Following the Government’s announcement on Monday 22nd February of their new roadmap to exit lockdown, there have been lots of questions about when weddings can return to normal and what weddings look like in the meantime.
We’ve been working with the UK Weddings Taskforce, and have answered as many of your questions as we can, with help from the UK Weddings Taskforce spokesperson Sarah Haywood, and Taskforce member Nina Beer.
Please note – all information was accurate at the time of publication and we will endeavour to update it if and when the guidance changes. All information, particularly regarding dates, is subject to change as it is dependent on the R rate and the success of the vaccination programme. See the Government’s official roadmap here.
What do we know about weddings at the moment?
- Ceremonies with six guests from 8th March
- Weddings (with a ‘reception’) for 15 from 12th April
- Weddings (with a ‘reception’) for 30 from 17th May
- Weddings without restriction from 21st June
Currently, we know that from the 8th March, wedding ceremonies are permitted with six guests. This includes the couple, but does not include the staff required. This can take place at a licensed venue that is permitted to be open at that time.
There is a stay-at-home order in place until 29th March, so we would expect these weddings to only take place in the form of an essential legal ceremony, however it appears the ‘deathbed’ weddings caveat, where weddings could only take place in exceptional circumstances such as one party being close to death, will no longer be in place from 8th March.
From the 12th April, weddings will be permitted to take place with 15 guests, and have a ‘reception’. However, based on last year’s rules (no further detailed guidance has been published yet), we expect this will just be a sit down meal, in a venue that is permitted to be open.
From the 17th May, weddings may take place with 30 guests and have a reception. Again, we expect this to be a seated meal.
From the 21st June, weddings are to be ‘restriction-free’. There is no cap on the guest numbers, and the Government guidance states that social contact will no longer have ‘legal limits’. This date is subject to change though, and we’d expect to get one week’s notice of that.
Who is included in the restricted numbers at weddings?
We are awaiting detailed guidance to be published on this, but following the restrictions place on weddings during the summer of 2020, we anticipate that the wedding couple and children of all ages would be included in this number, however the suppliers and staff present at your wedding would not count.
Are receptions allowed at weddings with guest limits?
The Government guidance currently available does state that receptions are permitted for weddings of 15 and 30, but it has no further detail. Again, looking at the limits put on weddings of 30 last year, we would expect this just means you can have a wedding breakfast and must still observe social distancing measures.
We believe that receptions can continue ‘as normal’ on and after June 21st.
What does ‘restriction-free’ mean at a wedding?
Again, there is no detailed advice on this published yet, but with limits on social contact expected to lift at the same time, we believe this means you can have dancing, singing, speeches yet again. Of course, you’re not obliged to – if you don’t feel comfortable, we suggest talking to your venue to plan your day in a way that works for you.
Will the guest limits at weddings be increased?
The UK Weddings Taskforce worked exceptionally hard to ask for wedding guest limits to be increased to a minimum of 50. They were disappointed when it was announced weddings could be resumed but with such low guest limits, but welcome restriction-free weddings in the summer.
They continue to work with Government to encourage an increase in numbers in a safe manner and Confetti continue to support them with their work. Updates will be posted via the UK Weddings Taskforce website and Instagram page.
What happens if your wedding is booked at a venue that is still classed as needing to be closed, whilst weddings are permitted to take place?
Some couples will have weddings booked at hotels and restaurants and other such venues, which have a later opening date on the roadmap. For example, weddings of 15 can resume from April 12th, but indoor hospitality can’t reopen until 17th May.
In these situations, we would encourage you to follow the Taskforce advice and contact your venue directly – they can liaise with their relevant Working Group within the Taskforce, who are continuing to meet with Government to discuss these kinds of issues.
Will Lateral Flow Testing be part of weddings?
Currently, we don’t know. The UK Weddings Taskforce was looking into how testing can be used to ensure safety at weddings, but this didn’t form part of the roadmap that was unveiled on 22nd February.
What about outdoor weddings and marquees, and events on private land?
Again – further, detailed guidance needs to be published that addresses these specific situations. We know outdoor hospitality can resume at an earlier date than indoor, as the risk of transmission is reduced in an outdoor setting. The Taskforce has also discussed this with BEIS (the Government department that looks after weddings) and will share updates once they are available.
Read more: Planning an outdoor wedding celebration
What about wedding venue viewings, and dress fitting appointments at bridalwear shops?
This is a really tricky one – and again, your Weddings Taskforce has picked it up with Government. Bridalwear is currently classed as ‘non-essential retail’ and can reopen on 12th April. This seems particularly unfair when bridalwear shops typically operate on an appointment only basis, and that brides and grooms will need their outfits ahead of that 12th April date. It has been raised with BEIS.
Venue viewings is another tricky one – it seems like that couldn’t resume until the 17th of May, but again it’s incompatible with how weddings work. It has been raised with BEIS in the hope that couples can start actively planning again sooner.
What about cultural weddings?
In 2020 ceremonies that were legal and religious could take place in the end (it was legal only to start), so we would expect the same this year. Some cultural weddings involve having larger numbers of people involved to facilitate certain ceremonies and traditions – but these can take place from 21st June.
You can watch Confetti.co.uk’s Editor, Zoe Burke, in her capacity as a Taskforce volunteer, ask some of the above questions to Taskforce spokesperson Sarah Haywood in the below video: