Are wedding receptions allowed? The new coronavirus rules for your big day

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For those who originally envisioned a big bang, this means a serious reduction in size if your site is still able to accommodate you safely; although the steps may come as a blessing for couples already struggling with a spiral guest list.However, the Prime Minister has announced that as of August 1, up to 30 people will be allowed to attend wedding receptions – which means more intimate affairs can go ahead.

Note that the new guidelines differ depending on the location. In Northern Ireland, weddings of up to 10 people are allowed, but only outside. In Wales, ceremonies can take place at official registrars and places of worship, provided they are small and socially distant. In Scotland, only outdoor ceremonies can take place, provided that the gathering is made up of people from up to three households (this restriction does not include the registrar or the celebrant).

What are the new security measures?

Wedding ceremonies in England should be “as short as reasonably possible” and limited to what is legally binding, according to the new guidelines, COVID-19: Guide for small marriages and civil partnerships. Religious ceremonies that would generally take a certain number of hours or days will have to adapt to a shorter service.

As mentioned above, no more than 30 people should be present and only two households should be present.

Wedding receptions that generally follow the ceremony are “strongly discouraged at this time”. If you want a wedding reception, government guidelines state that only two households can attend an indoor location or six guests from different households can attend an outdoor celebration.

“In practice, this means that if the bride and groom are [already] one household, they can celebrate with another household, “said Bernadette Chapman, director of the British Alliance of Wedding Planners – which will be a delicate choice for most couples.

Chapman added that although she is “delighted that the ceremonies can start again”, she would like the restrictions to be relaxed further. “I would love that they allow receptions for 30 people, as that would mean that couples could have some form of celebration; by the minute, it’s about getting married and then going home, ”she said. “You can’t even get away with a mini drink ceremony after[wards].  »

Food and drinks are not recommended as part of the event. The place should have the floor marked with tape or paint to help people maintain social distance.

However, in the new government guidelines, there is a section which explains that when “should” is used (ie “no more than 30 people should attend a marriage or civil partnership”) , it means that the rule is advised but “not a legal obligation”. “. Legally, therefore, you could have a bigger celebration – but this could increase the risk of transmitting Covid-19 and will depend on your wedding location, which might have additional restrictions.

What about traditions?

Social distancing rules will provide fathers who walk their daughters down the aisle (unless they are still living in the same household), while wives and husbands will be encouraged to wash their hands before and after the exchange rings, and say their vows without raising your voice.

Anthems are also prohibited. “It may not be a problem with a civil ceremony, but with religious ceremonies in places of worship, a lack of song could be a problem,” said Chapman. She also advises brides to know that even if hairdressers will be allowed to visit, they will not be able to have makeup done professionally.

Should I postpone my summer wedding?

If you have booked a wedding for this summer, should you postpone it? It depends on whether you are comfortable with a socially distant celebration of only 30 people, with only two households allowed in an indoor reception venue.

Wedding planner Katrina Otter has seen many of her marriages postponed to 2021.

“All of my couples until October have been postponed because they want the weddings they dreamed of and have spent months, if not years, planning,” she said. “Today marriages involve much more than just a legally binding ceremony; it is a celebration of friendship and families, and it is something that the current guidelines do not allow. While many of her clients remain “optimistic” about their weddings next year, she said the ability of future ceremonies to operate at full capacity remains uncertain, particularly if there is a second wave.

Another popular option is to hold a small ceremony with a handful of guests this year and postpone the big celebration until we can party properly.

Some could opt for a small ceremony in summer, with a handful of guests, and postpone the big party until next year. “I can see an increase in the number of couples having a simple ceremony this year when they are only allowed for them, the clerk and the witnesses,” says Chapman. “And in 2021, they will plan a larger wedding for all of their guests, but opt ​​for a celebration ceremony. “

Will my wedding next year be OK?

It’s a matter of “speculation,” says Otter, and the situation could change so quickly. “Right now, no, I don’t see 2021 being a problem,” she explains, “but I have this conversation with me in two weeks and I might say something completely different.”

If you postpone your wedding until next year, you may face another challenge: finding an available date. Since most of this year’s weddings will be postponed to 2021, in addition to weddings that were already scheduled for next year, suppliers and locations may have limited dates available. As such, many couples have mid-week weddings, according to Otter, “so they can keep their suppliers.”

She told me that a couple wanted to move their wedding, which was to take place in September, to any Saturday between early April and late October 2021. There was only one date that suppliers could do.

When the restrictions are lifted, what could marriages look like?

Wedding planner Matthew Oliver, who specializes in international weddings, says weddings will “absolutely” have to adapt in the future.

“I think we will have to consider bigger site options,” he says. “For example, if you’re working with a couple that invites 150 guests, instead of looking for rooms that can accommodate exactly 150 people, we’ll have to look for larger room options.”

It would be to allow customers to distance themselves socially – which he thinks will remain our mentality once the lockdown is over. “Once this whole situation is over, people will still have that in their lifestyle -” I don’t want to be close to you “”, he said, adding that sites and providers could be more “protective” on their contact with customers.

Other wedding venues have also found creative solutions. Bijou Wedding Venues, which specializes in country house weddings, will use “airport quality” temperature reading cameras to test the temperature of all staff and guests upon arrival, and will broadcast the ceremony live in different areas of the venue, so that the compulsory witnesses can be present during the ceremony and the other guests can see it from a distance.

The wedding venue company also plans to replace the queues for buffets with table service, set up marquees and gazebos to maximize time spent outside and organize outdoor ceremonies in wherever possible.

Otter sees no need for such changes. “I think that when we are allowed to return to marriages as they were before, marriages will return to what they were,” she said, adding that “if the rules of social distancing are relaxed, things will resume very quickly. Ordinary ”.

Some couples may opt for “alternative” ceremonies on Zoom, even when the restrictions are lifted, but this will not work for everyone. “It will work for some couples,” says Otter. “It will certainly not work for the majority. “

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