Marriage and Civil Partnership Ceremonies

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

Restrictions on ceremonies

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 until we receive confirmation at each stage from the Government. (Updated 24 February 2021).

Restrictions

Earliest possible date

What's allowed

Before 29 March 2021

Exceptional circumstances only.

6 people can attend.

Including the couple and all guests, including children and babies. 

Anyone working at the ceremony such as the registrars and
premises managers are in addition to number of attendees allowed.

From 29 March 2021

6 people can attend.

Including the couple and all guests, including children and babies.

Anyone working at the ceremony such as the registrars and
premises managers are in addition to number of attendees allowed.

From 12 April 2021

15 people can attend.

Including the couple and all guests, including children and babies.

Anyone working at the ceremony such as the registrars and
premises managers are in addition to number of attendees allowed.

From 17 May 2021

30 people can attend.

Including the couple and all guests, including children and babies.

Anyone working at the ceremony such as the registrars and
premises managers are in addition to number of attendees allowed.

From 21 June 2021

No limited 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 or photographer.

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 6 - this number includes, the couple, and 4 guests - where the ceremony room is able to accommodate this number due to social distancing.  The photographer and venue person will not need to be deducted from this number any longer.
    Note:  In some locations the actual number permitted may be lower than 6.  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.
  • The government expectation is that the content of the ceremony will be limited to the minimum legal wording, so the usual options to add additional vows & promises, ring vows, readings and other extra enhancements will be limited.  This will impact the ceremony length, which on average is unlikely to exceed 10 minutes.
  • Rings can be exchanged, but due to social distancing measures, they will not be able to be presented by a best man or ring bearer.
  • 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

Following the latest Government announcement advice remains that until 29th March 2021, ceremonies should only take place in exceptional circumstances, with a maximum of 6 people, including the couple themselves.  If you have a ceremony booked and you feel you have exceptional circumstances, please contact the office and your case will be referred to senior managers, who will decide whether your circumstances are suitable. 

If your chosen venue has not reopened for business or if your ceremony falls within this date and you don't fall into the exceptional circumstances category, 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)

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)

    AND
  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.

    OR
  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.

 

 

 

 

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:

  • Tuesday's and Friday's
  • 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:

  • Thursday's and Friday's
  • 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.