What are the new COVID guidelines for weddings, marriages and civil partnerships?

June 18, 2021

Despite delay, weddings to go ahead.

Brides-to-be up and down the country were listening with burning ears to Boris Johnsons’ announcement on the 14th of June, signalling a delay to the June 21st unlock. “Freedom Day” as it has been dubbed, was abruptly moved back by four weeks to July 19th. This was news all engaged couples and wedding organisers were dreading.

However, the small mercies of the delay included a change to the rules and COVID guidelines for weddings and civil partnerships. Had the restrictions stayed in place, many couple would have had their weddings cancelled or postponed once again, perhaps losing thousand of pounds in deposits and expenses.

The UK Weddings Taskforce warned there are 50,000 weddings planned in the four weeks form 21st June, affecting these would mean the industry losing £325m for every week of restrictions. Strict restrictions are still in place due to the increasing number of infections per day, yet it’s fair to say weddings venues will be permitted a large amount of freedom.

At Insure Our Event, we’ve read the government’s guidelines and have condensed the relevant information into an easily-digestible list. We’ve listed the key changes as well as the new rules and allowances.

Rules for Weddings and Civil Partnerships:

  • No maximum cap as maximum cap on attendees is dictated by the venue – the previous cap was 30 which has since been lifted.
  • Organisers will need to complete a COVID-19 risk assessment –for guidance on risk assessments please see here.
  • A marquee or structure in a garden or private home must have at least 50% of its walled area open to be classed as ‘outdoors’.
  • Social distancing is mandatory and the personal responsibility of both staff and guests – no requirement for guests to be seated on socially distanced tables.
  • Indoor marriages in private homes is limited to 6 individuals or 2 households – with the exception of urgent marriages.
  • Face coverings must be worn indoors by everyone – aged 11 and over, when not eating or drinking, unless exempt.
  • No dancing or singing – except for the first dance between bride and groom.
  • Professional musicians, singers and entertainers are allowed to perform.
  • Speeches may take place outdoors.
  • All food and drink (including non-alcoholic drink) must be ordered, served and consumed by attendees while seated at a table.
  • Rules in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland differ.

Frequently asked questions about new COVID guidelines for weddings and civil partnerships:

Do I need to wear a mask at a wedding?

Similar to a bar or restaurant, you do not need to wear a mask once you are sat down and are eating or drinking. However, at all other times, you will need to wear a mask while inside the venue.

How many people are allowed to attend weddings?

The limit is determined by the venues owners who will perform a risk assessment to determine how many guest can safely access the venue.

How many performers or musicians are allowed at my wedding?

There is no limit on the number of professional performers at a ceremony or reception. They will however be included in the number of attendees to be safely accommodated.

Are drinks and canapes allowed at a wedding?

Unless in a private garden, guests must sit to eat or drink. Guests or staff should not be walking around the venue with canapes or drinks. Table service must be in order to receive refreshments.

When will rules be lifted on weddings?

9th July is currently the most likely date when normal weddings will be back.

If my wedding cancelled due to COVID-19, do I get my money back?

Each venue will have its own regulations on cancellation, however deposits will often be non-refundable. The venue may offer a postponement, in which case the deposit will be withheld, but this could be one or two years down the line. Cancellation due to laws, the government or COVID are not covered by the venue or wedding insurance. However purchases through a wedding business are required under law offer a refund, with a deduction included to cover service costs. See the government’s guidance on the matter of wedding cancellation here.

Will my wedding insurance cover cancellation?

If you have already received a payout, you cannot get a payout twice. Whether wedding insurance will cover cancellation depends on the reason for cancellation and the terms of your insurance. For more information on wedding insurance and wedding insurance cancellation, see here. Or call 0344 488 9207 to talk to discuss a policy.

The guidance has been criticised as unclear and unfair.

Kris Agland, managing director of St Peter’s Hall, speaking to the BBC, said the guidance around weddings was “being handled appallingly.” He’s spent £10,000 making COVID- complaint additions to his venue which usually hosts 50 to 60 receptions each year. But he says “No one will book anything until they know what the guidance is. Financially as a business its crippled us”

Guidance for a sectors across the board has been criticised. The delay to Freedom Day has shown a huge detrimental effect for the hospitality and nightlife sector. Currently the restrictions in England remain as follows:

  • Limits on the number of people who can mix indoors and outdoors.
  • Pubs, clubs, theatres and cinemas still have to operate within capacity limits.
  • Limited numbers of people allowed to attend sports events.
  • Nightclubs remain closed.

The hospitality and nightclub sector have been devastated by this announcement. Many venues have to cancel acts and pay staff whilst receiving none of the government support they were receiving prior when within lockdown. Its subjective as to whether wedding organisers and brides-to-be have been dealt a cruel below or spared with mercy. Only time will tell whether weddings and ceremonies will be able to go back to normal.

For more information on Wedding insurance post-lockdown, read our article.

Insure Our Event are here to help keep your finances safe, secure and protected. For more information on Insure Our Event and our range of policy covers, read our about page.

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