From July 4th, church weddings are possible again. But keep in touch with your vicar, who can begin to help you plan what’s possible for your wedding.
Things affecting the legal preparation before the wedding
Can my wedding go ahead now?
The good news is that from July 4th 2020, weddings have Government permission to happen again, but you’ll have to check the situation at your church to see what is possible there. Churches will want to open as soon as they can while keeping everyone as safe as possible.
My wedding is soon – what about the banns?
Under normal circumstances, banns usually happen before a wedding can take place, and your names would be read out in a church service on three separate Sundays before the wedding. With churches opening as and when they can, you’ll need to talk to your vicar about your banns, (and also your local church too if you’re marrying in a different parish), to check whether there will be enough time for your banns to be read before your wedding date. If there isn’t enough time for your banns to be read at your marrying church and/or your local church, the vicar will let you know if alternative legal arrangements can be made to allow your wedding to still go ahead. If this isn’t possible either, then you have the option to postpone or cancel your wedding.
I had started attending our marrying church to secure a legal connection and then part-way through, it closed for lockdown. Will I have to start my attendance again from the time the church re-opens?
You shouldn’t need to start your attendance again, but simply carry on where you left off once the church is open for public worship. If this means you still can’t complete your attendance in time for the wedding, (and have the banns read before the wedding too), talk to your vicar who will be able to advise on your options.
I was about to start attending our marrying church to secure a legal connection but couldn’t begin doing that because it closed for lockdown. Will I have to start attending from the time it opens again?
Yes, and your wedding date can’t be confirmed until your attendance is complete. This may mean that your wedding date is pushed back to a later date than you were originally hoping for. Although things will be a little different when you visit your special church, you’ll still receive a warm welcome and lots of prayerful support as you make new plans for your wedding day.
Things affecting the wedding service
Who is included in the maximum of number of guests?
The Government has said that from Monday September 28th 2020, the maximum number of people who can attend a wedding is 15.
In line with Government guidance, the maximum number of guests needs to include everyone at the wedding – the bride and groom, the best man, bridesmaids, ushers and parents and any additional people you invite to the wedding up to 15 people. Those attending as part of their work are not counted, but their numbers should be kept small and to those reasonably necessary for the ceremony to go ahead, particularly in places where there are increased levels of covid restrictions.
Can we have musicians and photographers/videographers?
Government guidance strongly recommends that additional workers at a wedding are to be kept to a minimum. Due to changing and differing levels of risk across the country, it would be best to work with your vicar to ascertain if these roles can safely work during your wedding at this time. The church will consider these workers as part of the overall risk assessment.
Can the father of the bride walk down the aisle with her?
If the father of the bride (or another chosen relative or friend) is in the same household or social bubble as the bride, then yes, this will still be possible. If they aren’t in the same household or social bubble, it may not be possible for two people to walk down the aisle together. However, it’s worth asking the vicar how this moment can be special and safe. For example, some churches have wide or multiple aisles, which could make it safe to walk into church and down the aisle at the same time, but at a safe distance. Or, it may be possible to use the outside space creatively. The vicar will help work out what’s possible.
Can we sing hymns?
You can have music played at your wedding using the facilities available at the church, but singing by the congregation (and raising their voices in any other way, such as chanting and cheering), is not permitted because it carries additional risk of infecting others through airborne droplets.
However, providing the church can safely permit it as part of your wedding, it is possible for both professional and non-professional singers and musicians to perform individually or in small groups inside and outside of the church in line with the recommendations for physical distancing and hygiene set out by the Government in their performing arts guidance.
This includes those who regularly volunteer to do music and singing, as part of a choir for example.
Talk to your vicar about all the music options, they’d be delighted to advise.
Do we all have to wear face masks?
The latest government guidelines advise that the bride, the groom, the vicar, children under 11 and anyone else who is exempt from wearing face masks for medical reasons are the only people who may go without a face mask at a wedding. Everyone else present is required to wear one. Used alongside physical distancing and frequent hand-washing, this will help keep everyone safe as they gather to celebrate your special day.
Can we have Orders of Service?
Yes. They can be left on a table for guests to pick up as they enter the building, rather than handed out. They must be taken away afterwards by guests.
If I delay my wedding until next year, will things be better?
The picture for how the coronavirus pandemic will unfold over the coming months is unknown, but everyone remains hopeful that things will be better in the future.
What if I do decide to cancel?
You may want to put your wedding completely on hold until things are much clearer. If you cancel a church wedding, the fees are fully refundable.
This prayer may be helpful as you re-think your wedding plans:
Surround us this day with your presence;
Be with us in our disappointments and in our joys,
Help us to be wise as we re-think our wedding plans.
Sustain us in our love for one another,
And hold all whom we love in your great love.