Under the current national lockdown rules in England, weddings are not permitted to take place unless in exceptional circumstances until the 2nd of December. Back in September the government had given us a glimpse of good news that weddings and civil partnerships in England would be allowed up to 15 people with effect from 28th September. Although, it was still restrictive, it did allow many to marry with some of their closest family and friends.
So what restrictions might we expect after 2nd December?
I think it is fairly safe to assume that when we are out of this current lockdown we will return to the restrictions imposed by the national tier system. Couples planning a wedding in England should prepare to be potentially limited to 15 people until the end of March 2021.
How soon will Registrars be able to perform weddings?
So the Government guidance stating that weddings would be able to take place in England in approved venues, places of worship and register offices. This is so that they can easily inspect these buildings to ensure they all at provide the same high level of COVID-security and that the registrars, the couple and their guests won’t be at risk.
Once registry offices are COVID-secure, they will be able to start face to face meetings, and enable couples to give Notice of Marriage. As registrars juggle these duties alongside registering births and deaths, most will be prioritising those weddings due to take place in the next few months. Always check with your registrar for the most up-to-date information about giving notice of marriage during this time.
If you have had to postpone your civil ceremony or civil partnership and your Notice of Marriage has expired, you will need to give Notice again and pay the fee of £30 per person. This needs to be done at least 29 days prior to the marriage ceremony and will expire after 1 year.
What other options do we have to a civil ceremony?
If you were planning or hoping to have your wedding in the near future but your local registrar are unable to officiate, I wholly recommend speaking to a celebrant. Whilst celebrant ceremonies are not legally binding, I am a huge advocate for these symbolic ceremonies as they allow you a much more flexible wedding and will arrange a beautiful service, which is personal and unique to your own story.
For a truly award winning experience, I recommend my good friend Jenny Knight (pictured above) and her team at Knight Ceremonies. Independent celebrant ceremonies are still restricted to social gathering guidelines in England and Wales and will be subject to national lockdown or tier restrictions.
Hoping for a church wedding?
This varies according to geography and currently where you live, as church weddings and other religious services in England have been prohibited during the national lockdown. However, in Wales, the restrictions are permitting weddings to take place in places of worship and registry offices only. So please check with your registrar or vicar for the most up to date information in your location.
Similar to the Notice of Marriage, you will need to have your Banns read prior to being married. If your church is closed and you cannot attend a Sunday service, you may need to apply for a Special Marriage Licence from the Archbishop. This is only relevant if your Banns can’t be read at your church in time for your wedding or if you haven’t reached the habitual attendance requirements.
It may all seem a bit doom and gloom but hopefully by the 2nd December, we will know a little more about what to expect over the next six months. My advice is to stay positive, have a plan B contingency for worst case scenario, and remember that whatever your wedding day looks like and however you might have had to compromise, you will have the most wonderful of days to cherish forever. Love always finds a way.
Image credits: Berties Photograghy
References: Guides for Brides