Marriage - allow with minimal attendees

Marriage licenses should be issued again so that marriages can take place, with suitable precautions including limiting the number of attendees. If necessary, it could be just the couple, celebrant, and the two legally-required witnesses.

Why the contribution is important

The current ban on marriages is very problematic for couples who cannot move forward with their lives because of it. This is especially painful for couples who have not met until their thirties, as every month that goes by is precious and irrecoverable in terms of starting a family. There are additional costs in terms of maintaining two rents/mortgages etc, and perhaps living alone at this time. Since a marriage can take place with only five people present, and the witnesses and celebrant could stand well away from the couple, this could be done safely. It would obviously be of great benefit to couples affected, but would also be very good for the morale of the country as a whole. Knowing that our friends can get married and begin a new phase of life, even if we cannot be there, will be a boost for so many – a sign of hope and of life beyond the pandemic. Such signs are going to be very important to help us to stay the course in the coming months and maintain those restrictions that are indeed necessary to protect the vulnerable in our society.

by gmb on May 05, 2020 at 01:19PM

Current Rating

Average rating: 4.6
Based on: 110 votes


  • Posted by Nicola0110 May 05, 2020 at 13:29

    I'd also consider the point that if a couple were due to get married /civilly partnered and were prohibited from doing so by the government, then one of them passed away - what impact would this have on death benefits, pensions, inheritance rights etc etc. If there was no legal marriage in place then the surviving member of the couple would be significantly disadvantaged
  • Posted by Puffin1730 May 05, 2020 at 13:37

    Agree 100%. Some people have resolved they will not live together until they are married. This deeply held principle means that they cannot be with the person that they most want to be. Given the range of other rites, such as funerals, which we have worked out how to manage safely, I think we are in danger of discriminating against people who for cultural or religious reasons are unable to move on with their lives until such time as they get married.
  • Posted by lisamcravey May 05, 2020 at 13:42

    This could be easily done safely with sensible precautions, which could be adjusted as we assess the situation moving forward. Initially just the couple, celebrant and witnesses, moving to maximum numbers of 30, 50, upwards as we progress. Ceremonies could also be undertaken outside / with social distancing principles. Marriage licences should be issued again immediately, as the time lag on this at the moment is likely to affect all couples intending to marry over the next three months. I second the above that it would help with national morale, seeing signs of hope and future planning, and allow people to continue with some aspect of their lives, starting families etc.
  • Posted by hmoss May 05, 2020 at 13:49

    Completely agree. I am due to be married on July 10th but presently we cannot make plans of any kind for any kind of ceremony. My partner and I are not living together due to our religious beliefs and convictions and cannot even see each other with the current restrictions. There has been no mention of weddings in any of the updates or indication of when these can be resumed. Some guidance would help make this painful situation more bearable.
  • Posted by Chrismollitt May 05, 2020 at 13:56

    You can go shopping speak to checkout operator via screen so why can’t you allow the minimal amount of people ie registrar bride groom 2 witnesses all social distance and known.
  • Posted by RAMBUNCTIOUS May 05, 2020 at 14:25

    Myself and my fiancee were due to be married in April but were obviously unable to do so. We have come to terms with the fact our originally planned large-scale wedding with 100-200 will not be possible any time soon, however we still want to be legally married. If the legal ceremonies could take place outside with the minimal number of people attending (5 in total), this would allow people to carry on with their lives together and prevent further backlogs in the future once all restrictions are lifted.
  • Posted by Peter94 May 05, 2020 at 14:37

    I am in this very situation personally and would be grateful if the government considered placing weddings on a level playing field with funerals, by permitting a small number of attendees. As Puffin1730 mentioned already, my fiance and I have resolved not to live with one another until we are married and are therefore currently in limbo. As a couple, we are very aware that restrictions are necessary to stop the spread of the virus, but I would suggest permitting small scale marriage ceremonies would be a sensible and manageable option when it comes to easing restrictions. As people have stated, this would help with national morale and I can absolutely confirm would bring great joy to us, our family and our friends.
  • Posted by jmcewan17 May 05, 2020 at 14:49

    Marriages could quite easily be performed with social distancing protocols being adhered to. I think it should be one of the first thing the Government brings back in, as it is a very important life event, but will put nobody in danger if only a handful of people present.
  • Posted by Rosemary May 05, 2020 at 15:34

    Should be easy enough to maintain social distancing with small numbers attending
  • Posted by plrees May 05, 2020 at 15:50

    As a pastor I know of a number of couples whose lives have been out on hold and would love to be able to get legally married - even if it was a ceremony with a few people in attendance. They are sad not to have the big wedding they hoes for but would still like to get married.
  • Posted by Kimi May 05, 2020 at 15:53

    We just need guidance from the government on weddings one way or another.
  • Posted by james96 May 05, 2020 at 15:55

