Some notes for the guidance of those being married
in the Cathedral
On the day you get married in the Cathedral, our aim will be to make it a happy and memorable occasion for you, a day you will never forget.
We believe we can best do this by planning with you a service that enables you to sense God’s presence at that special moment. That is the purpose of a religious service - to know deep down that God is with you in the love you share and the commitment you make to each other.
When you meet with either of the ministers they will talk with you about the deep importance of the vows you will make and what it is about a marriage begun in church that is different from any other.
The purpose of this information is to let you know what the Cathedral offers in a marriage service so that, if we decide to proceed, we know what we are working towards. If we are clear on the sort of occasion we want it to be, and thorough in all the necessary preparations, then on the day itself you will be free to be happy and relaxed as you celebrate with your families and friends.
Weddings in the Cathedral are usually conducted by one of the ministers, or by another minister arranged in consultation with them. Other ministers and priests are welcome to take part in the service, but the Cathedral Ministers should be consulted before a request of this kind is made to anyone else.
Click here for contact details of the Ministers.
The Beadle is automatically booked when the Cathedral booking is made. It is his task to prepare the Cathedral for the service and to be present on the day to assist guests and those whom you have invited to perform specific duties.
Click here for contact details of the organist.
In booking the Cathedral the Organist is automatically booked. If he cannot be available on the day of your wedding, he will arrange for one of his deputes to play. Should you wish to use the services of another organist, you should first seek the agreement of the Cathedral Organist.
The Organist can offer guidance in the choice of music and hymns, and will be happy to meet with you to discuss this. He can advise on the kind of music that works most effectively within the Cathedral, and all selections should be agreed with him before printing the Order of Service.
The Organ is invariably used since it is the most effective instrument within the surroundings and acoustics of the Cathedral. Taped music is not used, nor anything felt not to be conducive to an act of worship. A piano is available for use where appropriate.
If any music selected is not already possessed by the Organist, it would be your responsibility to ensure that it is obtained and made available to the Organist in good time before the date of the wedding.
It is customary to have two hymns in the service, although more can be used if desired. Likewise additional music can be arranged where appropriate. All this should be agreed with the Organist prior to the Order of Service being printed.
The Choir can be invited to contribute to the service, and this is arranged with the Organist. Guest singers or instrumentalists can take part in the service provided an agreed arrangement has been made with the Organist.
Any use of the bagpipes needs to be confirmed and arrangements made with the Organist to ensure that the playing of the two instruments can be effectively co-ordinated.
The Tower bells can be rung before and following the service, this booking to be made through the minister.
Depending upon the availability of ringers, the bells may be rung either by “chiming” or by “open ringing”. For chiming, all eight bells will sound for about 10 minutes before and after the wedding. For open ringing, the bells will sound individually or in pairs for about 10 minutes before the wedding and the six or eight bells will be rung open for 10-15 minutes after the service.
You should note that the Tower is quite well removed from the West End of the Cathedral, so that the bells are not fully audible for anyone standing close to the West Door after the Service. They are much more audible from the Square and the south pathway to the Cathedral.
Once again, if a piper is to be present it is advisable to co-ordinate the piping and ringing, as for most ears the bells and pipes do not sound well together.
For further details or special requirements, please contact the Tower Captain Click here for contact details of the Tower Captain.
TIME OF SERVICE
In booking a time for your wedding service to begin, the Cathedral will be reserved for a sufficient period on the day both to enable your guests to arrive early and to allow a generous time afterwards for photographs to be taken. There can be other events scheduled on the day and more than one wedding may be taking place, but there will not be a sense of your being rushed.
Having said that, it is important for the bride to arrange her arrival at such a time as to allow photographs to be taken beforehand and still enable the service to begin punctually. It is customary for the bride to be a few minutes late, but twenty minutes late is not only unfair to the waiting guests and the anxious groom but can also lead to problems when there is another event or service to be held.
If such a delay is becoming apparent, it may be necessary either to interrupt the photography or to curtail the service itself. Agreeing with the photographer that he should complete his task within a few minutes of the starting time avoids any undue stress in your approach to the service.
ORDER OF SERVICE
The normal Church of Scotland service is used for weddings in the Cathedral. The content of the service is the responsibility of the officiating minister, but he or she will want to discuss with you how the service might be shaped in a way that helps create the sort of occasion you want it to be. Readings and poetry (sometimes read by guests) can be introduced to make the service one that is more personal to you both.
The provision of a printed Order of Service with the words of the hymns and other information, if desired, is your responsibility and should be ordered once all the information has been agreed with the minister.
When you receive from the printer, or have prepared yourselves, a draft of your Order of Service, we would strongly advise you to send a copy to the minister or Organist for proof-reading. It is surprising how often a word or a line can be missing from a hymn and a final reading-through by an experienced eye is well worthwhile.
We are unable to undertake the arrangement of flowers in the Cathedral, and the provision of these is therefore your own responsibility. However, the advice and guidance of the Cathedral Flower Convener can be sought by contacting Mrs. Jenny Crawford. Click here for contact details of the Cathedral Flower Convener.
