SCOTTISH ministers have backed proposals to allow hotels and restaurants to hold civil marriages.
The ruling, which could become law as early as 2000, will bring Scotland into line with the rest of the UK, where premises have been able to register to host civil marriages since the passing of the Marriages (Approved Premises) Regulations in 1995.
Currently, Scottish premises can hold only religiousceremonies. Couples wishing to marry in a civil ceremony have been restricted to oneof Scotland's 250 register offices.
However, some believe that the ruling will have little impact on business. Those wanting to get married in a hotel have been able to do so under existing laws by having a minister carry out the ceremony, according to Tony Hughes-Lewis, director of Balgeddie House in Fife, which has hosted weddings for 10 years.
"It will make no difference," he said. "Regular church-goers would always get married in a church anyway."