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

Correct at 16/3/2021

*** Mainland Scotland is currently under a temporary lockdown – with stricter restrictions than are laid out under the tier system listed below. 

Under these restrictions Marriage and Civil Partnership ceremonies continue to be permitted. However,  the maximum number allowed is currently 5. This includes the couple, celebrant, photographers etc and children (including those under 12). If an interpreter is required they are permitted as an addition to the 5. Receptions are not permitted at present.

These restrictions will be in place until 26th April, at which point weddings will be able to take place with 50 people (further details to come when announced).***

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

The Scottish Government have published a strategic framework detailing how they anticipate we will live with COVID19 over the coming months.

What does this mean for wedding ceremonies?

The framework outlines 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

Level 0

This is the most relaxed of the levels.  At this level, weddings ceremonies are allowed indoors and outdoors with a maximum of 50 people in attendance.  

Level 1 – 3

At these levels, weddings ceremonies are allowed indoors and outdoors with a maximum of 20 people in attendance.

Level 4

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


Important Information Relevant to All 5 Levels  


Maximum Numbers 

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

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.   

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.

Face coverings are not required at outdoor ceremonies. 


Singing and Symbolic Gestures

Communal singing and raised voices should be avoided, and 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 at these ceremonies. Physical distancing of at least 2 metres should still be observed.  The venue must be able to accommodate physical distancing, and numbers may need to be reduced if members of different households are not able to be accommodated with a 2m separation. 


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 Tier 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. 




Take action now

Sign our petition

Sign our petition to end unelected religious representatives on education committees.

Sign today.

Learn more

Read Our Blog

Humanitie Blog

Humanitie is the platform for thought, comment and analysis for HSS.

Bringing you thought-provoking articles on Humanist issues.

Learn more

New Pod- cast

Available now!

Have you heard we’ve started podcasting?!

You can listen to the first episode, plus two special editions now.

Learn more