Saturday 4th July 2020 is being dubbed “Super Saturday”. Non-essential businesses such as pubs and restaurants will be allowed to re-open following their closure at the start of lockdown over 100 days ago due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The government has also published new coronavirus guidance for weddings in England which come in to effect as of 4th July. These guidelines include allowing ceremonies of up to 30 people to go ahead but placing a ban on wedding receptions.
So what will weddings look like following the new coronavirus guidance?
The government’s new guidance states that couples should plan a “COVID-19 Secure” marriage or civil partnership. From Saturday 4th July 2020, marriages and civil partnerships in England can only go ahead if they can be carried out safely, following strict social distancing. Being “COVID-19 Secure”, according to the government’s guidance, means:
- The marriage or civil partnership should take place in “COVID-19 Secure environments”. Where the marriage or civil partnership can legally take place at a location not covered by the government’s new guidance (such as an outdoor location), then the legal restrictions on gatherings at that particular place must be followed.
- Ceremonies and services should be conducted in the shortest time possible and limited to just the legally binding parts.
- If the exchanging of rings is to take place as part of the solemnisation of the marriage or the formation of the civil partnership, then hands should be washed before and after doing so. Rings should be handled by as few people as possible.
- People should not sing, shout, or raise their voices because of the potential increased risk of coronavirus transmission. This includes the spoken responses required by law.
- Playing musical instruments that are blown into is to be avoided, again because of the increased risk of coronavirus transmission (this applies even if social distancing is being observed and / or face coverings are being used).
- The limit of 30 people includes the officiants. Everyone in attendance should be made aware of the current “Stay Alert” social distancing guidance and adhere to social distancing of at least 2m, or 1m+ with “risk mitigation” such as face coverings (but only where 2m isn’t possible).
- Single-use service sheets, prayer mats, etc. can be used, so long as they are removed by the attendee that uses them. Communal books, sheets, etc. should not be used.
- Where a child is present, the parent or guardian, or a member of the child’s household, should hold the child.
- No food or drink should be consumed as a part of the event.
- Venues should reduce risk factors by avoiding face-to-face seating, improving ventilation, using protective screens and face coverings, and restricting access to non-essential areas
What about receptions?
The latest coronavirus guidance issued by the government states that wedding receptions or parties should NOT take place, and refer couples to the guidance surrounding restaurants and other hospitality industry guidance. This means that a small celebration may take place after the wedding or civil partnership only if it is between groups of up to two households indoors, or groups of up to six people from different households outdoors.
The future of weddings, post coronavirus
The coronavirus pandemic has had a huge impact on everyone’s lives. No-one knows what the future holds or when / how the government will ease restrictions further should it be safe to do so. The Spring / Summer 2020 wedding season has all but been put on hold – certainly ALL of our couples have postponed their weddings until 2021 at the earliest. We understand just how difficult it must be for couples who had, or even still have, a wedding planned in 2020. If you’re one of our couples who are still booked to go ahead with your wedding later in the year, rest assured we will work with you to ensure we follow current government guidance as safely as possible. If you’re one of our couples who have already postponed until next year – we understand, and we are looking forward to working with you in 2021.
If your wedding has been postponed and you now need to make new plans – get in touch. We will do whatever we can to help. Above all else – stay safe.