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Caithness News Bulletins May 2003

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More than 31% of marriage notices received in the Inverness area so far this year involve couples from outwith Scotland, proving that weddings are becoming big business for the area. The statistic was revealed by The Highland Council Convener Alison Magee on Wednesday 28 May in welcoming 100 delegates to the annual general meeting of the Association of Registrars of Scotland, which was hosted by The Highland Council in Inverness.

Councillor Magee said that since the introduction of the new Marriage (Scotland) Act 2002 more couples than ever before have chosen to come to the Highlands to get married.

Within the Highlands, there are 28 approved venues with a further six pending.  These include historic castles and gardens, Cairngorm Mountain, a boat on Loch Ness and many hotels.

Councillor Magee, said: Change and modernisation is providing improved services to our public and one of the most significant has been the introduction of the Marriage (Scotland) Act 2002, allowing civil marriages to be conducted in approved venues. This new legislation has proved to be popular, both from a local perspective and in encouraging visitors. 31% of Marriage Notices received in the Inverness Registration District for weddings so far this year are from couples living outwith the Scotland.

In the past, religious wedding ceremonies could either take place in designated places of worship or in alternative venues at the ministers discretion and civil marriages could only take place in Registrars offices.  Under the new Act, hotel, castle and stately home owners among others can apply to The Highland Councils Licensing Boards for a licence to hold civil marriages in their premises at a cost of #400 per application. Pending a series of checks, covering whether the applicant is a fit and proper person, police checks, environmental health inspections of the premises, and consultation with Registrars on how appropriate the venue is considered, approval can be granted for a period of up to 3 years. Temporary approval can also be granted for one-off applications in more unusual places.

Councillor Magee said that due to the size, geography and the rural nature of the Highlands, it was especially important that registration was provided in small communities. The Council employed more than 90 members of staff in 47 registration offices across the eight areas of the Highlands. 16 districts had registrars who still provided services from their own home.

The Registration Service in Scotland has been recording births, deaths and marriages for legal, statistical and health purposes since 1855.