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.
Things affecting the wedding service
Who is included in the maximum of 30 guests?
The Government has said a maximum of 30 people can attend a wedding, but you’ll need to check your number of guests with the vicar, in case your marrying church is not large enough to accommodate this number safely. The maximum number doesn’t have to include the bride and groom. It also doesn’t have to include the organist or the verger if you have them.
In line with Government guidance, the maximum of 30 guests needs to include the vicar, the best man, bridesmaids, ushers and parents and any additional people you invite to the wedding. It must also include any live musicians, photographers and videographers you hire to be present in the church.
So can we hire live musicians?
Mostly yes, but singers/choirs and musicians playing wind instruments (trumpet, saxophone etc) should be avoided to reduce the risk of infection through airborne droplets. Musicians that you hire from outside the church have to be included in your maximum total of 30 guests.
Can photographers and videographers come inside the church?
Yes, but they will have to observe all the hygiene and social distancing guidelines, and they will have to count towards your maximum of 30 guests. You should talk to your vicar anyway if you plan to have photographers and videographers – read more about this.
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, although live singing (and raising voices in any other way, such as chanting and cheering), should be avoided because it carries additional risk of infecting others through airborne droplets. Talk to your vicar about the music options, they’d be delighted to advise.
Do we all have to wear face masks?
Face masks aren’t compulsory for anyone in the church, including the bride, the groom and the vicar. If anyone prefers to wear a mask, that’s fine, but they don’t have to.
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.