Marriage & Civil Partnership Advice with Covid-19
With regards to the current government lockdown from Tuesday 5th January 2021, please see below information on how ceremonies looked in previous restrictions and information on amending your ceremony date and booking notice appointments. We will update this page when further information is given to us.
How did my ceremony look in Gloucestershire with the previous government restrictions?
Please see below guidance that was set out by the Government (dated 22nd September 2020) and subsequent General Register Office guidance in relation to all marriages and civil partnerships.
- Ceremonies can only take place in a COVID 19 secure environment – this means that risk assessments for all registration offices and approved venues, maximum capacity and control measures need to be in place and signed off by Gloucestershire County Council Health & Safety prior to any ceremony being conducted.
- Wearing of Face Coverings Further to the latest Government Updates on 31st July 2020 guests will be required to wear face coverings at marriages and civil partnership ceremonies including those taking place in register offices or other approved venues. Face coverings will not have to be worn by the bride, groom or civil partners.
- Track & Trace (Registration Office) On the day of the ceremony, the groom, bride or a civil partner will be asked by the registration Officer registering the marriage/civil partnership to provide their contact details for NHS Track and Trace purposes via a QR code. In the event of a COVID-19 outbreak, they will be contacted and it will be their responsibility to inform their guests who attended the ceremony. The information will be held securely for 21 days and then destroyed.
- Track & Trace (Approved Venue) On the day of the ceremony couples will be required to provide to provide their contact details for NHS Track and Trace purposes via a QR code. It is the responsibility of your venue to ensure you provide this information. This information should be securely held by your venue for a period of 21 days and then destroyed.
- Number of guests allowed for each Registration Office:
Gloucester, Shire Hall – 11 Guests*
Stroud, The Old Victorian School – 9 Guests*
Cinderford, The Oaks – 6 Guests*
*The number of guests remain the same in our Registration Office ceremony rooms even though Registration Officers are not included within the numbers. This is because the room can only hold the specified number of guests seated with social distancing measures in place.
The change to Government guidance states that those working are not counted within the limit of 15 people. We can still only seat the specified number of guests in each ceremony room however a photographer can be in addition to these numbers as they will not be taking a seat throughout the proceedings. Any additional people who are working would need to respect the social distancing measures in place and ensure they maintain a 2m distance at all times.
- Approved Venues As set out by the UK Government, all venues must be COVID-19 certified. Therefore in order for Gloucestershire Registration Service (GRS) to attend a venue and perform a ceremony the venue must have an updated COVID -19 risk assessment, have reviewed and set out their maximum capacities based on social distancing guidelines and introduced updated plans and control measures. The capacity must not exceed 15 people as set out above. All of these documents need to be signed off by Gloucestershire County Council Health & Safety Department before any ceremony can be conducted. Please note it is your venue’s responsibility to ensure that they complete the correct paperwork in a timely manner to ensure Covid-19 certification. We cannot conduct ceremonies on any premises without this in place. Please note, however, that the maximum number present must include the couple, an interpreter or other 3rd party who will be present within the ceremony room or structure. Venues will be required to maintain 2m social distancing between the Registration Officers and the couple. Important note: It is your responsibility to adhere to the maximum capacity of rooms – if GRS Officers attend your ceremony and maximum numbers have been exceeded you will be asked to ensure the numbers match the capacity or the ceremony will not go ahead.
- Outside ceremonies – These can only be permitted in a licenced structure which must be of sufficient size to accommodate 6 persons in line with social distancing guidelines. If the structure is not big enough to accommodate 6 people the ceremony can not proceed.
- Social distancing rules of 2m will be observed within all registration offices. For approved venues, please see above.
- Aisle / Giving Away – Unless the venue set up permits social distancing, which may not to be possible, a person can only be accompanied to the ceremony room. Walking down the aisle with another person may not be permitted if social distancing from seated guests can not be maintained. We are unable to comment on individual set ups so please speak with your venue to confirm your arrangements. If your venue is able to accommodate this, whilst maintaining social distancing, only members of the same household/bubble should walk together. Couples can stand together for the ceremony and walk back down the aisle at the end of the ceremony as long as social distancing is in place to accommodate.
- Music - may be played on entrance and exit to your ceremony as long as it does not unreasonably extend the ceremony and is played by a guest who is socially distanced. No music can be played during the ceremony as the guidance states “It is advised that the ceremony is kept as short as possible and limited to the parts of the ceremony that are required to make it legally binding”.
- Readings - We are unable to accommodate any readings to ensure the ceremony is kept as short as possible and limited to the parts of the ceremony that are required to make it legally binding.
- Ring Exchange - We will, where couples request it, oversee the giving and receiving of rings, however, the rings can only be exchanged if held by one or other of the couple, they cannot be handed to the couple by a third party.
