We understand that at this time many of you may still be unsure of the rules and restrictions that are in place regarding the wedding industry. So much so, that you are probably sat at home googling things like ‘coronavirus wedding’ ‘wedding restrictions’ or ‘covid wedding rules’ and having no luck. That is why here at Warble, we have created an easy-to-follow summary that outlines all the rules and restrictions that are currently in place in the United Kingdom. This article will be updated regularly with any industry changes that are made in the coming months. However, as always, the Government websites are the best place for the most up-to-date information regarding COVID-19.
Latest update – 17th May
As of May 2021, England is currently in step three of the roadmap out of lockdown. In step three, we have seen the unlocking of indoor and outdoor wedding ceremonies and receptions for up to 30 people in covid-safe wedding venues. In addition to the relaxation of indoor wedding venue restrictions, outdoor wedding receptions in private gardens are also permitted for up to 30 people.
Are weddings currently allowed in the Uk?
In Northern Ireland, weddings and civil partnership ceremonies, celebrations and functions are currently permitted. However, during the ceremony, face coverings must be worn by all unless exempt, other than those in the marriage party.
Similarly, numbers attending indoor ceremonies and post-ceremony celebrations will be determined by the specific venue on a risk-assessed basis adhering to all relevant public health advice and industry guidance.
In Wales, weddings and civil partnerships can take place in approved premises, up to the capacity of the venue given social distancing requirements.
Similarly, to Northern Ireland, face coverings must be worn indoors by everyone aged 11 or over when not eating or drinking unless they have a reasonable excuse. This does not apply to the couple or the person officiating.
Moreover, wedding receptions can be arranged in regulated venues for up to 30 people indoors and 50 people outdoors, not including children under 11. They cannot take place in private homes or gardens. In addition, food and drink are permitted at both indoor and outdoor wedding receptions in line with the relevant hospitality guidance. Physical distancing should be always maintained at tables to avoid households mixing.
In England, weddings and civil partnership ceremonies will be permitted for up to 30 people in COVID-secure venues that are permitted to open. Alternative wedding ceremonies and weddings under the law of England and Wales are permitted to take place outdoors, with up to 30 people, including in COVID-secure venues or private gardens.
Moreover, receptions and celebrations will be permitted to take place with up to 30 people. They can take place indoors in a COVID-secure venue, however, this does not include private homes. Celebrations can also go ahead outdoors, which does include private gardens. If the event is taking place outdoors, it can be partially sheltered with, for example, a marquee, provided that at least 50% of the walled area remains open.
In Scotland, as many as 50 people including the couple and witnesses can attend weddings and receptions – provided venues can allow 2m physical distancing. Regarding the reception, alcohol can be served. However, face coverings must be worn indoors, not including the couple or the person officiating. It’s hoped wedding rules will change again on 7 June, when most of Scotland may move to Covid-protection level one. Where up to 100 people should be allowed to meet. However, some rules on social distancing and face coverings will remain in place.
Do I need to give Notice of Marriage again if it has expired?
Unfortunately, if you have had to postpone your civil ceremony or civil partnership because of coronavirus or your notice has simply expired, you will need to give notice of marriage again and pay the fee of £30 per person again. Moreover, this needs to be done at least 29 days prior to the marriage ceremony and will expire after 1 year.
How many people can gather in the UK now?
The number of people that are legally allowed to gather in the UK is dependent on the area. Therefore, for up to date and accurate information please refer to the regional government websites linked in the next question below.
However, if you are choosing to host your wedding with the maximum capacity allowed for an outdoor wedding venue then check out our latest blog post ‘10 Intimate Outdoor Wedding Venues In The UK!’
Is there anything we won’t be able to do under current restrictions?
For the most accurate and in-depth summary of the rules and restrictions currently in place, please refer to the individual regional government websites below.
Will there be restrictions for the wedding ceremony?
In Northern Ireland, numbers attending indoor ceremonies and post-ceremony celebrations will be determined by the venue on a risk-assessed basis, taking account of the individual circumstances of each, and adhering to all relevant public health advice and industry guidance.
The current Regulations in Wales allow for the solemnisation of marriage, formation of civil partnerships and alternative wedding ceremonies to take place. In addition, all the premises approved to hold marriage and civil partnerships ceremonies can open for ceremonies. This is however dependent on the capacity of the venue given social distancing requirements. For more guidance on wedding ceremonies during Covid-19 please refer to the Welsh government website.
In England, weddings and civil partnership ceremonies will be permitted for up to 30 people in COVID-secure venues that are permitted to open. However, alternative wedding ceremonies and weddings under the law of England and Wales are permitted to take place outdoors. Outdoor wedding ceremonies are allowed a maximum of up to 30 people, including in COVID-secure venues or private gardens.
Finally, in Scotland, up to 50 people can attend a marriage ceremony, civil partnership registration, or reception in a protection level 3 or level 2 area. With up to 100 people permitted to attend in a level 1 area. However, these limits are provided the venue size and layout will permit the necessary physical distancing between households are in place. Which means that numbers may be significantly less than those advised based on the capacity of the venue.
Will numbers be restricted for the wedding reception?
In Northern Ireland, there are no restrictions on the number of people seated at the ‘top table’. However, other tables are restricted to a maximum of 10. Children under 12 are excluded from table numbers.
Regarding the reception, dancing is not permitted, the only exception to this is the couple’s ‘first dance’. Similarly, live music is not permitted, and ambient music must be at a level that permits normal conversation. Finally, face coverings must be worn if you leave your table for example to access toilet facilities/in public areas, unless exempt.
From 17th May, all of Wales will be in alert level 2. Which means that organised activities, including wedding receptions can be arranged for up to 30 people indoors and 50 people outdoors. However, indoor wedding receptions cannot take place inside private homes.
Regarding the reception, food and drink are permitted at both indoor and outdoor wedding receptions in line with the hospitality guidance.
In England, from May 17th receptions and celebrations will be permitted to take place with up to 30 people. They can take place either indoors in a COVID-secure venue, not including private homes. As well as outdoors, which does include private gardens.
A broader range of venues will be able to be open at this step, as set out in the roadmap. Any venue which is not required in law to remain closed will be able to host events and allow viewings with appropriate COVID-19 measures in place.
In Scotland, up to 50 people can attend a marriage ceremony, civil partnership registration, or reception in a protection level 3 or level 2 area. With up to 100 people able to attend in a level 1 area. These limits are provided when the venue size and layout will permit the necessary physical distancing between households to be in place.
In England, the latest advice states that anyone working at the wedding ceremony or reception is not included in the current capacity limit. However, children of all ages are included in such a limit. In addition, masks are still mandatory when not seated at a table eating or drinking. Similarly, the public is also advised to exercise caution when attending weddings.
Regarding dancing, the guidelines state: ‘Dancing is advised against due to the increased risk of transmission, except the couple’s first dance’. However, amateur choirs, bands, or musicians may perform at events in a group of up to six indoors, while outdoors, they can perform in multiple groups of up to 30. For entertainment ideas for your coronavirus safe wedding head to the Warble Entertainment website.
Finally, our best advice when it comes to planning a wedding during a pandemic is to always have a contingency plan. Because, local lockdowns are already in place in Scotland, with talk of the chance of England taking the same route after the June 21st step 4 easing. Contingency plans are great because the chances of yourself and your guests running into any problems before the wedding can be reduced significantly.
References and Further Reading
Rules & Regulation advice-
Warble Entertainment Blog-