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
Those responsible for venues

Those responsible for venues


Those responsible for venues where marriage ceremonies 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.

The Regulations set out the requirements for those businesses and venues permitted to be open to enforce physical distancing in their premises. Where a person who is responsible for a place of worship, carrying on a business or providing a service contravenes the Regulations, that person commits an offence. 

Venues hosting marriage ceremonies should ensure that they are conducted in accordance with this guidance. They are also expected to comply with the guidance for the tourism and hospitality sector. Managers should also follow:

Venues hosting a wedding reception will be expected to comply with:

Venues which are private dwellings

A marriage ceremony should take place inside a private dwelling only where it is not possible for it to take place outside or at a public venue. See guidance on numbers attending.

The definition of a private dwelling includes self-contained self-catering and other private hire holiday accommodation. 

The use of private hire exclusive use premises (such as castles and historic houses) for marriage ceremonies will depend on the arrangements in place.

If the venue is managed and regulated, with venue staff to ensure that the relevant guidance, including this guidance and statutory hospitality guidance is followed, then the ceremony will comply with the Regulations and guidance. The venue would not be classified as a private dwelling and indoor marriage ceremonies could proceed there under this guidance.

COVID-19 risk assessment

Health and safety law requires all employers to assess the risk of returning to work while the coronavirus outbreak is ongoing and to put steps in place to manage that risk. The Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) short guide to working safely during the coronavirus outbreak can help those responsible for venues, including with a Risk Assessment template

We have published guidance on risk assessment for the tourism and hospitality sector and on conducting individual risk assessments.

In 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.

Those responsible for managing a venue should set out in their risk assessment the mitigations they will introduce. Mitigations could include steps such as changing the layout to avoid face-to-face seating, use of protective screens, and improving ventilation.

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