Births, Deaths & Ceremonies - Coronavirus updates

Last updated: 11 January 2021

Ceremony restrictions due to COVID-19  

In line with the Government announcement on 30 December 2020, we are regrettably suspending ceremonies form now until the next government announcement in February 2021. This means that weddings and civil partnerships should only take place in exceptional circumstances, for example, urgent marriages where one of those getting married is seriously ill and not expected to recover, or are due to undergo debilitating treatment or life-changing surgery. See the current GOV.UK guidance on weddings, civil partnerships, religious services and funerals.

The ceremonies team will be contacting all bookings for January 2021 and the beginning of February 2021, in date order, to look at alternative dates for their ceremony. Please see the 'Next steps' section below to find out more about your options.

Ceremonies in exceptional circumstances

If a wedding or civil partnership is allowed to take place due to exceptional circumstances, this will be for six people only (not including the registrars). This means the couple and four guests only, including all babies and children. Please remember that two of the guests will need to be adult witnesses who will sign to say that they have understood and witnessed the ceremony. Please take into account the government guidance on travelling: you or any of your attendees should not be travelling out of your area to attend. This is to reduce unnecessary risk to yourselves, your families and our staff.

Additional restrictions for ceremonies if they are allowed to go ahead due to exceptional circumstances:
  • 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 mobile app ready to scan the QR code when you all arrive at any of our venues. For information on the app please visit the NHS COVID-19 app information
  • Usual COVID-19 restrictions apply – anyone in any households attending not showing signs of COVID-19 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 two 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 if you are re-booking you have agreed to do so 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 or cancel your date.

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 for your scheduled ceremony  

As of 30 December 2020 weddings and civil partnerships are only allowed to take place in exceptional circumstances. Please read on to explore your options.

If your ceremony is in January 2021 or the beginning of February 2021

If your ceremony is within the next six weeks you can choose from the following options:

  • Option A: Join the waiting list for the next available date. Your ceremony can only be re-booked once the Government announce that weddings and civil partnerships can safely resume
  • Option B: Move your current booking to after April 2021. 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

If your ceremony is within the next six weeks the ceremonies team will contact you in date order to discuss your options. Please think about which of the three options you would prefer to choose, taking into account that we cannot predict what any ceremony will look like over the coming months. What works best for you both is something that you should consider carefully.

If your ceremony is after the next six weeks of 2021

If your ceremony is not within the next six weeks and you are considering making changes to your booking please contact us. Our ceremonies team will be pleased to help you look at alternatives, but please remember that moving any date or time may be subject to a re-booking fee if your ceremony is not within the next month

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 ceremony bookings 

We are only in a position to accept new ceremony bookings for ceremonies after March 2021 and up to December 2022. We are not taking any new bookings for January, February and March 2021 at this time. All new bookings are taken 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 (including number restrictions) and we ask that you read the restrictions carefully before making your booking. These 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 2 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

Birth appointments will be released in small batches daily, depending on current restrictions and staffing. Please visit register a birth for more information. If you have tried to book an appointment and the message reads “There is a problem. Timed out” there are no available appointments at that time. Please keep trying. While you are waiting to register your baby, you can still claim child benefit. Thank you for your patience.

Registering a death

All death registrations are completed over the telephone during the pandemic between a registrar and a qualified informant. The death must be registered within 5 days (unless the coroner is involved) and the registrar cannot delay the registration to another time. The registrar may call you at any time in the day, Monday – Sunday. 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.


Certificates  

Our standard £11 certificate ordering service is available. Our £35 priority service is also currently available. However please note that it may have to be withdrawn should circumstances demand.

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. If you have received your letter from the Home Office please contact us:

Get in touch

We will be pleased to check if your naturalisation certificate has arrived. We cannot book your ceremony for you until we have received your naturalisation certificate.

Please note that if we are allowed to proceed with citizenship ceremonies under the latest lockdown we will only be offering a simple ceremony to fall in line with our health and safety obligations. However, we are currently offering virtual citizenship ceremonies subject to staff availability. If are interested in a virtual ceremony please contact us.


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.