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Weddings After Lockdown in 2021

Weddings After Lockdown in 2021


Alison Hargreaves Updated:
8th of March 2023

Latest: 9th August - Scotland has moved into Beyond Level 0.

7th August - Most Covid-19 regulations are lifted in Wales. This removes the legal limit on how many people can meet or attend a wedding. However, the rules on face coverings in indoor public places remains and all venues open to the public must carry out a risk assessment.

Each UK nation is currently in the process of coming out of various lockdowns. They are all doing so at different speeds and with different (often provisional) dates in place. We've included a brief summary and all the relevant government links to the current, available guidance for each UK nation below.

Find the guidance summaries and latest update for your UK Nation:

Where can I find the guidance for Weddings in England?

Gov guidance

As ever, we will be analysing and understanding the updated guidance to answer your questions on what it means for weddings going forward. This page will be updated regularly and answer your questions with live Q+As. Please ensure you are following us on Facebook and Instagram to be notified when we go Live.

Step 4 Weddings

On the 19th of July, England moved into Step 4. The tough border policy will remain in place, however, events such as weddings will be governed by guidance rather than laws.

Here are the key points that changed on July 19th:

  • Guidance on covid-safety will be given rather than laws.
  • All guest limit restrictions on weddings will be lifted allowing unlimited guests indoors and outdoors.
  • There will be no legal requirement to wear a face covering, however advice will be given on where individuals should consider wearing them.
  • The social distancing rule (1m + mitigations) will be removed, allowing for dancing.
  • No legal requirement to "check-in" to a venue.
  • Individual venues and couples will be able to make their own decisions on how to reduce the risk of an outbreak at a wedding.
  • Fully-vaccinated UK residents attending a wedding overseas or coming from overseas to attend a wedding will not need to self-isolate when returning from Amber List countries.

Read the official government page for more details.

Good news for venues:

In addition to a proposed end to the legal requirement to 'check in' to hospitality venues, from 16 August, anyone in England who has been fully vaccinated, will no longer be required to self-isolate if they have been in close contact with a person who tests positive for Covid. This is particularly good news for wedding venues and businesses that currently risk temporary closure if they come into contact with a couple or wedding guest with Covid.

What guest numbers are allowed at English weddings and when?

As of July 19th, England is currently in Step 4 so there are no longer any limits on guest numbers for weddings. 

Current Guidance Summary:

  • There are no legal restrictions on the number of people that can attend a wedding ceremony or reception.
  • Legal requirements for social distancing will no longer apply and you will not need to stay 2 metres apart from people you do not live with.
  • Face coverings are no longer required by law in any setting.
  • COVID-secure rules, including table service requirements and restrictions on singing and dancing, will no longer apply.

Read the guidance for ceremonies and wedding receptions in full to understand what is and is not allowed in more detail.

Other relevant guidance includes:

  • There are no limits on how many people can meet
  • 1m-plus guidance has been removed
  • Face coverings are no longer required by law, although the government still "expects and recommends" them in crowded and enclosed spaces

Where can I find the guidance for Weddings in Wales?

The latest government guidance for weddings in Wales is on the government website.

Gov guidance

Latest: 7th August - Most Covid-19 regulations are lifted in Wales. This removes the legal limit on how many people can meet or attend a wedding. However, the rules on face coverings in indoor public places remains with the exception of hospitality venues and all venues open to the public must carry out a coronavirus risk assessment.

Face coverings:

Face coverings requirements remain in all indoor settings with the exception of hospitality settings designed for food and drink. It down to the discretion of these hospitality venues to determine where face coverings are required.

The Welsh government's guidance states: "Adults and children over 12 must continue to wear face-coverings in indoor public places, with the exception of hospitality settings such as restaurants, pubs, cafes or nightclubs."

Read the updated guidance from the Welsh Government for more information.

Where can I find the guidance for Weddings in Scotland?

The latest government guidance for weddings in Scotland is on the government website.

Gov guidance

Latest: 9th August - Scotland has moved into Beyond Level 0, with most restrictions on social mixing being lifted.

On the 5th of August, The Scottish Weddings Alliance received confirmation from the Scottish Government that while face masks still need to be worn during the wedding ceremony, they do not need to be worn whilst dancing, during the drinks reception, canapés or drinks at the bar. This has now been published in the guidance on good practice for the tourism and hospitality sector.

All legal requirements for social distancing have been removed.

Face coverings:

Face coverings are still required to be worn in specific instances at hospitality settings. There are specific exemptions for weddings:

  • All attendees at an indoor wedding ceremony are required to wear a face covering. The couple and officiant are exempt.
  • Those walking down the aisle at the ceremony are not required to wear a face covering. However, face coverings must be worn after this moment.
  • Guests are able to remove face coverings when eating, drinking and dancing at a wedding indoors.
  • Guests will still be required to wear face coverings in indoor public spaces such as public toilets and reception areas of hotels.

Other rules:

Very few rules remain in place for weddings in Scotland, but notably there are still requirements for venues to complete a Covid-19 risk assessment and put mitigations in place to reduce the risk of an outbreak. Venues are also required to collect guest contact details for Test and Protect.

More information on contact tracing can be found in the good practice guidance.

Where can I find the guidance for Weddings in Northern Ireland?

The latest government guidance for weddings in Northern Ireland is on the government website.

Gov guidance

Latest Update: Restrictions for weddings will be lifted on 22nd July, subject to ratification. From 21st June, live music will be permitted (without dancing) at low volumes inside and without Covid-related volume restrictions outside. Social distancing measures of 1m remain in place.

Current wedding guidance for Northern Ireland can be summarised as the following:

  • Wedding receptions are allowed to take place again. The maximum permitted numbers depends on the venue’s Covid-safe capacity, subject to risk assessments by individual venues.
  • Other than the ‘top table’, all tables at the reception are restricted to a maximum of 10 people. Children under 12 are excluded from table numbers and there is no household limit.
  • Dancing is not permitted, however, 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. Face coverings do not have to be worn by the marriage party during the ceremony.
  • Up to four people will be permitted to attend viewings at wedding venues.
  • Post-ceremony celebrations in private homes must comply with domestic setting regulation.

We have found this BBC News article to be the most helpful to summarise the current restrictions in Northern Ireland.

As always, we encourage you to fully read the guidance for your nation and speak to your venue and suppliers 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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