Lockdown wedding rules: how many people can attend weddings from 21 June?
Brides and grooms are welcoming a change in these lockdown wedding rules from June 21.
The coronavirus pandemic has been a testing time for brides and grooms-to-be with several national lockdowns and government restrictions causing havoc to thousands of best-laid wedding plans.
Hope now seems to be on the horizon, with Boris Johnson setting out new lockdown wedding rules as part of his latest roadmap out of lockdown. These measures include a change in the previous cap on guest numbers at weddings and funerals that have been in place for the best part of a year.
What are the new lockdown wedding rules after June 21?
In a nutshell, the following new lockdown wedding rules will come into place from June 21:
- The previous 30-guest limit at weddings will be lifted
- Face masks must be worn at indoor weddings (excluding the bride, groom and celebrant/registrar during the ceremony)
- Restrictions on singing, dancing and musical performances remains in place
- Social distancing must be maintained at all times
How many people can attend a wedding after June 21?
Boris Johnson confirmed that from June 21st, the 30-people limit on weddings will be lifted in England. This means that couples can legally invite more than 30 guests, as long as the number meets their venue’s capacity and social distancing is maintained.
“From 21 June, there will no longer be a maximum number cap for attendees set out in law,” states the government website. “Instead, the number of attendees at weddings, civil partnerships and receptions will be determined by how many people the venue or space can safely accommodate with social distancing measures in place.”
Risk assessments are encouraged by the government if brides-to-be are hoping to invite over 30 guests.
If a risk assessment of a venue indoors allows for 200 guests to attend a wedding, and social distancing can be achieved – then the wedding is okay to go ahead with this number of people. And so on.
It’s worth noting that the total number of wedding guests must include venue staff, performers, photographers or anyone else hired to work the wedding. Children of all ages must also be included in the headcount.
Weddings held inside a private home or “enclosed spaces” however are subject to the rule of six or two household restriction, says the government.
The only exception to this is if the nuptials are a ‘deathbed wedding’ – where one of the partners is terminally ill. In this circumstance, a limit of up to 30 people should be met.
Do I need to wear a face mask at a wedding?
Yes, current government guidelines state that face masks must be worn at weddings – only if held indoors. However, this excludes brides, grooms and the celebrant or registrar.
“In England, at Step 3, face coverings are required by law to be worn in many indoor settings, including places of worship,” the government website states. “Attendees and staff at a wedding ceremony or reception must wear a face covering (except when eating or drinking), unless exempt.”
This means that wedding guests will have to wear face masks when moving around inside the venue, but can remove them when seated at a table for food. This lockdown wedding rule follows the same restrictions currently in place at pubs and restaurants.
Weddings held outside in a garden (or heavily ventilated marquee) are not subject to the same rules on face masks.
The government states: “There is no legal requirement to wear a face covering when outdoors at a ceremony or reception. This includes when taking place in a marquee, provided at least 50% of the walled area is open for it to be classed as ‘outdoors’.”
What are the rules on dancing at a wedding?
The government has advised against dancing at a wedding due to the “increased risk of transmission”. This applies to both indoor and outdoor weddings.
They do however grant an exception for the happy couple’s ‘first dance’ as is tradition at wedding receptions.
Aside from this, “Dancefloors and other spaces for dancing must remain closed” at wedding venues. Though organisers are able to repurpose these closed spaces for additional seating, so long as it is in keeping with social distancing guidelines.
The government also stated that other common wedding customs like the cutting of the wedding cake can go ahead as usual, with social distancing in place.
What are the rules on singing and live music at a wedding?
Communal singing indoors is advised against to prevent the airborne transmission of coronavirus. However, if singing is part of the religious ceremony, then a small group of six can perform whilst social distancing.
Live music can take place, so long as strict guidelines are met. A maximum of six performers can perform socially distanced indoors. Whilst a musical group of up to 30 performers can sing and play music at an outdoor wedding.
Stand up drink receptions at both indoor and outdoor venues is permitted. Though table service for food and drink is encouraged, with each table seating no more than six guests. Arrangements for food and drink will also have to adhere to measures outlined in a venue’s risk assessment.
What are the lockdown wedding rules in Wales?
New guidelines for outdoor wedding receptions came into effect on June 7.
The Welsh government stated that outdoor wedding receptions will follow the same restrictions placed on sporting events, concerts and festivals. This currently allows 10,000 people sitting or 4,000 seated to attend outdoor events.
First Minister Mark Drakeford added that rules on indoor receptions would be reviewed in the next few weeks.
As it stands, indoor wedding receptions are still subject to a 30-people guest limit. And those included in this maximum number include the celebrant or person officiating the wedding.
“The couple and their witnesses will also be included in the maximum number,” states the Welsh government website. Though children under 11 are not to be included in the total headcount.
As in England, social distancing is to be undertaken. And face masks must be worn by those aged 11 or over – unless eating or drinking. A face mask exception is extended to the married couple and celebrant on the day.
Wedding photographs should be taken outside and speeches can take place as normal, so long as the same microphone is not used by each person making a speech.
With regards to entertainment, dancing is also advised against, with the exception of the couple’s ‘first dance’.
“Activities such as communal singing, chanting, shouting and/or playing of instruments that are blown into should be specifically avoided. This applies even if social distancing is being observed and face coverings are used,” the Welsh government also state.
They add that recorded or live music should also be avoided to prevent an encouragement of the above activities. Though a solo singer or “a socially distanced group such as a string quartet” is permitted in the background.
What are the lockdown wedding rules in Scotland?
With regards to the wedding ceremony itself, up to 50 guests can attend in a level 3 or level 2 area. Whilst up to 100 can attend in a level 1 area.
“These limits are provided the venue size and layout will permit the necessary physical distancing between households to be in place,” states the Scottish government website.
Different rules apply for the reception and guest numbers are dependent on the area where the union is taking place:
- Level zero – up to 200 guests
- Level one – up to 100 guests
- Level two and level three – up to 50 guests
- Level four – no wedding or religious ceremonies are permitted to take place.
These again are dependent on the capacity of the venue and should take into account social distancing measures. What’s more, the bride, bridegroom, children of all ages and hired wedding staff are all included in these numbers.
As in England and Wales, there “should be no singing or dancing” in Scottish wedding receptions, bar the first dance and a dance between the parents (if they are part of the same household). Speeches and low-level background music are also permitted.
Food and drink will be table service only, with venues meeting curfews on serving alcohol. In level 3 this should be 10pm. Level 2 is 10:30pm and the curfew in level 1 areas is 11pm. Those in level zero areas must follow closing times in line with licensing requirements.
What are the lockdown wedding rules in Northern Ireland?
There is no limit on the number of guests allowed a wedding ceremony or wedding reception in Northern Ireland. Instead, the guest list number is determined by a risk assessment of the wedding venue and what their capacity is.
“This applies regardless of whether the ceremony is taking place indoors, outdoors, or at a place of worship,” states the NI government website.
The only exception is a marriage at a private dwelling where one partner is terminally ill. In this case, a maximum of 10 people can attend, and this includes the bride, groom and officiant.
Social distancing should be followed and face masks worn by everyone except the couple, officiant and children aged under 12.
The Northern Irish government ask brides-to-be and their party to ‘refrain’ from singing and chanting as this will reduce the risk of spreading the virus. One dance is allowed between the bride and groom and live music is not permitted.
Recorded music can be played in the background, so long as the volume is at an “ambient level”.
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