The new coronavirus wedding rules

From 28th September the rules concerning weddings and civil partnerships in England during the Covid-19 pandemic are changing. Here are the answers to some of the questions that may be worrying you...

The new coronavirus wedding rules

The new coronavirus wedding rules

From the 28th September, the government’s rules around weddings are changing.

On the 4th July the Government sanctioned weddings once again. The go-ahead on ceremonies came with strict Covid-secure rules and a guest cap of 30 people. From 28th September the guest limit is being slashed to just 15. We are sure you’ll be wondering what exactly your wedding day will look like now. From the amount of guests to the very important dos and don’ts, here is everything you need to know about having a wedding during these unprecedented times.

*Please note that this guidance refers to weddings being held in England, and the coronavirus wedding rules for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland may differ.

Is our venue ready?

Wedding venues have only been given the green light to go ahead with wedding ceremonies if they can ensure they have taken every step possible to combat the spread of Covid-19, which means adhering to a number of different regulations. This can include introducing one-way systems, enhanced cleaning regimes and relevant signage to ensure social distancing and regular hand sanitising. If a venue is too small to allow social distancing, for example, your wedding may still have to be postponed.

How many guests can we have?

The maximum number of people to be allowed at any ceremony is now 15. But that doesn’t actually mean 15 guests, because this has to include the bride and groom, the officiant, your witnesses and any other suppliers such as your photographer and/or videographer. Everyone present will also have to register their contact details with the venue, to comply with test and trace procedures.

How does social distancing work at a wedding ceremony?

Wherever possible, your guests will need to be spaced two metres apart, ideally, but at least one metre when that’s not possible. Venues may have to rearrange their set-up to make sure no one is too close and use floor markings to guide people and protective screens for closed-in spaces. This may also impact who can walk you down the aisle, arm in arm, if – like most modern brides – your dad, mum, brother, or whoever you have chosen, is from a different household or is not part of your social bubble.

How is the ceremony itself affected?

The main difference is that ceremonies must be performed in the shortest time possible, so that will likely affect the number/length of readings/prayers/addresses/musical performances. When it comes to the vows, you must both wash your hands before and after the exchanging of rings, which should be held by as few people as possible. So that impacts one of the best man’s jobs, which is to carry the ring for the groom. No food or drink should be consumed unless strictly required for the purposes of the ceremony, and communal books or service sheets are not allowed. If you want an order of service, for instance, it has to be single use.

Is it true we can’t have any singing?

The guidelines state that singing should be avoided and, although music can be played, you are advised to keep it at a low volume to prevent people speaking loudly over it or moving closer to each other to hear (which can potentially increase the spread of the virus). You can book musicians if they use instruments that don’t need to be blown, so that means no trumpets but your harpist is good to go. Only one person is allowed to sing or chant if it is required for the marriage or civil partnership, and the rules suggest you consider using plexiglass to protect guests.

Can we still have a party?

Sorry, but with the new coronavirus wedding rules, a traditional wedding reception is off the cards, with the Government still advising against any gatherings. Of course, six people from different households can get together inside or outside – but you must maintain social distancing still.

The new coronavirus wedding rules

Some other coronavirus wedding rules…

  • Ceremonies must be preformed in the shortest time possible
  • Venues may use floor markings in order to maintain social distancing
  • Protective screens and masks may be required for closed in areas
  • The couple must wash their hands before and after the exchanging of rings
  • The rings should be held by as few people as possible
  • The minister must not raise his/her voice in order to prevent the spreading of droplets
  • No food or drink should be consumed unless strictly required for the purposes of the ceremony
  • The venue must be deep cleaned after the wedding and not re-entered for 72 hours

Arrange a call with your wedding venue to see if your celebration can still take place with this ‘new normal’ in mind, and if so, ask them what measures they have to keep everyone safe.

Please note that this guidance refers to weddings being held in England, and the coronavirus wedding rules for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland may differ. The guidance is still under review.

Further reading: Deciding between a religious and civil ceremony