Weddings on hold again after 'confusion' over rules.
Weddings on hold again after 'confusion' over rules.Published: 18 March 2021
Some couples planning to marry between mid-April and mid-May face disappointment after confirmation of England's roadmap out of lockdown. Weddings can go ahead again from 12 April, but only in places of worship and public buildings. Other venues had hoped to reopen too, but have been told they must wait until indoor hospitality reopens in May. The government said the roadmap had set out which events could take place when and this plan had not changed. "At Step 2 - no earlier than 12 April - weddings can take place in premises that are permitted to open or where a broader exemption applies such as places of worship or hotel function suites," a government spokesperson said. "Wedding receptions can take place outdoors only. There has been no change to this plan." However, the industry is warning thousands of weddings will have to be cancelled or postponed following this "confusion". "The roadmap indicated weddings and receptions could resume on 12th April. We have now discovered, not by being offered the information but by analysing the small print and repeatedly seeking clarity, that this is not the case," said Sarah Haywood, spokeswoman for Weddings Taskforce, a group set up to represent the sector. She said 70% of England's weddings took place in licensed venues that would not be permitted to open under the rules, but that the government had failed to explain that clearly when it outlined its plan for reopening the economy in February. Weddings Taskforce estimates around 7,000 couples will be affected.
When the country first went into lockdown last year, Hannah Graham and Joe Higgs, from Bedford, realised it was inevitable their April wedding would be postponed. But after a lot of stops and starts in between, they thought they'd finally got the go ahead for a small wedding with 15 guests this April. "There was no suggestion it was going to be limited to certain locations," says Hannah. "If we'd been made aware at that point, we could have worked around it." The wedding venue and the registrar who would marry them were happy with the booking, so they printed invitations with new dates. "It looked like it was going ahead, so we got the ball rolling," says Joe. "Now we've had to stop it and roll it in another direction." They'll be paying more rebooking fees on top of the £300 they've already parted with over the past year. "There's a part of us just wants to go to Gretna Green," he says.
What are England's new wedding rules? From 29 March onwards, up to six people can attend a wedding. That limit includes the couple. From no earlier than 12 April, up to 15 people will be allowed to attend a wedding ceremony and reception, at venues that are permitted to open, potentially rising to 30 guests from 17 May. From 21 June at the earliest, the government aims to remove all limits on social contact, including lifting all wedding restrictions.