How to arrange a ceremony

List of venues for civil ceremonies in Suffolk and fees. How to book a registrar and photos of Suffolk County Council ceremony rooms.

Following the latest Prime Minister's announcement, marriage and civil partnership ceremonies will be allowed to commence again Thursday 3rd December 2020.  
Restrictions remain in place concerning numbers of guests allowed (a maximum of 15 including the couple - please check with your venue the actual number allowed as all rooms used for ceremonies must have been assessed as Covid Secure and this can affect permitted numbers).

 

The Government has advised that for ceremonies taking place from 8 August 2020 that face coverings must be worn for all those in attendance, unless under the age of 11 years or exemption on health grounds. The couple are exempt from wearing face coverings during the ceremony, but will be required to wear them before the ceremony starts and for the signing of the register.  The celebrant will remove theirs for the delivery of your ceremony and will replace immediately after.

We know it is has been a very difficult and uncertain time for couples and everyone that has been impacted across the ceremony industry.  However, it has been lovely to be able to help many of you to marry or form your civil partnerships since the halt on ceremonies was lifted.  It has been a new way of working for both ourselves and our venues, but more importantly it has been a totally different ceremony experience for the couples who have chosen to carry on under the current restrictions. 

This is still a constantly changing situation, so we would urge those couples who's date is still in place for this year, to keep checking back to these pages, as they will be updated as soon as things change.

Ceremonies: During the current Pandemic

COVID 19 - The restrictions and guidelines that we have received from the government and are currently in place for ceremony delivery, will vary during the pandemic and will therefore change from time to time and potentially this will be at short notice.  We cannot accept any responsibility for changes to the options available for ceremonies including the numbers of guests which are permitted to attend, or the content of the ceremony that is allowable.

By requesting a ceremony booking with us during this period you're agreeing to the following arrangements:

  • The maximum number of people permitted to be in attendance will be determined by the COVID secure risk assessment for the room in which the ceremony is to be held. The maximum number allowed at any ceremony is 15 - this number includes, the couple, and 13 guests - where the ceremony room is able to accommodate this number due to social distancing.  The photographer and venue person does not need to be deducted from this number any longer.
    Note:  In some locations the actual number permitted may be lower than 15.  You must check with your venue as to the actual number they can allow. 
    Check how many people can attend our own ceremony rooms.
  • Some smaller ceremony rooms may not be available owing to distancing requirements. It is also possible that some chairs may not in use and ceremony parties will be required to stand.
  • Toilet and changing facilities will not be available at any of our offices/ceremony rooms.
  • Pushchairs and prams cannot be accommodated, babies and toddlers must be held throughout.
  • The government expectation is that the content of the ceremony will be limited to the minimum legal wording so vows & promises, ring vows and readings will not be permitted.
  • Rings can be exchanged but cannot be presented by a best man or ring bearer.
  • A bouquet may be carried - however, this may need to be held throughout the ceremony if no table is available for it to be placed on - due to distancing measures, the bouquet cannot be passed back to someone else.
  • At approved venues only, one of the couple may be escorted into the room. It will be the responsibility of the venue to assess 'bubbles' and comply accordingly.  In order for this to happen, the venue must have an aisle of at least 2m wide. Your guests must be seated in good time for the ceremony to begin and ceremonies must begin on time.
  • Recorded music may be played quietly (at approved venues only), at the entrance and exit only.  There can be no singers or wind instruments allowed at this time.
  • Photography options will be limited. The photographer will not be permitted to walk around the room during the ceremony. There will be no opportunity for the traditional posed signing of the register photograph. The location of where the photographer will stand will be advised by the registrar on duty and will be dependent upon the set up of the room.
  • All guests are expected to comply with distancing requirements in place at the venue.  No guest or couple must attend if they are showing any symptoms or are awaiting test results for Covid 19. Particular care needs to be shown for guests that are in the categories that the government defines as vulnerable. We will require all people attending to use the hand sanitisers which will be available to use when entering ceremony rooms.
  • All those in attendance must wear a face covering in line with government guidance - except for those who are exempt or children under 11 years of age.
  • The couple being married are exempt from wearing face coverings during the ceremony, but will be required to wear them before the ceremony starts and for the signing of the register.
  • In our ceremony rooms chairs will be spaced to enable distancing compliance. They must not be moved to enable household groups to sit closer together.
  • Please be aware that wherever you hold your ceremony, due to the contact, it will be very short in time - usually 10 minutes including the signing of the register.
  • Marriage/Civil partnership certificates will be posted out to you afterwards and not presented at the ceremony.

