The impact of Coronavirus on our lives has been huge, and for anyone who has a wedding planned in 2020, the current situation has thrown up a lot of questions and concerns about how their wedding day will be affected by Coronavirus. With daily COVID-19 updates from the government and the unpredictable nature of the situation, we understand that this is a stressful and difficult time for couples.
Brides and grooms across the world have been affected and no one’s wedding plans are immune, with even Princess Beatrice’s royal wedding set to be hugely scaled back in line with government advice.
For many, the biggest question is around whether the day they’ve spent months planning will still go ahead, or if they will need to seriously think about postponing their wedding day.
To help you make sense of it all and get a plan of action into place, we’ve spent some time chatting to all kinds of experts, from wedding insurance professionals to wedding dress suppliers, and have answered all of your Coronavirus and wedding-related queries.
Whether you’re worried about your wedding insurance policy, your wedding dress delivery time or how to keep guests safe once lockdown is lifted, we’ve taken all of your concerns to the people who know best. Here’s everything you need to know if your wedding is planned during the Coronavirus outbreak and the answers to all your big questions:
Will I Need to Postpone or Cancel My UK Wedding Because of Coronavirus?
Prime Minister Boris Johnson first announced on 23rd March that social gatherings including weddings will be stopped for three weeks. On the 16th of April, Secretary of State Dominic Raab, deputising for the Prime Minister, announced that the measures were to continue for at least another three weeks. According to an article by the BBC, ministers are required by law to take the advice of experts and reassess measures every three weeks.
The government requires the following conditions to be met before lifting the lockdown: ensuring the NHS can cope; a sustained and consistent fall in the Coronavirus daily death rate; reliable data showing the infection rate is decreasing; ensuring the NHS has enough personal protection equipments and tests for future demand and confidence that any adjustments would not risk a second peak in Coronavirus cases.
While this system puts the UK in the best possible place to stamp out the virus and save as many lives as possible, it also puts couples and wedding businesses alike in a difficult and uncertain position.
When Will Weddings Be Allowed?
During Boris Johnson’s announcement on 10th May that certain aspects of lockdown are to be eased, there was no specific mention of weddings. When asked by the BBC, Justice Secretary Robert Buckland said that they are giving “anxious consideration” to the impact on weddings, however, due to the lockdown still being largely in place, we shouldn’t expect changes anytime soon.
The Prime Minister has unveiled a recovery plan that will help the UK return to normality, but this plan is dependent on infection rates continuing to drop. Boris Johnson and the UK government hope that by early June high street stores and some schools can begin to open.
Head of the UK Alliance of Wedding Planners, Bernadette Chapman, thinks that weddings with only the legal number of guests will be able to go ahead in June, just as they did before the lockdown began on the 23rd March: “To date there is no clarification on this within the government’s recent announcement and statement. However, it would be my assumption that there will be weddings of five people including witnesses and the person officiating the wedding.”
It seems likely that larger weddings will begin again in July at the earliest as restaurants and cinemas begin to reopen and people are hopefully allowed to gather in groups again.
Will My Wedding Happen?
This depends on when your wedding is due to take place and the success of the government’s plan to reduce infection rates in the UK. Take a look at the month to month guides below for the best advice for each period.
Will My Wedding in June Happen?
If your wedding is booked for June we suggest that you discuss postponing your wedding with your venue and suppliers as soon as possible, if you haven’t already. While the new government plan does not mention weddings specifically, changes are set to be gradual with only small changes to the lockdown coming into place by June.
There is a chance that small weddings, involving only the couple, the witnesses and the officiant, will be allowed to go ahead once more in June. So if you’re desperate to tie the knot and don’t mind missing out or delaying a larger celebration, this could be an option for you.
Will My Wedding in July Happen?
Weddings in the UK may return by this point as restaurants and other hospitality services begin to return according to the government’s plan, although weddings have not been mentioned. If you’re due to marry in July, the best course of action is to discuss a Plan B with your venue, just in case the government decides that weddings cannot take place at this time.
Bernadette agrees, noting that while weddings may return, they still may not be able to go ahead at full capacity: “Wedding venues are not mentioned and, in fact, the documentation still talks about social distancing at this time. It might be that small weddings of up to 50 people are allowed but what that looks like we do not know. It is important to note this hasn’t been confirmed, so as such I would advise against planning such a wedding until further clarity is given.”
We recommend asking the venue the latest date they will possibly postpone and enquiring about availability later this year or early next year. This will allow you to begin the groundwork for your Plan B and put the feelers out for guest and supplier availability on alternative dates.
Bear in mind that the government has recently announced that anyone travelling from abroad will need to spend 14 weeks in quarantine on arrival in the UK and so it’s worth following developments on this closely as this will affect any guests travelling into the country.
Will My Wedding in August Happen?
It seems likely that, if the government’s plan is successful, normality will begin to be restored by August and so weddings will be able to take place.
