Weddings with up to 30 people allowed as sector takes step towards normality

Coronavirus – Lockdown Anniversary (PA Wire)
22:39pm, Sun 16 May 2021
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Newlyweds in England are now able to share their big day with up to 30 friends and family as weddings take another step back to normality.

Covid restrictions remain present, however, and while social distancing between people who do not live together is not required, guests must still wear face coverings and are advised not to dance.

The Weddings Taskforce, set up with the support of the Government to represent the sector, said 94% of weddings – 261,883 – did not go ahead as planned last year, as well as about another 100,000 over the first half of this year.

The societal value of weddings needs to be acknowledged and people be allowed to take decisions themselves if they feel at risk.

Taskforce spokeswoman Sarah Haywood said: “We expect in excess of 800,000 weddings within the first two years of a resumption of full trading, made up of those that were already due to take place and the backlog due to the pandemic restrictions.”

Sarah Allard, editor of wedding planning site Hitched, said 49% of all wedding dates in its system were taking place between June and December this year.

Ms Allard said: “It’s looking to be a very busy time for the industry. Our data shows that 69% of couples who postponed their 2020 wedding are planning to tie the knot between April and August this year.

“In addition, 40% of UK couples forced to downsize their 2020 wedding plan to hold another reception in the future and a quarter plan to hold a party to celebrate, meaning couples won’t have to miss out on their dream day.”

However the Weddings Taskforce said there was continued confusion around a lack of parity with other events now allowed to take place.

Ms Haywood said: “The disparity with wider events and now wider hospitality means there is a gaping chasm between our sector and those engaging in similar activities. Penalising us and our consumers to this degree – and when Government know we are a demoralised and decimated sector on the verge of collapse is at best perplexing.

“There is no reason to not trust our responsible sector to produce Covid-secure events immediately.

“A huge proportion of the population has been vaccinated, we can test the status of staff and guests before the event and we know and can trace every person working on and attending every event.

“We have a prescribed series of activities that happen within a wedding and we have the ability to safely manage events. The societal value of weddings needs to be acknowledged and people be allowed to take decisions themselves if they feel at risk.”

Heli Kroonsaare, who is due to get married in a registry office in Lewes, East Sussex, on June 14, has already cancelled her wedding celebration planned for June 18 on the Greek island of Corfu.

She has found a new venue for the reception in Lewes but said: “We don’t really know if we can go ahead with it. As it’s last moment and nobody knows what’s going on, it’s complicated.

“We don’t mind only being able to have 30 people, but it’s tricky because family members want to be involved. It’s hard to understand when football matches can have 1,000 people.

“I’m not feeling excited at all. I’m somewhat anxious, angry even. It’s a comedy, almost.”

Ministers are hoping that step four of the road map – due no sooner than June 21 – will see the removal of all limits on life events such as weddings.

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