Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): wedding ceremonies and civil partnership registrations

Published: 14 Sep 2020
Last updated: 14 Sep 2020 - see all updates

Guidance to assist couples planning to get married or form a civil partnership in Scotland, as well as celebrants.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): wedding ceremonies and civil partnership registrations
Health and safety

Health and safety

Physical distancing

  • for the latest advice on physical distancing requirements, including for business and about the guidance on children, visit Coronavirus in Scotland.
  • all individuals involved in the ceremony or registration (including guests) should be signposted to the guidance on staying safe and protecting others and advised that they or members of their household should not attend the marriage or civil partnership if they are unwell with symptoms of COVID-19. (If either member of the couple have symptoms of COVID-19 the ceremony should not go ahead).
  • people from different households or extended households should maintain physical distancing between one another during the event. An extended household is two households which have chosen to be treated as a single household.
  • this may mean that couples and their religious or belief celebrant should consider adaptations to their marriage ceremony or civil partnership registration so that traditional practices that would otherwise have brought people into contact with one another are not involved. If contact between people from different households/extended households remains necessary for religious or belief purposes, the arrangements should nonetheless minimise contact and ensure the time necessary for the interaction is also kept to a minimum.
  • for frequently used venues, the person responsible for managing the venue should consider marking areas using floor tape or paint to help people maintain physical distance, including when attending a marriage ceremony or civil partnership registration.
  • those responsible for managing a venue should consider and set out the mitigations they will introduce in their risk assessment. Mitigations could include, for example, changing the layout to avoid face-to-face seating, use of protective screens and face coverings and improving ventilation.
  • attendees should avoid touching property belonging to others such as shoes which, if taken off, should be handled only by their owner

Face coverings

The wearing of a face covering is now mandatory in certain indoor premises, such as hotels and places of worship. There are exemptions to this requirement, including for individuals who are leading a ceremony or registration. The wearing of face coverings must not be used as an alternative to other precautions including physical distancing, hand washing and respiratory hygiene. We have published guidance on the use of face coverings.

Singing, chanting and music

  • people should avoid singing, shouting, raising voices and/or playing music at a volume that makes normal conversation difficult or that may encourage shouting. This is because of the potential for increased risk of transmission from aerosol and droplets.
  • therefore, the celebrant’s declarations and the couple’s spoken responses during marriages or civil partnerships should also not be in a raised voice
  • activities such as singing, chanting, shouting and/or playing of instruments that are blown into should be specifically avoided. This is because there is a possible additional risk of infection in environments where individuals are singing or chanting as a group, and this applies even if physical distancing is being observed or face coverings are being used.
  • where required for the marriage or civil partnership, only one individual should be permitted to sing or chant, and the use of plexi-glass screens should be considered to protect guests, as this will further prevent transmission and the screen can be easily cleaned
  • while we recognise the importance of communal singing, this should not happen at present because of the risks of transmission. The couple should consider using recordings that may be available to them.
  • if musical instruments are being played, we advise that only those instruments that do not require to be blown into, are played. An organ can be played, but should be cleaned thoroughly before and after use.

Other points on faith specific practices

  • pre-requisite washing and ablution rituals should be carried out at home prior to arrival at the place of worship. Where it is absolutely essential to use such facilities physical distancing and hygiene measures should be observed at all times and areas should be cleaned between each individual use. Individuals should not wash the body parts of others.
  • where rituals or ceremonies require water to be applied to the body, full immersion should be avoided. Instead, small volumes can be splashed onto the body
  • individuals should not touch or kiss devotional and other objects that are handled communally. The person responsible for the venue should consider the use of barriers and signs, where necessary. If shared items are required for the marriage ceremony or civil partnership registration, those doing so should ensure they wash their hands before and after. Items should be handled by as few people as possible.
  • communal resources such as books, prayer mats and services sheets should be removed from use. If single use alternatives are used these should be removed by the individual using them from the venue
  • any personal items brought in are removed by the user

COVID-19 risk assessment

To help decide which actions to take to ensure a safe reopening of a venue, a COVID-19 risk assessment should be carried out, in addition to any risk assessment already in place.

There is guidance on carrying out a COVID-19 risk assessment on the Health and Safety Executive website.

Those responsible for venues

The Regulations set out the requirements for those businesses and venues permitted to be open to enforce physical distancing in their premises. Where an owner, proprietor or manager carrying out a business (or a person responsible for other premises) contravenes the Regulations, that person commits an offence. Venue managers should also refer to the other guidance we have published including at the links set out earlier and to guidance on keeping their workforce and customers or service users safe in non-health care settings.

Venues hosting wedding and civil partnership receptions will be expected to comply with:

Those responsible for venues where marriage ceremonies or civil partnership registrations may be conducted should ensure that they only reopen for this purpose if it is safe to do so. It is their responsibility to put in place measures that will allow them to safely reopen.

First published: 14 Sep 2020 Last updated: 14 Sep 2020 -