What Are The Rules On Weddings In The UK?
The latest guidelines for weddings and gatherings during the Coronavirus pandemic, from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. We’ll update this feature as and when things change, as the measures in place are subject to periodic review.
Latest Update: 4th January 2021: The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has announced another lockdown for England due to the “frustrating and alarming” speed of spread for the new variant of Covid-19. The lockdown will be imposed from midnight tonight and become law from Wednesday. It is unknown as to how long the lockdown will be in place for at this tough level, however, the PM expressed an aim for a gradual lifting of the restrictions from mid-February. The message that you must stay at home has been renewed and those in the extremely vulnerable category are being asked to shield again.
View the rules relating to weddings in:
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is in charge of England’s COVID Policy
Latest: England has returned to a lockdown from midnight on the 5th January 2020.
Due to lockdown in England, weddings are currently only allowed to take place in exceptional circumstances (“deathbed weddings”). Under these rules, a maximum of 6 people may attend the ceremony and no reception will be allowed to follow.
Under the previous tiered system:
Weddings could take place with up to 15 people in attendance. In tiers 1 and 2, wedding ceremonies and receptions are permitted with a maximum of 15 people in attendance. In tier 3, only ceremonies are permitted with a maximum of 15 people. Receptions are not allowed to take place. In tier 4, only ‘deathbed weddings’ are allowed to take place and a maximum of 6 may attend. Read our summary of the 4 tier system.
You may not gather under lockdown unless you are in the same household or support bubble. A maximum of 2 people from different households may meet outside in a public place.
Under the tiered system: At a minimum, the Rule of 6 applied. Where you can gather, who you can gather with and how many of you can gather wll depend on where you are based in England. Our article about England’s 4 tier system outlines the gathering restrictions for specific areas of the country.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is in charge of Scotland’s COVID Policy
Latest: Scotland has re-entered a lockdown for at least the month of January starting from midnight on the 5th January 2020.
Weddings can go ahead with a maximum of 5 people in attendance (6 where an interpreter is required). The below information is relevant to the tier system.
Under the tier system: Level 0 allows weddings of up to 50 (both ceremony and reception). In Levels 2, 3 and 4, weddings of up to 20 are permitted, again both ceremony and reception. In Level 4, the highest tier, no more than 15 people can attend the ceremony, but receptions will not be allowed. Read our more detailed guide to how the tier system might affect your wedding here.
Lockdown in Scotland means it is a legal requirement to stay at home unless there is a reasonable excuse for leaving. Everyone must now work from home where they can. A maximum of two people from up to two households will be able to meet outdoors. The below information is relevant to the tier system.
Under the tier system: The Scottish government has published a detailed breakdown of the gathering rules for each tier.
First Minister Mark Drakeford is in charge of Wales’ COVID Policy
Latest: Wales is currently at Alert Level 4. Wedding ceremonies will still be able to go ahead, but receptions will not be allowed to take place.
Of course, if you have symptoms or are supposed to be self-isolating, you cannot attend weddings. Those allowed to attend include:
- Those who are organising the event or are a participant in the ceremony.
- Those who have been invited to the event
- Anyone who is a carer for someone allowed to attend
- Those attending in order to raise a lawful impediment to the marriage or civil partnership. (This ensures the ceremony is compliant with relevant law)
“The overarching advice, therefore, is that people must only attend an event if invited and that the reasonable excuse for gatherings that has been established to allow this, extends to attendance of the solemnisation of the marriage or formation of the civil partnership and for a wedding reception of up to 15 people.” – Welsh Government Guidance
During Alert Level 4 in Wales, you cannot create an extended household, however single adults or single parents may join with one other household to form an exclusive support bubble. You can only meet the people you live with or your support bubble indoors, outdoors or in private gardens.
Weddings and related gatherings in NORTHERN IRELAND
First Minister Arlene Foster is in charge of Northern Ireland’s COVID Policy (image credit: Evening Standard)
The Northern Ireland government have restricted weddings based on the rise in COVID cases. Wedding ceremonies and civil partnerships would be limited to 25 people with no receptions or post-wedding celebrations permitted at this time.
2 households may form a bubble of up to 10 people including children. No more than 6 people from 2 households (outside of the bubble) may meet.
No more than 15 people may gather outside of the listed exceptions the Northern Irish Executive have given.
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