Publication - Advice and guidance

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

Published: 25 Jun 2021
Last updated: 21 Jul 2021 - see all updates

Rules and guidance for people involved in planning a wedding in Scotland during COVID-19, including how many people can attend a ceremony and reception.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): wedding ceremonies and civil partnership registrations, receptions and celebrations
Wedding ceremonies

Wedding ceremonies

This section sets out the rules and guidance for a wedding ceremony including:

Number who can attend

The maximum number of people who can attend a wedding ceremony indoors or outdoors at a public venue such as a hotel, registration office, place of worship or a staffed exclusive-use venue depends on:

  • the COVID-19 level for the venue, and
  • whether the venue can safely hold that many people with physical distancing

These numbers are the same for the reception.

See: number who can attend a wedding.

There are different rules for weddings held in some other venues such as a private home or garden, self-catering accommodation, or in a marquee in certain settings.

See the guidance for weddings in:

Before the ceremony

Couples and those responsible for venues and events should:

  • work through this guidance with the person carrying out the ceremony to ensure arrangements are as safe as possible for everyone attending - if the person carrying out the ceremony thinks the arrangements are not safe they may refuse to carry out or stop the service
  • stick to the agreed number of attendees and not increase this at short notice or beyond what the venue can safely hold
  • discuss whether remote attendance is possible, for example by live streaming or recording the ceremony
  • discourage people not able to attend from gathering outside the venue
  • work out a plan for letting guests know about arrangements and rules they need to follow
  • try to ensure that ceremonies are concluded in a reasonable time

Physical distancing

Outdoors, groups of up to 15 people can sit or stand together, and mingle with each other, but they should remain at least 1 metre from other groups.

Indoors, people from different households should stay 1 metre apart during the ceremony wherever this is taking place.

This includes, for example, when photographs are being taken.

Any carers accompanying someone at the ceremony do not need to physically distance from the person they are caring for.

Being accompanied down the aisle

If you are getting married, you can be accompanied by someone down the aisle or to join the celebrant at the start of the ceremony. If doing so, try to ensure that the person accompanying you is either:

  • in the same household as you, or
  • keeps 1 metre apart from you

If you wish, you can be accompanied by someone not in your household and without physical distancing - but you can only do this whilst walking down the aisle or to join the person carrying out the ceremony. If doing so, the person being accompanied should consider wearing a face covering.

Face coverings

During a wedding ceremony in an indoor public place, such as a hotel, registration office or place of worship, face coverings must be worn by everyone (unless exempt) apart from:

  • the wedding couple
  • the person carrying out the ceremony

If not wearing a face covering, the couple and celebrant must stay away from each other and everybody else, or use a screen or partition. If this is not possible, face coverings will need to be worn.

The couple can only take off a face covering during the ceremony part of the wedding. They must still wear a face covering in any public areas before going into the room where the ceremony is taking place, and as soon as the ceremony is over

If one of the couple is being accompanied down the aisle by another guest, or guests, they do not need to physically distance from each other. The guest, or guests, accompanying them do not require to wear a face covering at this point in the ceremony. However, they should still consider wearing a face covering. See: face coverings guidance

Hygiene

Precautions to take include:

  • attendees sanitising/washing their hands before and after the ceremony
  • avoiding objects such as rings and pens being handled by multiple people, and only by the couple wherever possible
  • avoiding the need for raised voices, for example by using microphones
  • ensuring that no food or drink is consumed during the ceremony unless it is essential for religious or belief purposes

Singing, chanting and music

At wedding ceremonies in all COVID-19 protection level areas:

  • pre-recorded background music is allowed in line with hospitality guidance on background music
  • a solo singer or musician can perform, for example a bagpiper can play while guests or the couple are arriving

Additionally, at ceremonies in Level 0, 1 or 2 areas:

  • a small group of singers and/or musicians can perform - make sure you agree any arrangements with the person responsible for the venue

In Level 0 and 1 areas:

  • communal singing is allowed - face coverings must be worn (unless exempt)

All performances must follow the performing arts guidance.

Faith-specific practices

See our guidance for the safe use of places of worship for advice on faith-specific rites and rituals and how these might be adapted. This is especially important where a ceremony might otherwise take place over a number of hours or longer.


First published: 25 Jun 2021 Last updated: 21 Jul 2021 -