Wedding venue questions answered

The wedding team at the historic Gretna Green venue in Scotland answer our big questions on venue bookings & pre-wedding preperations…

Recently engaged? Congratulations….but now where to start? From choosing a venue to what to do next, it’s easy to get muddled in the myriad of decisions and (overwhelming) range of decisions. Relax! Gretna Green has been welcoming couples for years so we’ve heard just about it all. We’ve gathered our experienced team of wedding planners together to help with a few of the most commonly asked questions when it comes to planning a wedding to help ease some of those nerves and make it smoothly sailing to the altar.

Q. What is the difference between a religious and a civil ceremony?
A religious ceremony is similar to that which you would have in a church, although it is not as deeply involved as a church ceremony and is less formal. Civil ceremonies are conducted by a civil marriage celebrant and are slightly shorter than a religious ceremony.

Q. Is the wedding (room) private?
Yes, in Scotland, weddings are considered to be private events which means only those invited or involved will know the details (for example, times, venues, etc). Your details will not be given out even if friends or family get in contact – true to our historic roots, we take great pride in being part of such a special occasion and leave it up to you, the happy couple, to inform as many or as few as you wish. It varies from venue to venue, but most will do their utmost to ensure that visitors to the site/destination do not disturb your ceremony. Certain locations do allow exclusivity –we suggest contacting your venue of choice to discuss this further if it is of concern.

Q. What forms do I require?
Contact your local Registrars and they will send you the M10 forms or you can download them from venue or registration office websites. When you have completed the M10 forms return them to local Registrars along with your birth certificates and any other relevant documents such as divorce papers and fees. On your wedding day all you need is your marriage schedule, which will have been prepared by the Registrars. You do not need to submit forms in more than one location – we often get asked here in Gretna Green whether a couple needs to give notice in with the Gretna Registrars and their local office; completing your marriage paperwork in the district where the wedding will take is at that is needed. The Registrars if the best point of contact for any legal questions or concerns but can take some time answering queries to best to give yourself a little bit of leeway.

Q. What if I am divorced?
Both religious and civil ceremonies are possible. You will need your Decree Absolute to organise a wedding but that is the only difference.

Q. Can I arrange a wedding as a ‘surprise’ for my partner?
As much as we love the romance in this, unfortunately the answer is no. By law both you and your partner are required to submit notice forms to the registrar of the district in which the marriage is to take place. This means that both parties must be aware of the planned marriage – however, once your paperwork has been submitted, if you wish to make all the arrangements for your big day in secret, it’s entirely up to you!

Q. Is there a waiting list to be married?
That depends on the venue. Smaller venues may book out far into advance so we always recommend contacting your venue of choice as soon as possible to ensure that both the venue and your date are available and held for you. Often venues will hold a specific date for a grace period before requiring a deposit to secure the booking. We recommend you contact your chosen venue as soon as you have decided on the date (and to have a second date in mind – just in case!). For Saturdays and special dates like 14th February or New Year’s Eve we would recommend as soon as possible to avoid disappointment. Here in Gretna Green, we do not have a waiting list. Booking in advance may be necessary….. and is definitely a good idea! There will be often be space especially if you’re willing to make a few compromises (for example, changing to earlier or later in the day, having a smaller reception). Don’t be put off – we always suggest to contact our wedding team even if you think you’ve left it too late!

Q. How many guests can we bring with us?
That’s entirely your choice! It will vary from venue to venue – in our venues, we are able to welcome weddings from 2 to over 200! It’s your day so YOU and your partner get the final say in how many of your nearest and dearest are invited to share it with you. Concerned about numbers? Don’t be worried – get in touch with our wedding team and we’ll work with you to make sure you get your perfect day.

Q. Do you have to stay in the region before the wedding?
No, it is no longer required for a couple to reside in the parish where they wish to marry for any longer than the duration of the ceremony. Back in 1856 a marriage act was introduced which enforced the requirement for one member of the couple to reside in the parish for at least 21 days. This law has since been repealed. Many couples still choose to arrive and stay for a number of days before their wedding day so they can finalise details and relax before their big day or take in the romantic atmosphere around them and enjoy their newlywed status before heading home after the ceremony. So long as your M10 forms are received by the registration office at least 29 days before the wedding date, you do not need to be here until the day of the wedding!

Q. How long do I need to arrange my wedding?
Sadly the days of the traditional runaway elopement are now a thing of the past as you can no longer just turn up and be married on the same day. The minimum period of time required for arranging your wedding is 29 clear working days (this is how long it takes the Registrars to check your documentation and draw up your marriage schedule). The maximum period for submitting your M10 form to the Registrars is 3 months. For booking a wedding on a day such as Valentine’s Day we advise you book well up to a year in advance. Had your heart set on an elopement? Fear not. Many couples still choose to arrive in this romantic destination by themselves having submitted their paperwork about a month before, selecting witnesses from visitors on the day, and telling no one until they return home thus following in the footsteps of the original Gretna Green runaways!

Gretna Green logo slim

Have we missed something? Still got a question? Get in touch – we’d love to hear from you. Drop us an email at or give us a call on 01461 336001 and we’ll be more than happy to have a chat!