The Scottish Government recognises the importance of marriage and civil partnership to couples and to society more widely.
From 2 November, the Scottish Government has implemented a new strategic approach based on five levels of protection. The protection levels can be applied either locally or nationally.
There are rules at all 5 levels of the strategic framework about how many people may attend a marriage ceremony or civil partnership registration:
- Level 0: no more than 50 people should attend
- Level 1, 2 or3: no more than 20 people should attend
- Level 4: no more than 5 people (or 6, if an interpreter is required)
Wedding receptions cannot take place at level 4.
The decision on whether or not an interpreter is required at the marriage ceremony or civil partnership registration in level 4 rests with the person leading the ceremony (ie the approved celebrant or the authorised registrar). An interpreter may be required if, for example, the couple do not speak English or require support for a hearing disability.
These limits apply regardless of whether the marriage or civil partnership is taking place indoors, outdoors, in a private dwelling or at a place of worship. As outlined in more detail below, a marriage or civil partnership should take place inside a private dwelling only where it is not possible for it to take place outside or at a public venue.
The limits at level 4 are laid down in regulations, in accordance with the requirement that a person who is living in a level 4 area must not leave the place where that person is living, unless they have a reasonable excuse. A marriage ceremony or civil partnership registration is an example of a reasonable excuse where you are one of the parties, witnesses, celebrant or registrar or any necessary interpreter.
These limits are necessary for public health reasons. For more information, see:
This guidance for marriage and civil partnership has been drafted on the basis of the scientific evidence available. We keep it under review and update it regularly.
This guidance does not constitute legal advice. For the latest guidance visit Coronavirus in Scotland.
From this point on, this guidance refers to marriage ceremonies and marriages. This includes and should be applied to civil partnership registrations and civil partnerships.