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What Are The Rules On Weddings In The UK?

What Are The Rules On Weddings In The UK?

Alison Hargreaves Guides for Brides Bio
Alison Hargreaves Updated:
8th of March 2023

The latest guidelines for weddings and gatherings during the Coronavirus pandemic, from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. We'll update this feature as and when things change, as the measures in place are subject to periodic review.

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.

Weddings and related gatherings in ENGLAND

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is in charge of England’s COVID Policy


On July 12th, Boris Johnson confirmed that restrictions will lift in England on the 19th of July. As of July 19th, there is no longer a limit on guest numbers at weddings. Read Weddings After Lockdown in 2021 for a summary of and the links to the available wedding guidance in each UK nation.

Read our summary of the four steps for easing lockdown.


As of July 19th, there are now no limits on how many people can meet and the 1m-plus guidance has been removed.

Weddings and related gatherings in SCOTLAND

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is in charge of Scotland’s COVID Policy


Nicola Sturgeon announced that all areas of Scotland move to the lowest level zero restrictions, with a few modifications, from the 19th of July. This means up to 200 people can attend a marriage ceremony or wedding reception. Physical distancing rules will also change which will mean. Read our guide to Scotland's tier system what the rules on weddings and related gatherings are in your area.


All of Scotland is in Covid protection level 0 from 19th July. So, up to eight people from up to four households can meet indoors at home, up to 10 people from up to four households can meet in a public indoor space and up to 15 people from up to 15 households can meet outdoors - whether in a private garden or public place.

Weddings and related gatherings in WALES

First Minister Mark Drakeford is in charge of Wales’ COVID Policy


From 17 July, up to 1,000 people can attend an indoor wedding if they are seated, or 200 standing. There are other rules in place though - such as only the bride and groom being able to take part in the first dance, social distancing and masks when people are not seated or eating.

There will be no limit on the number who can attend an outdoor event. Outdoor events and venues will also have greater flexibility around physical distancing.

While a small band, string group or choir can perform as people walk down the aisle or at a wedding reception, the guidance says loud music should be avoided, performers should be socially distanced, and brass and wind instruments should not be used.


From July 17th, Wales moved fully into Alert Level 1, which means that the legal limits on the number of people who can gather outdoors will be removed. Up to 6 people will be able to gather private homes from this date. A provisional date of August 7th has been set for Wales to move fully to Alert Level 0.

Weddings and related gatherings in NORTHERN IRELAND

First Minister Arlene Foster is in charge of Northern Ireland’s COVID Policy (image credit: Evening Standard)


Latest: May 24th - Wedding receptions are now allowed to take place once more. The maximum permitted numbers depends on the venue’s Covid-safe capacity. The updated rules also state that:

    • Other than the ‘top table’ all tables are restricted to a maximum of 10. Children under 12 are excluded from table numbers.
    • Dancing is not permitted, the only exception to this is the couple’s ‘first dance’. Live music is not permitted, and ambient music must be at a level that permits normal conversation.
    • A person responsible for a hospitality business must take reasonable measures to ensure that social distancing measures are maintained at all times to limit the risk of transmission of the coronavirus.
    • Face coverings must be worn if you leave your table (to access toilet facilities/in public areas), unless exempt.

The Northern Ireland government rules for wedding ceremonies and civil partnerships are not subject to specific number limits. The number of permitted attendees depends on the Covid-safe capacity of the venue, which is determined by a risk assessment. The same now applies for receptions or post-wedding celebrations. 


In public settings: Up to 500 people may gather outdoors, subject to a risk assessment by the venue. There is no specific limit on numbers for indoor public gatherings, it will depend on the venue's Covid-safe capacity.

In private settings: Up to 15 people from three households can gather in a privates garden. Up to 6 people from two households can gather indoors in a private home.

Restrictions will be eased further on 26 July, if approved at a review on 22 July. These changes include 10 people from three households able to meet inside a private home,  15 people from any number of households able to meet in a private garden and docial distancing reduced to 1m indoors and removed for outdoor activities.

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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