Arrangements for ceremonies in our own ceremony rooms for November 2020

We have received a high demand for our ceremony services following the lockdown. Please contact us by phone or by email to make arrangements for your ceremony.

Our offices remain closed for counter enquiries.

We're prioritising:

  • existing bookings
  • rescheduling bookings that were cancelled during the lockdown
  • ceremonies where one of the couple or a close relative is seriously ill (medical evidence will be needed to support these cases)

Check how many people can attend our own ceremony rooms.


Arrangements for ceremonies in approved venues for during the current pandemic

Please check with your venue that they are open for business and have completed a COVID secure risk assessment. Some venues may not be operational immediately.

The risk assessment will show how many people may be in attendance for your ceremony up to a maximum of 15 people.

We're prioritising:

  • existing bookings
  • rescheduling bookings that were cancelled during the lockdown
  • ceremonies where one of the couple or a close relative is seriously ill (medical evidence will be needed to support these cases)

Re-scheduling ceremonies

Ceremony dates from 1 September 2020

If your chosen venue has not reopened for business please contact us to discuss alternative options or to arrange a refund. Our usual admin fee for making changes to bookings in these circumstances will not apply, but any applicable ceremony price increase will be charged.

Any changes to ceremonies where the venue is open for business will be subject to our terms and conditions (PDF, 92KB).

Fees and terms and conditions

Suffolk County Council ceremony venues

Bury St Edmunds

The Old Billiards Room

COVID secure for 10 people:

  • the couple and 2 registrars
  • 2 witnesses and 4 other people*

Available:

  • Monday to Friday
  • Saturday morning

Telephone: 0345 607 2060 or email: bury.registrars@suffolk.gov.uk

The Old Billiards Room

Ipswich

The Neptune Suite

COVID secure for 17 people:

  • the couple and 2 registrars
  • 2 witnesses and 11 other people*

Available:

  • Monday to Friday
  • Saturday morning

Telephone: 0345 607 2050 or email: ipswich.registrars@suffolk.gov.uk

 The Neptune Suite

Lowestoft

The Conference Room

COVID secure for 10 people:

  • the couple and 2 registrars
  • 2 witnesses and 4 other people*

Available:

  • Monday to Friday
  • Saturday morning

Telephone: 0345 607 2070 or email: lowestoft.registrars@suffolk.gov.uk

 The Conference Room

Sudbury

The Mayors Parlour (no picture available)

COVID secure for 8 people:

  • the couple and 2 registrars
  • 2 witnesses and 2 other people*

Available:

  • Monday to Friday
  • Saturday morning

Telephone: 0345 607 2080 or email: sudbury.registrars@suffolk.gov.uk 

Stowmarket

The John Milton Room

COVID secure for 8 people:

  • the couple and 2 registrars
  • 2 witnesses and 2 other people*

Available:

  • Monday to Friday
  • Saturday morning

Telephone: 0345 607 2050 or email: stowmarket.registrars@suffolk.gov.uk

 The John Milton Room

Woodbridge

Office room (no picture available)

COVID secure for 6 people:

  • the couple and 2 registrars
  • 2 witnesses

Available:

  • Tuesday to Friday
  • Saturday morning

Telephone: 0345 607 2090 or email: woodbridge.registrars@suffolk.gov.uk 

* Other people who can attend include babies, children and a photographer if you're having one.
Other guests cannot wait in our reception or similar areas.

Approved venues

Civil ceremonies can be held at any of our registration offices or approved venues. Approved venues are private buildings that we have licensed to hold ceremonies conducted by our registrars.

If you have booked one of our ceremony rooms we will organise a registrar for you.

You need to book a Suffolk County Council registrar to perform a ceremony at any of our approved venues.You can book your ceremony as far in advance as you wish.

It's your responsibility to ensure you have booked your venue for the same time and date that you have booked the registrar.

You can book a registrar by contacting the register office that serves your chosen venue.

Each approved venue is covered by a specific register office. Pick a register office to find out which approved venues it covers:

Go to fees payable to the Suffolk Registration Service to find out about the cost of booking registrars for approved venues.