The Prime Minister is expected to announce the roadmap for the lockdown on Monday, February 22nd, including plans to reopen schools. We anticipate that he will also announce new rules for weddings in 2021 – although it is not yet clear when these measures will take place.
Until then, we are still in a third national lockdown where we have been advised to stay home except for work, exercise and exceptional circumstances.
This will of course have an impact on wedding ceremonies that will take place in the first few months of this year. According to the latest government guidelines, weddings and civil partnership ceremonies may only take place in exceptional cases – a so-called “death bed wedding” (see below). The number of guests who can also participate is limited.
All events that take place must be Covid-safe and guests must adhere to social distancing guidelines at all times. Here’s what you need to know.
What does the new lock mean for weddings?
Under the third national lockdown, weddings can only take place in exceptional circumstances – when one of those getting married is seriously ill and is unlikely to be recovering or is about to undergo debilitating or life-changing surgery or treatment.
At these weddings, a maximum of six guests can attend the ceremony – that adds to the people who work there. According to previous regulations, only 15 participants could attend, including the photographer, the officer and others involved in the ceremony.
If you get married, weddings and civil partnerships can only take place in safe places in Covid-19 or outside public areas. The social distancing between the guests should be maintained.
Should you postpone your wedding?
It’s a constantly evolving situation. “We are very reactive,” says wedding planner Matthew Oliver. He says three or four of his couples canceled their weddings in 2021, but the majority are simply postponing their dates. For example, one of his couples had their July 2020 wedding postponed to July 2021 and then postponed it again to 2022, but now, thanks to news from the vaccine, it is postponed again to fall 2021.
Currently, Oliver advises his clients to respect their dates at summer weddings, but they will be monitoring the situation, particularly statistics on the R-rate and research into whether the vaccine is working on the mutant strain of the coronavirus. “It’s difficult to make a call,” he says. “However, in a week or two we might be better informed to make a decision.”
Sam Cutmore-Scott, CEO of Bijou Weddings, is more optimistic. “I assume that next spring events like weddings will start again – seriously,” he says. He expects faster testing, advances in vaccination, improved weather conditions, and the fact that we’re getting out of lockdown means we could have more normal wedding celebrations by March.
Even if it doesn’t and the restrictions remain in place, Cutmore-Scott says an intimate celebration will still be worth it. “If you’ve booked your wedding for 2021, I’d recommend sticking with it,” he says. He admits that “there might be some tradeoffs that need to be made,” but also says that “some of the weddings we’ve hosted this year have been the most intimate, creative, and touching we’ve ever been involved in” .
However, if you had a big wedding planned earlier this year, you will likely need to postpone or reduce your number. “It all comes down to the couple and the size of the wedding they’re ready for,” said Oliver. “If you are planning a small wedding, you will likely be fine. However, if it was a big wedding – and if 40+ would be considered a big wedding at this point – it’s definitely worth postponing, or at least having a plan to postpone them or increase their number reduce. “
If you are getting married in the second half of this year, Oliver recommends that you stick to it, but still speak to your suppliers and check their availability for later dates so that you can create a “backup plan”.
How much notice should you give if you move?
If you make the decision to postpone your wedding, let your supplier and venue know as early as possible. “You can probably leave it a month or two before their wedding at the latest,” says Oliver.
“If your wedding is in April of this year and you think, ‘Actually, I think it’s pretty clear that I’m not going to have 150 people at my wedding in London,’ I’d say let’s look at this now instead to wait until mid-February or March, ”he says.
However, if you have no choice but to postpone your wedding due to sudden government restrictions, it can lead to greater indulgence. “If the rules change and you have no choice but to postpone your wedding, it would most likely happen days to weeks before the wedding.” Ideally, however, you can let your supplier know a week in advance as this is when the florists and caterers start organizing the flowers and food. According to Oliver, it’s a good idea to ask them to postpone this for as long as possible.
Competition for new wedding dates
After you’ve decided to change your wedding date, according to Oliver, the “biggest challenge” is “finding a new date that works for all of your existing suppliers”.
With this in mind, you should try to be as flexible as possible – especially since there will be a lot of competition for dates in 2021.
“Most wedding venues already have very busy diaries for 2021 – a combination of weddings that have been postponed from 2020 and a busy 2021 on its own, with many relationships fortunately accelerating into 2020,” says Cutmore-Scott. “This demand will already run until 2022 and I expect it to expand even further.
“Of course, wedding venues cannot increase their availability of dates when demand increases, so an increase in demand can lead to longer waiting lists.”
Wedding planner Katrina Otter tells me that a couple wanted to move their wedding, which was due to take place in September 2020, to any Saturday between the beginning of April and the end of October 2021. There was only one appointment that all suppliers could attend.
This becomes “a problem,” says Oliver. “I know a number of suppliers give priority to people who have a certain priority over deadlines, but again we won’t turn down new work – because we have to make up the money we lost last year. ”
The lack of data available is partly due to a lack of venues. “We only have a limited number of venues here in the UK,” says Oliver. Many of these venues have booked more weddings than normal in a week and are now reaching “capacity.”
So Oliver advises that you consider a weekday wedding, as these dates are more readily available.
Alternatively, you can probably secure yourself a weekend slot provided you are flexible. “Instead of being“ I want to get married on a public holiday in May ”but“ I’m happy to have our wedding somewhere between June and September ”or even a wider range,” he says, “it’s just about so much more flexibility to give. ”
Will there be international weddings in 2021?
Oliver doesn’t think international weddings will be allowed for some time as international travel is severely restricted in the lockdown.
He usually accepts between 15 and 20 weddings a year, but says he’ll have double that this year due to the postponed weddings from last year.
He’s still getting new bookings because “people are looking beyond this whole situation,” he says.
What could the weddings look like when the restrictions are lifted?
According to Oliver, weddings “absolutely” have to adapt in the future.
“I think we need to look at bigger venues,” he says. “For example, if you’re working with a couple who have 150 guests instead of looking for venues with exactly 150 people, we need to look for larger venues.”
This would allow guests to distance themselves socially – which, in his opinion, will remain our mentality even after the lockdown ends. “After this whole situation is over, people will still have that in their way of life – from ‘I don’t want to be around you,” “he says, adding that venues and suppliers could be” more protective “. through their contact with guests.
Other wedding locations have also found creative solutions. Bijou Wedding Venues, which specializes in country house weddings, uses airport-grade temperature cameras to test all staff and guest temperatures upon arrival, and broadcasts the ceremony live to different areas of the venue so the mandatory witnesses can be present at the ceremony and the other guests can see it from a safe distance.
The wedding venue company also plans to replace buffet lines with table service, install tents and gazebos to maximize outdoor time, and hold outdoor ceremonies where possible.