Is your register office accepting notices of marriage and civil partnerships again?

Friday, June 19th, 2020 5:08pm

By Nick Statham, Local Democracy Reporter

Lockdown has forced thousands of disappointed couples to put their nuptials on ice.

Weddings have been postponed and plans to tie the knot thrown into uncertainty by coronavirus laws and guidance.

But love could soon be in the air again after a recent easing of the rules allowing register offices to begin accepting notices of marriage or civil partnerships.

While ceremonies are still not able to go ahead, some councils are now letting couples give their minimum 28-day notice – which, by law, has to be done via a face-to-face appointment.

Here is what the council where you live is doing.

BOLTON

The council website says the register office is still  ‘currently unable to take any appointments for ‘notices of marriage or civil partnership’ at this time’.

BURY

The register office is hoping to start taking notices of marriage from next week.

 It has been concentrating on a backlog of more than 3,000 birth appointments from lockdown at the end of March (over 3,000).

MANCHESTER

Notices of intention to marry or enter into civil partnerships have resumed but only for couples who have a ceremony booked within six weeks. 

The town hall will let couples decide whether or not they want to proceed with their planned wedding. 

Bosses say they appreciate what a difficult time it is for anyone getting married and will do everything possible to ensure couples who marry or enter into a civil partnership can enjoy their special day.

Following a risk assessment the registrar’s interview rooms will be used to conduct ceremonies. Safety measures will be in effect to ensure the wellbeing of all attendees, including protective screens, hand sanitiser stations as well as social distancing measures being in effect.

Council leader Sir Richard Leese, said: “Despite the ongoing difficulties caused by Covid-19 we are doing all we can to ensure that couples can enjoy their special day whilst guaranteeing it is safe to do so.

“In such testing times it has been wonderful to see people coming together in true Mancunian spirit. What better way to celebrate such spirit than seeing people confirm their love for one and other in one of the city’s iconic venues” 

OLDHAM

The registration service is not currently taking notice appointments as there has not been clear instruction from government on the timescale for marriages to start up again.

 This council says it is reviewing this ‘week to week’ and any change to this will be announced.

ROCHDALE 

The town hall register office is due to open on Monday (June 22) and will priorities death and birth registrations. 

The office hopes to begin booking notice of marriage and civil partnership appointments from July 6.

 However, if the notice needs to be given sooner –  as the marriage or civil partnership is imminent –  an appointment will be made to enable the required 28 clear days’ notice to be given.

 A council spokesman said the authority was ‘taking every precaution to provide a safer environment for staff and customers’.

These include a one-way system within the register office, social distancing messages on signage, and offices  arranged to ensure a two metre distance between customer and registrar.   A plastic screen will surround the registrar’s desk and the reception desk. 

Wall mounted sanitisers have been installed throughout each area and hand sanitisers provided on each desk. A regular thorough cleaning regime is also in place.

SALFORD

The council is currently prioritising birth registrations and says it will issue further advice on weddings and partnerships when it can.

STOCKPORT

The register office has already begun offering appointments to couples who are due to get married in the next three months.

To ensure public safety a full risk assessment has been carried out and there are hand sanitisers on the entrance and exit to the building, as well as in all appointment rooms.

Staff are exercising social distancing at all times and the appointment rooms are large enough to accommodate this.

Thorough regular cleaning is also taking place throughout the day. 

Ceremonies are being prioritised by date, so the earlier the ceremony the sooner the appointment will be made.

TAMESIDE

The council is not taking bookings for new weddings or civil partnerships but is dealing with those that have been pre-arranged.

Under normal circumstances  notice has to be given at least 28 days before a wedding.

Anyone with a specific question about a pre-booked ceremony, who has not given notice , should email tameside.registrars@tameside.gov.uk  providing their  name, contact telephone number and date of ceremony.  

Evidence of the ceremony booking will be required.

TRAFFORD

The register office is not currently making appointments for people to give notice of their intention to marry or enter into civil partnerships, although will try to accommodate people whose ceremonies are close to the 28-day threshold.

Meanwhile, the town hall has warned couples that virtual weddings are not legally binding.

Coun Mike Freeman, executive member for public safety, governance and reform, said: “Virtual weddings may seem to be a great way to get round the current restrictions. They could be great fun and enable relatives living a long way away to see the happy couple. However, they are not a legal alternative.”

WIGAN

The council is not currently offering face to face registration services but is looking at how to offer this again in line with Public Health England guidance. 

It is undertaking risk assessments and will use screens so appointments can be conducted safely.

Bosses say the public will be kept updated ‘as and when this position changes’.

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