Lockdown Wedding Planning

Plandemic: How to Plan a Socially Distanced Wedding

As small and intimate weddings begin to take place again across the United Kingdom, here's how to plan a simple and elegant wedding in a world of social distancing.

11 September 2020 EDITOR - ERNEST JONES

The invitations had been sent out, the rings carefully chosen and the outfit, oh the outfit … and then Covid-19 arrived and quickly brought all wedding plans, and most other things, to an abrupt halt. But as small intimate weddings begin to take place again, here is how you can have a beautiful, love-filled day whilst still keeping yourself and your guests safe and healthy.

Are wedding receptions allowed?

From 15th August onwards, intimate weddings can begin to take place again, an exciting development for thousands of couples whose dream weddings have been put in limbo. Most venues are allowing couples to change their wedding dates, but if you decide you simply don’t want to wait any longer - let’s face it, who knows when things will begin to return to normal - then you can start to make plans for a simple, elegant wedding that you’ll remember forever. You might even find that exchanging your vows in such an intimate way is more meaningful to you and your partner. After all, your vows are just as heartfelt said in front of 30 people as they are 300.

The Government guidelines are designed to minimise risk and are in place to keep everyone as safe as possible, but understandably, the strict rules and the uncertainty around the virus can be overwhelming for bride and grooms to be. Chances are, the rules are going to make your big day feel very different to what you had originally planned, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make the rules work for you and still have a happy, elegant and intimate day. Here we will explain the latest Coronavirus guidelines and what that will mean for your big day.

Choosing the guestlist for a lockdown wedding:

Chances are, the invite list will almost certainly need to be revised! You might want to consider the fairness of splitting the available invites between both families, or considering whether it might be safer if grandparents or other guests over the age of 70, or those who have been shielding, can celebrate with you at a later date.

The best starting point for the revised guestlist is to think about who you could simply not imagine having your big day without. And whilst uninviting friends and family may be difficult, most people will understand and even sympathise with the compromises you have to make. This is the time for a personal touch, so if you can’t chat to them face-to-face, then make a phone call or video call, after all the tone of a text or email can be so easily misunderstood.

A great way to host a simple wedding but still have all your friends and family involved, albeit remotely, is to live stream your ceremony. You can also create a wedding hashtag and ask friends and family who are in attendance to share pictures so that people at home can still feel a part of the action. When it’s safe to do so, you can throw the party of your dreams with all your family and friends, so that will be something for you and your would-have-been guests to look forward to.

Throwing a safe, socially-distanced ceremony and wedding reception:
  • How many people can attend? The rules currently state wedding receptions can be attended by up to 30 people in England, although in Scotland numbers are restricted to 20. In Northern Ireland, the venue conducts a risk assessment to determine the number of guests allowed, and in Wales, indoor receptions are still off-limits. You need to remember that people such as the officiant, photographers and videographers are included within the total number of people allowed to attend, but the staff at the venue and third-party catering staff are excluded.

  • Safety in the ceremony: Staying safe is a hugely important consideration for you, your guests and any staff at the venue, so you’ll need to maintain social distancing, keep ceremonies as succinct as possible, and not eat or drink during the service. This doesn’t mean you’ll need to rush through your vows, and many venues will still allow a reading and for couples to say their own vows as well as the legal declarations. Couples will also be expected to wash hands before the exchange of rings, and speeches shouldn’t involve raised voices and should be done outside or in a well ventilated area.

  • Seating plans: It’s best to assign seats for the ceremony and the wedding reception to avoid mixing between bubbles as much as possible. Maintaining social distancing of 2 metres will be encouraged, although 1 metre with risk mitigation will be allowed, so expect the venue to use signage and floor markings to remind people. Keeping tables to one household, avoiding face-to-face seating plans, and encouraging the regular use of hand sanitisers will help to keep your guests happy and healthy. A nice touch is to decorate face coverings and bottles of hand sanitiser and to put them on the tables, or at the end of the aisle, just in case anyone forgets theirs. Don’t worry though, you won’t be expected to wear them for the photos!

  • The venue: Your Covid-19 secure wedding venue will, no doubt, have simple wedding ideas and some great practical advice to help keep you and your guests as safe as possible. From maintaining social distancing, improving ventilation and even using protective screens where and when necessary. All of this is to help you, so leave your anxiety at the front door and just go with the flow.

  • Music: Live music is now allowed as long as the guidance for people working in the performing arts is followed. However, any singers or musicians will be counted in your wedding party numbers, so it may be best to simply make a playlist and have someone handle fading the perfect song in and out for your big walk down the aisle.

  • Getting ready: Good news for lovers of a bit of pampering, make-up artists are now allowed to attend homes or venues to apply your ‘look’ as long as they wear a mask and visor. You can also get ready with your bridesmaids or groomsmen, as long as they are in your bubble.

  • Can you be walked down the aisle? This depends on your bubble, but if your dad, mum or whoever you wanted to give you away is part of it, then yes you can.

Whilst the list of do’s and don’ts might feel pretty extensive, they are there to keep you and your loved ones safe. Try looking at it this way, it’s because of the existence of these rules that you and your partner can make a lifetime commitment to each other during one of the most unprecedented times most of us will ever experience. So if you’ve decided not to wait any longer, we have no doubt your intimate wedding will be beautiful, memorable and just as meaningful to you both. If you want some lockdown wedding inspiration, read how Ernest Jones customers, Naomi and Dan, brought their dream lockdown wedding to life. Or, if you need any help picking out some wedding jewellery, wedding rings or favours for your bridal party, browse online or visit us in-store where one of the team will be happy to help.

For the latest guidance, information about local restrictions and for rules applying to different parts of the United Kingdom, it’s best to check the Covid-19 wedding and civil partnerships page on the gov.uk website.