We do strongly advise a measure of restraint in the provision of flowers. Floral arrangements can enhance but should not dominate the setting for your wedding. The Cathedral has its own natural beauty and is seen at its best when its many fine wood carvings are not obscured. Appropriate floral displays at the doors of the Cathedral, at the Crossing and/or the East End, and perhaps also for the Signing within the Chapter House, can be very effective. However, very large arrangements would have to be moved to the side to ensure a smooth passage for guests and to accommodate the bridal party at the Crossing.
Historic Scotland does not permit anything to be attached to the wood or stone within the Cathedral, and all displays must therefore be free standing. Arrangements at the ends of pews are also to be discouraged for practical as well as for aesthetic reasons.
Similarly, confetti or rose petals cannot be used within the building as, once trodden, they permanently stain the stone floor.
Normally two ushers would be required properly to seat your guests. Ushers should be present at least half-an-hour before the Service is due to begin. It is helpful if one of the ushers is able to attend the rehearsal.
FLOWER GIRLS AND PAGE BOYS
It is not recommended that children under six years of age be used for this purpose. If children under six are to be used, arrangements can be made for them to be seated during the service and their mother, or other person familiar to them, should attend the rehearsal.
Photographs and video recordings can provide a very precious record of your wedding day, but what happens within the Cathedral is first of all a service of worship and we believe it is important that nothing should distract our attention away from what is essentially a sacred moment. For this reason, our practice is that once the service begins all photography and videography stops. Experience has taught us that this is the only way in which you and your guests can focus on what it is you are doing at that moment.
In practice, it means that the official photographer and/or videographer can stand at the West End and film as you process down the aisle. They can join you in the Chapter House for the signing of the register, returning to the West End to film you as you process towards the West Door at the end of the service. If the weather is unsuitable for outdoor photographs you can come back inside to have photographs taken there, but we ask that no photographs or videos are taken during the service itself.
We have sometimes found that photographers and videographers ignore these rules and this only serves to create an unwelcome tension on the day. It is unfortunate when a service has to be halted because a photographer is not following the instructions given. We therefore ask you to make it clear to whoever you are employing what the practice is in the Cathedral and to request their co-operation.
We also ask you to add a note in the Order of Service with the following or similar words: “As there will be ample opportunity afterwards, we ask that guests do not take photographs or videos during the service”.
This policy may seem somewhat strict, but actually enables us all to pay attention to what really matters in your wedding and contributes to a relaxed and happy atmosphere on the day.
A rehearsal is always advisable and often the most convenient time to hold it is on the evening prior to the wedding when the bridal party has usually gathered. Those required for the rehearsal are: Bride, Groom, Best Man, Bridesmaid(s), Bride’s Father (or the person who is to “give her away”), other attendants (Page Boys or Flower Girls), plus one of the ushers and any mothers of young ones attending.
• The Marriage Schedule should be brought to the rehearsal and handed to the minister to ensure it is in his possession before the day of the wedding.
• The Orders of Service should also be brought to the rehearsal to ensure they are available for the ushers on the day.
• The Fees (see later) can be brought to the rehearsal to avoid having to deal with these on the day itself.
Two persons, aged 16 years or over, are required to be present at the wedding to act as witnesses. They are normally the Best Man and the Chief Bridesmaid, though they could be any two witnesses. It will be necessary to provide the full names of both witnesses to the minister and to the Registrar.
All prior notice of weddings in Scotland is now handled by the Registrar in whose district the wedding is to take place.
Early contact should be made with the Registrar. The law requires not less than fifteen working days’ notice, and not more than three months, but it is surprising how easy it is to forget until it is too late this most essential aspect of wedding plans.
When giving notice to the Registrar, you must both supply the following:
• Your birth certificate
• If you have been married before and the marriage was dissolved, a copy of the decree of divorce or annulment
• If you are a widow or widower, the death certificate of your former spouse
• If you are resident abroad, a certificate of no impediment issued by the proper authority to the effect that you are free to marry
The address of the Registrar’s Office is the Burgh Chambers, The Cross, Dunblane (Tel: 01786 823300). Failure to make early contact with the Registrar can lead to difficulties, some of which can be serious.
Although you need not attend personally at the Registrar’s Office to give notice of your marriage, at least one of you must attend personally before the due date of the marriage. This is to collect the Marriage Schedule, and the Registrar will only issue it to the prospective bride or groom.
The Marriage Schedule is the document signed by the parties and the Minister after the service. The Marriage Schedule should be brought to the rehearsal. Failure to produce this document means that the wedding cannot take place.
The Marriage Schedule must be returned to the Registrar within three days of the wedding, so that the marriage may be legally registered. Any relative or friend can hand it in for you. Copies of the Marriage Certificate can be obtained on payment of the appropriate fee.
As the date of your wedding approaches, you will be sent a letter reminding you of some of the important details included in this booklet, inviting you to contact the minister to confirm final arrangements and set a time for the rehearsal, and advising you as to the level of fees currently applying.
These are set by the Kirk Session. The fees are reviewed annually and may therefore be increased by the time your wedding is to be held.
The fees should be brought to the rehearsal, in separately marked envelopes, and given to the minister.