Will My Wedding Be Affected By Coronavirus?
The lockdown restrictions in each of the UK’s constituent nations are being eased gradually by the respective governments. Each step is informed by the UK’s COVID Alert Level which, in turn, is determined by the R rate being below 1 and the number of infections decreasing or remaining manageable. The COVID Alert Level was downgraded to Level 3 towards the end of July. However, on September 21st, it reverted back to Level 4.
You can find the latest government guidance for both wedding ceremonies and receptions in England here.
Update (12/09/20): Wales has also introduced the “rule of 6” – this change will only affect indoor gatherings and excludes children aged 10 and under. Mark Drakeford, the Welsh First Minister, confirmed that this change does not affect weddings or funerals which will remain under current guidance: “Funerals and weddings are not affected by the 6 person rule. They are exempt from that, they will be able to continue as the have previously.”
Scotland has reduced the number of people who can gather to 6 from 14th September 2020. This number excludes children under 12 and does not affect Scotland’s current regulations on weddings.
Earlier in the week, the government has reduced the number of people who can gather in private homes in England to 6 people from 14th September. This is both for indoor and outdoor gatherings and can be enforced by police through a fining system. The fines will start at £100 and double for each further offense to a maximum of £3200. Weddings in COVID-secure venues can still go ahead with a maximum of 30 people in England. However, take into consideration any local lockdown restrictions that may affect where you live or where your venue is located.
What do recent government changes mean for weddings?
On August 13th, the government announced that wedding receptions in the form of a sit-down meal for up to 30 guests were permitted from the 15th of August. Weddings, both ceremony and reception in England, are limited to 30 people. This includes any on-the-day suppliers except external caterers and currently excludes the venue staff. These events must take place in a COVID-secure venue.
While the changes are a small step in the right direction, they do not accommodate for Asian, Black and Jewish weddings. In many of these cultures, the cultural or religious ceremony is the most important part and many couples are only considered to be married when they have gone through the rituals of this ceremony, not when they have signed the legal paper.
The current guidelines on weddings explicitly say ‘At present, legally-valid ceremonies or formations are strongly advised to go ahead only where they can be done in a COVID-19 secure environment.’ This, unfortunately, excludes the ceremonies that mean the most to people within these communities and can ultimately prevent couples from continuing with their lives and doing things such as living together and starting a family.
For more on this, watch our Facebook Live discussion with Luxury Wedding Planner, LaToya Patel of SW Events and the Asian Wedding Club:
Previous updates relevant to weddings:
- On August 13th, the government announced that COVID-Secure wedding receptions in the form of a sit-down meal for up to 30 guests are permitted in England from the 15th of August.
- On the 17th of July, it was announced that wedding receptions of up to 30 people could go-ahead from the 1st of August, with larger event spaces expected to open October, leading us to believe this could be the first sign of larger weddings returning (although this is not yet confirmed). On the 31st of July, these measures were postponed until at least the 15th of August.
- The Welsh Government have released their guidelines for having a wedding during Coronavirus. This update was released on the 7th of July 2020. It states that only wedding ceremonies will be able to go ahead in Wales with number limitations being restricted to the venue’s capacity and their ability to follow social distancing guidelines. Any after wedding celebrations will need to adhere to the current rules on gatherings which are limited to two households who are socially distanced. However, it can be a slightly larger group than in England thanks to the new extended households rule which has been implemented on July the 6th 2020.
- On the 23rd of June, Boris Johnson announced to the House of Commons that England will be allowed to host weddings of no more than 30 people from the 4th of July. The UK government released guidance on small weddings on the 29th of June 2020 stating that approved premises in England will be allowed to hold wedding ceremonies. So, weddings in England are not restricted to places of worship or register offices. No big celebrations are allowed to take place after and no food should be consumed unless it is part of the ceremony.
