religious ceremony they wanted, so they aren't getting a better deal than you either.
Gossipwitch, pagans are on par with just about every other religion. Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Humanists and Jews also need to have a separate legal ceremony held in accordance with Civil Law. The full information is here: http://www.weddingguideuk.com/articles/legal/englandwales.asp
For non Civil/CofE marriages, the actual legal part of the marriage is conducted when the couple sign the Register and say the required words - the wedding ceremony/religious celebration is not the legal marriage. Interestingly Civil Law prevents ministers of religion becoming Registrars, and there is also no alcohol allowed in rooms which are licensed for weddings. The main reason that there are no licensed pagan venues is because there are not many indoor pagan venues, and a licensed premises has to have a roof and some walls. Most handfastings are held outdoors in places far more beautiful than any room.
Although it would be lovely if I could legally marry people anywhere (can't wait for the law to change so that Stonehenge handfastings become legal!), at the moment the law does give pagans a huge amount of freedom. Okay, you may have to do the legal bit at the Registry office, but you only need two witnesses, the couple and the Registrar, and to say two sentences and you are legally married.
You can hold a handfasting absolutely anywhere you like, at any time you like, say anything you want to say, wear what you want to wear, involve who you want to involve and, if you are pagan, spiritually this is the most important bit because you are making your vows to each other before what you hold sacred, so you can call upon any Gods that you want to call upon.
The system isn't perfect, but it's not that bad, and the fact that the handfasting isn't legally binding, has never dampened any enthusiasm or celebration for the hundreds of couples we've handfasted.
So you can't just book a Humanist celebrant in England? C'mon up to Scotland, we take all sorts!
Me and dp would like to tie the knot one day, however to do so would mean having to pay for a registrar to marry us then pay to get handfasted separately, or travelling to Scotland to get handfasted legally, gay people can now have a civil partnership, and people from other faiths can have their marriage ceremonies too (as far as I'm aware). However pagans can't, it feels as though the general consensus of paganism is still as if the religions a joke.
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