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What Does Plan B Mean For Weddings In England?

What Does Plan B Mean For Weddings In England?

Alison Hargreaves Updated:
8th of March 2023

Last UPDATED: December 16th, 2021

From Wednesday 15th December, Plan B restrictions mean a few small changes in wedding regulations in England.

Key points: Masks are required by law for ceremonies in certain settings and this may now also include the couple and officiant.  Masks aren't required for wedding receptions as they aren't practical in settings where eating, drinking and dancing and singing are involved.

Attendees at wedding ceremonies of 500+ will be exempt from showing proof of Covid status. Most wedding receptions are also exempt from Covid passes.

As every wedding is unique and every venue is different, you will notice that venues, event organisers and registrars will have different policies in place to comply with their own risk assessments. Plan B sets out the minimum legal requirements. Your venue or registrar may ask for guests and/or couples to test before attending and to wear masks, in order to keep attendees and staff safer.

What does Plan B involve?

The Plan B rules involve the reintroduction of the 'work from home if you can' policies, face coverings becoming mandatory in the majority of indoor settings, and Covid passes showing vaccination status for nightclubs and most large venues.

The Official Wedding Guidance was updated on 16/12/21 to reflect the changes. 

Face coverings at wedding ceremonies and receptions

On Friday 10 December, face coverings became mandatory for most indoor public places including places of worship, village halls, cultural sites and hotels.  You can see the full list here.  

Exemption for weddings receptions: For practical reasons, face masks aren't mandatory in reception venues where the principle activity in that venue, or part of that venue, is eating or drinking. 

The Government's official guidance on face coverings confirms that face coverings are "not required in premises or a part of a premises where the main activity is eating, drinking, exercising or dancing. This might include venues being used to host wedding receptions or some music events as well as restaurants, pubs, bars and nightclubs. This is because it is not practical for people to wear a face covering when eating or drinking, and it is not recommended that face coverings are worn when undertaking strenuous activity, including exercising and dancing."

For ceremonies: The guidance on face coverings (link above) includes a list of venues where face coverings are required, including all places of worship. Where they are required by law, they can be removed for singing and other activities, such as kissing, which is not practical while wearing a mask.

The officiant for your ceremony will be the best person to advise you on the policy for your ceremony as it may depend on the setting and other mitigating factors.

It's important that the officiant is kept safe at your wedding so their risk assessment may require you and your guests to wear face masks regardless of the law.

Covid Passes for indoor settings

The rules on Covid passes require proof of vaccination or pre-testing to allow entry into nightclubs and indoor seated venues with more than 500 people. In these setting attendees will need the NHS COVID Pass or an alternative proof of test result.  Event venues across the UK have been using Trusted Trace for those not wanting to use the NHS App.

The requirement for Covid passes for weddings

Covid passes aren't required for wedding ceremonies, civil partnerships or alternative wedding ceremonies, of any size.

Regardless of size or venue, Covid passes aren't required for wedding receptions where the event is organised by an individual or couple (not a professional).

Covid passes aren't required for wedding receptions in private houses or gardens.

Covid passes ARE required for wedding receptions with over 500 attendees if it is organised by a professional or held in a conference venue or town hall, and if the venue is not a private house or private garden. 

If the wedding ceremony and the reception are combined and proof of vaccination, testing, or exemption is required at the reception, attendees are required to have proof of COVID-19 status for the combined event.

If you are a couple organising your own wedding reception, you would not be required to operate COVID-19 status checks, however if you'd like guests to upload test results, in order to give everyone peace of mind, you can sign up for a basic account on TrustedTrace here

More on Covid certification

Most couples feel that ensuring attendees at weddings feel safe is a priority and are finding ways to make the new regulations work for them. 

church wedding

The following people would have an exemption from certification:

  • anyone under 18 years of age
  • police officers, local authority officers and emergency services responders acting in their official duties
  • a diplomat or someone working for an international organisation.

The following have an exemption from vaccination, but still need a COVID Pass or international equivalent to demonstrate that they are medically exempt:

  • COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial participants
  • anyone with a clinically approved medical reason why they cannot vaccinate. 

The possible reasons for medical exemption are limited, but include:

  • people receiving end of life care where vaccination is not in the person’s best interests
  • people with learning disabilities or autistic individuals, or people with a combination of impairments where vaccination cannot be provided through reasonable adjustments
  • a person with severe allergies to all currently available vaccines
  • those who have had an adverse reaction to the first dose (for example, myocarditis)
  • those with an exemptions for a short-term medical condition
  • pregnant women* who choose not to be vaccinated, however the exemption will expire 16 weeks after giving birth.

*Pregnant women can use MAT B1 certificates to show their COVID status in place of a medical exemption NHS COVID Pass. 

woman receiving covid-19 vaccine

What is Covid certification?  

Vaccine-or-test certification requires you to demonstrate one of the following:

  • it is at least 2 weeks since you completed a full course of vaccination in England, Wales or Scotland
  • you are medically exempt, for example if you are taking part in a clinical trial
  • you have a negative PCR or rapid lateral flow test taken within 48 hours of entry to a venue. At-home and on-site tests are both accepted, but a lateral flow test taken at home will need to be reported into the public reporting system

Proof of natural immunity shown by a positive PCR test result for COVID-19 and following completion of the self-isolation period is no longer accepted.

The easiest way to get a Covid pass is through the NHS App, the NHS website (NHS.UK) or request a letter via 119 (select ‘NHS COVID Pass service’). 

When using pre-arrival certification such as Trusted Trace you simply upload a photo or screenshot of your NHS evidence. 

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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