The government has announced that wedding receptions in England can now take place from Saturday.
On Thursday, the government announced that further lockdown restrictions would be eased this weekend, including allowing small wedding receptions of up to 30 people.
The new guidance will not apply in areas such as Greater Manchester and Preston, where local lockdown measures have been imposed.
Wedding ceremonies with up to 30 guests had been permitted to take place from 4 July, but they were banned again on 31 July after a surge in coronavirus cases were observed.
Large wedding receptions have not yet been allowed, with the government “strongly advising” that any celebrations which typically follow or accompany marriages do not take place.
Instead, it suggested that small gatherings could take place if following social distancing guidelines, such as in groups of up to two households indoors, or up to six people from different households outdoors.
The new updates come after the government released a detailed breakdown of how weddings will look in the coming weeks, with a series of rules that banned everything from loud singing to the traditional champagne toast.
The advice for England stated that no more than 30 people should attend a marriage or civil partnership where this can be safely accommodated with social distancing in a Covid-19 secure venue. This maximum number includes all those at the ceremony, including the couple, witnesses, officiants and guests. It also includes any staff who are not employed by the venue, which may include photographers, wedding planners or caterers.
Social distancing rules of at least two metres, or one metre with risk mitigation, need to be adhered to by all guests, and venues that frequently hold weddings are being asked to mark areas using floor tape or paint to help remind people.
Ceremonies should be kept “as short as reasonably possible” and limited to just the parts that are legally binding with religious communities being asked to adapt traditional religious aspects, especially where celebrations would otherwise have taken place over a number of hours, or even days.
Couples are also being asked to wash their hands before and after exchanging rings, and the rings should be handled by as few people as possible.
The guidelines add that speaking during the ceremony should not be done in a raised voice and that people should avoid singing, shouting or playing music at a volume that makes normal conversation difficult because of the potential for increased risk of transmission from aerosol and droplets. The playing of instruments that are blown into should be specifically avoided for this reason.
The government advice also suggests changing traditional wedding layouts to avoid face-to-face seating and has banned any food or drink from being consumed as a part of the event.
Following the announcement that weddings will be able to take place from 4 July in England, Sarah Mullally, Bishop of London, said there would be “real joy as we begin to come together again – if even at a physical distance”.
However, she acknowledged that many people will remain cautious at the news, adding: “We will not be returning to normality overnight.
“We’ve been planning carefully, making detailed advice available for parishes to enable them to prepare to hold services when it is safe and practical to do so.”
If you have had to postpone or cancel your wedding due to the pandemic, you can read more about how to navigate your options here.