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How Do The Four Steps For Easing Lockdown Affect Weddings?

How Do The Four Steps For Easing Lockdown Affect Weddings?


Alison Hargreaves Updated:
8th of March 2023

Latest Update - 12th July: Boris Johnson announces that Step 4 will proceed as planned for England and lockdown rules will end on the 19th of July. The tough border policy will remain in place, however, events such as weddings will be governed by guidance rather than laws.

Previous Update: PM Boris Johnson has announced that wedding restrictions will ease from June 21st, with maximum numbers no longer limited to 30, and instead determined by socially-distanced capacity. Read Weddings After Lockdown in 2021 for a summary of and the links to the available wedding guidance in each UK nation.

As ever, we will be urging couples to speak to their venue and suppliers before making any decisions. There will be no regional tier systems - England will be treated as one in the easing of lockdown.

Find the step or topic you want to read about:

wedding ceremony confetti

Step One: 8th March and from 29th March

From 8th March, all schools are open with outdoor after-school sports and activities allowed. Recreation in outdoor public spaces - such as a park - is allowed between two people, meaning they are allowed to sit down for a coffee, drink or picnic. Wedding ceremonies of 6 people are permitted in exceptional circumstances only.

From 29th March, outdoor gatherings of either six people or two households are allowed. It is understood this includes gatherings in private gardens. Outdoor sports facilities such as tennis or basketball courts are open and organised adult and children's sport, such as grassroots football, has returned. Wedding ceremonies of up to 6 people in all circumstances is now allowed.

What does Step 1 mean for weddings?

  • Couples who simply wish to get married and have their small, legal ceremony are able to do so from the 29th of March.
Couple who have eloped

Step Two: from 12th April

On April 5th, Boris Johnson confirmed that England's lockdown will ease as planned on 12 April.  Step Two from 12 April has seen a significant improvement for those planning weddings:

  • Weddings and receptions with up to 15 guests are permitted in certain venues. Read the ceremonies guidance to understand which venues are permitted to hold ceremonies and the receptions guidance for information on wedding receptions.
  • Non-essential retail is open, hairdressers, and public buildings like libraries and museums.
  • Outdoor settings, like alcohol takeaways and beer gardens, are open.
  • Indoor leisure, like swimming pools and gyms, are open.
  • Self-contained holiday accommodation, such as self-catering lets and campsites, are open, but for one household only.
  • The end of hospitality curfews and requirements to eat a substantial meal alongside alcohol.
  • But wider social contact rules continue to apply in all settings - meaning no indoor mixing between different households will be allowed.

What does Step 2 mean for weddings?

  • Those getting married can use professional services for their hair, makeup, and nail appointments. 
  • Bridal boutiques are open.
  • Bridal alterations and fitting appointments can occur. 
  • Menswear and hire wear are open.
  • Jewellers are open.
  • You'll be able to have a staycation honeymoon in self-contained holiday accommodation.

Small wedding

Step Three: from 17th May

As of the 17th of May, England is now in Step Three, which sees more improvements:

  • Weddings and wedding receptions are now allowed with 30 people. Detailed guidance has been updated with further information as to what is and is not permitted at these events.
  • A wedding reception can take place in a covid-secure venue indoors, or outdoors. This includes private gardens. Read our advice for planning your covid-safe wedding in a private garden.
  • Outdoors, most social contact rules have been lifted, but gatherings of more than 30 are illegal.
  • Indoors, gatherings of up to six or a larger group of up to two households are allowed. This includes in private homes.
  • Indoor hospitality - pubs, restaurants, cinemas, theatres, concert halls, hotels, B&Bs, indoor exercise classes - is now allowed.

What does Step 3 mean for weddings?

Read our guide to weddings after lockdown to find out more about the guidance for weddings during Step 3.

Wedding ceremony

Step Four: from 21st June/19th July

While Step Four has been delayed until July 19th, wedding restrictions will be easing from June 21st, with maximum numbers no longer limited to 30, but instead determined by socially-distanced capacity.

On the 12th of July Boris Johnson announced that Step 4 will proceed as planned for England and lockdown rules will end on the 19th of July. The tough border policy will remain in place, however, events such as weddings will be governed by guidance rather than laws.

What does Step 4 mean for weddings?

  • The number of guests will be determined by how many people the venue or space can safely accommodate with social distancing measures in place, based on a COVID-19 risk assessment.
  • In a COVID-secure venue, your venue manager will need to tell you the maximum number of people who will be able to attend. For events taking place in other venues, such as a garden of a private home or on private land, organisers will need to make the space as safe as possible. A COVID-19 risk assessment will also need to be carried out for weddings of over 30 people in private gardens or private land.
  • From July 19th, all legal restrictions on the number of people attending a wedding will be lifted.

Read Weddings After Lockdown in 2021 for a summary of and the links to the available wedding guidance in each UK nation.

Pilot Events

It is important to note that from April, the government will run pilots for large events such as weddings, festivals and work conferences. It is hoped that these pilots will help to work out how measures (e.g. enhanced testing) may allow for larger gatherings without social distancing.

Large wedding ceremony

What tests must be passed to unlock each step?

The four conditions that must be met at each phase of lockdown easing are:

  1. The coronavirus vaccine programme continues to go to plan. The Prime Minister announced the stretch target of all adults being offered their first vaccine by July 2021.
  2. Evidence shows vaccines are sufficiently reducing the number of people dying with the virus or needing hospital treatment.
  3. Infection rates do not risk a surge in hospital admissions.
  4. New variants of the virus do not fundamentally change the risk of lifting restrictions. 

All dates are "from" and are shown as the earliest date that we will reach each stage in opening.

The Prime Minister's intention is that this is an irreversible and one-way roadmap out of lockdown. This should give couples the confidence to plan at last. We would encourage you to read the official documentation from the government website to ensure you are fully informed before making any decisions about your wedding.

If you feel that your wedding cannot go ahead, our advice on postponements may be helpful to you.

The Guides for Brides team are committed to helping you stay up to date with the latest news, tips and trends relating to weddings and COVID-19. For more articles, visit our dedicated blog section.

Alison Hargreaves Guides for Brides Bio

About the author


Alison Hargreaves

Alison has been advising brides, grooms and bridesmaids for more than 25 years. She has an unrivalled knowledge of the British wedding industry and frequently appears on podcasts and expert panels. She regularly attends international wedding conferences to keep the UK at the forefront of wedding planning trends.

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