After months of having to choose just 30 close relatives and friends to celebrate their nuptials with, couples in England will in theory be allowed to invite their full guest list from 21 June.
But the rules are not so straightforward: commercial venues will need to carry out a risk assessment beforehand, and the maximum number of guests will be dictated by how many socially distanced tables of six they have the space to seat. Dancing and singing are banned, unless you are in a private garden, and no more than six guests are permitted in private homes.
The news brings to an end an anxious few days for many couples planning weddings, even if for many the rule change will not enable them to throw the parties they had hoped for.
Jason Szollosi, 28, and his fiance, Sally, 25, from Lincoln, spent the day frantically refreshing news websites in pursuit of some certainty regarding their wedding on 26 June.
After the announcement, Szollosi said he needed to speak to his venue about how many tables it would be able to accommodate, but suspects he will have to cut his 120-person guest list down to 60. “It’s going to be a stressful two weeks. The feeling right now is uncertainty,” he said.
The couple are reluctant to postpone as they would face £3,500 in venue hire costs.
“We’re disappointed, we can’t have everyone we wanted but it’s better than 30 people or cancelling it for next year.
“We’ve had this wedding planned for two years, it’s been a ‘will they, won’t they’ experience. Earlier this year we were ready to call it quits and move the date, but were happy to find that it was actually going to be doable,” said Szollosi, a professional video game tester.
The picture for Josie Collier, 28, a project manager at a UK bank, and her partner, Jonny Pickles, 32, is equally uncertain. The couple, from Halifax in West Yorkshire, have their wedding day scheduled for 3 July after they booked the venue in 2019 and settled on a date when the government published its roadmap for easing lockdown restrictions in February.
The wedding in total will cost the couple about £20,000, but some of that could be lost if they delay.
“Because of Covid, no one wants to insure us, so we don’t know where we stand financially,” said Collier. “We’ve tried to leave some details as late as possible in case dates did change, but in the past few weeks we have finalised menu choices, song lists, table plans, had our final outfit fittings, purchased wedding favours with dates on – all of which have cost us money.”
Collier plans to ring her venue to check the maximum number of guests, but thinks she will most likely postpone as the rules are likely to change the nature of the celebration she had been planning.
“I just feel a bit confused and let down,” she said. “We don’t know whether our venue can hold 50 or 150 people. Can we have drinks outside? Canapes outside? I don’t feel any the wiser. If we go ahead with the wedding it’s not the one we want, but if we postpone it’s more months of stress.”