We finally have a roadmap to freedom! As the vaccination roll out has been going well in the UK, there has well and truly been a feeling of “light at the end of the tunnel.” And now, we know just how long that tunnel is going to be! While the dates are subject to change, the recent announcement helps anyone planning a wedding amidst Covid-19 to know what to realistically expect. Below, I’ll will talk you through the four stages that have been announced and what they mean for 2021 weddings in the UK.
Phase 1: From the 8th of March
The first phase of the lockdown roadmap to freedom is really all about getting the children back to school! Parents around the UK do a collective cheer! While this doesn’t really mean much of a change in terms of what’s possible wedding-wise, it should mean that parents have more time to plan their wedding and, well, just more time for anything and everything that is home schooling curriculum! During this initial phase, a maximum of six guests is permitted under exceptional circumstances, which is very much in-line with the current guidelines (see below for more on current guidelines).
Phase 2: No earlier than the 12th of April
The 12th of April is a date a lot of people will have tattooed on their forehead or at least circled on their calendar, as this is when changes really start to happen (we hope!). It should be noted that this is the earliest possible date for phase 2. We will see lots of businesses start to re-open, including venues, hairdressers (man alive I need a haircut), beauty salons, pubs etc., which brides-and-grooms-to-be will certainly be happy about! We will also see an increase in the number of people that are able to attend weddings. As was the case before Christmas, 15 guests will be permitted should you wish to have your wedding during this period.
Phase 3: No earlier than the 17th of May
The next phase of the roadmap to freedom sees overnight domestic stays become a possibility, which is important for those having their wedding in another county. There will also be an increase in the number of attendees, with you now able to have up to 30 people at your wedding. A lot of couples will be thinking about having their wedding toward the end of May, as the weather tends to be beautiful and 30 guests should mean none of your nearest and dearest need to miss out.
Phase 4: No earlier than the 21st of June
Finally, we have phase 4, which will be no earlier than the 21st of June. This is the date we have all been waiting for; when life will pretty much return to normal. There will be no limits on events and no social distancing in place, which means you can have the wedding of your dreams. Let’s not beat around the bush, some weddings are going to be carnage! Whether facemasks will be part of your wedding photography remains to be seen, yet there should not be any real limitations once we enter phase 4. It is worth pointing out though that any delays would mean all phases are pushed back. So, if phase 2 gets underway a week later than planned, phase 3 and phase 4 would then be pushed back at least one week. Ya got me?
It can be confusing (to say the least) keeping on top of what the latest restrictions are. So I 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, although there hasn’t been any indication we’re going to return to this system 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 (UP TO 12TH APRIL)
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 remains uncertain if we will return to a tiered system. There has been no announcement regarding this as yet. If the tiered system is reintroduced it 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!
WHETHER YOU’RE PLANNING AN INTIMATE MICRO WEDDING OR A BIG OL’ KNEES UP WEDDING..
I can help! Hit me up via my contact page where you can fill in my contact form and we can start a conversation.