Bernadette points out that this may still mean limiting guests: “There is a chance we might be allowed smaller gatherings for weddings come August but there is no confirmation yet. However, I feel it is unlikely weddings with over 50 guests will be allowed. Now is the time to work on contingency plans. So, if you still wish to marry this summer, are you able to do this with smaller numbers and organise a larger party for next year perhaps?”
As the situation with weddings and large gatherings depends on the success of the new lockdown measures, it is still not certain and so we definitely recommend asking your venue and suppliers for the latest date that you can postpone by and for their availability later in the year. Have a Plan B in mind and set a date to review the situation with your wedding team when, hopefully, more clear information from the government will be available.
Will My Autumn 2020 Wedding Happen?
The outlook is currently positive for weddings taking place in September and October. There have been many reports of travel and lockdown restrictions lifting by September. However, no one can say for certain whether or not weddings will be going ahead and so it’s best to ask your venue when they will review your date.
It’s also worth checking in with suppliers and making sure they have everything they need to provide you with the services you have booked. For example, travel restrictions may have limited certain supplies and small businesses who have been hit with financial losses due to Coronavirus may struggle to fulfil their obligations in the future. It might be a tricky conversation to have, but it’s worth having sooner rather than later.
Will My Winter 2020 Wedding Happen?
Many Spring and Summer couples have postponed their weddings until this time and so winter weddings are thought of as a relatively safe bet right now. If the government’s plan is a success and the infection rate continues to drop, it seems likely that winter weddings will happen and that even vulnerable guests who were previously shielding will be able to attend as long as health and safety measures are adhered to.
We would still advise that couples ask when their venues plan to review autumn and winter dates, just in case of continued disruption. Winter couples should also check in with their suppliers and make sure that they’re still equipped to fulfil the services booked.
When Should I Postpone My Wedding?
Bernadette recommends keeping up-to-date with the latest developments and keeping in touch with your wedding team: “All we can do is take it day by day. It is worth speaking with your venue and suppliers in the interim to discuss their views on postponement.”
When it comes to postponing your wedding, Bernadette suggests scheduling a call with your venue and officiant first: “Have a date in mind and check they are available. Ask if there are any penalties for changing the date. It might be that, provided the change of date happens in this financial year, they will change the date for free, but if after the tax year there might be an additional charge.
“It’s also very important you speak with the registrars, because it will be a new date and you will need to give notice again, so check the registrars are free on that date.” Bernadette also suggests trying to book dates after August 2020 and asking suppliers if they will still provide their services on the same payment terms.
If you have a wedding website, we suggest having an area of the site dedicated to updates on your postponement so that you’re not constantly fielding questions from guests.
What Does This Mean for My Church Wedding?
The Church of England have stated that they are happy to refund couples wanting to cancel and will work with couples to find a new date should they wish to postpone. However, they will still run limited services for those wishing to go ahead after the lockdown has ended, whenever that may be: “While wedding services may continue, numbers attending the ceremony in church will need to be strictly curtailed to the legal minimum, which is the priest, bride, groom and two witnesses. Where family relatives or friends are unable to attend given the restrictions on numbering, churches will be happy to explore ways to allow others to join the service, either through platforms such as Skype, or recording the service to send at a later date to anyone unable to attend.”
READ MORE: Church of England Announces Weddings Will be Limited to Five People During Coronavirus Outbreak
Will I Need to Cancel or Postpone My Wedding Abroad?
If your wedding is taking place in Europe in the next three to four months, particularly The Schengen Area which includes Italy, France and Spain, you will likely need to postpone your wedding as these countries are currently on lockdown or in the very early stages of lifting lockdown. While we cannot be certain how long this will last, it is thought to be a long-term measure.
In fact, French President Emanuel Macron reportedly suggested that The Schengen Area’s external borders remain closed until September, according to inews.
Elsewhere in the world, the USA has banned travel from Europe and the UK and travel restrictions are in place in countries such as Bali and the Maldives. For the most up-to-date and reliable information, it’s best to check the Foreign & Commonwealth Office website regularly.
If your wedding is taking place from September, it looks likely that you will still be able to go ahead with your plans. However, just like everything else relating to the Coronavirus outbreak, this is uncertain and you will need to keep in touch with your wedding planner or venue and keep an eye on local government developments.
Will My Wedding Insurance Cover Postponement or Cancellation?
Wedding Plan Insurance have outlined the circumstances in which your wedding will be covered if cancellation and not postponement is necessary: “Our policy would only provide cover if your venue is unable to hold your wedding due to the outbreak of infectious or contagious disease, the venue is closed by the relevant authority, or the death, injury or sickness of you or your close relative that would make continuance of the wedding inappropriate, subject to the policy terms and conditions.” The policy is also only valid if insurance was taken out before any lockdown or venue closures were announced.
Wedinsure highlight that you will need to check the specifics of your policy as they do not cover certain situations related to Coronavirus restrictions: “The policy does not cover cancellation or rearrangement due to any claim resulting from issues relating to travel bans, flight cancellations or government acts, regulations such as a ban on public or social gatherings or any form of travel restrictions.”
