Marriage and civil partnership ceremonies during coronavirus

Advice on booking and planning a ceremony during COVID-19 (coronavirus)

Coronavirus update

Anyone with symptoms of COVID-19, even if they are mild, should not attend a marriage or civil partnership ceremony. This includes the couple, their guests and anyone due to work at the ceremony. In line with government requirements, they should self-isolate immediately and get a PCR test. If someone has been instructed by NHS Test and Trace to self-isolate because they have tested positive for COVID-19, or they are the close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, they must self-isolate and not attend the ceremony. Guidance for households with possible coronavirus infection.

Ceremonies in our registration offices

There are ceremony rooms in Oxford, Banbury, Didcot, Witney, Abingdon, Bicester and Henley.

Maximum numbers permitted to attend ceremonies in registration offices are shown below. These numbers do not include the couple, but do include others such as babies, small children, photographers or musicians.

Ceremony room capacity on weekends and weekdays
Location Week days Weekends
Dexter Room, Oxford 23 48
The School House, Abingdon 20 20
Regatta Court, Henley 58 58
Bodicote House, Banbury 48 (35 seated) 48 (35 seated)
The Broadway Room, Didcot 45 (26 seated) 45 (26 seated)
The Garth, Bicester 48 48
Windrush Rooms, Witney 18 44

Contact us if you have specific questions regarding ceremony bookings, but please be aware we are very busy at present and are dealing with requests for ceremonies happening this year as a priority. We will respond within 15 working days.

Content of ceremonies

The ceremony will last approximately 25 minutes will consist of: 

  • legal preliminaries with the couple interviewed together or separately by the registrar
  • entrance of bride or couple
  • welcome 
  • reading (optional)
  • exchange of legal words (usually repeated after the registrar)
  • exchange of rings and/or personal promises (optional) 
  • the signing of marriage/civil partnership schedule by couple and witnesses 
  • conclusion of ceremony and congratulations
  • the exit of the couple and guests.  

Before your ceremony, you will be sent an option sheet. This will avoid delays on your day and allow you to indicate your choice of legal words, personal promises and readings in advance.

See more guidance on the GOV UK website.

Ceremonies outside

From 1 July 2021 to 30 April 2022 you can hold a ceremony outdoors if the venue agrees and can provide a suitable outdoor space for this purpose, subject to certain conditions being met. If you wish to hold your ceremony outdoors, please discuss this directly with your venue first.  Many venues may not wish to or be able to provide a suitable outdoor space.

Venues and couples must prepare a ‘Plan B’ in case of inclement weather and consider how the same number of guests can be safely accommodated indoors. In case of inclement weather, the registrars will make the final decision on whether the ceremony must take place indoors.

All couples having outdoor ceremonies will also need to complete an outdoor ceremony agreement at least one week before the ceremony is due to take place.  Without this agreement, the ceremony will take place indoors.

The only registration office which has a suitable outdoor space for ceremonies is Bodicote House in Banbury.  Please note that guests would need to stand throughout the ceremony.

Unfortunately, we cannot provide outdoor ceremonies at the Oxford Registration Office and The Dexter Room (Oxford), The Garth (Bicester), Windrush Rooms (Witney) The School House (Abingdon), Broadway Room (Didcot) or Regatta Court (Henley).

Giving notice for ceremonies 

We are currently giving priority to couples who have booked ceremonies that are due to take place in the next six months.

In order for your ceremony to go ahead you must have valid Notices of Marriage in place at least 30 days before the date of your ceremony or 70 days if one or both of the couple are subject to immigration control.

Changing your ceremony 

The latest government guidance can be found on the GOV UK website.

Please be aware that government guidance on ceremonies can change suddenly and without notice. We do not receive any advance notice of any changes nor do we have any control over any of the restrictions imposed.

We must follow any local and government guidelines that are in place at the time of the ceremony. When you book your ceremony, you will be advised of the restrictions in place at the time of booking.

If there is a substantial difference between the restrictions at the time of booking and the restrictions at the time of the ceremony, and you wish to postpone or cancel, please contact us via our enquiry form to discuss your options.