THE IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON WEDDINGS WORLD WIDE HAS BEEN DEVASTATING
Around 250,000 marriages take place annually in the UK alone. The majority of these events happen between March and September. Almost all of those which were scheduled to take place during the Spring and Summer of 2020 have been postponed or cancelled as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic.
The effect of this has been heartbreaking; for couples whose wedding plans have been disrupted and for the Weddings Sector. For several months, the entire UK Wedding Industry, which ordinarily contributes £10bn to the UK economy on an annual basis, has been utterly paralyzed.
MANY COUPLES’ PLANS HAVE BEEN DISRUPTED, REPEATEDLY!
In June, the UK Government introduced a road map outlining a number of steps to ease lockdown restrictions, enabling small wedding ceremonies in a Church or licensed premises with no more than 30 people present. For couples who were particularly keen to tie the knot this year, plans for very small intimate wedding ceremonies were resurrected, even though celebrations remained on hold until a later date.
In July, a further announcement enabling small celebrations involving a sit down meal with no more than 30 people present (from 1st August) was welcomed. Indeed, at this point many couples and wedding industry professionals breathed a collective sigh of relief… until the 31st July when the Prime Minister pulled an eleventh hour U turn by announcing it was necessary to ‘squeeze the brake pedal’ and postpone the easing of the restrictions by another two weeks! Although ceremonies could continue to take place in line with COVID-Secure guidelines, wedding receptions of up to 30 people would NOT be permitted. Many couples’ plans were disrupted yet again!
ATTEMPTING TO NAVIGATE THE WEDDING PLANNING PROCESS, WITH SO MANY STOPS AND STARTS, FEELS LIKE RIDING A GIANT ROLLER COASTER
It is almost two years since I originally met Emma and Sean, whose wedding was originally scheduled to take place in May 2020. However, we were forced to make the difficult decision to reschedule their wedding to September, as news of the UK Coronavirus outbreak began to spread.
Besides rescheduling their original wedding plans involving a celebration with around 100 guests, we also identified a potential ‘back up’ date in 2021, just in case it wasn’t feasible for them to have the type of wedding they wanted in September.
Ultimately, what matters most to Emma and Sean is that they are able to get married in the presence of the people who truly love them. With this in mind, they have chosen to have a small, intimate wedding ceremony in line with COVID-Secure guidelines on Saturday 5th September 2020.
As their Wedding Planner, it is my job to ensure that absolutely nothing is overlooked. I firmly believe it is vital that anyone involved in planning a wedding does so responsibly and with integrity in light of the relevant Government guidelines. If we don’t, these easing of restrictions will be reversed, and our sector could be closed at the drop of a hat, again!
LET’S DO THIS SAFELY
Planning a Safe COVID-Secure Wedding Ceremony
- Check the capacity of the Church or licensed venue, allowing for social distancing measures. Make sure the space is large enough to accommodate everyone you wish to invite. In Emma and Sean’s case, the maximum number of people the Church could accommodate in line with COVID-Secure guidelines is just 30!
- Wherever you choose to hold your wedding ceremony – at a Church or licensed venue, you will need to create and display a seating plan. This enables guests who share households or who are in support bubbles to be seated together, potentially freeing up space for other guests who must maintain a safe distance from each other.
- Display your seating plan at the entrance to the Church or licensed venue and appoint an Usher to greet guests and explain the plan to them when they arrive. Put individual place markers on their seats or pews.
- Perhaps place each guest’s name on an individual sachet of confetti and use this as a place marker as this is a far safer way of distributing confetti than guests helping themselves to a handful of petals from the same basket.
- Encourage guests to take their allocated seats as soon as possible to mitigate the risk of people mingling in close proximity.
- In England, all guests are required to wear face coverings, unless they are exempt. It is possible to source bespoke face coverings incorporating your own personal message or insignia.
- When the Bridal party arrives at the Church or licensed venue, think about where they will gather prior to the beginning of the ceremony. This is particularly important in the event of poor weather.
- In the absence of any hymns or singing, an Order of Service has no practical purpose and is therefore not required.
- In England, the Bride and Groom, together with anyone involved in leading the ceremony/service are not required to wear face coverings. This also extends to anyone delivering a reading, whilst they are doing so.
- Anyone delivering a reading will need to ensure they take a copy of the reading with them as they should be the only person handling it.
- Whilst adhering to social distancing rules, it is no longer possible for the Best Man to pass the rings to the person conducting a wedding ceremony. Place a box containing the rings at the front of the Church or licensed venue or hand the box to the person leading the ceremony, prior to it beginning. Ensure this is factored into your wedding day plan.
- Invest time in discussing each of these points with the Vicar or Local Authority Registrar who will be conducting your ceremony, who may raise additional points based on their own interpretation of the guidelines.
In many ways, weddings organised in line with COVID-Secure guidelines will differ significantly to those we have attended in the past. That said, they need not be any less enjoyable. A smaller, more intimate gathering of close family members and friends is more personal and special on the basis that everyone who is present knows they have been specifically selected to be there.
If you are planning a wedding ceremony in line with COVID-Secure guidelines and would like any guidance or support, I am happy to offer an hour of my time with absolutely no obligation and entirely free of charge. Whatever stage of the wedding planning process you are at and whatever you choose to devote the time to is up to you. I am happy to share my wedding planning knowledge and experience with couples who would appreciate some support during these challenging times.
You are welcome to call me on 07561 107888 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. I am here to help.
The beautiful photography of Emma and Sean featured in this article is supplied by www.chrismilnerphotography.com