Coronavirus Ceremony Advice: March 2021 - Somerset Registration Services

Now that the government have published their roadmap back to – fingers crossed – normality, we can give you a little more information on what ceremonies are going to look like over the coming months. Government are aiming to release more detailed guidance before the start of each planned step, and we only have access to that when it in the public domain via the gov.uk website. With than in mind, the information below is correct to the best of our knowledge at the time of publishing, and we will do our best to update and amend it as we get new information. The information below references this official webpage, please refer to it for more detail if you need further clarity: Reopening businesses and venues in England – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).

Step 1 – 8th March/29th March

Step 1 officially began on 8th March with schools reopening. Part 2, on 29th March, sees the return of marriage and civil partnership ceremonies in permitted buildings. Due to ongoing restrictions, this means that ceremonies can take place in Register Offices, Town Halls and other public buildings. The maximum number of attendees is 6. This includes the couple themselves, their witnesses and up to 2 additional guests including any children. It doesn’t include the registrar, photographer or anyone else working. However, social distancing is still required so the size of the room will have a bearing on how many people can actually attend. Statutory “2+2” ceremonies (costing £57) are still limited to just the 2 witnesses, with no additional guests.

Step 2 – 12th April (At The Earliest)

As non essential shops are allowed to reopen along with selected other businesses, more of our Approved Premises venues will be able to start hosting ceremonies again. You should check with your venue as to whether they fall in to one of the permitted categories, or whether they will need to wait until Step 3 before reopening. The legal maximum size of the ceremony party will increase to 15, including the couple, witnesses and any children. Receptions will also be allowed to take place in covid-secure OUTDOOR locations, but not in private dwellings or public spaces. Social distancing restrictions will again mean that the size of the venue could reduce the overall number of attendees. Please check with your venue to agree guest numbers.

If hospitality businesses have outside dining spaces, they will be permitted to open at this stage. Where this is the case, there is an exemption that means that ceremonies and receptions can take place INSIDE these venues if they have covid-secure procedures in place. This exemption has now been expanded to include hotels, public attractions and other venues that may still be closed to for their main business operations. Again, please check with your venue as to whether they will be able to hold your ceremony.

These are the permitted guest numbers for all our own venues in Step 2. It’s possible to also have a photographer in attendance in addition to these numbers, except in the Hutton Suite in Weston and the Meeting Room in Frome, due to the small room size. In those cases, the photographer would need to be included in the total guest numbers. Please note that the guest numbers include a mixture of standing and seated spaces.

Room

 Guests

Witnesses

Couple

Total Party Size

Tudor Hall, Taunton

11

+

2

+

2

=

15

Vivary Room, Taunton

10

+

2

+

2

=

14

Hutton Suite, Weston

8 (including photographer)

+

2

+

2

=

12

Old Council Chamber, Weston

11

+

2

+

2

=

15

Mandeville Room, Abbey Manor, Yeovil

11

+

2

+

2

=

15

The Council Chamber, Frome Town Hall

11

+

2

+

2

=

15

The Meeting Room, Frome Town Hall

2 (including photographer)

+

2

+

2

=

6

 

Step 3 – 17th May (At The Earliest)

If all goes according to plan, ceremonies and receptions will be able to include up to 30 people by mid May. This number includes the couple, witnesses and any children, but not the registrars, photographers or anyone else working. Further categories of businesses will be permitted to open at this stage, hopefully enabling all our venues to be able to host ceremonies again. Please check with your venue when they anticipate resuming business, and what measures they have in place to ensure a covid-safe environment. We anticipate that social distancing will still have an impact on the overall number of people allowed to be in enclosed spaces, so the actual number of attendees may still need to be less than 30.

These are the permitted guest numbers for all our own venues in Step 3. It’s possible to also have a photographer in attendance in addition to these numbers, except in the Hutton Suite in Weston and the Meeting Room in Frome, due to the small room size. In those cases, the photographer would need to be included in the total guest numbers. Please note that the guest numbers include a mixture of standing and seated spaces. Please see the room plans in our More Information page for an idea of how the room will be arranged.

Room

Guests

Witnesses

Couple

Total Party Size

Tudor Hall, Taunton

23

+

2

+

2

=

27

Vivary Room, Taunton

10

+

2

+

2

=

14

Hutton Suite, Weston

8 (including photographer

+

2

+

2

=

12

Old Council Chamber, Weston

20

+

2

+

2

=

24

Mandeville Room, Abbey Manor, Yeovil

15

+

2

+

2

=

19

Council Chamber, Frome Town Hall

24

+

2

+

2

=

28

Meeting Room, Frome Town Hall

2 (including photographer)

+

2

+

2

=

6

Step 4 – 21st June (At The Earliest)

We are keeping everything crossed that all will be well and we can get back to business as usual from June 21st. 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

Now that ceremonies are due to start again, we aim to email couples around 2-3 weeks before their ceremony with the latest covid guidance and how they will need to factor that in to their day. We will also send a link to the most up to date version of our Pre Ceremony Check forms that we need to be able to personalise your ceremonies for you. These forms and guidance documents can be found in our More Information page, but we would urge you to wait until you’ve been sent the link prior to your ceremony to ensure that you are looking at the current version of the guidance. 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: https://bit.ly/3r1pmyn