Coronavirus Ceremony Advice: May 2021 - Somerset Registration Services

As we move in to Step 3 of the roadmap, we’re updating our advice and hopefully making things a little clearer for you all. 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 – 17th May 

Ceremonies and receptions will be able to include up to 30 people from Monday 17th May. This number includes the couple, witnesses and any children, but not the registrars, photographers or anyone else working. Do remember that this number may be limited by the size of the room, as social distancing is still required at business locations. 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.

There is really little change between Step 2 and Step 3 for ceremonies, other than an increase in maximum numbers. As a business, we are still required to keep social distancing measures in place at our own venues, and approved premises will also need to do this. However, there is now a move to begin putting the emphasis on members of the public making decisions for themselves about their own safety. To reflect this, and as we are aware that many brides are very keen to make a traditional entrance with their father and bridesmaids, we will be happy to allow the entrance party to walk in together if they are all willing 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) would still need to cover their faces. 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 still can’t take place indoors. Groups of 6 will be able to embrace each other indoors if they choose. 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.

Ceremonies are still required to be limited to the essential elements as part of the ongoing safety precautions, so readings and long personal vows are still off the agenda. We’re very sorry these can’t yet be included. We really hope to get back to ceremonies as normal very soon. Music is still ok to be played at the entrance, signing and exit parts of the ceremony. Live music may be possible, 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 advice for licensed ceremony venues is still to arrange seating in family groups, allowing space for social distancing if people would still prefer to do so. At our own register office venues, we will continue to have fixed seating plans for the same reason. It’s also 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.

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

We have been emailing couples before the start of Step 2 and Step 3 with a link to the most up to date guidance and forms to get back to us. If you haven’t received an email, or have booked very recently, you can find them in our More Information page. If your ceremony is after June 21st, 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. 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