Organising your social distanced wedding ceremony due to coronavirus

Supplier Member

How can you organise your wedding throughout the coronavirus outbreak, following the government rules?

Following a release from the government yesterday, on the 29th June, we finally have some news regarding weddings during the coronavirus crisis. I know that everyone is keen to get back to “normal” for weddings. And although wedding ceremonies can now commence – we are still a long way off from how we want weddings to be. Rules have been loosened but we are not back to normal – YET

Here is a summary on some of those rules, to see the full document please click the link at the bottom of the page. Ceremonies as stated by the government will not be how we want them to happen; of course this is not ideal, for couples nor the industry. But it is a step forward, and I know that is what the industry wants. Every small step brings us closer to “normalcy”. I do wish however that the 30 people extended to a small celebration as well, I do feel it’s a shame couples cannot have a meal with guests after the ceremony. As it is, couples are being encouraged to have “as quick a ceremony” as possible before simply heading home.

Remember the announcement is for ceremonies only, and the number of 30 includes the person conducting the ceremony and any suppliers. At this stage receptions are not possible unless with 6 people, your bubble or 2 x households.


Supplier Member

Helen Noble Celebrant of Surrey


Summary of the key guidelines

  1. It is now possible to have a civil ceremony or religious ceremony in England
    • Provided you can meet the legal requirements to marry (giving notice, reading of banns or special licence from the bishop)
  2. Ceremonies are for a maximum of 30 people
    • Guests must maintain a social distance of 2 metres or 1 metre
    • The 30 people includes the couple, suppliers and registrar/priest
  3. Receptions are strongly advised not to take place at this time.
    • Small celebrations should only take place if following social distancing guidelines – i.e. in groups of up to two households indoors, or up to 6 people from different households outdoors.
    • Large receptions and parties should not take place
  1. Please be aware not all venues will open, you will need to contact them first.
    • Venues will only open if they deem it safe to do so
    • This applies to venues and places of worship
  2. It has been advised that ceremonies are as short as possible, the traditional length of ceremonies is below so I would make an assumption that all ceremonies will be cut down in half
    • 30 minutes for a civil ceremony
    • 40-60 minutes for a church of England ceremony
    • 60 minutes for a catholic ceremony
  3. No food or drink can be consumed as part of the event
  4. Rings should be handled by as few people as possible and hands washed before hand
  5. In terms of music / singing
    • People should avoid chanting or singing or playing music loud that results in voices being raised. This is due to risk involved with transmission of the coronavirus virus
    • Instruments that need to be blown into should be avoided EVEN if social distancing is followed
    • No communal singing, pre recordings are advised instead
  6. Avoid seating which is face to face
    • Change layouts to accommodate this if necessary
    • Reduce number of people in any enclosed space
    • Consider asking guests to wear masks
    • People from different households should maintain social distance
  7. Reusable items like hymn books or prayer mats should be removed
  8. Cash donations should be discouraged

Wedding organised by planner member Emily Andrews

How can you make the ceremony special?

My key advice to couples choosing to have a social distanced wedding is to remember your reason why. Remember your love. Remember that the most important thing is exchanging your vows and becoming married.

Of course this is not how you imagined your day to be. But I know some couples do not want to wait and will choose this option.

  • Ask a singer to record themselves singing and play this during the ceremony
  • Have wedding cookies or individual wedding cakes presented to guests as they leave but with a little note to say for them to eat when at home
  • Create a social distance group photo, ask your photographer for some creative ideas

For more advice on elopements or micro weddings read our blog post here

Can I legally get married?

In order to have a legal civil ceremony you will need to give notice , register office are now beginning to open and are booking couples in according to when their wedding date is. And if you are marrying in Church of England and the banns cannot be read you will need a special licence from the bishop.

What if my venue decides not to open?

Venues have been advised to only open if it is safe for them to do so. If your preferred venue is not open I’m afraid that means searching for a venue that will open. This is an ideal task to delegate to a wedding planner who might know some hidden gems.

What do we think weddings will be like by the end of 2020?

Of course we don’t know for sure, and it depends on whether we have further spikes in the UK. But we are all hopeful that weddings of 60-80 MAY be allowed by the end of the year with small daytime receptions . This is purely hypothetical but this would be a fabulous step forward

How can you celebrate a legal ceremony this year, with a reception next year?

As mentioned I know there are couples that will want to get married this year, they just want to become married even if that means they have to delay the “wedding”.

But the good news is, this means you can literally create a day that you really want in 2021 and almost don’t need to think about traditions as much. You can have an independent celebrant conduct a truly personal service for you. You can decide what traditions to keep and which ones to scrap. You can create a day with fun and laughter every step of the year. And by goodness I think we all need this next year.


Government Release 29th June

Photo Credit

Feature Image- Perfect World Ceremonies by Meryl Photography

Helen Noble photo by Nicola and Glen

Emily Andrews clients photographed by Benjamin Mathers

Caption image by Kerry Morgan 


Useful links

Planning an elopement or micro wedding blog post

Postponing your wedding due to coronavirus blog post

Wedding suppliers

Wedding Planners

Wedding Venues

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