Births, Deaths & Ceremonies - Coronavirus updates

Last updated: 22 September 2020

Ceremony restrictions due to COVID-19  

In line with Government guidance announced 29 June 2020 (updated on 22 September 2020) small weddings and civil partnerships are allowed to go ahead from 4 July 2020 providing they are Covid secure.

The Government have stated up to 15 attendees at a ceremony however, this does not mean 15 guests. Counted within the 15 attendees will be the couple themselves, meaning a maximum of 13 guests can attend. The other guest numbers will also include two witnesses and any children or babies, so you will need to bear this in mind when you put your guest list together. In addition, you will be allowed to bring one photographer who must be employed professionally. Southampton City Council have agreed to maintain the 2m social distancing rule, which could mean that the room you have chosen is not big enough to accommodate the 15 attendees.

For our ceremony rooms, the risk assessments state that the following maximum numbers apply:

  • Westgate Hall – 13 guests (includes two witnesses, any children/babies, and attendants - in addition to this number you can employ one professional photographer). The lift may not be available during the pandemic
  • Golden Jubilee Room - 13 guests (includes two witnesses, any children/babies and attendants - in addition to this number you can employ one professional photographer)
  • Magnolia Room – two witnesses only (any translator or photographer has to be included in this number)
  • Statutory Room – two witnesses only (any translator has to be included in this number)
  • Hotel or other venue - Maximum 13 guests depending on the hotel or venues' risk assessments (includes two witnesses, any children/babies and attendants - in addition to this number you can employ one professional photographer)

Further restrictions

  • Please only arrive 10 minutes prior to your ceremony time along with your guests. If you arrive too early you will be asked to wait off site
  • You will need to provide a guest list, including any children up to the maximum of the room. Anyone who turns up on the day and is not on the list provided, will not be allowed to enter the building
  • We will ask that you and your guests download the NHS COVID 19 APP ready to scan the QR code when you all arrive at any of our venues. for information on the APP please visit https://covid19.nhs.uk/
  • Usual COVID restrictions apply – anyone in any households attending not showing signs of Covid in the last 14 days
  • If you (the couple) or any of your guests have flown into the UK from abroad within 14 days of the ceremony you are likely to be subject to the 14-day quarantine ruling. You must follow current Government guidelines and quarantine in line with the legislation, even if this means that the ceremony will be postponed. if you are concerned please contact us
  • Your guests and witnesses must wear a face covering/mask (exemptions apply). You, the couple, do not need to wear a face covering/mask
  • Your ceremony will be very basic without any enhancements such as readings. You will be interviewed together in the ceremony room before your guests come in. This means that you will not be able to walk down the aisle or make an entrance. Once the ceremony is complete you and your guests will need to leave the premises as soon as possible in line with safety protocol
  • No live music or singing allowed. You will need to bring music on your own hands free device (no plug-ins permitted) for a guest to play. Music cannot be religious in nature
  • No ring cushion will be available and you cannot bring your own
  • A bouquet of flowers is allowed, however you must pass them to your guest and not leave on a chair or table
  • No confetti of any description is allowed to be thrown inside or outside at any venue during this pandemic
  • No bubbles to be blown inside or outside at any venue during this pandemic
  • Photographs / filming will be allowed during the ceremony however they will have restricted movement. There will not be a chance for posed family photographs at the end. This means inside or outside. There are local parks within close proximity to Bugle Street and Westgate Hall for further photographs
  • No air conditioning available as it is not vented externally and ventilation may not be possible (some windows cannot be opened)
  • The room will look very different to how you imagine. There will be limited decorations and no chair ties. The layout will be changed to accommodate the 2 metre distancing recommendations. Everyone must be seated, there will be no standing
  • No parking at the office / on the premises for any vehicle including the ceremony/bridal car
  • There will be no certificate issued on the day. Your certificates will be posted to you as soon as possible
  • No food or drinking on premises
  • Toilet facilities might only be available upon request
  • At Westgate Hall, the lift facility will be restricted and we cannot guarantee its availability on the day

Disclaimer (temporary amendment during Covid 19)

