On the 29th June 2020, the UK Government released its latest guidance for small marriages and civil partnerships in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
When Is This New Guidance Valid From?
From Saturday 4th July 2020
Who Does This New Guidance Apply To?
Couples having a legally-valid marriage or civil partnership in England, under the law of England and Wales.
Who Does This New Guidance NOT Apply To?
This does only apply to couples who are wishing to have either a religious ceremony that is NOT under the law of England and Wales, belief ceremonies, blessings and non-statutory ceremonies.
If you’re wishing to have one of the above ceremonies then the social distancing guidance will apply - groups of two households indoors or up to 6 people from different households outdoors.
Where Can These Ceremonies Take Place?
These ceremonies should take place in a COVID-19 secure venue that can accommodate social distancing. Contact your venue first to see if they will be open.
Venue managers will have discretion over when it is safe for them to open but they must adhere to the guidelines set out by the government and can not open until these are met. The officiant must also be satisfied that the ceremony is safe to take place.
How Many People Can Attend?
No more than 30 people can attend including the couple, venue staff/suppliers and the officiant.
Ideally, guests should maintain a 2-metre distance from one another or 1-metre with risk mitigation.
How Long Will the Ceremony Last?
Ceremonies should be kept as short as reasonably possible, with just the parts that make the marriage or civil partnership legally binding.
Will Receptions Be Allowed?
Unfortunately, receptions following the ceremony are strongly advised to not take place at the moment, but the government are working with the wedding industry on how these could be allowed in the future.
However, small celebrations can take place only if they can follow the current social distancing guidelines – groups of two households indoors or up to 6 people from different households outdoors.
What Are the Rules During the Ceremony?
· No food or drink can be consumed
· The rings should be handled by as few people as possible and hands should be washed before and after
· Infants involved in the ceremony should be held by a parent/guardian from their household
· No singing, chanting, shouting or raised voices
· If singing is required, this must be done by only one individual behind a plexiglass screen.
· No loud music that will require people to raise their voices to be heard over it
· No instruments that are blown into should be played
· Guests should avoid touching property belonging to others
· Any pre-requisite washing/ablution rituals should be carried out prior to arrival at the venue
· The venue should prevent visitors from touching or kissing communal objects. Where these are required for the ceremony, hands must be washed before and after handling. Where possible use single-use alternatives such as service sheets, prayer mats etc.
· Cash donations should be discouraged
If you’d like to read the government’s full guidance it is available here.
If you need any advice or assistance during this pandemic please feel free to get in touch with me and I’ll do my best to help. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org