Marriage and Civil Partnership Ceremonies

How to book a registrar, current pandemic restrictions in place and venue details.

Current ceremony restrictions

Please be aware that the dates shown below may be subject to further extensions or changes. For this reason, we're not able to guarantee the numbers that may attend your ceremony, nor the ceremony content allowed, until we receive confirmation at each stage from the Government. (Updated 12 April 2021).

Step 2: 12 April 2021 (earliest)

15 people can attend.

Including the couple and all guests, (this includes children and babies).

The COVID secure risk assessment for the ceremony room may mean that the room capacity will be less than 15 (see Suffolk County Council ceremony venues). Anyone working at the ceremony such as the registrars and premises managers are in addition to number of attendees allowed.

The number of venues that are able to offer a ceremony will continue to be limited. Those allowed are:

  • All of the venues permitted from 29 March, plus - 
  • Holiday accommodation, including hotels, in a room approved for the somenisation of marriage and the formation of a Civil Partnership
  • All of the above are only permitted if the room is not ordinarily used for the consumption of food and drink, e.g. the restaurant of an hotel is not permitted, even if it is a room that has been approved as part of an approval.

Read about the re-opening businesses and venues in England - GOV.UK.

Couples should assume that COVID secure ceremony protocol shown below will continue to apply.  This means that the ceremony will be very short and subject to several restrictions. 

Step 3: 17 May 2021 (earliest)

30 people can attend.

Including the couple and all guests, (this includes children and babies).

The COVID secure risk assessment for the ceremony room may mean that the room capacity is less than 30. Anyone working at the ceremony such as the registrars and premises managers are in addition to number of attendees allowed.

The number of venues that are able to offer a ceremony will be extended. This will include:

  • All of the venues permitted at steps 1B and 2
  • Indoor areas of hospitality venues, museums, galleries, indoor attractions at stately homes, historic houses and castles.

Read about the re-opening businesses and venues in England - GOV.UK.

We do not know what restrictions or limitations will apply to ceremony content.  When we receive further information about this we will update these pages.

From 21 June 2021

No limit on numbers other than what's specified within a venue's risk assessment.

Number permitted in the room will include everyone in attendance, including registrars, bridesmaids and photographer. We do not know what restrictions or limitations will apply to ceremony content.  When we receive further information about this we will update these pages.

Ceremony Information

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 all guests - where the ceremony room is able to accommodate this number due to social distancing.  Anybody working at your ceremony, such as the registrars, photographer etc., will no longer need to be deducted from this number.
  • 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.
  • We cannot accommodate pushchairs and prams, meaning babies and toddlers will need to be held throughout.  Please be aware that babies, children and toddlers need to be included in the number of attendees allowed.
  • Step 2 from 12th April 2021 - we will now able to include ring vows and a choice of the legal words for all ceremonies.  Rings can be presented by one person, by handing to the couple, (due to current restrictions, they will be unable to be placed onto a table or ring cushion).
  • At approved venues only - you will be able to add additional vows and promises to your ceremony choices.  At this time we are unable to include readings.
  • For approved venue ceremonies only - we will contact you to arrange a Microsoft Teams meeting with the celebrant for your ceremony, should you wish to have one.
  • A bouquet may be carried - however, do bear in mind this may need to be held throughout the ceremony if no table is available for it to be placed on - again, 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 part of the ceremony.  Unfortunately, there can be no singers or wind instruments allowed at this time.
  • Photography options are likely to be limited. The photographer will not be permitted to walk around the room during the ceremony, due to social distancing. Unfortunately, we are currently unable to offer the 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.
  • We do ask that you bring your own black pens for yourselves and your witnesses for the signing of the register.
  • Particular care must be taken by the couple at the signing of the register.  The responsibility to ensure the entry is correct passes from the Registrar to the couple at this point.  Any errors found after the signing are subject to the General Register Office correction process and the applicable fees (£90).
  • In our ceremony rooms chairs will be spaced to enable distancing compliance. At the present time, we cannot allow them to be moved to enable household groups to sit closer together.
  • Marriage/Civil partnership certificates will be posted out to you afterwards and not presented at the ceremony.

Re-scheduling Ceremonies, Fees and Terms and Conditions

Rescheduling Ceremonies

If your chosen venue has not reopened for business, please contact us to discuss available 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).

All Fees and Terms and Conditions

Notices of Marriage and Civil Partnership (which expired during current Pandemic)

We are only able to do Notices of Marriage for Suffolk residents or for those marrying within Suffolk, but who are subject to immigration control (Designated Notices).

Notices of marriage and civil partnership remain valid for 12 months only.  If you have changed the date of your ceremony during the pandemic, it is possible that your notice will not be valid for the new date.  If you are unsure, please check with your local office.

If you need to prepare a new notice because your original one has expired, you will both be required to attend an appointment to do this.  In light of the current situation, we are only preparing new notices for ceremonies due to take place in the next 8-10 weeks or where there is an urgent need.  You will need to bring up to date documentation with you.  Once you have completed the new notice, it will be valid for a further 12 months, less a 29 day waiting period from the date it is prepared.  If you are subject to immigration control, the waiting period may be extended to 70 days.

A statutory fee of £35 applies for most notice of marriage appointments.  This is increased to £47 if you are subject to immigration control.

In some situations, the fee will not be charged.  These are listed below.

We will not charge you the statutory fee for a notice of marriage or civil partnership if:-

  1. Your ceremony was booked to take place between the following lockdown dates
    23 March 2020 to 4 July 2020
    5 November 2020 to 2 December 2020
    26 December 2020 to 19 February 2021 (or end of current restrictions)

  2. You have transferred your booking to a new date.  Couples who chose to cancel outright and receive a refund of their deposit and/or fees will not be eligible.

  3. If your venue did not re-open for business on the date of your ceremony.

You may be asked to provide evidence in some cases, for example, if your ceremony was booked for a venue outside of Suffolk or in a religious building.





New Marriage Legislation

On 4th May 2021, marriage legislation in England and Wales will be changing.  From this date marriages will no longer be recorded by hand in a marriage register; instead a marriage schedule, issued by the Registration Service, or a marriage document issued by the Church of England or Church of Wales will be issued and signed.

How you will be affected:

  • You will each be allowed to have four people's details recorded for mother/father/parent
  • No handwritten certificates will be issued or presented on the wedding day
  • Certificates will be posted after the details have been entered onto the computer system, which will take place within seven days of the schedule being received by the Registration Office
  • If you are having a religious ceremony, you will be advised which Registration Office to collect the schedule from in advance of the ceremony
  • After a religious ceremony, the signed schedule or marriage document must be returned to the Registration office as soon as possible to enable the marriage to be recorded - marriage certificates cannot be issued until this process is complete.  It is the responsibility of the authorised person or the minister to arrange for the return of the schedule - they may ask yourselves, or one of your guests to do this on their behalf.