Please be aware that because of Covid 19 the Council has had to cancel a number of ceremonies due to the restrictions on social events imposed by Central Government. Please be aware that you have agreed to proceed at your own risk. We cannot guarantee that ceremonies booked will be able to proceed as they will be subject to any further restrictions that Central Government imposes. If ceremonies have to be cancelled due to pandemic or other reasons in line with the terms then the Council cannot be held responsible and is not liable for any ceremony that has to be cancelled. If however we cannot deliver a ceremony because of Covid 19 or other health pandemics Southampton City Council will allow you to postpone your date but no refund will be offered. If ceremonies are not able to proceed on the booked dates because of Covid 19 or other health pandemics then the Council will try to accommodate an alternative booking but this may be subject to an administration fee, and you may have to join a waiting list, any re-bookings are not guaranteed to be in the same year. We recommend that you check your insurance policy. The Council reserves the right to charge an admin fee to any changes that you make to your booking. Any ceremonies that you have agreed to proceed with during this time, will be subject to restrictions imposed by Central Government and Southampton City Council.

Please note that any change to your ceremony date may mean that you will need to give fresh notices which carry a statutory fee and any immigration referral fees will also need to be paid again. This will apply to any new notice appointments booked and notices given since 4 July 2020 as you have agreed to proceed at your own risk.

Download our full terms and conditions.

Next steps

Now that you have read the current ceremony restrictions, please follow the instructions below depending on when your ceremony is.


Ceremonies scheduled for the next three months  

You can choose from the following options:

  • Option A: Continue with your booking in line with the government guidance and adjustments outlined by Southampton City Council. This will be a ‘basic’ legal ceremony with social distancing protocols determining numbers and a range of other restrictions outlined by Southampton City Council to ensure Covid-19 safety compliance
  • Option B: Move your current booking. This will not incur any additional cost, however our terms and conditions will apply and you do so at your own risk
  • Option C: Cancel without re-booking. The cancellation policy in relation to the impact of Covid-19 is currently suspended, so you will receive a full refund of your ceremony fee. This excludes the non-refundable booking fee, any notices fees and associated costs

Next steps

Please make sure you have also read the ceremony restrictions section above so that you understand what your ceremony will be like. We are asking people with existing ceremony bookings for the next three months to then contact us to tell us which of the above options you would like to choose.

At the present time we are only able to deal with email enquiries. Please be assured that our ceremonies co-ordinator will respond to any queries raised as soon as possible. This may take some time; please be patient.


New bookings 

We are now in a position to accept new ceremony bookings, providing that the couple are free to marry and are able to proceed with their ceremony as per our terms and conditions. Existing ceremony restrictions will still apply during the pandemic period and we ask that you read the restrictions carefully before making your booking. The restrictions are found at the top of this page, and are subject to change as Government guidelines change. Please contact us to discuss ceremony availability.


Notices of marriage and civil partnerships  

Notice of marriage and civil partnership appointments will be prioritised for those that are time critical for ceremonies due to take place in the next three months.

Please note that any change to your ceremony date may mean that you will need to give fresh notices which carry a statutory fee and any immigration referral fees will also need to be paid again.


Registrations  

Registering a birth

We are continuing the recovery process of birth registrations. All parents can now book an appointment online.

Registering a death

All face-to-face appointments to register a death have now stopped during the current pandemic situation. All registrations will be completed via a telephone conversation between a registrar and qualified informant. To arrange a telephone appointment please complete this form and email to registrars@southampton.gov.uk.

Please remember to ensure the hospital or GP surgery has electronically sent us the medical certificate or the Coroner has confirmed they have sent us the documentation. Please ensure that a valid contact number is included. A registrar will call you and complete the registration.

Notice of marriage / civil partnership appointments

We are now offering notice of marriage and civil partnership appointments. if you plan to marry or form your civil partnership within the next 3 months please use our contact form to ask for an appointment


Certificates  

Our standard £11 certificate ordering service is now available. Please note that the priority service is still suspended due to high demands on the registration service.

Although we are processing certificates as quickly as possible, certificate delivery times are taking longer than usual. This is due to pressures that the Royal Mail is experiencing. For up-to-date information visit the Royal Mail website.


Citizenship ceremonies  

We are now beginning the recovery of citizenship ceremonies and will contact all new British citizens as soon as their naturalisation certificate arrives at Southampton Register Office. We will be offering a much simpler ceremony at this time to fall in line with our health and safety obligations.


European Settlement verification and scanning service  

This service is temporarily suspended. Please see full guidance on how to scan your documents from home using your own device.


Contacting us  

If you have any queries please use our contact form. Please do not telephone the office as we need to keep the telephone lines clear for death registrations enquiries.