Planning a wedding and COVID-19: What you need to know

July 19, 2021

Correct at 19/7/2021

The last few months have been difficult for so many, including those who have had to reschedule ceremonies.  

The Scottish Government have set out the details for local protection levels detailing how they anticipate we will live with COVID19 over the coming months.

What does this mean for wedding ceremonies?

The protection levels include 5 levels of restrictions, with each level having an impact on ceremonies.  Levels are applied on a local authority basis; you can check your area using the Scottish Government’s postcode check tool.

These are the current indicative dates set out for changes to the levels, please be aware that they are subject to change:

What are the levels?

Level 0

At this level, wedding ceremonies are allowed indoors and outdoors with a maximum of 200 people in attendance*.

Level 1

At this level, wedding ceremonies are allowed indoors and outdoors with a maximum of 100 people in attendance*.

Level 2

At this level, wedding ceremonies are allowed indoors and outdoors with a maximum of 50 people in attendance*.

Level 3

At this level, wedding ceremonies are allowed indoors and outdoors with a maximum of 50 people in attendance*.

Level 4

At level 4, wedding ceremonies are allowed indoors and outdoors with a maximum of 20 people in attendance*.

* Subject to the criteria laid out in the Important Information below.

Important Information Relevant to All 5 Levels  

Maximum Numbers 

The maximum numbers include everyone, except the celebrant, any interpreter and any suppliers such as videographer, photographer etc.  All children no matter age are included in the maximum numbers.

The maximum numbers given are dependant on the venue size and layout, as the necessary physical distancing between households must still be in place. This means the number of people able to attend may be less, and sometimes significantly less, than the maximum numbers at the present level. Please speak to your venue to clarify their own capacity before confirming your guest list. 

Our Celebrants will be unable to proceed with a ceremony if the numbers exceed what has been set out as safe by the Scottish Government

Ceremonies & Private Dwellings

Ceremonies should only take place inside a private dwelling if it is not possible for the ceremony to take place outside or at a public venue, for example, due to illness or disability.  Ceremonies inside private dwellings are limited to 5 people including the celebrant (6 if an interpreter is required). 

Outdoor ceremonies at private dwellings can proceed in line with the broader guidance re maximum numbers (see information on receptions below).   

Please be aware that the definition of a private dwelling includes self-contained self-catering and other private hire holiday accommodation.  

Indoors or Outdoors?

With the exception of private dwellings, there is no difference to the maximum number permitted at indoor and outdoor ceremonies.  

Outdoor marriage or civil partnerships are recommended because of the reduced risk of transmission in an outdoor environment. 

Face Coverings

Face coverings are mandatory at indoor ceremonies for everyone excluding the celebrant and couple.  Children under 5, and those with a reasonable excuse are exempt from wearing face coverings. Those accompanying a party to the marriage into the ceremony can remove face coverings while doing so but they must be worn before and after entry.

Face coverings are not required at outdoor ceremonies. 

Singing and Symbolic Gestures

Communal singing and raised voices should be avoided, and indoor live music should be limited to instruments that do not require to be blown into. Please be aware some symbolic gestures may not be possible to include at this time. Your celebrant will be able to advise you, and there is more information here.


In Scotland it is permitted to travel between and through local authority areas to attend a wedding ceremony.  When considering travelling invited guests should consider if their journey is essential. 

If you live outside Scotland you should refer to local restrictions relating to travel.  You should also be aware of any requirements relating to travel and quarantine.  

Physical Distancing and Hygiene Measures

There will be a requirement to follow the relevant health regulations and, at Levels 1 – 4, physical distancing of at least 2 metres between households should still be observed.  At Level 0, the requirement for physical distancing is reduced to 1 metre indoors. Outdoors, physical distancing of 1 metre is required between groups of 15 people from 15 households. Children under 12 no longer count in households. The venue must be able to accommodate physical distancing indoors, and numbers may need to be reduced if members of different households are not able to be accommodated with the relevant distancing measures. 

Marriage Notices (M10s)

The requirement to submit notices no later than 29 days should be factored into any planning. It is recommended that notices are submitted by post to reduce contact time in registration offices. If you need to go in person, please be aware that not all registration offices are open, you can find out by checking your local authority website. There is more information available here, including information about notices that need to be amended.


Please note this guidance only applies to the ceremony – receptions reflecting the maximum ceremony numbers will be able to take place only if they are held in a regulated setting (eg: hospitality venue) and are not permitted in Level 4. At any other location they will still be subject to the everyday rules on gatherings inside or outside

We’re having to rearrange our ceremony. Where should we start?

If you are having to rearrange your ceremony, contact your suppliers as soon as possible.  You may want to consider checking availability with your key suppliers in the first instance, to ensure you are working to dates that are available at your venue, for example.  You may wish to look at choosing a weekday, or a morning or later afternoon ceremony time to increase your chances of retaining all your suppliers.

For any ceremony queries, please contact your Celebrant in the first instance.  They won’t be able to advise on questions around your venue and other suppliers, but will support you as best they can.

Our Celebrant isn’t available for my new date, what should we do?

Our Celebrants are trying to accommodate as many rescheduled ceremonies as possible.  Unfortunately there may be times when our Celebrants are unavailable for a rescheduled date.  However, your chosen Celebrant is part of Scotland’s largest and most trusted network of Humanist Celebrants, and you are covered by our promise.  Therefore, whatever your date, we will help you find a replacement Celebrant, who will liaise with your original celebrant to transfer the booking.  Your original Celebrant may be able to recommend an alternative Humanist Society Celebrant or alternatively may pass you onto our main office at, where our office team will be able to help.  

Keep informed

We also advise that you stay aware of the latest official medical advice, advice from the Scottish Government, and advice from National Records Scotland. The situation is changing constantly so we suggest you check regularly to ensure you are following the latest advice. 

Our thanks and best wishes

Thank you for choosing a Humanist Society Scotland celebrant for your ceremony, and we wish you well in this turbulent time.

Please follow all current guidelines and stay safe and well. 

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