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Registration office coronavirus updates

The ceremony

Ceremony venues

The number of guests that can attend your ceremony depends on the location.  Information about guest limits at various ceremony venues is given below.  Children of any age are included in all of these guest limits.

We will contact you before the ceremony to advise you on the current arrangements.

Approved venues

Approved venues will have their own guidelines around the capacity that their ceremony rooms can safely accommodate, we would advise you to verify this with your venue ahead of the ceremony and to confirm when they are able to open for ceremonies as part of the roadmap.

Ceremonies at approved venues are scheduled to resume as follows:

  • From 12 April 2021, ceremonies can take place at approved venues that are permitted to open at this stage, with a maximum of 15 people.
  • From 17 May 2021, ceremonies can take place with a maximum of 30 people.
  • From 21 June 2021, restrictions on guest limits are expected to be lifted.

The number allowed to attend includes the couple, witnesses and guests (children of any age are included in the limit), but those working, such as the registrars and venue managers are not included.

Norwich Castle

As museums and galleries are not permitted to reopen until 17 May 2021, ceremonies at Norwich Castle will not resume until this date at the earliest.

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 nine additional guests.

We will review whether the capacity of the ceremony room can be increased from 15 people ahead of 21 June 2021.

Registration Office ceremony rooms

Due to the size of these ceremony rooms the capacities are restricted to a total of 6 people, the couple their two witnesses and both registrars.

We will review whether the capacity of these rooms can be increased from six people ahead of 21 June 2021.

Small registration office ceremony

These ceremonies are only for six people: the couple, their two witnesses and both registrars. This is the same capacity as before the pandemic.

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 holding your ceremony in one of our ceremony suites, including Norwich Castle, 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. If your ceremony is taking place from 4 May 2021 you will be signing a marriage schedule/document instead of a register. See more information about the way marriages are registered.

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.

Currently you will receive your marriage certificate on the day. Civil partnership certificates are posted out after the ceremony. If your marriage ceremony is taking place from 4 May 2021 onwards certificates will be posted after the ceremony. See more information on certificates.

The ceremony will last around 10-15 minutes.

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

From 8 August 2020 it has been 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, but they must put the covering back on before 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.

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