- On the 23rd of June 2020, Boris Johnson announced to the House of Commons a confirmation of what had been rumoured. Lockdown measures were reduced further on the 4th of July 2020. This included the reopening of hospitality venues such as restaurants, bars and pubs. The social distancing rules were also changed to accommodate this. Reducing the 2-metre distancing rule to 1 metre where 2 metres isn’t viable. Weddings and civil partnership ceremonies in England are allowed to take place with a maximum of 30 people attending. This refers to the ceremony only and any celebration or reception should still adhere to the guidelines of social distancing (i.e. no more than 2 households meeting indoors or outdoors or a maximum of 6 people from multiple households).
- On the 8th of June, Northern Irish couples were given the green light to have a small, outdoor wedding of up to 10.
- So far, over 100,000 weddings have already been postponed, most to 2021. Those with weddings in July and beyond will now be relying on the COVID Alert Level (which was reduced from 4 to 3 on the 19th of June) to continue decreasing. When weddings do go ahead, they are very likely to be socially distanced events, where guests numbers will be limited. So far Northern Ireland are allowing 10 people to attend a wedding, Wales have said ‘small ceremonies’ and England have said from the 4th of July, 30 people can attend a wedding. Scotland is intending to allow small weddings (outdoor only) from the 29th of June.
Are you planning a wedding for 2020? Read on for information on how coronavirus might affect your wedding and the measures you should be taking. Plus, for regular, Live updates follow us on Facebook and Instagram.
‘A roadmap to reopening society’: Recent government announcements and weddings
The country is slowly beginning to reopen from lockdown, with pubs, restaurants and small weddings now able to go ahead.
It is important to note that this is the government’s plan and everything is dependent on the R rate and the UK’s COVID Alert Level. Weddings need to be socially distanced events and guest numbers will be limited in some way until we reach COVID Alert Level 1.
Weddings in 2021:
If you are looking for advice regarding your 2021 wedding, please watch this video. Should you be worried about the impact on your wedding? We explore the implications of so many weddings being postponed to next year and how to ensure that your own plans can progress as safely and smoothly as possible.
Should I cancel my wedding due to the Coronavirus outbreak?
If your wedding is in the summer or early autumn, you are probably already facing the reality that it will not be the day you have dreamed of. For those with August or September wedding dates, you may be able to go ahead with a small ceremony and a small celebration that adheres to government rules on social distancing. The big party can always happen at another time in the year. This approach is known as a sequel wedding.
If you do not like the sound of that, you should consider postponing. Speak directly with your venue and suppliers, as it is important to understand what the options are and take your time to decide what is right for you. They’ll be one of the first to know the regulations when they are announced and will be able to discuss their options and limitations with you.
Social distancing measures continue to have a major impact on what 2020 weddings look like. Read our advice to couples with weddings in summer 2020 to help make that difficult decision.
Can I get wedding insurance to cover Coronavirus?
At present, most of the major wedding insurance suppliers are not selling new policies. The few that are doing so are generally not covering Coronavirus. Instead, they are focusing on weddings further down the line when – fingers crossed – the pandemic will be behind us. Due to the limited number of options, now might not be the best time to shop for insurance for your wedding. However, if you would prefer to have that security then it is encouraging that sellers are starting to offer new policies once again.
If you have wedding insurance you may be covered for cancellation if you or your close family are ill or if the venue is closed down by the local authority. We’d recommend reading the small print of your insurance. All insurers should have coronavirus updates and FAQs so you should know exactly what you are covered for, however, there is a lot of debate about whether you’ll be able to claim, and if you are able to, what you’ll be covered for.
“If you are an existing customer, we can assure you that your policy remains in place and unchanged.” – John Lewis Wedding Insurance
The fact that existing policies remain “in place and unchanged” may not be as reassuring as it appears. Insurance can only cover against “specific perils”. Many policies stipulate that this includes “notifiable diseases”. As COVID-19 is a relatively new disease and was first registered as notifiable on 5th March 2020, a lot of insurers will not be obliged to settle claims relating to COVID-19. In essence, as Coronavirus didn’t exist, insurance companies couldn’t insure you against it.
Postponing or cancelling your wedding
Check your contracts carefully to see how you stand legally. If you have insurance, check exactly what you are covered for. Most policies are unlikely to cover Coronavirus.
