What are the rules for weddings and can I hold a reception?on May 24, 2021 at 2:02 pm

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Restrictions on weddings have been eased across the UK – so how can you now celebrate?

Bride and groom

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The number of guests allowed at weddings and civil partnerships has increased.

So how many people can come to the ceremony – and how big can the reception be?

Up to 30 people – including children – are allowed to attend a wedding ceremony or reception.

Anyone working is not counted in the limit.

Venues and places of worship can provide food and drink, but must follow the relevant hospitality guidance. All food and drink must be ordered, served and consumed while guests are seated.

Guests do not need to be seated at socially distanced tables, though they are still advised to be “cautious” about contact with different households.

There’s bad news for lovers of a wedding disco. The guidelines say: “Dancing is advised against due to the increased risk of transmission, except the couple’s first dance.”

Guests and staff must also wear a face covering (except when eating or drinking), unless exempt.

The government previously said it hoped to lift all restrictions on weddings on 21 June.

However, concerns about the spread of the Indian variant mean this may now be delayed.

Two brides signing a wedding book

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As many as 50 people (including the couple and witnesses) can attend weddings and receptions – provided venues can allow 2m (6ft) physical distancing.

Alcohol can be served. Face coverings must be worn indoors, not including the couple or the person officiating.

It’s hoped wedding rules will change again on 7 June, when most of Scotland is due to move to Covid-protection level one.

Up to 100 people should be allowed to meet then, but rules on social distancing and face coverings will remain in place.

Weddings and civil partnerships can take place in “approved premises”, up to the capacity of the venue given social distancing requirements. Venues must take all reasonable measures to minimise the spread of Covid.

Face coverings must be worn indoors by everyone aged 11 or over when not eating or drinking, unless they have a reasonable excuse. This does not apply to the couple or the person officiating.

Wedding receptions can be arranged in regulated venues for up to 30 people indoors and 50 people outdoors, not including children under 11. They cannot take place in private homes or gardens.

Food and drink are permitted at both indoor and outdoor wedding receptions in line with the relevant hospitality guidance.

Physical distancing should be maintained at all times at tables to avoid households mixing.

There is no limit on the number of people allowed to attend a wedding, but venues must assess how many they can safely accommodate.

During the ceremony, face coverings must be worn by everyone (unless exempt), apart from the wedding couple and the person officiating.

Receptions can take place but a number of rules remain in place:

  • There’s no restriction on the number of people at the top table, but on every other table there’s a maximum of 10 people (not including children)
  • You need to wear a mask when not seated at a table
  • The wedding couple can have one dance only
  • Live music is not permitted and pre-recorded music is only permitted at background level
Champagne on ice

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The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) published guidance in September 2020 on consumer wedding rights:

  • If your wedding couldn’t go ahead without breaching local or national lockdown rules, you’re likely to be entitled to a refund and will not be liable for future payments
  • Your refund may also cover a ”non-refundable” deposit, although a venue or supplier can subtract ”limited” costs for services which were already provided
  • A venue may also withhold money spent on your wedding that it could not recover, such as planning, but not for things like general staff costs or building maintenance
  • Suppliers and venues must give you a costs breakdown if they wish to withhold part of your deposit
Socially-distanced seating

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Wedding insurance should not affect your right to a refund, but you cannot get your money back twice.

Most insurance doesn’t cover a ”government act”, so is unlikely to pay out if lockdowns have affected your wedding.

Recent wedding insurance policies are unlikely to cover coronavirus.

Some policies will also pay out if your supplier/venue has gone bust. If not, you may have to register a claim with the company’s administrator.

If you paid by credit card you can claim up to £30,000 per supplier under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act.

If you paid on debit card, you could secure a refund under the chargeback scheme.

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