Ceremony at an approved premise

Last updated 13 April 2021

Current restrictions

The current full Government guidance can be viewed at www.gov.uk

Marriage and civil partnership ceremonies can take place with a maximum of 15 people in attendance. This number includes the couple, witnesses and guests, but those working, such as the registrars, photographer and venue staff are not included. Please note that social distancing requirements may mean that the number a venue can hold is less than the legal limit of 15 attendees.

Upcoming changes

The key steps identified in the roadmap are below; the dates shown are subject to the four tests outlined in the roadmap being met at each step. 

  • Step 3: No earlier than 17 May – Legal limit of 30 attendees*
  • Step 4: No earlier than 21 June – No legal limit on attendees (subject to the outcome of the scientific Events Research Programme)

The number allowed to attend includes the couple, witnesses and guests, but those working, such as the registrars and venue staff are not included.

*Please note that due to social distancing requirements the number of attendees a venue can hold may be lower than the legal limit. Please contact the ceremony venue directly for information on the maximum number their ceremony room is able to accomodate.


What will my ceremony be like under Covid-19 restrictions?

Please see below guidance that was set out by the Government and subsequent General Register Office guidance in relation to all marriages and civil partnerships.

The current full Government guidance for marriages and civil partnerships can be viewed at www.gov.uk

Any bookings that are made will be made under the below arrangements. The number of guests able to attend and what the ceremony will look like will be changed if restrictions allow.

  • Ceremonies can only take place in a COVID 19 secure environment – this means that risk assessments for all registration offices and approved venues, maximum capacity and control measures need to be in place and signed off by Hartlepool Borough Council Health & Safety prior to any ceremony being conducted.


  • Social distancing rules of 2m will be observed within the venue and ceremony room.


  • Guests at weddings and civil partnership ceremonies are required to wear a face covering unless they are exempt due to health, age or equality reasons. Further information can be found at www.gov.uk


  • The couple can wear face coverings if they choose to. If a face covering is worn it will need to be removed briefly prior to the ceremony commencing to allow the Registrars to view the couple's faces.


  • Hand sanitiser is to be used prior to entering the room.  Couples and witnesses will also be expected to use hand sanitiser before signing the Register pages.


  • No member of the ceremony party or guest should attend the venue if they are displaying symptoms of Covid-19, feel unwell or have been told they should self-isolate / quarantine.  If it is found that someone is unwell, should be isolating / quarantining or that the maximum numbers have been exceeded, the ceremony will not take place and will have to be re-booked.  There will be a fee payable for this change.


How many people can attend a ceremony?

The number of people able to attend will be subject to the legal limit in force at the time of the ceremony. The number includes the couple but does not include anyone who is working at the ceremony i.e. the registrars and photographer. Please note the maximum number of people able to attend a ceremony is dependent on the venue's Covid-secure capacity, this may be less than the legal limit. 

Please contact the ceremony venue directly for information on the maximum number their ceremony room is able to accomodate.


What will the ceremony consist of?

The ceremony will consist of:

  • Welcome
  • Declaratory & contractual vows - legal requirement
  • Exchange of rings (optional)
  • Completion of the Register / Schedule
  • Conclusion

The following aspects will be excluded:

  • Readings
  • Additional vows
  • Certificate presentation


Can I we have bridesmaids, flowergirls, pageboys etc (attendants)?

Please contact the ceremony venue directly to enquire as to whether attendants are able to walk into the room ahead of the ceremony party.


Can I be given away?

Social distancing must be maintained at all times during the ceremony, if you are not in the same household / support bubble as an escort they will be unable to walk down the aisle with you. While it is possible to be 'given away' the person giving you away may be unable to stand next to you dependant on space restrictions at the venue. They will be seated with the guests and asked to stand at the appropriate point in the ceremony.


Who can hold the rings?

It is not possible for a third party bringing the rings forward, the rings must be held by the couple.


Can music be played?

Music from a CD / flashdrive can be played for the ceremony entrance and exit. It is not possible for live music to be played.


Can we have a photographer?

You are able to have a photographer.

Please note that the amount of time available for photographs will be limited and the photographer will need to observe the instructions of the Registration Team as to where they can and can not stand.


How do I make a booking?

If you would like to make a booking please contact us to check availability. 

Check availability


How much does a ceremony cost?

Marriage and civil partnership fees


Other information

Venues licensed for marriages and civil partnerships

Renewal of vows

Naming ceremony