Wedding receptions are back on… but with COVID-19 guest and catering restrictions
Weddings receptions in the form of a sit-down meal are finally being allowed to go ahead from August 15, according to another Government easing of lockdown restrictions.
So, you’d initially tried on ten dresses, spent hours deliberating bridesmaids colours, and spent weeks choosing the perfect wedding venue, then coronavirus happened and everything was cancelled or put on hold, with a national lockdown effective from March 23.
Weddings were banned for months, affecting 73,000 weddings and civil partnerships. Eventually, small weddings were allowed to happen from July 4, but with no reception.
Then on the July 17, it was announced that wedding receptions of up to 30 people could go-ahead from August 1, with larger event spaces expected to open in October, leading the hospitality industry to believe this could be the first sign of normal weddings returning. But on the July 31, these measures were postponed until this week.
At present, weddings are only advised to go ahead under COVID-19 secure environments, which can be problematic if couples have already chosen their wedding venues based on features such as intimacy or traditional surroundings.
Davenport House is a Georgian country house wedding venue set in leafy Shropshire.
It exhibits traditional architectural features, original stone and wooden clad rooms, not the kind of place you could imagine would fit well putting up plastic screens everywhere.
We spoke to Lizzie Adams, who runs the manor house, about her approach to adapting coronavirus safety measures at the venue.
“Our approach to our couples is bespoke. We have tried to work with our brides who have communicated that they do not want to get married if they cannot have the wedding they have dreamed of.
“We have moved all of our weddings until next year, at the moment we do not have any brides who want to marry under the current restrictions.
“We are lucky enough to be in the position to do this, it is not the same for everyone. Some of our brides are still coming here for picnics on their original wedding date, or coming for pre-wedding shoots.”
“If we did have a couple that wanted to go ahead, we could be ready to go with relatively little notice. We do not plan to have plastic screens everywhere or to be policing everyone, but safety is very easy to facilitate for us, for both staff and couples.
“We already clean above the government required standards, it would be easy to have the contact details of all guests for the NHS track and trace. Hand sanitiser in all the bathrooms, even this we have thought about and have researched a quality sanitiser so that it fits in with the experience of having a wedding in a venue like this.
“We still want our couples to have an amazing wedding experience, when weddings restart.
“We offer a table service for all meals currently, this could be extended to a drinks table service also. We do not do any buffet style service, so again it would be easy to have one staff member managing all the needs for one table for examples”.
Wedding planning during COVID-19
Becky and Tom are due to be married next year at Davenport House, but they have fears about whether the wedding will go ahead as planned.
“We are hoping everything will be back to normal by then, but it is still worrying. We are very fortunate that most of our suppliers have rescheduled our date with no issues.
“Davenport House have been amazing, it feels as though they really want the best for their couples.
“We chose this venue because of its natural beauty. We do not want to have our big day ruined by coronavirus as it has for so many other couples.
“Although it is still so far away, it is still quite worrying and we are left with a lot of uncertainties about what the government rules will be at that time.”
New government guidelines released today show how different post lockdown weddings under coronavirus restrictions will be.
Here’s some of the new government rules for post-lockdown weddings:
#1 Food is back on the menu!
One of the main new changes to coronavirus restrictions for weddings is food and drink. Banned since the lockdown, stringent health and safety rules were in place to ensure there was no cross-contamination and less risk of the virus spreading, and rightly so.
However, the Government is now allowing up to 30 people to attend a sit-down meal for a wedding reception from August 15.
They further suggest changing traditional layouts to avoid face to face seating and improve ventilation. Venues are expected to respond to this guidance. Serious breaches of failure to comply can constitute a criminal offence with serious fines or imprisonment for up to 2 years.
Whether this allowance will change if and when the lockdown is once again tightened is yet to be seen.
#2 Wedding rules may not apply to areas under local lockdown
It goes without saying that an easing of national lockdown rules in relation to coronavirus apply to areas under general lockdown and not areas or cities that have been isolated and placed under special lockdown measures – or “local lockdown” – due to a spike in COVID-19 cases.
For this reason, your city may not be ready for the latest wedding exemptions in relation to ceremonies. To find out which, where and when restrictions are being lifted in your area within the UK, click here.
#3 Wedding guest limit includes photographers
Annoying as it may seem, keeping numbers down at weddings is still a vital precaution, despite the easing of some restrictions around social gatherings.
For this reasons, your wedding guest list limit of 30 people does in fact include vendors such as photographers, videographers, officiant and witnesses. So absolutely don’t forget to count them in or you may still fall foul of the new updated rules.
#4 Musicians can perform if socially distanced
Another welcome re-addition to the previously stripped-bare-to-the-bones lockdown wedding package is live music.
Barred during the lockdown up until now, bands and singers are now able to perform at weddings, providing they observe social distancing, both the performer(s) and the audience.
#5 Close contact dancing is still banned
While food and drink is now allowed, close contact dancing and intimate parties are still banned.
Deemed to great a risk and a sure-fire way of engineering another coronavirus spike, wedding celebrations that don’t take social distancing into consideration are off the cards unfortunately.
Safe distances between the bride, groom and guests must still be maintained and it is a duty for all to ensure the risk of cross-contamination and spreading the virus is kept to an absolute minimum.