A lot of couples have pushed their 2020 weddings back to 2021, expecting the UK to resemble some form of normality by now. Unfortunately, as we have entered 2021, we have also entered another national lockdown, which means that restrictions are very much in place. While Boris Johnson has stated (perhaps optimistically) that we will be out of lockdown by mid-February, there are likely to be many restrictions in place, and a return to a tiered system seems inevitable. I should stress, however, that nothing has been confirmed yet.
It can be confusing (to say the least) keeping on top of what the latest restrictions are. So I have created this post as an up to date source of information on just what you can and can’t do right now in terms of having a wedding. I’ve also explained as best as I can the tier system which we’re likely to return to once lockdown restrictions are lifted. Whilst we can’t predict the future I do hope my outline of the latest restrictions will help you to plan your wedding during this difficult time.
CURRENT WEDDING RESTRICTIONS UNDER THE NATIONAL LOCKDOWN
At present, wedding and civil partnership ceremonies are permitted to take place in exceptional circumstances only. For example, if you or your partner has a serious illness whereby a recovery is not expected, you will be allowed to go forward with your wedding. However, please do keep in mind that only six people can attend. Anyone working at the event will not be included within the headcount.
The rules are different in Northern Ireland, Wales, and Scotland, so it is important to point this out.
- In Northern Ireland, up to 25 people can attend a wedding ceremony. However, a risk assessment is needed for events with more than 15 people. All guests are required to wear face masks.
- Wedding ceremonies are permitted in approved venues in Wales. The building’s capacity will dictate the maximum number of attendees, ensuring social distancing between different households.
- Finally, in Scotland, ceremonies can be held, yet there can only be five people in attendance. One thing that is very important to note is that the five people include the couple, officiant, and witnesses. The capacity of the venue must also allow for two metres of social distancing. If an interpreter is needed, six people will be allowed to attend.
WHAT RESTRICTIONS ARE LIKELY TO BE IN PLACE SHOULD WE RETURN TO A TIER SYSTEM?
Once the national lockdown is over, it seems very likely that we will return to a tiered system. This means that the wedding restrictions will be determined by the tier that your location is placed in. So, let’s take a look at the restrictions for each tier below:
- Tier 1 (medium) – Weddings are allowed to go ahead in Tier 1 areas, with 15 people permitted to attend. A wedding reception can be held afterward, yet it must be a sit-down meal, with no dancing or moving around between guests.
- Tier 2 (high) – Again, weddings are allowed to go ahead in Tier 2 areas, with 15 people permitted to attend. A wedding reception can be held afterward, yet it must be a sit-down meal, with no dancing or moving around between guests.
- Tier 3 (very high) – The rules do differ when it comes to the third tier. If your location is placed in Tier 3 once the national lockdown ends, a wedding with 15 people will be permitted. However, you will not be able to hold a wedding reception afterward.
As we got toward the end of 2020, a lot of locations around the UK were plunged into Tier 4, meaning they were not allowed to meet up with anyone over the festive period. If we do see that Tier 4 is applicable in certain areas, the restrictions will very much mirror the national lockdown wedding restrictions.
What does this mean? Well, a civil partnership or wedding ceremony will only be allowed to incorporate six people, not including those working. Furthermore, weddings in Tier 4 will only be allowed in exceptional circumstances, i.e. where one of the individuals is seriously ill and is not expected to make a recovery or whereby they are about to undergo life-changing surgery or debilitating treatment.
One of the challenges with the tiered system is moving between tiers. If your wedding venue is in a Tier 1 location, yet you’re in Tier 4, for example, you’re not permitted to travel to the Tier 1 area for the wedding, so this is something to keep in mind when planning.
Hopefully, my outline of the latest restrictions will help you to plan your wedding as best as you can. Weddings will be permitted under the tier system, and a lot of people are embracing the micro-wedding trend, with a big party set to come once life genuinely is back to normal! However, if you would prefer to wait, the choice is, of course, yours!
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