As lockdown measures are re-introduced across England, weddings and civil ceremonies are banned once again. Here’s everything you need to know.

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Credit: Jeremy Wong Weddings via Unsplash

Ever since the coronavirus pandemic hit, we’ve been speculating the fate of the wedding industry and trying to predict what weddings after COVID-19 will look like. While an earlier ease in lockdown measures saw the ban on weddings and civil ceremonies lifted, and a later update saw receptions of up to 30 people permitted, the government has now put the county back on Lockdown.

Lockdown Wedding Rules

Following the news of a second lockdown across England, from 5th November 2020 weddings and civil partnership ceremonies will not be permitted to take place. However, there are exceptions where one of those getting married is seriously ill and not expected to recover. These weddings are limited to 6 people


Wedding ceremonies and ‘sit-down’ receptions were previously permitted, with a strict limit of 15 people.

Wedding Rules in Tiers 1, 2 and 3 Explained

In a bid to combat the coronavirus in the UK, the government lay out a new tier system, separating different areas into Medium, High and Very High risk categories. Depending on the level of risk in your area, a tiered system of new lockdown measures will apply.

Many parts of the UK deemed High or Very High have now been placed in Tiers 2 and 3, which have brought about new restrictions on socialising and household mixing. This means new rules may apply to your wedding day.

Weddings in Tier 1

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If you’re are getting married in a Tier 1 area, the COVID-19 wedding rules are the same as they were prior to the introduction of the new system.

Your wedding will still have to adhere to the national guidelines put in place. As it stands this means, despite the Rule of Six, 15 people can attend a wedding ceremony. Wedding receptions of up to 15 people are also still permitted, but they must be ‘sit-down receptions’ in COVID-secure venues. In England, the 10pm curfew still stands.

Weddings in Tier 2

Local restrictions come into force in Tier 2, meaning the lockdown wedding rules may differ from area to area.

For regular socialising, you are no longer allowed to mix households inside. However, if you are getting married in a Tier 2 zone, the government has said the existing rules to weddings still apply.

This means you can still hold a 15 person wedding ceremony and a sit-down reception to follow. In England, the 10pm curfew still stands.

Weddings in Tier 3

Areas with highest rates of cases and deemed the most at at risk, will enter into Tier 3.

This sees further limits on socialising, mixing households or bubbles and will affect some business operations. Tier 3 wedding rules dictate you can still have 15 people attend your ceremony, but wedding receptions are banned. 

Those thinking of moving the location of you’re wedding to a lower tiered area should also be aware that current rules stipulate you carry the restrictions of your hometown wherever you travel.

The Post-Lockdown Wedding Rules

When the Prime Minister gave permission for weddings and civil ceremonies to take place from Saturday 4th July, he also introduced a series of COVID-19 wedding rules. These rules and restrictions have been adapted as we continue to fight the global pandemic and are subject to change. Check out the latest lockdown wedding rules you’ll need to follow:

  • Only 15 people in total allowed to attend the ceremony
  • ‘Sit-down’ receptions of up to 15 people permitted
  • Outdoor receptions can have up to 15 people from different households
  • Social distancing: members of the different households will have to adhere to the new 1m social distancing measures.
  • Father’s cannot walk their daughters arm-in-arm down the aisle (if they’re in different households)
  • Couples need to wash their hands after exchanging rings
  • No food or drink to be served or consumed
  • No singing
  • No using instruments that need to be blown into
  • Organs are allowed but need to be cleaned before use
  • Spoken vows and readings to ‘not be in a raised voice’

What the new Lockdown Wedding Rules Mean

Although the easing of lockdown measures has meant many brides and grooms-to-be can move ahead with their wedding plans in the UK from the 4th July, these new rules will have a huge affect on how your wedding day will run and what it will look like.

Read more: Here’s What Weddings After COVID-19 Might Look Like

Social Distancing at Weddings in Lockdown

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After initially enforcing a full-on ban on all weddings and ceremonies on 23rd March 2020, from next week weddings will be permitted in England. However, as some lockdown measures and social distancing are still being enforced, you’re big day will look very different.

Be aware that these new social distancing rules in particular may takeaway some of the intimate moments you should treasure from your wedding. For example fathers will not be able to walk their daughters down the aisle arm-in-arm and hugs of congratulations from members of another household will be discouraged.

This may also mean big changes to the layout of your venue and order of the day.

Read More: Father of the Bride Speech Guide

More Ceremony Rules

During the wedding ceremony singing in groups is not permitted, nor are any instruments which require the user to blow into them. You will also need to ensure any speeches, readings or vows avoid any raised voices.

When it comes to food and drink at your wedding, serving or consuming is not permitted unless under exceptional circumstances and couples will need to wash their hands after the exchange of rings.

Venues will be advised to keep a record of all visitors for 21 days, in case they need to be traced following an outbreak of coronavirus within the wedding party.Couples are also advised to keep their ceremonies as short as possible.

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Read More: What is a Micro-Wedding and why Should you Have One?

COVID-19 Wedding Reception Rules

It was previously “strongly advised” for receptions after the wedding to take place, and a number of venues had banned them all together.

Now, the government has given the go-ahead for wedding receptions of up to 30 guests to take place from 15 August.

If you are planning a small wedding reception, be weary that for the time being it is only small celebrations that are permitted and you will need to adhere to strict guidelines. Your venues may also have their own social distancing measures and rules in place.

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Ruby is Digital Editor of Wedding Ideas and the brand's sister magazines, Baby and Little London. Overseeing Wedding Ideas' online presence, Ruby covers everything from bridal fashion and beauty trends to venues, budgets and whether Brexit will affect your big day. When she's not navigating the world of weddings or scouring the internet for the latest lifestyle and beauty trends, you'll probably find Ruby trawling through the Zara sales, escaping the city for a weekend at the spa or cashing in the discount vouchers at her local Pizza Express. And when that doesn't work, she'll be parked on the sofa midway through a Netlfix crime documentary binge.