    I am really encouraged to see the government are considering this. There are so many reasons why this is a good idea as outlined above including finance, mental health, practicalities and without a doubt national morale. It's easy to underestimate at a time like this how powerful marriage is - as a sign of hope and a future beyond the virus and this is something we as a country really need. I think the fact the government are taking on lead on recognising this and looking to implement it sensibly shows great leadership.
  • Posted by amc May 05, 2020 at 16:12

    A sensible idea that would make a big difference but would be very safe.
  • Posted by M19 May 05, 2020 at 16:39

    Couples who are having to cancel weddings totally understand that this is for the safety of the friends and family. However I totally agree with the original post and subsequent comments; couples need advice on how the road ahead looks for marriages. We have had to postpone our wedding and it has been very difficult to decide on a new date to re-book. I think people would accept if big gatherings were off for rest of year but it would be really helpful to know when it might be possible to get married (with minimum people required). Also agree with the comment from lisamcravey about marriage notices and schedules - these take time and if everyone applies at once, this influx will mean there will be a time lag on getting legal documentation. This could mean couples not getting these essential documents on time for their planned dates. I agree with all the comments about morale. For family and friends it is uplifting to know their loved ones are able to get married, even if they can't be there. All the uncertainty is mentally very difficult for couples, organising a wedding is a massive undertaking (mentally and financially) and at least being able to have some more information would help us all make informed decisions about rescheduling big weddings/making plans for small ones. If the government allows weddings to take place with the minimum number of people I honestly believe this will be easy to enforce. The person marrying you can have a legal responsibility to ensure you are not breaking the law with how many people are there.
  • Posted by Julie May 05, 2020 at 18:58

    There should be no reason to stop a small wedding ceremony. It seems extremely unfair to the couples involved.
  • Posted by JoanShearer26 May 05, 2020 at 19:22

    This is a reasonable and sensible suggestion. Marriage ceremonies can be organised to meet current requirements for safety, thus allowing individuals to move forward in their lives - undertaking this very significant step - as planned. Allowing one of society's most life-affirming and happy events to take place is a positive move in the current climate.
  • Posted by kmclachlan May 05, 2020 at 20:55

    My fiancée and I are due to get married on 20th June 2020. I completely understand the current ban on large wedding ceremonies to reduce the spread of coronavirus. But I think there needs to be a distinction between weddings and marriage. Marriage is a vital institution and does not need to be accompanied by large gatherings. As Christians, we have chosen not to live together until the day we are married. We would happily get married with very few people present and hope the government will consider this proposal. Would the government also consider allowing marriage applications to be processed online? This decision has been made in other countries and may help to deal with the backlog of applications and avoid the need for face-to-face registry appointments.
  • Posted by CBCpastor May 05, 2020 at 21:10

    Fully endorse the wisdom in this, a small wedding ceremony adhering to appropriate guidelines, even live streamed to the wider network of family and friends would be wonderful for the couple and a joy to their community.
  • Posted by ramotswefan May 05, 2020 at 21:27

    Completely agree.
  • Posted by Jeannie May 06, 2020 at 09:47

    I think marriages should be allowed to go ahead soon with minimal guests
  • Posted by tmcewan14 May 06, 2020 at 10:45

    I think it is pretty clear what people are asking for and I hope the government can see it isn't unreasonable. Can you please allow weddings to go ahead with small numbers of people. You could even try and make the few guests socially distanced. I hope you listen to all these comments.
  • Posted by aopara May 06, 2020 at 10:55

    I am due to get married next month and I agree that introducing an alternative system for processing marriage applications would make such a huge difference. My fiancé is an NHS doctor working on one of the Covid-19 wards and the prohibition of new marriages has added even more strain during these already difficult times. We have chosen not to live together before marriage on the grounds of our religious beliefs, and not being able to see each other has made lockdown an even more painful experience. I am sure that as well as bringing lots of joy to couples currently waiting to marry, introducing an online system would also help to ease the load on registry offices who will have an enormous backlog to deal with once this pandemic is over.
  • Posted by Azzeddine May 06, 2020 at 14:27

    Completely agree
  • Posted by Azzeddine May 06, 2020 at 14:31

    I booked to get married last month but because of coronaviros my wedding been cancelled and I can't live with my girlfriend until we get married so I hope they will allow people to do so with socially distanced and only allow the husband and wife plus the two witnesses .
  • Posted by naeem95 May 06, 2020 at 15:40

    Completely agree
  • Posted by abirose10 May 06, 2020 at 16:45

    Totally agree. Many people have deeply held religious beliefs that mean they do not want to live together until married. Allowing a small marriage ceremony (and easing restrictions on notice for official weddings) would be really helpful for so many people.
  • Posted by Drinaburgermorris May 06, 2020 at 17:21

    Marriage is a meaningful commitment to many people and it has been hard for couples to be left so uncertain and disappointed. This would be a wise, compassionate, and safe move for couples desiring to commit to marriage in these days. The distancing guidelines could be easily kept and it would bring joy and blessing to families in these difficult times.
  • Posted by dminto12 May 06, 2020 at 19:50

    I agree that steps should be taken to allow marriages to take place with reasonable social distancing and other precautions the Scottish Government sees fit to implement.
  • Posted by DP May 06, 2020 at 20:44

