So, if you have been following along at all, you would know that I am – at times – not the best update-er in the world!  In fact, “Someone in Indiana” commented on my inability to update consistently.  Our poor engagement journal has even begun its own run of allergies as a certain someone truly believes my journal is allergic to her!  Bologna!

But…in an effort to curb my tendencies to forget the updates, I have decided to implement a few new segments into this engagement journal.  My #1 excuse for not updating is this: “Nothing new has happened!!”  And 100% honestly, there are times when absolutely nothing wedding-related will have happened in a good month!  I guess we’re just not that close to the wedding yet (sigh…).  Well, that will no longer be the case because every Tuesday, you, my friends, will be graced with the knowledge of wedding traditions in Scotland.  Sure, some of them may end up being very similar (or exactly the same!) as those in the United States, but some may not, and those I am sure you will get a kick out of!!  So let the traditions commence!

Banns of Marriage… (adopted from and David Lemmings)

Scottish wedding traditions started as far back as the thirteenth century.  Back then, the medieval church would announce each wedding in church for three successive Sundays.  Such announcements were called the “banns of marriage”.  The practice of proclaiming the banns in church lasted for more than six hundred years!!! Finally, the banns gave way to a simple announcement of intent to get married – and the obtaining of a marriage license from the local registrar.

In England, under the provisions of Lord Hardwicke’s Marriage Act, a marriage is only legally valid if the reading of the banns has taken place or a marriage license has been obtained, codifying earlier practice within the Church of England.  Banns must be read in the home parish churches of both parties to the marriage, as well as in the church where the marriage ceremony is to take place.  Omission of this formality renders the marriage void.

Prior to this law, it was possible for eloping couples to marry clandestinely in various places – finding an imprisoned clergyman in the Fleet Prison was one well known way (also known as a Fleet Marriage), at least for couples near London.  After the law, elopers had to leave England, usually for Scotland, and proverbially to the village of Gretna Green, in order to contract marriage while avoiding these formalities.

According to the rites of the Church of England (Marriage Act 1984), similar wording is used.  In addition:

  • …bans shall be published on three Sundays preceding the solemnization of the marriage at the time of divine service.
  • Banns shall be published in an audible manner and in accordance with one of the following forms of words:
    • “I publish the banns of marriage between Amanda Arnold and Neil Barnes both of this parish.  If any of you know any cause or jest impediment why these two persons should not be joined together in holy matrimony, ye are to declare it.  This is the first [second or third] time of asking.” …or…
    • I publish the banns of marriage between Amanda Arnold and Neil Barnes, both of this parish. If any of you know any reason in law why these persons may not marry each other, you are to declare it now.”

A simple Banns of Marriage posted in a church bulletin, 1862

A simple Banns of Marriage posted in a church bulletin, 1862


This, to me, is very similar to the declaration of, “If anyone believes these two shall not marry, speak now or forever hold your peace.”  Of course, we usually see that during the actual ceremony, and rarely do we see it anywhere but in the movies. I suppose it would make more sense in medieval times to have this declaration as everyone in the village actually knew everyone else, but now, I find it a bit strange as there would only be a couple handful of people who would actually know if someone shouldn’t marry someone else…although, I see the sense in it.  Perhaps if we had some sort of declaration – one that actually stood for something and kept people from marrying, we wouldn’t be seeing divorce rates the way we would.  Husbands and wives wouldn’t be murdering each other for custody.  Jon Gosselin wouldn’t be stealing over $200,000 from his joint account with his estranged wife.  The world would just be a happier place overall!