The Daily Telegraph
Larger weddings allowed again, but don’t expect to sing and dance
Thirty-person limit to be lifted on June 21, but face masks and curbs on celebrations to stay
BIG weddings will return from next Monday as the cap on attendees ends, but couples will still be told to avoid dancing and hymn singing.
The Prime Minister announced last night he will scrap the current 30-person limit at marriage ceremonies and receptions from June 21, bringing them into line with the rules for funerals.
It was a headline item of good news in an otherwise downbeat Downing Street press conference, as he announced a delay of four weeks for lifting almost all other remaining restrictions. He did not rule out postponing the end of the other measures beyond July 19.
Despite the return of large weddings, the rest of the laws and guidance for Step 3 of the Government’s roadmap will remain in place.
While the numerical cap on guests will be removed, the capacity of each venue will be limited by its ability to fulfil social distancing requirements.
Venues must be Covid-secure and must only offer table service for food and drink. They are advised to seat guests at tables of up to six guests, but are not bound by law to do so.
Stand-up drinks receptions remain banned at both indoor and outdoor hospitality venues, but can take place on private land as long as they are socially distanced.
Risk assessments must also be undertaken by venues in order to calculate how many people can safely be present at a reception.
Couples planning to celebrate on private land and in residential gardens will also need to carry out simple risk assessments to work out the appropriate maximum number of guests, if they are planning to host more than 30 people.
As at present, the rules will not mandate that tables or guests remain “one metre plus” apart, but Government guidance urging people to “exercise caution” will remain in place.
Both guests and staff at wedding ceremonies and receptions will still be required to wear a face mask when indoors, except when dining and drinking. However, the bride and groom, as well as anyone leading the service, will not have to wear a face covering.
Dancefloors will remain banned by law under Covid regulations. Dancing will be “advised against” but not technically illegal. This does not include the wedding couple’s first dance, which is allowed.
Marquees must have at least two sides fully open to count as outdoor venues.
Musical performances may take place, with a limit of six performers – including singers – indoors, and up to 30 outdoors. Communal singing by guests – including hymns – indoors is advised against, although not illegal.
The existing rules on social contact
‘At the G7 barbecue they had canapés, upright drinking, without social distancing or masks – it’s hard to stomach’
will apply to private homes treated as wedding locations: only up to six people or two households may congregate inside. An exception to this is allowed for deathbed weddings held in a private home, at which up to 30 people may attend.
The announcement last night met with a mixed reception by leading figures in the wedding sector.
Chris Naylor, chairman of the UK Weddings Taskforce, said: “Any improvement on where we are now is good, but parts of this are disappointing. No dancing is a big one for couples – they want to be able to dance.
“The table service requirements are also difficult from a venue or caterers’ perspective. They will have to put on extra staff to manage that, at a time when cash flow and money are already heavily eaten into.”
He heaped criticism on Mr Johnson over the beachside event he hosted at the G7 summit last Saturday night.
“At the G7 barbecue they had canapés, upright drinking, without social distancing or masks. It’s difficult to stomach and frustrating that they are prepared to bend the rules for themselves, but not for the rest of the country,” Mr Naylor said.
The change of rules for weddings will also apply to commemorative receptions such as wakes. The new rules will not apply to christenings, however.