In line with the Government’s latest public health advice issued on Monday 23 June, we are delighted to say civil ceremonies can recommence from Saturday 4 July and if you have a ceremony with us in July this will be proceeding.
While ceremonies have been permitted to resume, it is important to remember we are still amid a pandemic, so your ceremony may look different to how you previously envisaged. Although the government stated up to thirty guests can attend ceremonies, please note that social distancing is still in force and therefore the number of guests will be restricted.
Please see our FAQ’s below.
Do I have to wear a mask?
The Government has updated the guidance on face coverings at Marriages and Civil Partnerships in England and Wales. From Saturday 8 August 2020, guests at your ceremony will be required to wear a face covering. This applies for ceremonies taking place in Chelsea Old Town Hall or at an approved venue in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. Face coverings are not required for the bride, groom or those becoming civil partners during the ceremony, but must be worn as you enter and exit.
What does social distancing mean for my ceremony?
Given the mandatory requirement for guests to wear face coverings, we are able to adjust the Chelsea Old Town Hall ceremony rooms to a 1-metre social distancing model. We are therefore able to increase the number of guests allowed in the room than were previously able to attend under the 2-metre model. The number of guests permitted at weddings from the 8th August 2020 are:
- The Register Office will allow the couple + two witnesses
- The Harrington Room will allow the couple + two witnesses + two guests
- The Rossetti Room will allow the couple + two witnesses + six guests
- The Brydon Room will allow the couple + two witnesses + eleven guests
We regret we will be unable to make any exceptions concerning the number of guests allowed at a ceremony. The numbers above include photographers and videographers.
How long will social distance measures be in place for?
We are monitoring official guidance very closely, at this time we cannot predict how long these measures will be in place but suspect it may be for some time to come. If you wish to have a ceremony without social distancing measures we recommend that you delay your ceremony to a date you feel will be appropriate.
Where do I arrive?
If your ceremony is taking place in the Chelsea Old Town Hall, on the day of the ceremony, we ask that you and your official guests arrive 15 minutes before the start of the ceremony so we can ensure, wherever possible, that it will start on time.
You and your official guests should enter via the side entrance of the Registrars department at Chelsea Old Town Hall, in Chelsea Manor Street
What happens during the pre-ceremony interview?
Your registrars will need to do a short and easy interview with you and your partner before the start of your ceremony. You do not need to bring any documents with you to this interview – except in the rare circumstance that you’ve officially changed your name after giving notice but before getting married. This interview will be done in private and shouldn’t last more than 10 minutes.
Can I request to be kept separate for our pre-ceremony interview?
It will not be possible for the two of you to be interviewed separately as the pre-ceremony interview will take place in the ceremony room with both of you present.
We regret that it is not possible to exceed these numbers, and any photographer/videographer/musician would have to be included as witnesses/guests. Only your official witnesses/guests will be allowed into the building with you, so if you have any additional friends or family coming with you on the day they will have to wait for you outside.
Can I walk down the aisle?
No, unfortunately you will not be able to walk down the aisle. Your pre-ceremony interview will take place in the ceremony room itself, and once it has been completed the two of you will remain in your seats in the ceremony room and your guests will be brought in to join you.
Am I still able to invite my photographer to our wedding ceremony?
Your photographer is invited to your ceremony, but will be counted as one of your witnesses and/or guest. They must wear a mask and observe social distancing throughout the ceremony.
If I choose to proceed with my ceremony, can I request a refund for having a smaller wedding party?
The cost of your ceremony is defined by the room that you choose and not the number of guests in attendance. An example of this is that there is no differentiation in price in the Brydon Room if a couple chooses to bring just two witnesses or 38 guests.
We therefore regret that we cannot partially refund your ceremony attendance fee based on the fact that fewer guests will be attending. You can choose to move to a smaller room if you wish but this will be subject to availability.
What will happen during the ceremony?
The Government’s guideline has advised that ceremonies are concluded in the shortest time possible and only simple ceremonies should proceed. This means that:
- We will be discouraging readings taking place during the ceremony.
- If you wish to exchange rings in your ceremony, your hands should be sanitised before and after. The rings should be handled by as few people as possible.
- If possible, children should not be included in your party unless they are small enough to be held throughout the ceremony or alternative childcare cannot be arranged.
- Music can be played during certain parts of the ceremony. Live musicians can still perform but will be included as a witness/guest.
- Due to the increased risk of transmission from aerosol and droplets, singing and/or the playing of wind instruments will not be permitted.
- As the guest numbers are reduced, consider setting up a streaming service so those that are unable to attend can still be part of your day by watching from home.
How do I reschedule my marriage or civil partnership?
To check availability for a new ceremony date, use the link below, enter your details and select either ‘Book a marriage ceremony’ or ‘Book a civil partnership ceremony’. After you have found with your preferred new date and time, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can then reschedule your ceremony.
I have decided to postpone my marriage or civil partnership due to Covid-19 but I do not have a new date. What can I do?
Email email@example.com and we can remove your booking from our ceremony calendar. Once you and your partner have agreed on a new date and time, simply let us know by emailing us once again. Please remember you have one year to get married or enter into a civil partnership from the date you gave notice.
How do I know if my paperwork is still valid?
You have a year to get married or enter into a civil partnership from the date you gave notice of intention. If you are unsure of your notice date, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will email you back the date.
Who do I contact for more information?
We are dedicated to assist you as best as we can through this unprecedented time. If you have any questions that we have not answered above, please send us an email at email@example.com or give us a call on 020 7361 4100.