Publication - Advice and guidance

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

Published: 26 Oct 2020
Last updated: 20 Nov 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
Attendance and travel

Attendance and travel

Guidance on numbers attending

Where the size of the couple‚Äôs venue means that it cannot accommodate the permitted numbers set out below with strict physical distancing measures, the number of people able to attend may be less. 

The number of people attending a marriage ceremony should ideally be kept to a minimum as far as possible. This will lower the risk of spreading the virus. Below are the maximum number of people who should attend a marriage ceremony in each level of the strategic framework.  The protection levels can be applied either locally or nationally.

Level 0

No more than 50 people should attend.

Level 1, 2, 3 or 4 

No more than 20 people should attend.

These limits include:

  • the couple
  • the witnesses
  • guests, including children of any age
  • any carers accompanying someone attending the ceremony
  • any staff not employed by the venue, such as a photographer, musicians or others a couple has employed for the purpose of the ceremony.

The celebrant and any required interpreter do not count towards these limits.

If your ceremony is taking place inside a private dwelling

A marriage ceremony should only take place inside a private dwelling if it is not possible for it to take place outside or at a public venue because, for example:

  • a party to the marriage or civil partnership is seriously ill
  • disability prevents such a party from attending a ceremony or registration outside or at a public venue.

Where a marriage ceremony takes place inside a private dwelling, no more than 6 people should attend. This means the couple, two witnesses, the celebrant, and where required, an interpreter. There is further information on the definition of a private dwelling.

Remote attendance

In order to assist the most vulnerable, couples should discuss with the person managing their venue whether remote attendance is possible.  This could mean livestreaming or recording of the event. If the couple employ staff for this purpose, they will count towards the limits on numbers set out in this guidance: see numbers attending.


From 6pm on 20 November 2020, new restrictions will come into effect, in relation to travel into and out of local authority areas affected by levels 3 and 4 restrictions. To suppress the spread of COVID-19 it is essential that, with limited exceptions, there is no travel to or from areas where higher numbers of people may be carrying the virus.

People who live in a Level 3 or 4 local authority area in Scotland are now required to stay in that area unless they have a reasonable excuse to travel, such as work, education, or welfare reasons.

If you live in a Level 3 or 4 local authority area you must, by law, remain within that area unless you have a reasonable excuse. The regulations list a range of different things for which travel is permitted,  

The list of examples of reasonable excuses includes some relevant to gatherings for a marriage ceremony or wedding reception.

For people living in a level 3 area, travel out of that area is permitted, to attend a marriage ceremony and for a wedding reception. (Wedding receptions must not take place in a Level 4 local authority area. )

For people living in a level 4 area, travel out of that area is permitted for the purpose of attending a marriage ceremony only.

For further guidance on travel, including international travel and travel to and from England, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and Wales, see the guidance about travel and transport at Coronavirus in Scotland.

First published: 26 Oct 2020 Last updated: 20 Nov 2020 -