Government green lights socially distanced weddings

The Government has now published public health guidance to enable small marriages and civil partnerships to go ahead safely throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

The document comes after official figures revealed that 73,600 weddings and same-sex civil partnership ceremonies were postponed during the first three months of lockdown.

The new guidelines set out how couples, officials, venue staff and guests can observe social distancing measures while still attending the event to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Publishing the guidance, the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government said: “Marriages and civil partnerships are a vital part of our society, uniting couples to start their new life together and affording certain legal rights. However, by their very nature, in bringing families and friends together, they are particularly vulnerable to the spread of COVID-19.

“The government has been working closely with stakeholders in the wedding industry, the Places of Worship Taskforce and the National Panel for Registration to consider how we are able to allow small marriages and civil partnerships to take place safely.”

According to the guidance, legally-valid ceremonies or formations are strongly advised to go ahead “only where they can be done in a COVID-19 secure environment”.

This means keeping the ceremonies “as short as reasonably possible” and limited “as far as reasonably possible” to the parts of the ceremonies that are required in order for the marriage or civil partnership to be legally binding.

Likewise, “no more than 30 people should attend a marriage or civil partnership”, and only “where this can be safely accommodated with social distancing in a COVID-19 secure venue”.

Receptions, meanwhile, are “strongly advised not to take place at this time” and “no food or drink should be consumed unless it is essential for the ceremony”.

The venue should also keep a temporary record of visitors for 21 days for contact tracing purposes.

To access the new public health guidance for marriages and civil partnerships, please click here.

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Alison Green
Alison joined Mackrell.Solicitors in 1989 and qualified as a solicitor in 1991, becoming a partner in the firm in 2010. Her expertise covers matrimonial work, including divorce and the associated financial and children issues; pre and post-nuptial agreements; co-habitation disputes; civil partnership agreements and the breakdown of civil partnerships.