According to Which? Debenhams, John Lewis, Emerald Life and Wedinsure (in certain cases) will cover you if your venue or other suppliers cancel. However, all wedding insurance companies asked, would not cover weddings cancelled due to government travel restrictions in the area. We recommend taking a look at the terms and conditions and phoning your insurer if you’re unsure.
I Paid with My Credit Card, Will I Get My Money Back if My Wedding is Cancelled Due to Coronavirus?
If you have paid for anything using a credit card, you should be covered by Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act. This means that any payments between £100 and £30,000 can be claimed back in the event of a cancellation. Even if you paid a deposit with a credit card and the rest by other means, providing the deposit was between £100 and £30,000, the credit card company would be liable for the total.
Will My Honeymoon Be Affected by Coronavirus?
As much of Europe is now on lockdown, along with the USA who have banned travel from Europe and the UK and many other countries, it is likely your honeymoon will be affected. The best sources for following the latest travel updates and restrictions are the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and the International Air Transport Association. We also recommend contacting the hotel, airline or travel company you booked through to get their advice on postponing your trip if you’re planning on travelling to an affected area. Most travel insurance policies will cover trips cancelled due to government action but it’s best to check your individual plan.
To reduce your risk of contracting Coronavirus or spreading germs when travelling be sure to read up on the specialist travel guidelines from the National Travel Health Network and the NHS (spoiler: contains a lot of hand-washing).
READ MORE: 7 Honeymoon Trends For 2020 and Where to Experience Them
Will Coronavirus Stop Me from Getting My Wedding Dress?
As many wedding dresses are manufactured in China, we totally get why some of you may be worrying about getting your dream dress on time. We chatted to the chairman of the British Bridalwear Suppliers Association, William Dicks, who told us that there’s no need to panic: “Our advice is very clear; there is not any problem with the supply of wedding dresses. Because the Coronavirus impacted upon China around the time of Chinese New Year, many suppliers had already received gowns early and made arrangements to ensure all orders would be received on time. So, if you have ordered a dress, do not worry, it will arrive on time.”
To put your mind at rest, get in touch with your boutique and ask them to tell you the status of your gown if they haven’t already. Also, ask them to let you know as soon as they reopen so that you can try on your gown and still have plenty of time to fit in any alterations that you may need.
Can I Start Shopping For My Wedding Dress?
If you’re yet to start shopping for your wedding dress, contact your local boutique and ask them if they offer virtual appointments or contact an online atelier such as Catherine Deane and ask to speak with a bridal stylist. You can also buy wedding dresses online and order some to try-on at home – just make sure your other half is banished to another room when they arrive!
READ MORE: Wedding Dress Styles: 22 Shapes and Necklines You Need to Know
How Can I Stop My Wedding Guests Catching Coronavirus?
If you’re going ahead with your 2020 wedding once lockdown is lifted and you have a wedding website, why not add information from or link to the NHS hygiene guidelines? This will ensure all guests are up to date with how best to ward off infection and stop the spread. We would totally suggest hand-washing in time to the chorus of “Marry You” by Bruno Mars, but that’s just us.
Bernadette also advises that couples put special measures in place on the day: “Ask the venue if they have antibacterial soap in the restrooms, ask for disposable paper hand towels over fluffy soft hand towels. Ask for hand sanitisers to be placed in the toilets and think about having staff spritz every guest with high quality alcohol-based sanitisers. You could have masks provided for everyone to wear except the couples themselves, why not have this in a personal pretty gift bag along with sanitiser?”
How Can I Help Make Guests Who Can’t Attend Due to Coronavirus Feel Part of the Day?
In line with government advice we do not recommend that elderly and health compromised individuals attend large events such as weddings until the situation has stabilised. However, this doesn’t mean that they can’t be included in your celebrations. Here are the best ways to get them involved:
- Ask your venue if they have video link equipment and invite absent guests to join you via video call for the speeches or ceremony
- If you’re having a videographer, stage a special screening of your wedding video just for them when it’s ready
- Set aside an order of service and wedding favour and present them to your absent guest/s after the wedding
- Save them a slice of wedding cake!
- Create a wedding hashtag and ask guests to upload pictures and videos throughout the day and have absent guests follow the action
READ MORE: How to Live Stream Your Wedding: Our Top 5 Tips
Can I Still Begin Planning My Wedding During the Coronavirus Outbreak?
Yes! From finding your wedding venue from home to buying a wedding dress online, there are plenty of wedding planning tasks you can tackle during lockdown if you’re newly engaged and wish to crack on.
Many wedding venues are now offering virtual tours and video meetings, allowing you to have a traditional show-around experience from the comfort of your sofa. Suppliers are also offering video consultations and everything from fabric swatches to cake samples can be sent to you.
Bear in mind that many 2020 couples will now be postponing to 2021 and so you’ll need to act quickly if you’re wishing to secure dates next year. Even if you’re not ready to book, ask your favourite venues and suppliers what their 2021 calendars are looking like to get an idea of availability.
Are you and your partner working from home together? Don’t miss our tips on how to take care of your relationship while home-working!