Limit number of wedding guests to five amid coronavirus outbreak, says Church of England

The Church recommends that anyone else wishing to observe the ceremony should do so at a distance compliant with World Health Organisation guidelines

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Wedding ceremonies should be attended by no more than five guests, the Church of England has announced, in a bid to help stop the spread of coronavirus.

In newly released guidance, the Church said that while ceremonies can continue to take place, they should only be attended by the priest, the bride, the groom and two witnesses.

It recommends that anyone else wishing to observe the ceremony should do so from a distance that is compliant with the World Health Organisation’s social distancing guidelines.

The guidance recommends couples to stream their service via video where possible but acknowledges couples may wish to postpone their wedding altogether.

The advice recommends similar measures for baptisms, with numbers limited to the candidate, their parents (or guardians or carers), the godparents and the minister.

In a statement, the Bishop of Manchester, Dr David Walker, said: “Couples and parents, friends and families will have been planning for months, even years for their special moment, whether a wedding or a christening.

“Now it can go ahead – but with only the minimum required in attendance. You may need to cancel or postpone.

“Whatever decision is made, God’s love and blessing will still surround all those who would have been there that day.”

Some wedding planners have seen a surge in couples wanting to get married over fears of an imminent lock down.

Nina Beer, a wedding coordinator at Bridebook, said she is recommending that those looking to tie the knot in the coming months should consider postponing until October to ensure the service isn't cancelled.

“Everything is changing by the hour,” she told Wired. “We had six weddings in April and ten weddings in May.

“We’re talking to all of our couples, and we’re also taking on the administration for them if they want to, because it does have a huge impact on them mentally as well. It’s a really heartbreaking time for them.”

Meanwhile, on Thursday, the Queen’s granddaughter, Princess Beatrice said she was "reviewing" her wedding plans over the coronavirus pandemic.

She was due to marry Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi on May 29, with the Queen hosting their reception at Buckingham Palace.

The reception has been cancelled and they will consider government advice before deciding whether to hold a smaller ceremony.

Emergency legislation to slow the spread of the coronavirus outbreak is set to be published in parliament after Boris Johnson announced the closure of schools.

The Emergency Coronavirus Bill, tabled by the health secretary, Matt Hancock, will also include plans to hand police powers to arrest and isolate people to protect public health.

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