Coronavirus Ceremony Advice: June - Somerset Registration Services

We are now moving from Step 3 into a “Step 3 Phase 2” phase of the roadmap. It’s not the “no restrictions” Step 4 that we were hoping for just yet, but there is some room for flexibility now.

Government are continuing to update guidance as things progress, and you can find the latest version here: Advice for Weddings, Receptions & Celebrations. You can also find further advice on meeting friends and family as restrictions are starting to be relaxed. We’ll be referencing the relevant info in our guidance below.

Step 3 Phase 2 – 21 June

Ceremonies and receptions will not have a fixed legal maximum from this date. However, the numbers allowed at ceremonies and receptions will be limited instead by the covid-safe capacity of the venue. This number will need to take account of all the people in the room, including people working, to ensure everyone is able to socially distance adequately. All venues are still legally required to provide a covid-secure environment, and will be carrying out revised risk assessments to establish maximum numbers. Please be aware that while you and other individuals in your party may be happy to relax your attitude to social distancing during the event, venues are required to provide the facility to do so for all guests and staff when calculating capacity. Outside ceremonies will also need to account for the possibility of needing to move indoors should the weather be less than perfect.

Readings in Step 3 Phase 2

For the most post, the guidance remains the same as the initial Step 3 rules, other than an increase in maximum numbers. The biggest change, and one that we know you’ve all be eager for, is that the requirement to keep ceremonies to just the basic legalities has been lifted. This means that we are now happy to include readings and personal vows. We still ask that they are kept to a reasonably short length – no reciting the whole of The Lady Of Shallot! – but it does mean that you can personalise your ceremony with those special touches again. The person doing the reading will be permitted to remove their mask for the duration of the reading, and will be asked to stand and perform it from the space where they have been seated.

Entrance Parties, Masks, Music and Social Distancing

Entrance parties can take place, as before. For example, brides can be walked down the aisle by their fathers and bridesmaids, if they are all happy to do so.

Only the couple and the registrars are exempt from wearing masks, so bridesmaids, pageboys and the father of the bride (or other person walking down the aisle) will still need to cover their faces, as will all other guests even while seated during the ceremony. Seating should be reserved at the front for everyone entering with the bride, so they can then be seated according to the general social distancing requirements.

Hugging is now being allowed in larger gatherings in outdoor spaces, where people are comfortable doing so, but ideally still shouldn’t take place indoors. Please please do bear in mind that some people may still feel nervous about close contact. Do stick to a 2 metre distance as a matter of course as this is still the government’s advice, and make sure that people are comfortable about being hugged or kissed. We are grateful to all our couples and their guests who have exercised caution and followed safety guidance so far. Thank you all so much for your patience and understanding.

Music is still ok to be played at the entrance, signing and exit parts of the ceremony. Live music may be possible depending on the instruments, but there needs to be physical space for the musicians while still allowing for distancing, so do check with your venue if this is a feature you’d like to include.

The previous advice for licensed ceremony venues was to arrange seating in family groups, allowing space for social distancing if people would still prefer to do so. However, this is no longer a legal requirement and is something you should discuss with your venue. At our own register office venues, we will continue to have fixed seating plans based on chairs in pairs or small groups that allow for social distancing should guests wish to. This is a necessity because we hold multiple ceremonies every day and there is not time to rearrange chairs for individual ceremony seating plans as well as cleaning everything down. It will then be up to your party to seat themselves and socially distance as they desire.

Register Office Venue Guest Numbers

These are the permitted guest numbers for all our own venues in Step 3 Phase 2, from June 21st. Total party sizes include the couple, witnesses, guests, photographer and children of any age. They do not include the Registrars. These figures are based on parties being able socially distance should they wish, and are being revised based the ability to create sufficient ventilation for any additional numbers. We will update the figures for Weston, Abbey Manor and Frome as soon as possible, but they will not be less than the original Step 3 figures stated below.

Room Guests Witnesses Couple Total Party Size
Tudor Hall, Taunton 36 + 2 + 2 = 40 (confirmed)
Vivary Room, Taunton 10 + 2 + 2 = 14 (confirmed)
Hutton Suite, Weston 8 + 2 + 2 = 12 (confirmed)
Old Council Chamber, Weston 20 + 2 + 2 = 24 (confirmed)
Mandeville Room, Abbey Manor, Yeovil 15 + 2 + 2 = 19 (under review)
Council Chamber, Frome Town Hall 24 + 2 + 2 = 28 (confirmed)
Meeting Room, Frome Town Hall 2 + 2 + 2 = 6 (confirmed)


Step 4 – 19th July (At The Earliest)

We are keeping everything crossed that all will be well and we can get back to business as usual from July 19th – a little later than we had initially hoped. The government hopes to lift all restrictions on numbers at ceremonies by this stage. Please bear in mind that this date may be delayed if the various tests haven’t been met. It may also be the case that covid precautions and social distancing measure might still be required. We’ll keep this updated as and when we get more information.

What To Expect From Us Before Your Ceremony

We have been emailing couples before the start of each step with a link to the most up to date guidance and forms to get back to us. We will be emailing all couples with ceremonies between 21st June and 18th July with updated information very shortly. If you haven’t received an email by June 20th, you can find them in our More Information page. If your ceremony is after July 19th, you’ll need to hold on for a little longer before accessing the forms you need. We need to wait for further advice from government nearer the time to ensure that you are looking at the most current version of the rules. We will email couples as soon as we have a clear idea of what will be allowed at that stage. Follow us on Facebook for regular updates and news, or to scroll through all the FAQs on previous posts.

If you need to make any amendments to your ceremony date, please use the ceremony booking form rather than emailing or phoning. Someone from the team will get back to you as soon as possible: