WEDDINGS in the UK are officially back on from today as lockdown eases.
Thousands of couples forced to postpone their big days due to Covid in 2020 – and with ceremonies arranged this year – have been on tenterhooks to discover how their plans will be affected.
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What are the Covid wedding rules?
Under the PM's roadmap, up to six people can attend weddings and civil partnership ceremonies from March 29.
Receptions are not permitted. However, small gatherings can take place in line with social contact limits.
Therefore, they may take place outdoors in a group of six, or two households – including support bubbles, if eligible to form one.
Couples rushed straight down to their local registry offices this morning to make the most of the new rules.
Ben and Gabriela Lloyd were the first to get married at St Albans Registry Office after the relaxation of restrictions.
The number allowed to attend ceremonies will rise to 15 people in Covid secure venues that are permitted to open no earlier than April 12.
Then up to 30 will be allowed to attend no earlier than May 17.
It is hoped an unlimited number of guests will be allowed from June 21 as all restrictions are scrapped, but the PM stressed this will be reviewed nearer the time.
Boris Johnson said: "We will aim to remove all legal limits on social contact and on weddings and other life events.
"We will reopen everything up to and including nightclubs and enable large events such as theatre performances above the limits of step three – potentially using testing to reduce the risk of infection."
Can I have a wedding reception?
Receptions have been banned altogether under the national lockdown, and they remain off limits under the new rules from March 29.
However, small gatherings can take place in line with social contact limits, so outdoor celebrations with up to six people – or two households, including support bubbles if eligible to form one – can take place.
The PM's lockdown roadmap has said receptions can take place no earlier than April 12 for up to 15 people.
This could be in the form of a sit down meal and in any Covid secure outdoor venue that is permitted to open, but receptions will not be allowed to take place in people’s private gardens or public outdoor spaces.
The number of guests permitted will rise to 30 no earlier than May 17, and it is hoped all limits on weddings, civil partnership ceremonies and receptions will be removed from June 21.
The PM has faced growing pressure from his own Tory MPs to support the wedding industry by making the return of ceremonies and receptions a priority.
A group of 13 senior Tory MPs, led by Esther McVey and Philip Davies have called for Covid-secure events to return from next month and unrestricted weddings from May 1.
Hospitality bosses have also warned the PM that the wedding industry, which supports 400,000 jobs across the UK economy, could face meltdown if receptions do not resume this summer.
Tamryn Settle, campaign manager of #WhatAboutWeddings, a group which advocates for couples and the wedding industry, told The Independent: "For weddings to go ahead in any form this summer, we need a roadmap to a safe reopening and we need to know what restrictions will be in place and what the conditions will be for easing these further."
Can I get married abroad?
Due to national lockdown, overseas travel is illegal unless for very specific reasons.
Under current Covid-19 restrictions, you cannot travel internationally unless you have a legally permitted reason to do so and will likely need to quarantine when you return.
Brits face fines up to £5,000 for going on holiday abroad under new lockdown laws if returning to England or Wales.
However, getting married abroad is on the list of valid reasons for international travel, but the same six-person limit applies – regardless of the rules in the country you are visiting.
The rules could change after restrictions are eased on May 17.
What are my rights if my wedding couldn't happen?
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has published guidance on consumer wedding rights.
- If your wedding can't go ahead without breaching local or national lockdown rules, the contract is likely to be "frustrated", meaning you are entitled to a refund and will not liable for future payments
- This includes rules limiting the number of guests, telling people to stay at home or requiring venues to close
- The refund requirement covers ''non-refundable'' deposits, although a venue or supplier can subtract ''limited'' costs for services already provided
- A venue can also withhold money it has spent on your day that it cannot recover, such as on staff planning the wedding, but not for things like general staff costs or building maintenance.
- Suppliers and venues must give you a costs breakdown if they wish to withhold part of your deposit
Can I claim on wedding insurance?
The CMA's guidance states: "In many cases, where consumers have paid substantial sums in advance of their wedding, the CMA would generally expect them to be offered most of their money back.
"It would be for the business to justify deducting any amounts."
Most insurance does not cover a ''government act", so is unlikely to pay out if lockdowns have affected your wedding, while new wedding insurance policies are unlikely to cover coronavirus.
Can suppliers and venues charge me more if I postpone?
Businesses are not allowed to just hike up prices.
Henrietta Dunkley of Ellis Jones Solicitors says some couples have found venues were charging them far more for a postponed wedding than if they were a new customer.
This is unlikely to be deemed reasonable.
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