Coronavirus Ceremony Guidance - Somerset Registration Services

There’s still a lot of confusion about where things stand regarding ceremonies. We’re going to do our best to make this situation as clear as we can! It’s a lengthy read, but hopefully will answer some of the FAQs that keep popping up. This originally appeared as a post on Facebook on April 11th, and has been updated based on FAQs and new information.

Firstly – here at the Registration Service we’re waiting eagerly for guidance from the PM, just like you. We sadly don’t have an inside scoop on what’s going to be allowed, or when. Until we get news from the public announcements, we can’t proceed. Trust us – all the other Registration Services across the country are in the same boat!

Can I Have A Wedding Ceremony?

We can’t currently hold any ceremonies – even basic “2+2”s for the couple and their witnesses. This extends to the end of May at least. There’s no indication yet when these will definitely be allowed. Not before June 1st at the earliest according the government, but there’s no guarantee they’ll start then at all. This all depends on how the virus is contained, and whether even small ceremonies can safely be carried out with social distancing.

Can I Give Notice Of Marriage?

We can’t currently take Notice of Marriage appointments. For any couples who have yet to do this, this may automatically mean that their ceremony will need to be postponed if we can’t do this 28 days in advance of the ceremony. We’re monitoring the situation, and once we can offer this service again we’ll be giving priority to those couples with imminent ceremonies.

Notices of Marriage last for 1 year. Depending on when you first gave notice, it may be necessary to go through this process again for your rescheduled ceremony. Prices and legislation for this are set nationally, so we don’t have any scope to bypass this.

Why Can’t You Just Cancel All Ceremonies For The Summer?

We can’t take the decision to automatically cancel all ceremonies for any extended period, as the PM may announce smaller ceremonies are possible and some couples may still prefer this to moving their date. If we are able to provide ceremonies, we will! We’re eagerly waiting for any announcements from governement about future prospects, but need to keep working in short blocks where guidance is clear. We are avoiding rebooking ceremonies for mid summer in case the ban extends further and couples are forced to reschedule for a second time.

My Ceremony Fees Are Due. How Can I Pay?

We’ve extended our payment terms, so any couples who haven’t yet paid for their ceremony don’t need to worry. Venues will have their own terms, though most seem to be very flexible and don’t want to disappoint.

Will I Be Charged For Moving My Ceremony?

We will reschedule all ceremonies at no cost, and give full refunds to any couples who would prefer to cancel their ceremony. If a ceremony is transferred to a differently priced slot (for example from a weekday to a Sunday) then there may be a small charge to cover the difference. Refunds will be given if a weekend ceremony moves to a cheaper weekday slot.

When Can I Rebook My Wedding – I Already Have A Date In Mind

Our diaries are closed to all new bookings and postponements of future ceremonies. We are working through all the ceremonies missed during lockdown in date order. We appreciate this is frustrating for anyone who knows they want to move their summer ceremony already, but we hope you can all appreciate making this as fair as possible. To give you an insight into the scale of the task….

Normally we conduct around 3000 ceremonies each year. May-September is our busiest time. We take bookings up to 2 years in advance, so there are already nearly 1000 ceremonies in the diary for 2021. From the beginning of the Covid19 restrictions, so far over 200 ceremonies have been missed. This may seem like a small number, but each one is unique to that couple and needs individual rebooking. That’s what we’re working on right now.

From today to the end of July, there are a further 750 that will be missed or are at serious risk, if we’re realistic.
We’ve had so many messages from couples wanting to reschedule August and September ceremonies because social distancing could still be impacting ceremonies. That makes a total of around 1800 ceremonies that couples potentially want to rebook. We hope you can see that it wouldn’t be fair to make exceptions, when there are so many people patiently waiting, with so much at stake.

What Are The Alternatives?

This might mean that some couples opt to scale their ceremony back to a simple 2+2 and hold a celebration later on. It might mean couples who’d originally planned a summer ceremony might opt for a cosy winter wedding, if they want to keep their dream venue.

We’re limited by the number of physical registers that are used for recording weddings, rather than the size of the team. The best we can provide more ceremonies is if couples opt for midweek ceremonies or early/late weekend ceremonies, rather than 2pm on Saturdays.

We are doing our best to communicate with venues to keep them up to speed with what we’re doing, and find out what their approaches are. With 131 licensed venues each with their own diary and booking policies, it’s no mean feat!

Stay Well

In the meantime, please sit tight, look after yourselves and your loved ones, and wait to see when the government give us all clear news about restrictions being lifted. We’ll be in touch with affected couples who have an existing booking, and will announce on this website and on our Facebook page when we can start taking new bookings again.