Do the National Lockdowns Affect Plans for Weddings in 2021?
As of the 5th of January 2021, each nation of the UK has a national lockdown in place. But will the lockdowns have an impact on wedding plans for 2021?
In short, it’s probably not going to change the expected timeline for weddings reopening which is expected to start by early April with a fuller reopening by the summer.
You can read why, below, or watch the video.
We always expected a lockdown or tighter restrictions in January 2021
At the end of September 2020, Boris Johnson announced that weddings will be reduced to 15 people and tougher restrictions would be in place for around 6 months. When the relaxation of restrictions came in place for Christmas, we also expected much tougher rules to be enforced in the early part of the year as a consequence of people mixing.
With this in mind, couples, venues and suppliers have always expected significant wedding restrictions up until late March 2021.
With so few weddings taking place in January – March in general, for the vast majority, your plans won’t be affected as much as you think. Nor will the lockdown prevent you from planning, it just means more of your initial research and contact will need to be done online. Any wedding fairs you attend will need to be virtual.
The vaccine is a game changer!
During his televised announcement of England’s lockdown on the 4th of January 2021, Boris Johnson described how the aim was to have enough people vaccinated by mid-February to begin a gradual reopening by the beginning to middle of March. This expectation puts us well within the timeline already expressed back in September.
Both the Prime Minister and the Scottish First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, are saying that they aim to have all those over the age of 50 with underlying health conditions be vaccinated by early May 2021 at the latest. The vast majority of people of higher risk should have a good level of immunity by June 2021 which explains his optimism about summer weddings and perhaps even confirms his definition of “summer” as being the start of June.
Consistent positive messages
In early December, when answering a question about weddings during People’s Prime Minister’s Questions, Boris Johnson conveyed the positive message that there will be more normality by Easter and a “different world” for weddings and events by summer. He expressed his positivity by stating that he expects couples will be “getting hitched in the normal way” by summer. More recently, he named the 5th of April 2021 as being a turning point towards more normality.
Not only is the Prime Minister confident, but his colleagues and opposition are too. Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, praised the vaccine and expressed a similar positivity about it’s impact by Easter despite the new variant back in late December. Nicola Sturgeon, Keir Starmer and Mark Drakeford have also expressed their positive outlook and confidence.
What this lockdown means to your wedding
If your wedding is in the next few weeks
Well done for being brave enough to hold on to your plans, no matter what. We’ve all been aware of disruption being likely in these first months of 2021 but that doesn’t make it any easier for you when it is your day that has been significantly impacted or even cancelled.
In England, the only weddings that can take place are in exceptional circumstances. Even if, at this stage, you’d be happy with there just being 6 of you there, unless you genuinely meet the exceptional circumstances that fulfil the “deathbed” criteria your wedding can’t go ahead right now.
In Scotland, wedding ceremonies and civil partnership registrations can take place with a maximum capacity of 5 people. Receptions cannot take place.
In Northern Ireland, marriages and civil partnerships ceremonies are limited to 25 people. A risk assessment for over 15 people is required. Receptions or post ceremony gatherings are not permitted.
Speak to your venue and suppliers about postponing your reception in order to minimise any financial losses. They can charge for costs incurred which can be quite significant close to the wedding date. If you can handle some uncertainty and are able to transfer to a late March date it may be really helpful to them.
If your wedding is in April or May
The Prime Minister has given numerous assurances but it is still too early to know what restrictions may be in place. Most venues are helping couples make their final decision about 8 weeks before the wedding date so there is still plenty of time.
Your venue naturally wants you to have the day you’d hoped for even if that means delaying until later in the summer. However, if there is a chance that you can go ahead as planned on the date planned, that is the ideal for all involved.
Make sure you Give Notice with the registrars in plenty of time; more than 28 days from the wedding date.
With non-essential retail closed, if you haven’t already collected your dress, you may want to arrange delivery. If you still need a final fitting, make the appointment now for when they re-open.
If your wedding is June onwards
Relax! In addition to the reassurances from the Prime Minister, Nicola Sturgeon has added confidence to the vaccine reaching all those with underlying health conditions aged over 50 by May at the latest.
Your wedding date is likely to be one of the prime dates for 2021.
If you are just starting to plan
It’s a great time to start finding and shortlisting wedding venues and other suppliers. Send enquiries through the website so the venue receives it into their inbox and it is stored online for them too, to ensure you are first in line.
You can’t currently visit wedding venues for show rounds. Sadly the exemption for selling houses is specifically for that purpose and not for choosing a wedding venue! However, many offer video show rounds and Zoom consultations so you can get a feel for the venue now from the comfort of your sofa and book a show round now for when they reopen.
Many venues are allowing you to pay a fully refundable deposit to hold a date until viewings are possible again.
Wedding Fairs aren’t able to go ahead, however we’ll have our popular Wedding Fair Live on Facebook on Thursday 21st and 28th January. Follow now to get a reminder when we go live.
Civil offices are allowed to remain open in this lockdown so you can still Give Notice with the registrars. This needs to be done between 29 days and up to 12 months before the wedding. Most Registrars will also be able to take bookings for officiating at your wedding if it is a Civil Ceremony or Civil Partnership in an Approved Venue, to give you peace of mind even if it is more than 12 months away. Be aware that Registrars register births, marriages and deaths and their other work understandably must take priority. As such, some offices may be unable to help you with non-urgent marriage enquiries if they are very busy.
We’re right beside you
You’ve come this far already and the wait has meant that most are more keen than ever to marry the one they love, whatever the circumstances!
We continue to work closely with the UK Weddings Taskforce to find practical solutions to weddings reopening on a larger scale from April onwards.
We’ll be right beside you throughout your planning.
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