With most wedding bookings, you pay a non-refundable deposit on booking, then pay the balance close to the wedding date. If the wedding doesn’t go ahead, as planned and on the date agreed, and it is you cancelling, you may still be obliged to pay the balance. Most venues and suppliers are waiving this clause, especially if they haven’t incurred direct costs at the point you cancel. If the venue or supplier cancels, the contract almost certainly entitles you to a refund of anything you have paid. In both cases, our very strong recommendation is to postpone, not cancel.
Just remember, communication is key. If you’re unsure, speak directly to your supplier or venue.
Your venue and suppliers will almost certainly incur financial losses if you postpone. They are not obliged to accommodate a change to your plans so may ask you to wait until nearer to your wedding date if there is a chance it can go ahead.
Although we hope those listed on Guides for Brides will do what they can to accommodate a postponed wedding, if it is you choosing to postpone then they may ask you to choose a less popular date, to pay a second booking fee to secure the date or pay a small supplement for a peak date. Speak to your venue and caterers first as that is likely to be the biggest potential expense. If they are happy for you to postpone, speak to your other suppliers.
Confirm your new date as soon as you can. Venues are already fairly booked up for the autumn and throughout 2021. 2020 weddings being postponed will mean a shortage of available dates. Use our late availability pages to check dates with a range of venues and suppliers.
Some of your suppliers may not be available for your new date in which case you may need to accept that you’ll lose your deposit.
How can I prevent the spread of Coronavirus at my wedding?
If you are going ahead with your wedding whilst Coronavirus is still a concern, your ceremony and reception will need to be COVID-Secure. The responsibility for ensuring this is the case lies largely with your venue, however there are things you can do to minimise the risk of transmission at your wedding. The most important thing is to make sure that you take all possible steps to prevent it. If you do everything that you can to minimise the risk, you will find it easier to relax and enjoy your big day. These are some of the best things you can do to keep your wedding safe.
Ensure everyone washes their hands
A simple one, to begin with, make sure that you and your wedding party wash hands. The venue is required to ensure that there are adequate hand wash facilities available to you and your guests. Encourage everyone to wash hands before eating; you may need to adjust your reception timings to allow time for this.
Check on hygiene standards
Venues will be required to follow rigorous preparations before they can open for weddings. These measures are taking to help combat the spread, and include increased presence of hand sanitisers, more thorough cleaning measures and keeping in line with the latest directives from public health organisations. If you’re concerned about your venue’s hygiene standards, don’t be afraid to ask them what their processes are. Ask how they’re planning to keep up with the latest safety measures and whether they’re intending to perform a deep clean.
Cut out high-risk guests
The chances are, with a maximum limit of 30 guests, that you’ll have to narrow down your guest list anyway. Anyone who is planning on travelling from overseas, or those with any cold or flu-like symptoms should be among those who stay at home and do not attend. Ask your videographer if they can set up a live video link so these guests can still be part of the day from a distance.
Maintain social distancing
A requirement of any weddings which go ahead at present is that social distancing between different households or ‘bubbles’ is maintained throughout. Of course, at a wedding, it’s always nice to have hugs, kisses, and handshakes, but once again the best policy to adopt is the one which most reduces the risk.
With sensible precautions, your wedding guests should be safe from COVID-19.
How has Coronavirus affected the supply of wedding dresses?
For many brides, trying to find your dream wedding dress can take a lot of time and effort. Having found, chosen and ordered your perfect gown it would be devastating to find you can’t wear it due to COVID-19. China is one of the largest wedding dress producers in the world. Northern Italy produces a lot of UK wedding dresses too; the high number of Chinese workers in the Northern Italy clothing factories are thought to have brought COVID-19 to Europe. The pandemic has led to production being stalled; gowns not being delivered on time and a subsequent shortage of wedding dresses in the UK.
Back in February 2020, Labour MP Chris Bryant told the House of Commons that, due to many wedding dresses being designed here but produced in China, UK-based wedding dress designers are struggling. A majority of Chinese factories are out of operation while they await inspection and disinfection. The presence of coronavirus is affecting the entire wedding dress supply chain; from fabric mills to transport by road and air. All these factors inevitably impact wedding dress production and supply.
