Why can’t I use my own pen?

The moment you sign the Marriage Schedule is an important one: as the Registrar General of Scotland says, ‘no marriage can proceed without it’, and people often ask me if they can use their own pen. The answer is, ‘sorry, no you can’t’, and here’s why.

The Marriage Schedule is a permanent record, so it must be signed using permanent black liquid ink. The ink in ballpoint pens isn’t permanent – it fades over time, and it can be erased, and that’s why celebrants, members of the clergy and registrars have to use fountain pens and archival, or permanent black ink.

I’ve got three or four fountain pens, and I bring them all to every wedding just in case the ink in any one of them has dried up. You might say, ‘well I’ve got a fountain pen too, and I’d like to use it’.  

In that case, I will be happy to use your pen instead, but only if you load it – in my presence – with an appropriate permanent black liquid ink.

If you’d like to take that approach, have a look at this post about the kinds of ink you can use. The one I’d recommend is called, appropriately, ‘Registrars Ink’ and you can order some here.

Thank you Scott Macfarlane for reminding me of the issue: I look forward to signing your Marriage Schedule in a couple of months from now!

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