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

Correct at 11/09/20

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)

As of Wednesday 15th July, weddings and civil partnerships will be allowed in indoor or outdoor venues with a maximum of 20 people in attendance. Outdoor marriage or civil partnerships are recommended because of the reduced risk of transmission in an outdoor environment. This number includes everyone at the ceremony including the couple, witnesses, guests, carers and any staff not employed by the venue, for example photographers and musicians. The Celebrant and any Interpreter are not included.  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. 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

Please be aware that face coverings are now mandatory for guests and couples at indoor ceremonies in venues including hotels.  There is no exemption for ‘private functions’.   The celebrant leading the ceremony, children under 5, and those with a reasonable excuse are exempt from wearing a face covering.

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.

Please note this guidance only applies to the ceremony – up till Monday 14th September receptions are subject to the everyday rules on gatherings. As of Monday 14th September, receptions of 20 people will be able to take place, as long as they are held in a regulated setting (eg: hospitality venue). At any other location they 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.  

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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