a COVID-19 secure environment
- No more than 30 people should attend, only where safely accommodated with social distancing in a COVID-19 secure venue. This includes attendees, officiants, the couple and photographer.
- Receptions are discouraged completely at this time But small celebrations should only take place if following social distancing guidelines – i.e. in groups of up to two households indoors, or up to 6 people from different households outdoors.
The marriage ceremony or civil partnership formation
- Religious communities need to adapt traditional religious aspects, especially where celebrations would otherwise have taken place over a number of hours, or even days, to ensure the safety of those present and minimal spread of infection.
- No food or drink should be consumed as a part of the event unless required for the purposes of solemnisation.
- Where the exchanging of rings is required or desired for the solemnisation of the marriage or the formation of the civil partnership, hands should be washed before and after. The rings should be handled by as few people as possible.
- Where an infant is involved in proceedings a parent/guardian or member of the infant’s household should hold the infant.
Singing, chanting and the use of musical instruments
- People should avoid singing, shouting, raising voices and/or playing music at a volume that makes normal conversation difficult or that may encourage shouting. This is because of the potential for increased risk of transmission from aerosol and droplets.( particularly in a group)
- Spoken responses during marriages or civil partnerships should also not be in a raised voice.
- Activities such as singing, chanting, shouting and/or playing of instruments that are blown into should be specifically avoided.
- Where required for the marriage or civil partnership, only one individual should be permitted to sing or chant, and the use of plexi-glass screens (easily cleaned )should be considered to protect guests.
- We recognise the importance of communal singing in marriages or civil partnerships, , so it is suggested you consider using recordings.
You are advised only to play musical instruments that are not blown into. Organs can be played for a ceremony, as well as general maintenance, but should be cleaned thoroughly before and after use.
Social distancing measures
- All individuals involved in the ceremony (including attendees, guests and officiants) should be signposted to the current stay alert and social distancing guidance and that they or members of their household should not attend the marriage or civil partnership if they are unwell with symptoms of COVID-19. If either member of the couple have symptoms of COVID-19 the ceremony should not go ahead.
- Wherever possible, adhere to social distancing of at least 2 metres, or 1 metre with risk mitigation (where 2 metres is not viable), between households.
- People from different households should maintain social distancing between one another. This may require marriages or civil partnerships to be adapted to remove practices that would otherwise have brought people into contact with one another, unless required for the marriage or civil partnership to be legally binding. Where this is the case precautions should be put in place to minimise contact and ensure the timeframe is as short as possible.
- Visitors should avoid touching property belonging to others, such as shoes which, if removed, should be placed and collected by their owner while adhering to social distancing principles.
- Any pre-requisite washing/ablution rituals should not be done at the venue but carried out prior to arrival.
- In the rare circumstances where this is not possible, washing facilities at the venue should be used in line with social distancing guidelines and hygiene measures applied.
- People should not wash the body parts of others.
- Where rituals or ceremonies require water to be applied to the body, small volumes can be splashed onto the body, but full immersion should be avoided.
All individuals involved should thoroughly wash their hands before and after and ensure good hygiene.
Handling objects and communal resources
- Venue managers should take steps to prevent visitors from touching or kissing devotional and other objects that are handled communally. Where shared items are required for the solemnisation of the marriage or the formation of the civil partnership, hands should be washed before and after. The items should be handled by as few people as possible. Barriers or clear signage should be put in place where necessary.
- Books, reusable and communal resources such as service sheets, prayer mats, or devotional material should be removed from use. Single use alternatives can be provided as long as they are removed by the attendee. Items owned by individuals for use in the ceremony or registration (such as a prayer mat or religious text, a pen for the signing of the register) may be brought in but should be removed after the marriage or civil partnership.
- Where possible, venue managers should discourage cash donations and continue to use online giving resources where possible minimising contact around transactions. Regular cleaning and hygiene should be maintained and gloves worn to handle cash.
Wishing all of you who choose to go ahead under these restriction a still memorable and happy day
Best wishes Sharon