Couples trying to plan a wedding since last March have faced numerous frustrations, including multiple postponements, refund nightmares, lack of insurance payouts, and ongoing uncertainty about the end of coronavirus restrictions.
On Monday, Boris Johnson announced that the much-speculated delay to 21 June unlocking would happen, with the restrictions remaining in place until 19 July in four weeks time.
However, Mr Johnson said - in spite of this - the cap on wedding guest numbers will be lifted from next Monday. This will allow planned weddings to go ahead with more than 30 guests.
What are the current rules until 21 June?
From 17 May, ceremonies in England and Wales could be held in Covid-secure venues and those taking place outdoors can also have up to 30 guests, including in private gardens.
People can also hold receptions and celebrations in an indoor venue – this does not include private homes – or outdoors, including in private gardens.
Up to 30 guests are allowed for receptions and celebrations. However, the government currently advises against dancing due to an increased risk of transmission with the exception of the married couple’s first dance.
What happens now from 21 June?
The government had always set 21 June as the date when it aimed to remove all social restrictions, which would include all current limits on weddings, civil partnership ceremonies and receptions. Effectively taking us back to pre-pandemic events.
However, a surge in infections due to the Delta variant of Covid-19 in recent weeks now means this cannot happen until mid-July.
But for weddings there will be a change in the rules. The cap on the number of permitted wedding guests in England will be lifted meaning that for those organising weddings or civil partnerships, they will not be limited to 30 people.
While the updated rules do allow a greater number of guests, they still require wedding venues to ensure social distancing is adhered to. Individual venues will have to decide on how they can function as a Covid-secure location.
Dancing indoors will reportedly remain banned. Although currently that rule does have an exception for the bride and groom to do their first dance.
Speeches and cutting of the wedding cake are reportedly also allowed - although recommended to be done in a well-ventilated area.
There is no numerical limit on outdoor wedding celebrations but indoors social distancing rules will continue, including people wearing masks when moving around and not sitting down at a table - as is currently required in pubs and restaurants.
Was this change expected?
Health minister Edward Argar suggested on Monday morning that England’s restrictions on weddings were set to be eased, as he said couples waiting to wed are “very much” in the mind of Boris Johnson.
“There will be a lot of couples who planned, hoped, to do it, put a line through it, done it again and rescheduled again,” he told Sky News. “Not only does that cost money, but emotionally that is incredibly difficult for couples who want to have their special day and want to get married.
“Again, I’m not going to pre-empt what the Prime Minister will say later, but I know that weddings and people in that particular situation will be very much in his mind at the moment, it’s one of the things he has been looking at.”
Earlier reports had also suggested this would be the outcome. A report inThe Times said that even if other lockdown restrictions remain in place, Mr Johnson - who got married on the Bank Holiday weekend to his partner Carrie Symonds - would make changes to weddings.
A government source said that the wedding sector faced a difficult time during lockdown, adding: “If you’ve got stadiums full of people, why can’t weddings go ahead with more than 30 people?”
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