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Coronavirus: new wedding rules, how venues will adapt and what to do if yours if affected

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Megan Murray
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The government has announced new guidelines for weddings from 4 July. Here’s everything you need to know about the updated rules, how venues will cater to weddings still going ahead and what to do if yours is affected. 

There’s good news for the wedding industry: the government has announced that, from 4 July, weddings can go ahead – hurray! But hold up there a second: before you start practising your bouquet throw, there are still some restrictions in place.

According to social distancing measures brides and grooms-to-be won’t be able to have more than 30 people at their nuptials (including the photographer and officiant) and there’ll be no celebrating afterwards. That’s right, not even a slice of wedding cake. 

So, the news feels bittersweet. For those who are desperate to tie the knot it is now possible, but there’s still a lot of questions. If your wedding is in the next month you’ll probably be wondering about the complexities of the guidelines, how your venue will adapt and what the best move is right now. 

We’ve spoken to wedding venues and experts to find out how the wedding industry is planning on reacting and catering for couples post-lockdown, which we hope will answer some of your questions. 

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What are the new rules for weddings in England?

We’ve analysed the guidance submitted by the government and broken it down into bullet points for you below. 

  • From the 4 July, 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 30 people may attend (including officiants, photographers and 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.
  • Post-ceremony receptions are not allowed, and only small celebrations of up to two households indoors, or up to 6 people from different households outdoors, are permitted.
  • If you’re planning on involving any children in your ceremony, someone should be holding them at all times.
  • As water droplets in our breath can spread the virus, there should be no singing, shouting or raising of voices at the ceremony. This also means there should be no loud music which would encourage people to shout over it and any crowd participation during the ceremony should not be done in a raised voice.
  • There should be no live instruments that are blown into, or singing to accompany them.
  • 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.
  • The government is working on a way in which receptions could go ahead in the future but in a safe way.

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 30 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 will be 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.

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Megan Murray

Megan Murray is a digital journalist for stylist.co.uk, who enjoys writing about London happenings, beautiful places, delicious morsels and generally spreading sparkle wherever she can.