Updated Monday 28 September: The wedding industry has felt the strain of an onslaught of changing rules and guidelines over the last six months. The most recent of which has taken the number of people able to attend a wedding down from 30 to just 15.
The government has announced that from 28 September, weddings in England must be held in a ‘Covid-19 secure’ venue and only 15 people can attend, including the couple. Anyone working is not included as part of the limit on attendees, so you won’t need to count the person marrying you.
Social distancing and mask-wearing (apart from the couple) should be observed at all times and during all activities linked to the wedding.
What are the rules for wedding ceremonies in England?
We’ve analysed the guidance submitted by the government and broken it down into bullet points for you below.
- Marriage and civil partnership ceremonies in England and Wales are allowed to go ahead.
- Only venues which are able to support social distancing are encouraged to host ceremonies and no more than 15 people may attend including the couple and everyone must observe social distancing, standing one or two metres apart.
- If either of the couple getting married have symptoms of Covid-19 the ceremony should not go ahead.
- If anyone who was planning to go to the ceremony feels unwell they should not go.
- Weddings are encouraged to be as short as possible which means that only the legally binding parts of ceremony and celebration are encouraged to go ahead.
- It falls on the venue to decide whether the ceremony can happen safely, but the officiant must also agree that it is safe to proceed.
- You won’t be able to eat or drink while getting married unless required for the purposes of solemnisation.
- If you’re exchanging rings all those involved should wash their hands before and after, and the rings should be handled by as few people as possible.
- Receptions and celebrations must be a sit-down meal and only take place in a COVID-19 secure environment/venue which must close by 10pm.
- At the reception, everyone must wear a face mask unless eating or drinking.
- If you’re planning on involving any children in your ceremony, someone should be holding them at all times.
- Up to six people may perform but should social distance and the congregation should not sing as part of worship.
- Avoid playing music at a volume that makes normal conversation difficult or that may encourage shouting when people will be trying to converse.
- Seating plans which involve guests sitting opposite each other should be re-worked and measures should be put in place to stop guests from different households touching the same items (such as books or orders of service) or each other’s property.
- If a wedding ceremony is expected to involve washing or submersion in water, this should be done before and not at the venue.
Should I go ahead with my wedding?
This is a difficult time for couples planning to get married. While they may have been holding out hope for their big day, does anyone want to do it if it’s not the way they pictured? We spoke to The Ash Barton Estate, a wedding venue in North Devon, to get their advice on what couples with an upcoming wedding should do.
Their wedding experts say that there’s a five-point plan that you can follow to ascertain whether an intimate wedding is a possibility for you, depending on how adamant you are on getting married this summer, which you can see below.
1. Check if your wedding venue is open
The first step to planning an intimate wedding is finding out whether your local venue is still operating and can still accommodate you on your wedding day.
2. Plan your guest list
Under new government guidelines, a maximum of 15 people are allowed. We recommend keeping to immediate family only and to split the remaining number of guests between each side. Finally, consider the friends and family who are not invited. Speak to your wedding venue to see if they have a large cinema screen or projector so relatives can still attend virtually. You can also plan for extra, larger events to celebrate once lockdown restrictions ease further.
3. Ensure that the wedding venue complements the guest size
If you have ever been a guest at a large wedding, you will know that getting time to congratulate and connect with the bride and groom can be difficult as they’re often too busy! However, with intimate weddings you will have plenty of time to interact with your guests, and you want a space that complements that. Too big will make the wedding feel empty, whereas too small might make it difficult for guests to observe social distancing.
4. Make your own rules about traditions
As you are surrounded by only your closest family and friends, you have the option to opt out of unnecessary traditions. For instance, not having bridesmaids or groomsmen will not look out of place and you do not have to wear a traditional white dress or black tie. If you want, you can keep the ceremony casual and dress in anything that feels true to you, whether that be a jumpsuit or a ballgown!
5. Plan a local honeymoon
From 4 July domestic travel within England has been permitted with hotels, bed and breakfasts and campsites allowed to reopen. Whilst travelling overseas is widely considered unsafe, why not celebrate your marriage by planning a local honeymoon? You can still take a well-deserved honeymoon break with your partner without having to plan too much in advance.