Cancellation of London Bridal Fashion Week and The White Gallery – the main two trade shows for bridal retailers – will make it hard for bridal boutiques to choose their new ranges for 2021 weddings. However, many designers are doing online shows and keeping their stockists up to date with lead times.
Is my wedding dress affected by COVID-19?
Wedding dress suppliers are using alternative methods in an attempt to combat the shortages. Half-finished dresses are being shipped to the UK so they can be completed at local factories. Meanwhile, the British Bridal Suppliers Association (BBSA) is advising brands to alter their standard delivery times to avoid disappointing customers.
Our recommendations to ensure your wedding dress arrives in time
We would advise brides to plan even further ahead than you would normally. Ask where your wedding dress will be coming from and prepare for a long wait if it is coming from China or Italy. Consider only looking at designers who design and make their dresses in the UK. Bridal stores only reopened in England on the 15th of June. Many are offering a waitlist for appointments due to their backlog from early March when the closure was imminent. So, it will be worth your time getting onto one and ordering your dress as soon as you are able to. Also, be prepared that bridal boutique appointments will be different under coronavirus restrictions.
If you’ve already ordered your dress, get in touch with your boutique or designer. Many are still taking calls and answering emails. They can advise you on whether you should expect a delay and whether the current situation will affect your order. If your dress has already arrived at the boutique, collect it as soon as you are able so you are in full control.
How has Coronavirus affected Destination Weddings and Honeymoons?
Depending on the country, your destination wedding or honeymoon plans will almost certainly be in jeopardy due to coronavirus.
It all depends on where you are going and where you have been. Restrictions are becoming more widespread and major airports are implementing preventive measures.
The hotel industry has witnessed a massive dip following the COVID-19 outbreak. This is due to cancellations from immediate travellers and future bookings being stalled. Even hotel giants like Hilton, Hyatt, and Marriott have seen their shares affected by travel worries in Asia and Europe.
Will our honeymoon be affected by Coronavirus?
If you are both healthy and are happy to take the risk that you may not be able to get back home if flights are cancelled or borders close, there is no reason not to go on a honeymoon as planned. Some countries are currently at considerably lower risk than the UK.
Consider whether you are happy with the health care provisions in the country you are visiting. In the event that either of you become infected, what will your travel insurance cover cost-wise?
If you don’t already have travel insurance you may not be able to get cover for illness or cancellation.
Will our destination wedding be affected by Coronavirus?
It will almost certainly be affected. Even if you are happy to travel, your family and friends are unlikely to. If you have suppliers coming out of the UK they may be very unwilling to travel.
You will need to make the decision on whether to go ahead with the wedding or cancel and start planning again. Assuming you have insurance, it is best to wait to see if the government or your airline forces you to cancel. Your insurance won’t cover you if you don’t go ahead with the wedding simply because your guests choose not to attend.
The good news is, many destination wedding celebrants are partnering with local celebrants in a small movement which they hope will improve the situation for couples. If your family cannot attend, some are offering live streams of the ceremony. If you cannot make your destination wedding at all, many celebrants are working with their UK partners. Your chosen celebrant, having written and crafted the ceremony, will ensure that a trusted colleague in the UK can officiate it locally. Ask you celebrant if this is at all an option for you.
Our recommendations for overseas weddings and honeymoons during the coronavirus outbreak.
Check the International Air Transport Association (IATA) website for an updated list of countries where restrictions are in place. It is changing all the time so be ready to change your plans accordingly. For the most popular wedding destinations, discover our guide to destinations post-lockdown for the latest information.
Your travel insurance will only cover you for cancellation if you are forced to cancel, not if you simply choose to.
While there is such uncertainty on which borders will be closed, and with airlines in financial difficulty, consider what will happen if you are prevented from returning from your overseas wedding or honeymoon. You may think you want your honeymoon to last forever, but in reality, you’ll want to be able to come home as planned.
Need a contingency plan?Find a late availability venue
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