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Registration office coronavirus updates

The ceremony

The Government have said a maximum of 15 people at a ceremony - who does this include and why has this figure been set?

The Government has set the figure to limit the spread of COVID-19 and ensure as far as possible that ceremonies can be held safely. When planning your guest list for a ceremony at an approved venue you will need to take into consideration that you and your partner and your two witnesses count towards the 15 people. The registrars and anyone else working at the ceremony such as a photographer or a wedding coordinator do not count towards the 15 people.

The figure was reduced from a maximum of 30 people at the ceremony to 15 people on 22 September 2020 and came into effect on 28 September 2020.

We will be working with approved venues in Norfolk to make sure ceremonies can happen safely, but you may wish to discuss the arrangements with your approved venue before
the ceremony.

For ceremonies at our registration offices or in our ceremony rooms capacity is restricted to a total of 6 people; the couple, their two witnesses and both registrars. If you are attending one of our offices for a ceremony, we will contact you prior to the ceremony to advise you on the new arrangements in place, such as where to wait, time to arrive etc.

For ceremonies at Norwich Castle the capacity of The Colman Gallery has been restricted to a total of 15 people; the couple, their two witnesses, both registrars and up to 9 additional guests.

What will the ceremony look like and how long will it last?

Government advice states that ceremonies should be kept as short as reasonably possible and limited to the legal aspects which ensure the ceremony is legally binding.

Social distancing will be in place to ensure safety; the registrars will remain 2 metres away from all in attendance (including each other) and they may be wearing PPE.

If you're getting married at an approved venue the registrar will arrive 30 minutes before the ceremony. If you're getting married in one of our ceremony suites the registrar will arrive 15 minutes before the ceremony. The registrar will speak briefly to both of you before the ceremony begins, separately if you prefer, to check that the details for the registration are correct.

The parts of the ceremony that ensure its legality are the declaratory and contracting words. You will have the chance to choose which versions of these words you want to say, but any additional words such as ceremony readings and spoken additions will not happen.

If rings are to be exchanged, the couple will be required to sanitise their hands before and after this exchange during the ceremony.

Music can be played but must be at a low volume to ensure that normal conversation can be had without raising voices. Musicians can play at the ceremony, but as mentioned previously they count towards the guest numbers and only instruments that are not blown into can be played.

The signing of the register will be managed by the registrars on the day and will follow strict social distancing rules and there will be requirements for the couple, witnesses and our staff to sanitise their hands both before and after coming into contact with the register. Only two witnesses can sign the register.

The couple and witnesses will need to bring with them a blue or black pen to sign the register with, we are not able to provide pens to be used or shared.

The traditional mock signing of the register won’t happen. The registrars will not take any photographs for you or be in photos with you, but your guests are entitled to take some as is your photographer.

Any group shots that comply with social distancing can be taken after the ceremony has concluded.

You will receive your marriage certificate on the day. Civil partnership certificates are posted out after the ceremony.

The ceremony will last around 10-15 minutes.

Do we need to wear a face covering during the ceremony?

You may already be aware that the government have recently updated advice about when it may be appropriate to wear face coverings as more people start to move around outside their homes. Face coverings may reduce the possibility of you transmitting COVID-19 to other people, which is why they are being required in more enclosed spaces.

From 8th August it will be a legal requirement to wear a face covering in many public indoor places including venues used for ceremonies. This means guests will be required to wear a face covering immediately before entering premises and they must keep them on until they leave. The couple will be able to remove their covering once they are inside the ceremony room and they must wear the covering again prior to leaving the ceremony room. Couples will need to bring a plastic bag to place their covering in during the time they are not wearing it. All guests will be required to keep their face coverings on throughout their time at the venue and through the ceremony

Can we have more than 15 people outside and then go into the licensed room for the signing?

The Government has set the figure to limit the spread of Covid-19 and ensure as far as possible that ceremonies can be held safely.

The figure was reduced from a maximum of 30 people at the ceremony to 15 people on 22 September 2020 and comes into effect on 28 September 2020.

When planning your guest list for a ceremony at an approved venue, you will need to take into consideration that you and your partner and your two witnesses count towards the 15 people. The registrars and anyone else working at the ceremony such as a photographer or a wedding coordinator do not count towards the 15 people.

For ceremonies at our registration offices or in our ceremony rooms, capacity is restricted to a total of 6 people; the couple, their two witnesses and both registrars. If you are attending one of our offices for a ceremony, we will contact you prior to the ceremony to advise you on the new arrangements in place, such as where to wait, time to arrive etc.

For ceremonies at Norwich Castle, the couple and their two witnesses are included in the 15 people. The registrars and a photographer are also included in the 15 people as the number of people entering the Castle must be restricted.

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