Publication - Advice and guidance

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

Published: 26 Oct 2020
Last updated: 6 Jan 2021 - 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
Before the ceremony

Before the ceremony

This section highlights what you may need to consider before the ceremony.

Points on COVID-19  

All individuals involved in the ceremony, including guests, should understand and follow the NHS inform guidance on including physical distancing measures. If you or any member of your household is unwell with symptoms of COVID-19, you should not attend the marriage. 

The strategic framework introduces enhanced advice at each protection level to protect people with the highest clinical risk (who were previously shielding).  It sets out clearly how advice will change depending on the rates of infection in local areas.

The celebrant, those responsible for the venue and the couple should be aware of the need to take other actions to minimise the spread of COVID-19 before the ceremony starts:

  • advising anyone who is displaying symptoms of COVID-19, or is self-isolating due to living with someone who is displaying symptoms or as a result of contact tracing, to stay at home to minimise the risk of spreading COVID-19
  • if either member of the couple have or develop symptoms of COVID-19 the ceremony should not go ahead
  • anyone who becomes unwell with symptoms of COVID-19 should be sent home and advised to follow guidance on what to do if you develop symptoms at NHS Inform (or call 111 if they don't have internet access and need clinical advice). In an emergency, call 999 if they are seriously ill or injured or if their life is at risk.

Those responsible for a venue where a marriage takes place must take action to minimise the potential for spreading COVID-19.

General points for all marriages

We encourage couples to consider getting married outside because this reduces the risk of transmission. A shelter which is not wholly or mainly enclosed, such as an open-sided gazebo, can be used.

The ceremony should be concluded in the shortest reasonable time.  This means that the content of a ceremony should be limited accordingly.

Food and drink should not be consumed at the ceremony unless this is essential for religious or belief purposes.

Additional points

  • religious or belief bodies and their celebrants should examine how rites and rituals are observed as part of a marriage at this time, given the potential for transmission of COVID-19
  • religious or belief communities should consider and adapt religious or belief aspects accordingly during the current pandemic. This is especially important where a ceremony might otherwise take place over a number of hours or longer.
  • persons organising marriages should consider if traditional aspects of some ceremonies (eg the father giving the bride away) could be adapted during the pandemic to take account of requirements such as physical distancing.


First published: 26 Oct 2020 Last updated: 6 Jan 2021 -