Coronavirus: guidance for small marriage and civil partnerships
We have put together some guidance for people going to and hosting weddings and civil partnerships. Please refer to official government guidance and legislation for full, up to date information and guidelines, if there is any difference between government legislation and the information on this page, please follow legislation, this page is here for guidance only.
When attending a wedding or civil partnership, please remember:
- Keep a minimum of 2 metres where possible
- Wash hands frequently or use hand sanitizer
- There should be no more than 15 guests present
- Avoid touching your face, nose and eyes
What is expected of attendees
All attendees should continue to practice social distancing and strict hand and respiratory hygiene, with parents or guardians ensuring children are following these practices also. If the ceremony is in a place of worship, then attendees will need to wear a face mask. This does not include the two individuals who are getting married.
How many attendees are allowed
It is strongly advised the number of attendees should be kept to a minimum, with no more than 15 in attendance. This does not include staff employed by the venue. Gatherings of more than 15 people are only permitted in certain public places as set out in law (such as outdoor weddings that are permitted under the Marriage Act).
Where attendees cannot attend due to capacity or due to having COVID-19 symptoms, other methods such as remote-live streaming of the event should be considered.
If someone has symptoms
If anyone becomes unwell with symptoms of COVID-19 at a venue, they should go home and follow stay at home guidance. Those who may have been in contact with a person who has become unwell should wash their hands thoroughly, but do not need to take any other specific actions unless they develop symptoms themselves or are advised to do so by NHS Test and Trace.
If either member of the couple have symptoms of COVID-19 the ceremony should not go ahead.
Using communal items
Using the venues communal items is strongly advised against. Single-use alternatives or items owned by the individual for use in the ceremony or registration can be used instead but must be removed by the attendee after the ceremony.
Changes to the ceremony
- Where necessary, ceremony practices may need to be removed or shortened unless required for the marriage or civil partnership to be legally binding.
- Where exchanging of rings is required hands should be washed before and after and the rings should be handled by as few people as possible.
- Where an infant is involved in proceeding a parent/guardian or member of the infant’s household should hold the infant.
Use of water
Any pre-requisite washing/ablution rituals should be carried out prior to arrival and only done at venue if unable to before arrival. People should not wash the body parts of others. Where rituals or ceremonies require water to be applied to the body, small volumes can be splashed onto the body, but full immersion should be avoided. All involved should thoroughly wash their hands before and after.
Singing and music
Where required, only one individual should be permitted to sing or chant, and the use of plexi-glass screens should be considered. Professional singing will be allowed in limited circumstances and outdoors only. Where possible recordings should be used instead of communal singing. Organs can be played for a ceremony, but should be thoroughly cleaned before and after use.
Food and drink
No food or drink should be consumed unless for solemnisation of the marriage.
Receptions and other celebrations for weddings and civil partnership can take place in COVID-19 secure environments. Attendees (not including venue staff or third-party catering) should be limited to no more than 15 people. These events cannot take place in people’s private homes (or adjoining outdoor spaces like gardens).
Guidance for venues
- Venues must encourage and enable attendees to adhere to social distancing guideline and strict hand and respiratory hygiene.
- Venues should communicate and encourage compliance with limits on gatherings and signpost attendees to the advice on social distancing and informed not to attend if they have symptoms.
- Venues should ensure that steps are taken to avoid singing, shouting, raising voices and/or playing music at a volume that makes normal conversation difficult or that may encourage shouting. This includes avoiding playing instruments that are blown into.
- Venue managers should prevent visitors from touching or kissing devotional and other objects that are handled communally.
- Venue managers will have discretion over when they consider it safe to open. Where the legislation requires that a venue does not open at this time then it must remain closed.
- Venues must have a complete risk assessment which takes account of COVID-19 and apply sufficient measures to manage the risk of COVID-19.
- The enforcing authority, such as the local authority can take action to improve control of venue risks if the venue is not taking action to comply with legislation and guidance usually through advice or enforcement notice.
- Venue managers are expected to respond to any advice or notices issued by enforcing authorities rapidly and are required to do so within any timescales imposed by the enforcing authorities.
- If a venue fails to comply with enforcement notices or in place of a serious breach to health and safety legislation, they could be subject to fines and even imprisonment of up to 2 years.
- Venues are requested to keep a temporary record of staff shift patterns and visitors for 21 days, in a way that is manageable, and assist NHS Test and Trace with requests for that data if needed.
- While general consent is not always required, it’s recommended that consent is collected in places of worship and it should be made clear that giving contact details is optional and is not a condition of attending your place of worship.