- Hand sanitiser is to be used prior to entering the room. Couples will also be expected to use hand sanitiser before signing the Register pages.
- Any children attending the ceremony must be supervised by a household member. (Children must be included in the maximum numbers) Any infants attending must be held throughout the ceremony by a household member.
- No member of the ceremonial party should attend the premises if they are displaying symptoms of COVID 19 or feel unwell. If it is found that someone is unwell or that the maximum numbers have been exceeded, the ceremony will not take place and will have to be re-booked. There will be a fee payable for this change.
At present the ceremony will consist of:
- Declaratory & contractual vows – which is a legal requirement
- Exchange of rings (if requested)
- Invitation to ‘kiss’ once couple declared legally married.
- Completion of the Register and Marriage certificate using pen/ink supplied by GRS
- Conclusion, guests to be invited to offer a round of applause for the couple, who will then lead their guests from the room.
The following aspects will be excluded:
- Formal ‘giving away’ – unless a 2 metre distance can be kept. Please confirm with your venue.
- Music during the ceremony
We understand that this is not the ceremony that you have been expecting or planning for but we do have to adhere to the Government guidelines in this matter and would appreciate your assistance with ensuring these guidelines are adhered to. We must emphasise that your ceremony can only proceed if your venue is COVID-19 compliant in line with UK Government instructions. Should you have any queries regarding the above or you choose to not go ahead with your ceremony at the current time please contact us at email@example.com.
Am I able to book a new ceremony within Gloucestershire?
We have availability for 2021 (subject to government restrictions) so please don’t worry about not being able to get a date however you may need to be flexible with your ceremony time.
Other Options available to you at the present time:
Changing your ceremony date
If you wish to amend your ceremony to a date in 2021 at your original venue, you can do so at no additional cost as long as the venue, the day of the week and the ceremony details are the same. Please telephone us on 01452 425060 (option 3) and we can check whether we can accommodate the new date. Please note: We cannot guarantee that we can accommodate preferred dates and times in 2021. This may be due to the number of current bookings, continued government restrictions or the legal requirement to ensure notices of marriage/civil partnership is in date. If you wish to change the day of the week from your original booking any difference will be chargeable or refunded.
If you wish to amend your ceremony to a date in 2022 at your original venue, you can do so at no additional cost as long as the venue, the day of the week and ceremony details are the same. Please telephone us on 01452 425060 (option 3) and we can check whether we can accommodate the new date. If you wish to change the day of the week from your original booking any difference will be chargeable or refunded.
Changing your ceremony date and choosing a new venue
If you wish to amend your ceremony to a date in 2021 at a new venue, please telephone us on 01452 425060 (option 3) and we can check whether we can accommodate the new date. Please note: We cannot guarantee that we can accommodate preferred dates and times in 2021. This may be due to the number of current bookings, continued government restrictions or the legal requirement to ensure notices of marriage /civil partnership are in date. If you choose a new venue you will be required to have a new notice of marriage/civil partnership, this will be payable as per our current fee list. If you wish to change the day of the week from your original booking any difference will be chargeable or refunded.
If you wish to amend your ceremony to a date in 2022 at a new venue, please telephone us on 01452 425060 (option 3) and we can check whether we can accommodate the new date. If you choose a new venue you will be required to have a new notice of marriage/civil partnership, this will be payable as per our current fee list. If you wish to change the day of the week from your original booking any difference will be chargeable or refunded.
Cancelling your ceremony
If you wish to cancel your ceremony completely and choose not to amend please email us the details (including your booking reference) to confirm. In these circumstances you will receive a refund of the ceremony fee (if you have already paid it) minus the non-refundable booking (administration) fee. Please note if you have given notice, this notice fee is non refundable.
Retaining your current ceremony date
If you wish to wait to see whether the UK Government restrictions are relaxed within a timeframe that allows your current booked Ceremony to go ahead, then please do not contact us at this point. Please note in order for your ceremony to go ahead you must have valid Notices of Marriage in place at least 28 days prior to the date of your ceremony.
Important details to note:
Dates and times for amended Ceremonies are subject to availability. This availability will take into account current bookings, government restrictions and the legal requirement to ensure notices of marriage/civil partnership are in date and new notice appointments made if required.
If you require a new notice of marriage/civil partnership due to a change of venue, these will be payable as per our current fee list.
Notices of Marriage
We are able to take Notice of Marriage / Civil Partnership appointments however we are only taking appointments for ceremonies that are booked up until 30th April 2021.
Those couples who live outside of Gloucestershire should contact their local Register Office to find out what arrangements they have put in place for notices which need to be given.
Does my wedding insurance cover the cost of my cancelled ceremony?
Whilst we recommend that you obtain insurance, we are unable to comment on individual cover. Please speak to your insurance provider for full details.