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

The last few months have been difficult for so many, including those who have had to reschedule ceremonies.  As we slowly move towards the easing of some restrictions we are heartened to see some light at the end of the tunnel for ceremonies and those they are for. 

The Scottish Government have published a route map detailing how they anticipate we will move towards all restrictions being lifted. Scotland is now in Phase 3.

What does this mean for wedding ceremonies?

Each phase of the Government plan has an impact on ceremonies:

Phase 3 (Current/ phased stages)

Outdoor weddings with a maximum of 15 attendees, from no more than 5 households, can take place from the 10th July. This number does not include the Celebrant or any interpreter (eg: where one or both of the couple have a hearing or speech impairment or do not speak or understand English).   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. From Wednesday 15th July  the Scottish Government have indicated that weddings and civil partnerships will be allowed in venues with a maximum of 20 people in attendance. However, the venue must be able to accommodate physical distancing. For indoor ceremonies singing will not be permitted. Receptions will still be subject to the everyday rules on gatherings inside or outside.

Please note that there will be a requirement to follow the relevant health regulations at these ceremonies. Physical distancing of at least 2 metres should still be observed. Guidance on phase 3 changes including travel information can be found here.  

Please remember, as we move into phase 3 there will still be some transition for registration offices, which had been closed to accepting any new marriage notices (M10s) for some weeks prior to phase 2 (which commenced 29th June).  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.

 Phase 4 (no date given as yet)

Mass gatherings resume in line with public health advice

All ceremonies can take place, with improved hygiene and other precautions

At this time we do not know when we will progress through the phases; this will be determined by how the virus responds to any changes in restrictions. 

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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