Civil marriage can give couples a personal day to remember

Jan and Don Morgan at their wedding with alpacas at Cringletie House Hotel near Peebles

Published: Tuesday, 22nd November 2016

Our Registrar Service is attempting to shake off the historic image of the civil marriage ceremony with a little help from two alpacas.

Don and Jan Morgan were the first couple in Scotland to have their wedding rings delivered by two of the South American animals – named Rory and Pearson from Velvet Hall Alpacas at Innerleithen - in their service at Cringletie House Hotel in February this year.

The service conducted by Registrar Fiona Blair was an example of the flexibility of the civil marriage ceremony, which was previously governed by strict rules which meant a service could only take place in the office of a registrar from Monday to Friday.

How has civil marriage changed?

  • Relaxed legislation means ceremonies can now take place seven days a week, at almost any location
  • In addition, friends, children, family members and even pets can all able to part, while live music, readings and additional vows can be included in the ceremony
  • Despite being traditionally non-religious, civil marriages can now include a religious context
  • Other additions which can be added to a civil marriage are hand-fasting, sand ceremonies, remembrance candles or the Scottish tradition of drinking from a quaich.

Registrar Fiona Blair

“The alpacas were a perfect addition to a wonderfully personal ceremony for Don and Jan.

“Civil marriages can be as personal and unique as the couple want it to be on their special day.

“More unusual services have seen us hike up the Eildons and to the banks of St Mary’s Loch to conduct a marriage. We have also had dogs and owls deliver the rings, and we have even dressed up in fancy dress to accommodate a themed wedding.”

Councillor Michael Cook, Executive Member for HR and Corporate Improvement

“The nature of civil marriage has changed drastically since it was first introduced in Scotland in 1940.

“Now there is huge scope to tailor a ceremony in a number of ways and local authorities do not need venues to be licensed for a wedding, which means castles, beauty spots, gardens and even boats can host a civil marriage.

“Our experienced registrar team can guide couples through the whole marriage process and make sure it is a day to remember.”

For more information, visit our Registrar service online.

Role of a registrar?

It is unique in that only they can guide a couple through the whole marriage process, including:

  • Choosing a venue
  • Submitting marriage notices and checking all required documentation
  • Tailoring the ceremony
  • Registering the marriage
  • Issuing a marriage certificate


An image of Don and Jan Morgan with the ring delivering alpacas is available on our Flickr page.