Marriage and civil partnership ceremonies during coronavirus

Advice on giving Notice, limits on guests and ceremonies during COVID-19

Limits on people attending a ceremony

Government guidance is that a maximum of 30 people should attend a ceremony. This includes:

  • the couple
  • two registrars
  • two witnesses
  • photographer
  • any staff not employed by the venue such as caterers.

This will depend on how many people the ceremony room can safely accommodate. Many rooms will not be able to accommodate 30 people, and ceremonies will be capped at a smaller number.  

For some registration offices or venues the legal minimum of 6 people will apply. This will be the couple, two witnesses and two registrars.

Ceremonies in our registration offices after 4 July

The government have indicated that ceremonies should proceed only where they can be carried out in a covid-secure environment.

We are currently carrying out a review of all our ceremony rooms to ensure that they comply with the latest guidance. This is likely to take a number of weeks and ceremony rooms will be confirmed as covid-secure in phases.

We will publish details of the availability of registration offices on our website as soon as it is received. Contact us to discuss your specific situation.

Ceremonies in a licensed venue (e.g. hotel, town hall or country house) after 4 July

The government have indicated that ceremonies should proceed only where they can be carried out in a covid-secure environment.

Contact your venue in the to check that they are still able to accommodate your ceremony and adhere to the current social distancing guidelines.

Current guidelines state that ‘Any receptions that typically follow or accompany marriages or civil partnerships are strongly advised not to take place at this time. Small celebrations should only take place if following social distancing guidelines - i.e. in groups of up to two households indoors, or up to six people from different households outdoors’.

Once you have discussed your ceremony with your venue contact us to clarify your specific situation.

Notice expired due to postponement 

If your ceremony has been rebooked due to postponement but your original Notice has expired you will need to give Notice again. Notices of marriage or civil partnership are only valid for one year and it is not possible to automatically extend this.  

Contact us to discuss your options on how to give Notice again. 

Shorter civil ceremonies

As per government guidance, ceremonies will be shortened to include only the minimum legal requirements. This means that music, singing and readings cannot be included and photographs should be taken outside the building, once the ceremony has concluded. A simple exchange of rings will be permitted, however.

Moving outside

Marriage or civil partnership must take place within the venue, as specified on the Notice, and as specified in the licence for approved premises. So we aren't able to move it outside unless its included as part of the venue.

Live music, readings and lots of guests

We don't know when large ceremonies will be permitted again. This will depend on government guidance. If you had set your heart on a big celebration, you may want to postpone until a later date.  

Another option would be to go ahead with the small ceremony (so you will be legally married) but arrange a renewal of vows ceremony with us at a future date when restrictions are lifted and you can have the big celebration you hoped for.

Giving Notice for ceremonies in July or August

We have limited availability of appointments to give Notice of Marriage or Notice of Civil Partnership in our office in Oxford. We are offering appointments in strict priority order by date of ceremony for couples who have a ceremony booked to take place in July or August.

Notice of Marriage or Civil Partnership must be given a minimum of 28 days before the ceremony takes place (this period may be extended to 70 days by the Home Office if one or both of the couple are a foreign national).

If your ceremony is due to take place in a church or abroad, please contact your venue first to ensure that the church or foreign authorities will still allow it to proceed.

Giving Notice for ceremonies in October, November or December

If your ceremony is due to take place after 1 October, check our website at a later date for availability of Notice of Marriage/Notice of Civil Partnership appointments.

We are currently giving priority to couples who have booked ceremonies which are due to take place in July, August or September.