Will My Wedding Be Affected By Coronavirus?
The coronavirus restrictions in each of the UK’s nations are being stepped up following an increase in cases. Each step is informed by the UK’s COVID Alert Level which, in turn, is determined by the R number. If the R number is below 1; it means the number of infections is decreasing or remaining manageable. The UK Covid R number currently sits at around 1.
You can find the latest government guidance for both wedding ceremonies and receptions in England here.
Latest Update – 17th May: Unlocking measures have gone ahead as planned across most of the UK. In England, Step 3 of the unlocking process is now in place. Indoor wedding ceremonies and receptions of up to 30 people are permitted at covid-safe wedding venues and outdoor receptions in private gardens are also permitted for 30 people.
Previous updates relevant to weddings:
- 26th April: Scotland is now in Level 3, as the easing of restrictions continues. This means weddings of up to 50 people can now take place, including post-wedding celebrations or receptions.
- 23rd April: Wedding Receptions may be able to restart as indoor hospitality reopens in Northern Ireland. The date for this change has provisionally been given as 24th May. Businesses in Northern Ireland are lobbying hard for this to be brought forward.
- 23rd April: From the 17th May, the Welsh government is anticipating to increase the limits on organised activities, including weddings. The limit is set to increase from 30 outdoors and 50 outdoors. Wedding receptions will also be able to take place indoors in regulated premises for up to 30 people from this point.
- 22nd April: Scotland’s wedding reception guidance has been updated ahead of the next step of unlocking on the 26th of April. The updates give more details about how wedding receptions will work with increased numbers.
- 12th April: The ceremonies guidance for England has been updated to state wedding receptions in private gardens for up to 30 people can take place from Step 3 (provisionally 17th May). We are still awaiting the full reception guidance to be updated for Steps 3 and 4. Read our advice for planning your covid-safe wedding in a private garden.
- 9th April 2021: Couples in Wales will now be able to have an outdoor reception for up to 30 people from Monday 26th April. Read our article, Weddings After Lockdown in 2021, for more information and the official government guidance links for each UK nation.
Should I cancel my wedding due to the Coronavirus outbreak?
If your wedding is in the first half of 2021, you are likely facing the reality that it will not be the day you have dreamed of. We urge you to consider all the options available to you rather than cancelling your wedding. With the different UK nations moving in and out of lockdowns, many couples are opting for a micro wedding. This option ensures the marriage legalities are completed this year as planned and allows the couple to have a small celebration within restrictions. Many are also choosing to move their larger celebrations until they are safe to go ahead; this way they can properly celebrate their marriage with their wider friends and family. 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 if there are any changes to the regulations and will be able to discuss their options and limitations with you.
Should I get married sooner due to Coronavirus?
If you’ve always secretly dreamed of an intimate wedding then now is the perfect time to get married. Many venues are offering COVID-wedding packages especially for those who want an intimate affair. The stories we’ve heard about these COVID weddings have been just as beautiful as those in normal times. The Hopeful Bride’s story is a perfect example of this.
If you are wanting to get married sooner, the one thing to consider is that in order for the marriage or civil partnership to be legally binding, you will need to give notice of marriage at least 29 days prior to the ceremony. Speak to your registrar about your options.
Plus, there is nothing stopping you from discussing your options for a sequel wedding with your venue, allowing you to have the intimate wedding you’ve always dreamed of sooner and the major party with your wider friends and family later. Speak to your venue about organising a sequel wedding.
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 vaccine rollout is successful and the pandemic is behind us. Due to the limited number of options, now might not be the best time to shop for insurance for your wedding.
If you already 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 COVID-19 didn’t exist, insurance companies couldn’t insure you against it.
Postponing or cancelling your wedding
When choosing whether to postpone or cancel your wedding, check your contracts carefully to see how you stand legally. 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 to see 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 2021 and lots of couples are rushing to secure 2022 dates. 2020 weddings being mostly 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?
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. 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
Make sure that you and your wedding party wash your 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 taken 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.
Cut out high-risk guests
The chances are 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 current requirement 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 that 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 and so is Northern Italy. With these nations grinding to a halt early in 2020, there has been a knock-on effect on production.
The pandemic has led to gowns not being delivered on time and a subsequent shortage of wedding dresses in the UK. 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.
The 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 potentially longer lead time. Consider only looking at designers who design and make their dresses in the UK. It would be best to order your dress as soon as you are able to. Also, be prepared that bridal boutique appointments will be different under coronavirus restrictions. Where boutiques are required to close, many bridal suppliers are now moving to virtual appointments.
If you’ve already ordered your dress, get in touch with your boutique or designer. 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 still 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.
However, it is important to remember that lots of countries now have quarantine regulations in place which may allow you to still have your destination wedding or honeymoon. Just remember that you will need to abide by the quarantine rules and this may mean planning for extra time in isolation at your destination, extra funds for private tests or quarantine hotels, and potential isolation requirements upon your return home.
Will our honeymoon be affected by Coronavirus?
If you are both healthy and are happy to take the risk that you may have to quarantine on your return, there is no reason not to go on a honeymoon as planned (as long as travel restrictions allow). 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. If you are travelling in Europe, remember to bring your EHIC / GHIC card. In the event that either of you become infected, also ensure what your travel insurance covers 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 may not be able to or feel comfortable doing so. 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, postpone 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 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 your 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.
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