Weddings haven’t been allowed to take place since lockdown was imposed in March.
It’s meant couples have been left heartbroken as their happy day has had to be cancelled or postponed.
But from July 4, weddings will be back on – in very, very limited and restricted circumstances.
They’ll have to comply with social distancing rules.
There’s a number of things that are staples of many weddings that still won’t be allowed.
And while the official government guidance on weddings was released today – there are still a couple of questions that need to be answered.
Here’s everything we know about how weddings will be different after July 4.
How many people can come to the wedding?
The government “strongly advises” that weddings only go ahead if they can be done in a “COVID-19 secure environment”.
It’s “strongly advised” that no more than 30 people should attend a ceremony – and only then if it can be “safely accommodated with social distancing”.
And that figure includes the couple, officiants, guests, photographers, security and caterers.
That means people from different households should remain 2 metres apart – or if that’s not possible, 1 metre apart with mitigation (like a face covering).
Venue managers should keep a note of all people who attend the ceremony for 21 days after it takes place, to allow NHS test and trace services to track down anyone who might be infected at the event.
What will change about the ceremony?
The government advises ceremonies and services should be concluded in the “shortest reasonable time.”
Religious communities are advised to “adapt traditional religious aspects” of the service where celebrations “would otherwise have taken place over a number of hours, or even days.”
Can rings be exchanged?
Yes – but the government say hands should be washed “before and after” and the rings should be handled by as few people as possible.
They also recommend that where an infant is involved in proceedings, they should be held by a member of their household.
Can someone walk the bride down the aisle? And if the happy couple don’t live together already, can the groom kiss the bride?
These are good questions – and so far we don’t have a good answer to them.
Number 10 say there’s no rule against forming a new household at this point.
But there’s a line in the guidance that reads: “People from different households should maintain social distancing between one another.
“This may require marriages or civil partnerships to be adapted to remove practices that would otherwise have brought people into contact with one another, unless required for the marriage or civil partnership to be legally binding.”
This would seem to suggest that unless father and bride live in the same household, he can’t walk her down the aisle.
And in the event the couple don’t live together, they should only kiss at the end if they’re immediately forming a new household.
We’ll update this article with clarity on these points when we have it.
What about singing?
Singing should be avoided.
Not only that, playing music at a volume that might encourage people to raise their voice should also be avoided.
Experts say the acts of singing, chanting and loud talking has the potential to increase the risk of transmission from aerosol and droplets.
If it’s required for the ceremony, only one person should sing – and plexiglass screens should be erected between the singer and guests.
The guidance reads: “We recognise the importance of communal singing in marriages or civil partnerships, and as this should not happen at this time, we suggest you consider using recordings that may be available to you.”
Musical instruments are fine, as long as they’re not blown into, and as long as they’re kept clean.
Are receptions allowed?
They strongly advise receptions are cancelled – with small celebrations taking place only if they can follow social distancing guidelines.
Food and drink shouldn’t be consumed as part of the event – unless it’s part of the ceremony.
What about other rituals?
Any washing or ablution rituals should be carried out prior to arrival at the wedding venue wherever possible.
And people should not wash the body parts of others.
Where rituals require water to be applied to the body, small splashes are OK – but immersion should be avoided.
Rituals which require objects to be touched or kissed should not take place.
Books, service sheets and prayer mats should be removed – with single-use alternatives provided as long as they are removed by the person attending the wedding.
What happens if the rules aren’t followed?
If a venue seriously breaches the rules – and refuses to comply with enforcement notices – it could be a criminal offence, and the venue manager could be fined or imprisoned for up to two years.