Fathers cannot walk their daughter arm-in-arm down the aisle and couples must wash their hands before and after exchanging rings in post-lockdown weddings.
New rules issued by the Government today also ban receptions when the ceremonies are allowed to restart with up to 30 people in England from Saturday.
The plans are intend to maintain social distancing at weddings as the coronavirus pandemic continues but will reduce the big day to little more than a formality.
It comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson last week gave permission for weddings to recommence as part of a widespread easing of lockdown restrictions.
Fathers will not be able to walk their daughter arm-in-arm down the aisle as part of social distancing measures to keep people from different households at least one metre apart
Small reception celebrations can only be held if they are groups of up to two households indoors, or up to six people from different households outdoors
The new rules urge people from different households to maintain social distancing between one another, which will be ‘one metre plus’ from Saturday.
They say 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’.
At a glance: What are the rules for weddings from this Saturday?
- Members of different households must maintain social distancing, so fathers cannot walk daughters arm-in-arm down the aisle
- Couples must wash their hands before and after exchanging rings
- Receptions are limited to two households indoors, or up to six people from different households outdoors
- Up to 30 people are allowed at the ceremony, including the couple, witnesses, officiants and guests, and staff not employed by the venue
- No food or drink is allowed to be consumed ‘unless required for the purposes of solemnisation’
- There should be no singing during the service or use of instruments which have to be blown into
- Spoken responses should ‘not be in a raised voice’
- If a small child is involved, they should be held a parent, guardian or member of that child’s household
- Couples should consider using recordings instead of singing
- Organs music is allowed but they must be cleaned before and after
- Books, reusable and communal resources such as service sheets, prayer mats, or devotional material should be removed from use
The guidance adds that ‘where this is the case precautions should be put in place to minimise contact and ensure the timeframe is as short as possible’.
Couples have been told that ceremonies should only be done in a ‘Covid-19 secure environment’ and be ‘kept as short as reasonably possible’.
This means they should be limited to the parts of the ceremonies that are required so that the marriage or civil partnership can be legally binding.
The guidance adds that ‘any receptions that typically follow or accompany marriages or civil partnerships are strongly advised not to take place’.
Small celebrations can only be held if they are groups of up to two households indoors, or up to six people from different households outdoors.
Religious communities have been told to adapt traditional aspects which might have seen celebrations take place over many hours or even days.
No food or drink is allowed to be consumed at the ceremony ‘unless required for the purposes of solemnisation’, according to the rules.
For the exchanging of rings during the ceremony, hands ‘should be washed before and after’ and the ‘rings should be handled by as few people as possible’.
And where a small child is involved, they should be held a parent, guardian or member of that child’s household.
Meanwhile people have been told to avoid ‘singing, shouting, raising voices and/or playing music at a volume that makes normal conversation difficult’.
This is because of the potential for encouraging shouting which would raise an increased risk of transmission of Covid-19 from aerosol and droplets.
It means spoken responses ‘should also not be in a raised voice’ – and singing and playing of instruments that are blown into should be avoided.
If it is required for a ceremony, one person should be allowed to sing or chant, and the ‘use of plexi-glass screens should be considered to protect guests’.
People have been told to avoid ‘singing, shouting, raising voices and/or playing music at a volume that makes normal conversation difficult’ – which means sung hymns will be banned
For the exchanging of rings during the ceremony, hands ‘should be washed before and after’ – otherwise they would not be permitted
The Government has suggested couples consider using recordings instead of singing. Organs are also allowed but must be cleaned before and after.
Concerns raised over possible surge in forced marriages as lockdown is eased
Campaigners fear there could be a spike in forced marriages as coronavirus lockdown restrictions continue to relax in the UK and once quarantine rules are lifted.
Charities say during the pandemic they have seen a surge in calls from people worried their parents are increasingly intent on marrying them off after living in close quarters amid the crisis.
They warn parents could now be planning to take their children abroad for weddings against their will as soon as laws on self-isolating for 14 days on return to the UK are scrapped.
The warnings came as data gathered by the Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) leading the Government’s work on tackling the crime indicated a rise in the number of LGBT victims and revealed more than a quarter of cases for which the unit provided advice last year involved children.
Figures indicated the largest number of cases were linked to Pakistan.
The FMU dealt with 1,355 suspected cases last year.
Between 2008 and 2019, 2,452 Forced Marriage Protection Orders were granted in UK courts in a bid to rescue victims.
The Government branded forced marriage a ‘hidden crime’, admitting that the figures fell short of revealing the true scale of abuse.
All guests should follow social distancing guidance – and venues should look at changing seating layouts, improve ventilation and use face coverings.
The guidance also states: ‘Visitors should avoid touching property belonging to others, such as shoes which, if removed, should be placed and collected by their owner while adhering to social distancing principles.’
Any washing rituals should now be done before arrival at the venue, and people ‘should not wash the body parts of others’, according to the rules.
Full immersion should also now be avoided, and all others present should stand distant from any splashes and stay socially distanced.
Venue managers have also been urged to take steps to prevent visitors from touching or kissing any objects which are handled communally.
Books, reusable and communal resources such as service sheets, prayer mats, or devotional material should also be removed from use.
But single use alternatives can be provided as long as they are removed by the attendee, and people can also bring personal prayer mats or religious texts.
Venue managers have also been asked to discourage cash donations and continue to use online giving resources where possible.
The Government has asked that the number of attendees should ‘ideally be kept to a minimum as far as possible’, but will allow up to 30 people to attend.
This includes the couple, witnesses, officiants and guests, and staff not employed by the venue, which may include photographers, security or caterers. However it does not include staff employed by the venue.
Bridal shops reopened on June 14, putting in measures such as plastic Champagne flutes, dresses put in quarantine and face masks for fittings.
Face coverings are worn by bride to be Jessica Letheren and bridal consultant Felicity Gray during a dress fitting appointment at Allison Jayne Bridalwear in Clifton, Bristol, last Thursday
More than 250,000 weddings usually take place in the UK each year, but many couples have been affected by restrictions that came into force in March.
Since reopening, the Bristol branch of third-generation family business Allison Jayne Bridalwear has introduced a range of measures to comply with new rules.
Customers must book in for an appointment, which lasts between 90 minutes and two hours – with a 30-minute clean taking place before the next slot.
Brides-to-be choosing their gowns are allowed to bring one person with them, with FaceTime and Skype used to include other friends and family members.
Jessica Letheren wears a face covering during a fitting at a bridal store in Bristol last Thursday
Hand sanitiser, face masks and disposable gloves are available, with face coverings worn by both brides-to-be and staff in the changing rooms.
Once a dress has been tried on, it is sprayed with disinfectant fabric spray and quarantined for 72 hours.
Champagne is poured into glittery plastic disposable glasses, with a poster displaying coronavirus guidelines on view as people enter the shop.
Customers showing symptoms or feeling unwell are instructed to reschedule their appointments.