Updated 15 June: The limit on the number of guests allowed at weddings in the UK will be removed on 21 June despite a delay to the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions – but rules on dancing, mask-wearing and table service will remain in place, the government has confirmed.
Under the new rules, there will be no legal maximum number of guests allowed at a wedding – instead, the number of attendees “will be determined by how many people the venue or space can safely accommodate with social distancing measures in place,” according to the government website.
Weddings held in other venues (such as in someone’s garden or on private land) will also have no guest limit, but the government says it’s up to organisers to “make the space as safe as possible,” and marquees will have to have “at least 50%” of their sides open to count as an outdoor venue (and therefore have the no guest limit apply).
Other rules which remain in place, according to the campaign group What About Weddings, include advice against dancing, a ban on dance floors, the requirement for guests to wear masks (unless seated for food and drink) and the requirement for food and drink to be table-service only.
Although the change in rules will bring some relief to couples who plan on getting married over the next couple of weeks, there’s some frustration surrounding the continued restrictions – especially in light of the news that other big events such as Wimbledon will be able to take place.
“On the same day we are all told you can have more guests but also more restrictions – Wimbledon finals are announced to be having a full capacity trial event,” one woman wrote on Twitter. “We can’t even have a socially distanced stand-up drinks reception outside!”
While another added: “We should be happy that we don’t have to uninvite guests? Reality is WE DO – if the venue doesn’t have capacity. A heartbreaking task for anyone to do… our fourth date having already slashed the numbers. How do you even make this decision 19 days before your wedding!”
While it remains to be seen how many people will be able to make the most of the unlimited guest rule due to venue-based restrictions, one thing’s for sure: the last 12 months have been an incredibly stressful and uncertain time for those trying to get married.
Ahead of the government announcement yesterday, Stylist spoke to two women whose weddings are scheduled over the next couple of weeks about dealing with all the uncertainty. Here’s what they had to say.
As reported 14 June:
“The last few weeks have been terrible”
Faye, 28, from Newcastle, is due to get married to her partner Laura, 33, on 26 June – almost exactly a year since they were first meant to wed. But despite waiting over a year longer than they had anticipated for their big day – and having most details, including the dresses, alcohol, venue and DJ, confirmed – Faye says they’re struggling to feel excited.
“The last few weeks have been terrible – the not knowing is awful,” she explains. “We have not been able to enjoy the run-up to our wedding – our day is less than two weeks away and until we find out exactly what we are able to do and how many guests we are allowed, we cannot get excited yet.”
The couple plan to have 79 daytime guests and a total of around 120 for the evening reception, so if the 30-person limit does remain in place, they’ll have to cut that down considerably. Cancelling now isn’t an option, Faye explains – if they were to back out now, they’d lose “an incredible amount” of money.
For the couple, then, there’s a lot riding on tonight’s announcement – and the idea that they won’t be able to go ahead, when so many large-scale events have been able to take place, is one of the most frustrating parts about it all.
“It is great to see people enjoying themselves at sporting events, but it is frustrating that you are able to attend these events with 1000s of people you don’t know but you are unable to have a wedding with more than 28 guests,” she says.
“A wedding guestlist is thought about – they are the people you have known for a number of years and are easily traceable if needed for whatever reason. We have all our guests contact details to hand if required, most have also been double vaccinated and the rest have received at least one dose.
“We have everything crossed for the announcement this evening.”
“It’s so stressful and frustrating”
Tamara, 28, from London, is also hoping to get married this month. Herself and her partner have already had to postpone once – they were originally supposed to tie the knot back in April, when they would have only been allowed to have six guests at their wedding – but decided to move their date at the end of 2020 when the second lockdown happened.
At first, she says she felt “really positive” and relieved when the government’s roadmap indicated that restrictions would be lifted by 21 June – but over the last couple of weeks, her excitement has begun to falter.
“Over the last few weeks, our hopes have been dampened with news coming out that 21 June may be delayed,” Tamara explains. “Most of our excitement has been lost with wedding planning because we simply do not know what sort of wedding we will have.
“I am quite a nervous person so everything to do with capacities and the thought of my family not all being able to come has really affected my sleep and health.”
Tamara says the couple have decided not to move their wedding again – they will be getting married on 17 July no matter what happens tonight – so they’re nervous about what might happen tonight. For Tamara, the frustration surrounding the allowance of other big events is also adding to her stress levels – and she hopes the government makes the right decision and allows weddings to go forward.
“During the first lockdown last year, never did I think we would be in the position we are in now,” she says. “It’s so stressful and frustrating as other events, both indoor and outdoor, have been able to take place!”
Tamara continues: “It has been agonising over this weekend waiting to see what the announcement says. We are hoping and praying that wedding restrictions are lifted and we can have a wedding similar to what we imagined. It’s such a special day for us which we want to enjoy with our loved ones around us.”
Images: Getty/Faye Slasor