Wedding ceremonies and sit-down receptions will be cut from 30 people to 15 in England, as coronavirus cases rise.Wedding celebrations can only take place at “Covid-secure” venues, and are an exception to rules banning groups of more than six in most circumstances.But the rules on weddings vary across the UK.
Are weddings allowed at the moment?
Weddings were banned when lockdown began on 23 March, affecting 73,600 weddings and civil partnership ceremonies.They are now allowed in all four UK nations, but with different rules.
- Groups of more than six people from different households can’t meet up in England – but wedding ceremonies and sit-down receptions are an exception. From 28 September, up to 15 people allowed to attend at a “Covid-secure” venue, down from 30
- In Scotland, wedding ceremonies of up to 20 people can be held, but receptions must follow the rules for social gatherings
- Small outdoor wedding ceremonies are allowed in Northern Ireland, or they can take place indoors if someone is terminally ill – the number of guests is based on the venue’s risk assessment
- In Wales, receptions of up to 30 people are allowed
How will coronavirus affect my wedding?
The government has published guidelines on how to have a ”Covid-secure” wedding in England.
- Venues can only reopen if they can do so safely
- Ceremonies should be as short as possible
- No food or drink should be consumed unless essential for the ceremony
- Group singing and playing of instruments should be avoided
- A maximum of 15 should attend, and only where there is space to socially distance. This includes guests, the officiant and any staff not employed by the venue, like a photographer
- Different households should stay at least one metre apart
- The venue should record visitors’ details, in case they need to be traced
What should I do if I am due to get married soon?
If you feel your day will be too different from what you wanted, it is generally better to postpone rather than cancel.Couples ”need to be understanding” of current issues for venues and suppliers, says Henrietta Dunkley of Ellis Jones Solicitors.
Many could have lost significant sums of money, so aim for a solution that works for everyone, she advises.For example, if the wedding was on a Saturday or in peak season and the venue can’t offer an equivalent date, it’s generally reasonable to ask for a fee reduction, or an upgrade.
What are my rights if my wedding couldn’t happen?
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has published guidance on consumer weddings rights.It says:
- If your ceremony was due between late March and late September, and you cancelled before lockdown was partially lifted in July, you are entitled to a refund
- This applies even if you paid a ”non-refundable” deposit. But a venue or supplier has a right to subtract ”limited” costs for services it has already provided, such as a wedding meal tasting
- A venue can also withhold money it has spent on your day that it cannot recover, such as staff planning the wedding, but cannot claim for things like general staff costs or building maintenance
While venues and suppliers may be entitled to keep part of your deposit, consumer rights law states they must give you a costs breakdown.
If your wedding is from October onwards, that’s where things become trickier.If your wedding will now have be ”radically different” to what was agreed, you are entitled to the rights laid out above.If it is a less significant change, then a proportionate price reduction would be appropriate – and you should not face ”disproportionately high charges” if you still want to cancel.
Can I claim on wedding insurance?
Most wedding insurance does not cover a ”government act”, so it is unlikely to pay out if the lockdown affected your wedding.However, a few wedding insurers are paying out under some circumstances.
Many insurers are not selling new wedding policies, so this only covers existing agreements.If not, you may have to register a claim with the administrator or can claim up to £30,000 per supplier from your credit card company for services not rendered, under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act. If you paid on debit card, you may be able to secure a refund under the chargeback scheme.
Can suppliers and venues charge me more if I postpone?
Businesses are not allowed to just hike up prices.Ms Dunkley says some couples have found venues are charging them far more for a postponed wedding than if they were a new customer. This is unlikely to be deemed reasonable.The CMA has set up a taskforce to investigate harmful pricing practices during the pandemic. Consumers can fill in this form if they feel a business has treated them unfairly.Some insurance policies will pay out if your supplier or venue goes bust.