Wedding Restrictions UK
While I am sitting here reflecting over this year, I am thinking about my family, friends, clients during this global pandemic which has been sadly wiping out innocent people, their livelihoods, their hopes and dreams, their special day.
For those who were planning a special occasion this year or had been waiting for medical treatment sadly had their plans ruined by an unexpected virus which was about to turn the world upside down. My heart goes out to those who have lost and may never recover from what this has caused.
For engaged couples planning their wedding for many months or years prior, they would have been financially and emotionally committed to seeing their planning right through to their big day. However, the majority who had been looking forward to becoming man and wife in 2020 was not meant to be, they instead had to postpone or cancel their UK 2020 wedding and watch as the world stood still for weddings. But now the country is left wondering will wedding rules change and what impact has it caused to the wedding industry?
On 23rd March 2020, during the UK’s first signs of a national lockdown came to us closures of non-essential shops, businesses, schools, travel disruptions, funerals restricted to 10 guests, and weddings completely banned for at least 3 weeks
2020 has not been an easy year for any of us, especially in the hospitality, events and wedding industries, my thoughts goes out to all the businesses that have struggled or had to sadly declare insolvency because of Covid-19.
During lockdown all weddings were not allowed until 23rd June for holding ceremonies, the independent newspaper says, The advice for England stated that no more than 30 people should attend a marriage or civil partnership where this can be safely accommodated with social distancing in a Covid-19 secure venue. This maximum number includes all those at the ceremony, including the couple, witnesses, officiants and guests. It also includes any staff who are not employed by the venue, which may include photographers, wedding planners or caterers. Read more here
From 15th August, wedding receptions were re-introduced although the guest numbers remained at 30 it did come as a surprise for many of us who expected this number to increase.
On Monday 28th September, hopes for the wedding industry to have an increase of wedding guests were doomed after it was announced the wedding guest restriction rules have now been reduced to only 15 guests but for funerals the 30 guest rule would remain. Many couples, who were planning to get married during the new restrictions were left disillusioned after having to make last minute changes to then uninvite 15 of their guests. Sharon Valentine, founder of Valentine Weddings has been a wedding planner for over a decade. She says, ‘It has been very confusing for everyone to keep up with the rules. Wedding couples getting married during the restrictions must be feeling exasperated.
Wedding planners are trained to take the stress away from client’s but then its secretly on our shoulders and with such uncertain times makes it difficult to forecast the future. Luckily, I am passionate, driven and optimistic otherwise It would be hard to continue through this terrible storm.’
It may not come as a surprise that one in ten couples are now set on having their wedding plans delayed due to the coronavirus. But will weddings go ahead next year meeting the expectations of our brides?
The good news is 95% of couples are not planning to cancel their wedding. The vast majority are looking to reschedule or throw a micro wedding on their original date, showing that, even in uncertain times, couples are determined to get married! This is according to hitched.co.uk recent survey where it seems the vast majority of couples would rather wait until the pandemic is over whether it took a further 1 or 2 years in order for all their original guests to attend. Read more about the survey here Wedding Planner, Sharon says ‘there are hopes through the delay and when this is all over everyone will want to celebrate with their guests even more. I guess that would be worth the wait!’
For couples who want to ensure they receive extra protection during their planning Which.co.uk asks the UK’s biggest wedding insurance providers on how coronavirus is affecting their policies and what rights wedding couples have if their wedding suddenly had to cancel. Read more about insurance policies here
Should the Wedding Numbers Increase?
Sharon Valentine explains “It is incredibly sad to see the whole industry on its knees. It is totally devastating to see this on a global level. Unfortunately, apart from our livelihoods and future aspirations, there appears to be a lack of any government directives for the leisure industry and therefore the last six months has become for us one of the hardest hit in the UK. How long are we to hold on and ask #whataboutweddings from the government despite small wedding businesses holding on by thread? There are many wonderful suppliers and their clients, my clients amongst thousands of others who have either had their plans ruined, cancelled, or trying tirelessly to adjust to the current rule changes.”
Sharon explains, ‘It has been difficult to come to terms with the September ruling as I felt strongly about the 30 guests number restriction before then.
In my view it should have been applied more fairly as a percentage depending on the capacity of what a venue can allow rather than one rule for all. A ceremony and reception venue capacity varies and so they should perhaps investigate enforcing a third of the capacity attendance to safely allow ample room for the required social distancing measures.”
Sharon continues, “Venues are often adaptable and are more than capable to follow the required safety rules with a pre-approved guestlist and name seating plan it would allow track and trace to become a seamless process.”
"So many businesses are struggling to survive this"
Wedding photographer Bethany Clarke from Lloyd-Clarke Photography has been a photographer for over 11 years and has won photojournalism awards.
Bethany says “My summer is usually pretty busy with 30 or so weddings. Because of the obvious restrictions this year I have only 5 gone ahead. I realise that it is really important to keep everyone safe however the rules make no sense which is frustrating for the industry. The wedding industry supports so many jobs, many small businesses and self-employed people have put their heart and soul into all sorts of wonderful skills that make each wedding unique.
Only 15 people allowed at wedding venues UK but 30 at funerals, and no limit on how many can be in bars and pubs makes it really hard to accept that the rules are fair or well thought out.
After looking at all businesses over the summer – usually the peak wedding season, So many peoples businesses are struggling to survive this.”
