November 4, 2021 10.34 am

Post-pandemic wedding boom sees council train 40 staff to be celebrants

Most of them usually work in admin

More than 40 Lincolnshire County Council staff have been trained up to help carry out marriage ceremonies in a bid to tackle a huge post-pandemic wedding boom.

A report due before members of the Public Protection and Communities Scrutiny Committee next week says the Lincolnshire Registration and Celebratory Service has carried out 1,783 ceremonies between January and October this year – more than double the 711 in the same period in 2020.

It estimates the number of bookings in 2022, currently almost 1,600, will reach more than 2,000 – and there are already 300 booked for 2023.

The report states: “Marriages and civil partnership ceremonies have been impacted the hardest during 2021.

“The national lockdown and government road map resulted in ceremonies being heavily restricted with only emergency ceremonies taking place for the first four months of the year.”

It said as restrictions eased during spring and summer numbers started to increase although big events did not take place until July.

In a bid to meet demand the service has already trained more than 40 current employees as ceremony celebrants – most of them usually work as administrators.

The extra responsibilities will see the staff offered shifts, mostly at weekends, paid by the hour.

The council said the cost of the short training course was minimal compared to hiring entirely new staff members.

Councillor Sue Woolley, executive member for registration and celebratory services at Lincolnshire County Council, said: “With Covid restrictions on larger events lifting in July we have seen unprecedented demand on the service over a short period of time, as people rightly want to have the ceremonies they’ve waited so long to hold.

“We’re grateful to everyone who has been patient and understanding while we have done our utmost to meet this demand and give people the unforgettable experiences they deserve.

“Thanks must also go to registration and other staff from across the council who have stepped up to help us meet this short-term need. They have worked really hard in these circumstances.”

Elsewhere in the report, officers said the number of deaths registered was comparable to last year, with 5,999 between January to October compared to 6,088 in 2020. However, since July numbers have increased by 8% against last year.

Bosses expect the figure to rise even further and are making preparations to ensure the service can cope with the increased demand.

So far, 3,151 births have been registered – up by 137 against last year’s figures.

A total of 255 people have also undertaken citizenship ceremonies, compared to 128 in 2020.

The report said the immediate focus for the service was to tackle winter pressures around death registrations.

There will also be a new IT system and online ceremony planner introduced to help improve bookings.

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