To address the question that is certainly keeping brides across the country awake at night: Will the UK lockdowns have an impact on wedding plans for 2021?
In short, no. Your wedding will almost certainly go ahead. Reopening is expected to begin in April with fuller leniency by the summer. Hurrah.
Lockdown and tighter restrictions this January was expected
At the end of September 2020, Boris Johnson announced that weddings would be reduced to 15 people and tougher restrictions would be in place for around 6 months. When, over Christmas, restrictions relaxed, we also expected much tougher rules to be enforced in the early part of the year as a consequence of people mixing. Couples, venues and suppliers have always expected significant wedding restrictions up until late March 2021. January to March is pretty much a wedding-free zone. So, for the vast majority, weddings planned this summer won’t be affected as much as you think. The lockdown is prime planning time - though of course all initial research and conversations will need to be done online. And any wedding fairs you attend will need to be virtual.
The vaccine will change the game
First - some good news. The NHS are vaccinating 400,000 people a day. So we are on target. 5 million have already been vaccinated.
During his televised announcement of England’s lockdown on January 4th, Boris described how the aim was to have enough people vaccinated by mid-February to begin a gradual reopening by March. This expectation puts us well within the 6-month timeline already expressed back in September.
Both the Prime Minister and the Scottish First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, are saying that they aim to have all those over the age of 50 with underlying health conditions be vaccinated by early May 2021 at the latest. The high risk population should all have a good level of immunity by June - which explains the PM’s optimism about summer weddings.
In early December, when answering a question about weddings during People’s Prime Minister’s Questions, Boris Johnson conveyed the positive message that there will be more normality by Easter and a “different world” for weddings and events by summer. He stated that he expects couples will be “getting hitched in the normal way” by summer. More recently, he named April 5th as being a “turning point” towards normality.
Colleagues and the opposition are also confident too. Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, expressed a similar positivity about the impact of the vaccine by Easter despite the new variant. Nicola Sturgeon, Keir Starmer and Mark Drakeford have also expressed their positive outlook and confidence.
What this lockdown means for your wedding
If your wedding is in the next few weeks
Firstly, well done for being brave and standing firm. You’ll obviously have done your research - but in England, the only weddings that can take place are in exceptional circumstances. Even if you’d be happy with there just being 6 of you there, unless you meet the exceptional circumstances that fulfil the “deathbed” criteria your wedding can’t go ahead right now.
In Wales, Places of Worship and Register Offices are able to remain open for wedding and civil partnership ceremonies. Other ‘approved premises’ such as hotels, are required to close alongside other businesses in the hospitality sector. Receptions are not permitted.
In Scotland, wedding ceremonies and civil partnership registrations can take place with a maximum capacity of 5 people. Receptions cannot take place.
In Northern Ireland, marriages and civil partnerships ceremonies are limited to 25 people. A risk assessment for over 15 people is required. Receptions or post ceremony gatherings are not permitted.
Speak to your venue and suppliers about postponing your reception in order to minimise any financial losses. They can charge for costs incurred which can be quite significant close to the wedding date. If you can handle some uncertainty and are able to transfer to a late March date it may be really helpful to them.
If your wedding is in April or May
The Prime Minister has given numerous assurances but really, it is still too early to know what restrictions may be necessary. Most venues are helping couples make their final decision about 8 weeks before the wedding date so there is still plenty of time.
Your venue naturally wants you to have the day you’d hoped for even if that means delaying until later in the summer. However, if there is a chance that you can go ahead as planned on the date planned, that is the best scenario for all.
With non-essential retail closed, if you haven’t already collected your dress, you may want to arrange a delivery. Final fittings should be booked in for the second they reopen!
If your wedding is June onwards
Relax! Your wedding should be unaffected. The relief and jubilance will only add to the excitement and abundance of love in the air on the day. We have reassurances from the Prime Minister and Nicola Sturgeon. Both are confident in the vaccine reaching all those with underlying health conditions aged over 50 by May at the latest.
If you are just starting to plan…Congratulations!
A wintry lockdown is the perfect time to start hunting for wedding venues and other suppliers. A good tip is to send enquiries through their website so the venue receives it into their inbox and it is stored online for them too. This ensures you are first in line.
You can’t currently visit wedding venues. However, many offer virtual tours and Zoom consultations so you can get a feel for the venue now from the comfort of your sofa. Many venues are allowing you to pay a fully refundable deposit to hold a date until viewings are possible again. Wedding Fairs aren’t able to go ahead, but there are various virtual options - like the Guides For Brides Wedding Fair Live on Facebook on Thursday 21st and 28th January.
Civil offices are allowed to remain open in this lockdown so you can still Give Notice with the registrars. This needs to be done between 29 days and up to 12 months before your wedding. Most Registrars will also be able to take bookings for officiating at your wedding if it is a Civil Ceremony or Civil Partnership in an Approved Venue, to give you peace of mind even if it is more than 12 months away.
We’re here for you
We are here to help. Don’t hesitate to get in touch to discuss your wedding plans, hopes and dreams. We will do all we can to help to visualise and create the perfect day, whatever the circumstances.