As I write, weddings in England are still on hold, but they are happening in other places, including outdoor weddings in Northern Ireland. So while we don’t have a definitive date as to when weddings can restart in England, or Government plans as to what they could look like, there are plenty of measures in place for the rest of life right now that we can assume with carry over into weddings.
Let’s start with perhaps the most important thing, numbers. It’s safe to assume big weddings will be on hold for a while. For outdoor weddings in Northern Ireland, the maximum number is 10, so it’s a fair guess that numbers will be similar in England when they restart.
Before you start planning on both sets of parents, siblings and best friends, there are two things to take into consideration. The first is the size of your venue. If it is an outdoor wedding or large church, social distancing shouldn’t be an issue. But if you want your local country church, they might simply not be big enough to distance ten people safely.
The other thing to remember is that if you’re allowed an organist or sound system operator, they take up one of your number, as will the vicar.
While this might seem quite restrictive, remember the only people who really need to be present are you and your partner, your vicar and your witnesses. Weddings aren’t actually about huge numbers, they’re about two people committing to one another for the rest of their lives.
And you can get round the number issue by utilitising technology and streaming the wedding to the guests who can’t be with you. You can save the massive celebration for a later date when there are no restrictions on numbers.
Another safe assumption is there will be sanitising stations with hand gel for people to clean their hands. Guidance from the Church of England states that everyone should clean their hands both before and after signing the register.
The vicar also doesn’t actually need to touch you or handle the rings. All blessings can be done from a distance for everyone’s protection.
As part of your planning, it might be worth getting little hand gels, masks and gloves for your guests’ piece of mind as well as your own.
Weddings are likely to be shorter too. Church of England guidance recommends against singing to reduce droplets in the air. This means no hymns, although you can play music through the sound system.
But again, while this might not fall into the category of dream wedding, it’s for everyone’s safety which is more important than extending your wedding by a few minutes.
Small, intimate weddings are beautiful. They’re stripped of all the distractions and focus on the commitment, the moment and are shared with those who mean the most to the couple. And at these times, the hope and joy of a wedding, even if you can only watch it from your front room, is needed more than ever.