I asked Bethany Clarke should these hard restrictions continued for another 6 months to a year how would this affect her financially?
Bethany explains: “If the restrictions continue into next spring and summer it will be the second peak season lost for my income and will leave me in a very tricky place. This is my only skill set and I do not have a second career to fall back on.
I have had to reschedule most of 2020 bookings meaning not many dates available for new bookings… again leaving me in a really difficult place.
I did get the self-employed grant but feel that there is a limit to how long the whole industry can hold on before it collapses. For most, one year if they receive help but I don’t think most will survive much longer”
Samantha wedding makeup and hair stylist in London and Kent, from SJB Hair & Makeup, shares her opinion and story on how Covid-19 and the wedding restrictions UK have affected her.
Samantha says “I established my business 7 years ago, having made the decision to retrain and begin a whole new career. It was one of my best decisions to date, I feel so incredibly grateful to have found a career I am truly passionate about and find immensely fulfilling.
This year, since the outbreak of Covid-19 it has been one of the most testing times for me and my small business. Unable to work for 6 months, being a close contact service and the restrictions placed on the industries I work in, weddings, events, parties have reduced work by around 90%.
The initial months were about working with clients who had bookings including weddings and events to find solutions and offer support during these emotional times. As it was so unprecedented, I was navigating my way through each change made by the government and the subsequent implications.
“I am so thankful to this network and all those that continue to strive to save our industries”
I cannot lie, it was and still is an emotionally challenging time, I could have thrown in the towel many times, but my commitment to my clients, fellow industry professionals and the passion and drive I have for what I do was the only thing that kept me going. Stay strong, I would say to myself each day.
Returning to work in August was a huge mix of emotions, I was so happy to be able to visit clients once again. It wasn’t my usual busy summer season; I had many more elements to consider when making these visits to ensure everyone I came into contact with was safe. But I embraced every aspect and felt so grateful to those clients who continued to stay committed to their appointments and those making new appointments. It kept me going both financially and mentally.
Thankfully, my time has been filled with makeup lessons, special occasions, birthday celebrations and even to those brave brides who continued to go ahead with their weddings.
I also took the time to work with so many of my talented industry suppliers, organising and being a part of so many styled shoots. Allowing me the time to be creative and continue to develop. I am so thankful to this network and all those that continue to strive to save our industries, to see the resilience in the face of adversity has been nothing short of inspirational.
As we reach the end of 2020, I am certainly not where I hoped I would be, the future is still filled with uncertainty for me as a hair and makeup artist, but I made a choice to remain proactive and keep striving forward. If my brides can make the decision to go ahead and marry in ways they hadn’t necessarily dreamed of, I will keep fighting to continue to keep my business afloat and the continued opportunity to bring confidence, joy and happiness in a job that is not just a job, it’s my absolute dream, and we should never give up on our dreams.”
Celebrant Michelle Parfitt shares her thoughts on how the wedding restrictions in the UK have affected her business.
Michelle says “I am still working with couples to change dates booked in for April/May 2021 as the uncertainty continues – indeed, only this morning I spoke with a couple who are postponing their May 2021 wedding to December 2021 in the hope that things will be clearer by then. Let’s just hope that they are! By increasing the number of guests allowed in relation to the venue size will go some way to ensure that more couples can have the day that they’ve dreamed of – 15 guests for many is just far too small and couples are extremely upset that they’re having to make such a choice.”
Wedding Guest Petition UK
"We are very happy about this petition and I do hope the government will consider a fair ruling"
The current situation in the UK and the restrictions for weddings UK have not only affected wedding couples, but the vast majority of, businesses within the leisure industry. We are all waiting for positive changes and maybe the light at the end of the tunnel is not too far away! A wedding guest petition has been created by Zaynah Ali to appeal for an increase in the number of guests permitted at Weddings, according to the Venue Capacity. When a petition is created, a government response would be required after 10,000 signatures, a debate in Parliament when signatures are over 100,000 participants.
We are delighted to share this petition has successfully received over 109,000 signatures and therefore will be debated live in Parliament on Monday 9th November 2020! You will be able to watch online on the UK Parliament You tube Channel
Sharon says “We are very happy about this petition and I do hope the government will consider a fair ruling for us now as the economy strongly depends on it!”
Sharon Continues, “For couples who want to get married sooner rather than later and currently looking for alternative ways to increase their guests attendance like restaurants and dining pubs, it is worth double checking your venue contract as some venues may come under private dining which actually means they are allowed to operate similar to a restaurant or pub. If you are unsure get in touch with us. As this could be the game changer you have been waiting for!”
UPDATE: Check out our sourced related Covid-19 updates below:
- Brides Magazine 23/3/2020 – UK Government sets to ban weddings until further notice
- VWUK Blog Post 25/5/2020 – Planning a wedding through a global pandemic crisis
- The Independent Article 23/6/2020 – Boris permits wedding ceremonies post lockdown to take place for up to 30 guests
- The Independent Article 14/8/2020 – New restrictions to the numbers attending a wedding
- BBC Article 23/9/2020 – Coronavirus: How many people can attend a wedding
- BBC Article 20/12/2020 – Couple wed to avoid Tier 4 restriction in London
- BBC Article 08/01/2021 – National Lockdown: Weddings restricted to exceptional circumstances, up to 6 attending
- The latest UK Government Guidelines for small weddings ceremonies and receptions