Covid-19 update for weddings in the UK
What’s the current situation?
In England, right now (28th June) the only people who can get married are people who are seriously ill, and not expected to recover, and only where it is safe to do so, i.e. by staying 2m apart from each other, avoiding touching surfaces, and with frequent handwashing. Registry offices are open for groups up to 5 people.
In Scotland, the only weddings that can take place are where there’s a ‘pressing need’, e.g. if one of you is about to be posted overseas in the armed forces or are seriously ill.
In Wales, from 22nd June, weddings and partnerships can take place, as long as everyone can keep 2m apart, but only in official register offices and places of worship. But the venue makes the choice, they don’t have to open. And they haven’t specified an exact maximum number, just that they have to be small. Again, food and drink is unlikely to be possible.
In Northern Ireland, where one of the partners is terminally ill their wedding can also take place, and outdoor weddings of up to 10 people have been allowed from 8th June.
How will this change from 4th July in England?
In England, from 4th July, wedding ceremonies will be allowed to take place in places of worship, so churches, synagogues and mosques, with a maximum of 30 guests. But no singing will be allowed, so your Auntie Maude won’t be able to belt out hymns out of tune at the top of her voice along with Uncle Bob. So possibly a blessing in disguise as you can still have recorded music… Guests will still need to be 2m apart, or 1m if face masks are worn.
But again, don’t assume your venue will be open, as if they feel they’re not ready and are not able to meet the restrictions, they don’t have to open up to visitors.
Receptions indoors are only allowed with a bubble of one other household, so sadly you’re not going to be able to tuck into a slap-up meal with a large and merry gang of guests after the ceremony at your reception venue.
Small receptions at home, or at a restaurant, or a pub are possible with two households (but you’ll need to keep your distance if they’re not in your ‘bubble’ household, or part of your own family), so as long as you have plenty of space, you should be able to go ahead. So rather awkward, as you may have to choose between the groom’s family or the bride’s family to meet with afterwards. Not the best way to start married life…
And outdoors in the garden, you can have a maximum of 6 people from different households, but yes, again, only as long as you can keep apart. So if you don’t live with them, that would allow you, and both your parents to meet. But no friends on top. The only way you can have a larger number of guests outside is if everyone is from just two households.
You will be able to have your hair done, either at the hairdresser’s from 4th July, or have a mobile hairdresser come to you, as long as you both wear masks and they wear gloves.
But you’ll have to do your own make-up and paint your own nails—make-up artists are still not allowed to work as it’s impossible to do this even with face protection and with social distancing.
And you’ll have to observe social distancing at your wedding, so you won’t be able to hug your relatives, however emotional you’re feeling. And no-one would blame you for not wanting to put them at any increased risk anyway.
Unless you’ve been living in the same house or are in ‘bubble’ with your father, he won’t be able to walk you down the aisle on his arm, unless he’s 2m away, or 1m away with face mask and gloves. And some venues may ban the procession altogether down to feel it’s too much risk.
And if you have any guests (or you are coming) from overseas, then you and they currently need to self-isolate for 14 days before the wedding at a named address, but this will be relaxed from 4th July for certain countries.
You may now be thinking this all sounds rather grim, and it would be completely understandable to postpone your wedding until it’s possible to meet more freely. If you want to do this, discuss this with your venue(s) to see if this is an option.
Golly. So, what are your options?
Consider an Elopement…
Maybe you’d rather just keep it totally simple and forget the headache of all the restrictions, or you hate the idea of masks at the wedding, or putting anyone else at risk, and that you and your partner get away and tie the knot on your own, somewhere beautiful, or with just a couple of friends or close relatives.
In England this will be allowed. But not in Scotland (yet). You’ll be able travel somewhere within England and stay in a hotel, or in self-catering, or a campsite as long as you’re with your own household or support bubble, or with members of one other household. And no, no pool parties—swimming pools and hot tubs are off limits.
Travelling on public transport is fine, as long as you wear a face mask, and keep at least 1m+ away from others. You have the option of taking a photographer and videographer with you and making a personalised film of your elopement as a memento of your marriage and your holiday, for you and to share with others.
or… Small ceremony now, large reception later
It may be that you don’t want to put off your wedding. What you can do is strip back the ceremony itself to under 30, and then have a second celebration later down the line, when it’s safe for people to meet and celebrate again. The advantage to this is that you can totally personalise the reception. If you want you can have a blessing with a celebrant, maybe have a handfasting ceremony, or have your own unique vows, or maybe you want your family and friends to do this for you.
If you do go ahead with a small wedding after 4th July, I would suggest providing your guests with transparent masks—they’re cheap, and if anyone in your family is deaf or hard of hearing, or needs to lipread, they will totally thank you for doing this. Providing the mask along with a personal gift bag along with sanitiser, could be a thoughtful touch.
If you have elderly relatives or relatives who are vulnerable, health-wise, and your wedding is going ahead, I suggest you talk to your videographer or your venue about the possibility of live-streaming the wedding (this depends on the quality of the broadband/WIFI at available).
A rapidly moving feast…
Bear in mind the rules could change very soon, and if new cases continue to decline, it may be that within a few weeks or months, larger gatherings will be allowed. If you’d like an update, please sign up to my blog to be notified. The next review from the government will be around 20th July and take effect from 4th August.
If you’ve got any questions, please do feel free to get in touch via email or via my contact form, I’d love to hear from you, and I’d love to film your elopement if you’re having one, or be involved with your wedding, now or later on.
Now, more than ever, having a videographer as well as a photographer makes sense—as a way of having an intimate celebration but also being able to share this with others who can’t make it. Such unique circumstances can open up the opportunity for truly memorable and personalised films.
If you’d like to see where I compiled my information from, here are the links to the government guidelines (for England):
What’s allowed now?
What’s allowed after 4th July?
Art of Life Films.
Wedding filming specialist, covering the South-East of England, including Kent, Sussex, Hampshire, London, as well as weddings further afield within the UK, and destination weddings abroad.