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BIG WEDDINGS ARE BACK – Here’s what you need to know


Recognising the sacrifices we’ve all made and the importance of sharing joyous life moments with loved ones, restrictions on weddings, civil partnership ceremonies and receptions have been eased from June 21.

From June 21, ceremonies will no longer be limited to 30 guests – but make sure you’re up to date with the latest rules

For many of us, family and friends have been vital in helping us to get through the pandemic.

Recognising the sacrifices we’ve all made and the importance of sharing joyous life moments with loved ones, restrictions on weddings, civil partnership ceremonies and receptions have been eased from June 21.

There will no longer be a maximum limit of 30 guests set out in law in England. Instead, the number of attendees will be determined by how many guests the venue can safely accommodate with social distancing and other safety measures in place. This will be based on a Covid risk assessment.

The maximum number cap will also be lifted for commemorative life events such as wakes and memorials.

However, there are still rules in place to minimise our risk of spreading Covid. You can find the answers to some of the most common questions below:

What is the limit on the number of attendees?

There will no longer be a numbers cap for all venues. Instead, it is up to the event organisers to determine capacity limits with social distancing in place. This will be based on a Covid risk assessment for the venue that must be conducted before the event.

How do I know how many people can attend my wedding, civil partnership ceremony, reception or commemorative event?

If the event is at a Covid-secure venue, the site manager needs to tell you how many people can attend in a safe, socially distanced way.

If you are organising the event at another location, such as a private garden, you must determine how many people can safely attend at a sufficient distance from each other. This is usually two metres, or one metre with additional mitigation such as being outside.

To calculate the required distance, you must carry out a Covid risk assessment available at gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-how-to-safely-plan-a-wedding-or-civil-partnership-or-funeral-wake-or-commemoration.

Do I have to fill in a risk assessment?

It is a legal requirement for a Covid risk assessment to be completed for the venue at which the event is being held. This will generally be undertaken by the location manager or event organiser. Failure to provide a completed risk assessment could result in a £10,000 fine. Those responsible for organising a private event must also take all reasonable steps to ensure it takes place in a safe and secure way.

How else can I make sure my wedding is safe?

Continue to practise ‘hands, face, space, and fresh air’ guidance before, during and after the day. Get tested twice a week before and after the event, even if you don’t have symptoms. Anyone displaying symptoms should not attend, immediately isolate and get tested.

If the event is at a Covid-secure venue, the site manager needs to tell you how many people can attend in a safe, socially distanced way.

What if my ceremony and reception are at different venues?

If your ceremony and reception are at different venues they should be considered separate events, and appropriate risk assessments must be carried out for both.

Can I have a hen or stag do?

Yes, in line with wider social contact limits (a maximum of six people or two households indoors; and 30 people outdoors). However, in the run up to the big day you may want to consider reducing social contact to reduce the likelihood of contracting Covid.

If you do want to hold such events within the social distancing guidelines it is best to hold them well in advance of the main ceremony, so that if there are any infections these can be picked up.

You can reduce your risk further still by asking everyone to take a test before meeting up and, of course, taking up the offer of a vaccine.

Are there restrictions on entertainment – live bands, for example?

Bands, DJs or professional performers can perform at a ceremony or reception as long as they follow Covid-secure guidance. Measures to reduce risk of transmission are set out in the Government’s performing arts guidance available at GOV.UK.

Can dancing and singing take place?

Dancing is not advised due to the increased risk of transmission, although there is an exception for the wedding couple’s first dance. Dancefloors and other spaces for dancing must remain closed but can be repurposed, such as for sociallydistanced seating.

Guests are advised not to join in singing with bands or choirs due to the risk of transmission.

Does table service need to be provided even if I hold the event in my own garden? What about if I provide the food/drink myself?

Businesses providing food and drink must take all reasonable steps to ensure people remain seated, with table service provided even in outdoor settings. These restrictions also apply to events held in private gardens. Buffets should not take place.

Are the rules different for areas with high transmission of the Delta variant?

The rules are the same across all areas. If the event is taking place in an area where the new variant is spreading fast, everyone should recognise the extra risk. Outdoor events are safer.

What are the rules for other life events like wakes?

The phasing out of the numbers cap will also apply to wakes, bringing them in line with existing rules for funerals. Alternative wedding ceremonies are permitted in line with the same rules as weddings or civil partnerships.

Baptisms, bar mitzvahs and other standalone life events can already take place with a limit of up to 30 people. Restrictions still apply to these to help manage the transmission of Covid.

‘It’s half a wedding and half a reunion!’

Maddy Savitt, 32, a speech and language therapist, and 31-year-old advertising director Lucas Kochanowicz will be tying the knot this summer in Clapton, East London.

Wedding couple Maddy and Lucas

‘I can’t wait for the chance to celebrate with friends and family, who haven’t been in the same room together for such a long time,’ says Maddy.

‘I’ll be inviting my friends from university and school, some of whom I’ve not seen in a year and a half.’

The couple, who have had to delay the event due to the pandemic, will have a ceremony in front of 80 or so guests, followed by a drinks reception and sit-down dinner.

‘For me, it’s two occasions in one,’ says Lucas. ‘It’s half a wedding and half a reunion – that makes it more special.

‘My mum is double vaxxed, which we are very happy about. She’s planning the flowers and worrying about what to wear!’

‘We talk things through early to make sure everyone is happy’

Ian Twinley, 58, runs Hatfield Place, a listed Georgian country estate and wedding venue in Essex, with his wife Alison, 57.

Ian and Alison Twinley run Hatfield Place

The couple will begin welcoming couples for large weddings after the cap is lifted, with every ceremony subject to a Covid risk assessment and extra safety measures in place.

‘We will encourage and request that all guests take a test before,’ says Ian. ‘It’s very easy for people to do that now.

‘All the usual restrictions that you’d find in a pub or a restaurant will be in place, with masks worn at all times when you’re moving around a building – although they can be removed outside.

Hatfield Place includes an historic walled garden and the 6,000 square foot Orangery, which in normal times can accommodate hundreds of guests.

‘All the risk assessments are worked out in advance. You need to sit down with the wedding couple and talk it through with them to make sure they understand everything and are happy.’

Hatfield Place includes an historic walled garden and the 6,000 square foot Orangery, which in normal times can accommodate hundreds of guests.

‘Thankfully, because of all that space, fitting 80 or so people inside is really easy – you just place the tables well apart,’ says Ian. ‘For the wedding breakfast itself, we are requesting that they try to keep to household bubbles or groups of six wherever possible.

‘We’ve removed the dancefloor and the bar will be effectively closed, so it’s all table service.’

For more information and to complete a risk assessment for your event, visit gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-how-to-safely-plan-a-wedding-or-civil-partnership-or-funeral-wake-or-commemoration

*Information relevant for England only.





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