    Agree 100%. Not all weddings are mass gatherings. Allow smaller ceremonies to go ahead!
  • Posted by Debrastorr May 06, 2020 at 21:15

    I see no reason why the minimum legally required ceremony should not proceed : I know the rules on funerals are pretty miserable but a marriage ceremony between the main participants, a celebrant, the legally required witnesses and say 2 others should be permitted. But no party, gathering etc. And a strong discouragement for travel It need not be depressing with maximum use of webcasting to family and friends and a bit of imagination. But if you want a party, you’ll have to wait.
  • Posted by JG65 May 06, 2020 at 22:18

    My daughter was meant to be married, like so many, in June. Her fiance has to move cities for work and they want to start their life together as a legally married couple. They are not interested in the big fancy celebration just in exchanging vows before a minister, witnesses and God. As it stands now, they cannot even apply for the licence. All they need is a piece of paper!! They would even be happy to marry over Zoom because it is so important to them. Even when the paper is issued, it is a month's wait after that. If they cannot issue a licence, can there be some provision for officiants without it in these exceptional times?
  • Posted by lhoughstewart May 07, 2020 at 10:24

    Agree with this - as long as social distancing measures were strictly complied with
  • Posted by NKTC May 07, 2020 at 11:49

    Completely agree - marriage (or civil partnership) ceremonies restricted to the minimum required to enable legal recognition should be allowed, to ensure that people do not suffer from not being legally recognised as a spouse should their other half pass away.
  • Posted by igneous May 07, 2020 at 13:01

    Completely agree - for those serious about the commitment to marriage and not living together until they are, being able to marry with a minimal number of people present, would enable them to get on with their new life and give great joy to family and friends (who might be able to watch a livestream or similar).
  • Posted by jmfarrell92 May 07, 2020 at 20:52

    Completely agree - I was married 3 days before lockdown. My wife and I were due to be married in April and were able to move it forward as we were worried that the wedding wouldn't go ahead. We had the wedding with only immediate family and the celebrant. Being able to be together during lockdown and being able to move into this phase of our life has been so important to us. It was key to us that we were able to get on with our life together and we are so thankful we were able to get married. It shouldn't be hard for those to get married with the current restrictions, as the idea above suggests it could only be 5 people in attendance, the couple, celebrant and witness . It wouldn't be hard for the witnesses to social distance, etc. Thank you for the suggestion.
  • Posted by crabpeople May 07, 2020 at 20:53

    Excellent point, we need to allow couples to get married. It's an important part of many people's lives and allowing couples to get married just now would be a hopeful and positive move for our nation.
  • Posted by Jayney74 May 08, 2020 at 09:02

    Completely agree. It is entirely possible to do this safely.
  • Posted by RAJM May 08, 2020 at 21:30

    I am thankful for the suggestions of the original poster. For many, a marriage (as opposed to many wedding parties) does not revolve around congregating tens or hundreds of people. Indeed, such a ceremony only requires 5 people (Minister, couple + 2 witnesses – socially distanced if need be). Sadly, many have been adversely affected by the current restriction on such processes taking place in churches or registry offices. The current moratorium on marriages seems to me to be something which is at odds with allowances made for funeral services, which are presently permitted to accommodate more people than the minimum required for marriage ceremonies. For many, marriages are not merely social events but essential services which are necessary in order to conclude visa proceedings, or to begin family planning. I am sure that every couple would wish to celebrate their marriages with family and friends. Nevertheless, the luxury of being able to do so is something which many couples are willing to sacrifice in order to be able to marry at all. For many, this is not a social engagement, but an essential point in life. I would urge the Scottish Government to find a way in which to lift the current ban on marriages as soon as possible.
  • Posted by Johnh May 09, 2020 at 10:05

    Agreed. This is a well thought through proposal for something important.
  • Posted by Tedeum May 09, 2020 at 13:53

    Fully support this proposal. Essential for health and hope. Requires few people present and so well thought through this will be safe for all.
  • Posted by Tommy84 May 10, 2020 at 23:17

    I fully support this. Couples who wouldn't live together before marriage aren't able to of which I know of at least 2 examples right now. I think the legal protection it ensures is a strong argument as well even for those who may not share the above beliefs.
  • Posted by LinzScot May 11, 2020 at 12:48

    Registrars are currently working 7 days per week, seeing increased death registrations. Many registrar offices are chronically under staffed. The staff need to be supported to cope with the volume of work and indeed increased risk to their own life.
  • Posted by Ktboyle123 May 11, 2020 at 21:56

    I support this idea. My wedding is at the end of May. We have cancelled our reception party but we still really want to get married, move on with our lives and start a family. We can have a reception and celebrate at a later date when it’s safe to do so. In the meantime please lift restrictions so that engaged couples who wish to get married can get married with minimum legal requirement of 5 people present ie bride, groom, 2 witnesses and priest/minister.
Log in or register to add comments and rate ideas

Idea topics