Ceremony at an approved premise

What will my ceremony be like with the current Government restrictions?

Last updated 24 September 2020

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 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.


  • In order to support the NHS Test and Trace programme Hartlepool Registration Service ask that the couple and guests 'check in' using the NHS Covid-19 mobile phone app. If someone is not able to access the app we will record their contact details (name and telephone number) as well as recording the time they enter and leave the ceremony venue. This information will be held safely and in compliance with GDPR regulations for a period of 21 days and then destroyed / deleted.


  • 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?

A maximum of 30 people are able to attend the ceremony where this can be safely accommodated with social distancing in a COVID-19 secure venue. This is the maximum number for all attendees at the event, including the couple, guests and 2 registrars. It also includes any third-party suppliers, such as photographers.*

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

*From Monday 28 September the number able to attend is reducing to 15 people. This figure includes the couple, witnesses and guests. Anyone working at the ceremony i.e. the registrars and photographer are not included in the 15.


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, they must be included in the total number of people in the ceremony room.*

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.

*From Monday 28 September the photographer is not counted in the guest number.


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