Here is an update from the Government website pulled together by Christine Beresford, for which many thanks.

TERMS: It’s important to recognise the difference between what MUST be done under law and what is advisory as a SHOULD.


Where the guidance states that an activity must take place this is because it’s a requirement under law.


Where the guidance states that an activity should take place this is not a legal requirement under law. However, it’s strongly advised that consideration is given to following the advice being provided to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19.

Summary of changes from 21 June:

From 21 June, there will no longer be a maximum number cap for attendees set out in law. Instead, the number of attendees at weddings, civil partnerships and receptions will be determined by how many people the venue or space can safely accommodate with social distancing measures in place. This will be based on the COVID-19 risk assessment of the venue or outdoor space, and the measures put in place to limit the spread of COVID-19.

In a COVID-secure venue, your venue manager will need to tell you the maximum number of people who will be able to attend.

For events taking place in other venues, (such as a garden of a private home or on private land), organisers will need to make the space as safe as possible. A marquee or other structure in a private garden must have at least 50% of its walled area open at any time for it to be classed as ‘outdoors’ and for the limit based on safe capacity to apply.

If you plan on having more than 30 people in your chosen venue or outdoor space, you must do this by completing a COVID-19 risk assessment to determine how many attendees will be able to attend, and following this guidance to make the event as safe as possible.

Some restrictions on ceremonies and receptions remain in place to enable them to take place safely. This includes Step 3 requirements on table service, face coverings, social distancing, and restrictions on dancing and singing.

Alternative wedding ceremonies that are not binding under the law of England and Wales, whether religious, belief based, blessings, or other forms of non-statutory ceremony, are also covered by this guidance.

Venue capacity in COVID-secure venues

As part of the duty on venue managers and organisers to limit health and safety risks, a safe capacity for the venue should be established.

This number should enable members of staff, anyone conducting or supporting the event, and customers or guests (including children) to be socially distanced within the venue. Space in communal areas like waiting areas and corridors should be considered when setting the safe maximum number of attendees.

Guidance on meeting family and friends has been updated, with a greater emphasis on personal responsibility. Friends and family therefore may choose not to socially distance based on their understanding of the risks this involves. However, venue managers and organisers should consider how to enable social distancing between attendees, so that those who wish to maintain social distancing are able to.

Venues should decide to remain closed or not proceed with a wedding, civil partnership ceremony, reception or celebration if the event is not able to safely adhere to the guidelines outlined. Venue managers and organisers should notify the police and/or local authority if they reasonably believe that the numbers attending are likely to exceed their expectations and significantly breach the safe capacity of the venue, despite the steps they have taken to prevent this, or if the numbers in attendance have unexpectedly exceeded the safe capacity of the venue. The enforcing authority can then decide the most appropriate enforcement.

Social distancing measures

Remains the same as at Step 3: the guidance has a greater emphasis on personal responsibility. Instead of instructing people to stay 2 metres away from anyone they do not live with, people are encouraged to exercise caution and consider the guidance on risks associated with COVID-19 and actions to take to help keep friends and family safe.

Face coverings and hygiene

In England, at Step 3, face coverings are required by law to be worn in many indoor settings, including places of worship. Attendees and staff at a wedding ceremony or reception must wear a face covering (except when eating or drinking), unless exempt.

There are valid exemptions for some individuals and groups to not wear a face covering in these settings. In particular, those who are leading services or events in a place of worship. Those exemptions will also cover the couple being married or joined in a partnership and those officiating at the wedding. This exemption does not apply to those observing the wedding, who should wear face coverings consistent with the requirements for any other public space.

There is no legal requirement to wear a face covering when outdoors at a ceremony or reception. This includes when taking place in a marquee, provided at least 50% of the walled area is open for it to be classed as ‘outdoors’

Other activities

Dancing is advised against due to the increased risk of transmission, except the couple’s ‘first dance’. Dancefloors and other spaces for dancing must remain closed but can be repurposed for additional customer seating or other relevant purposes, ensuring this is in line with the social distancing guidelines.

Any other activities at a reception, including those that involve or are watched by attendees (such as cake cutting and the playing of games) can take place. In line with the updated advice on personal contact between family and friends, guests should exercise caution by minimising how many people they are in close contact with, and for how long, remembering that some people are more vulnerable than others.

Other objects in the reception venue being touched by several people (such as guest books, polaroid camera stations or games) should be minimised and hand sanitisation encouraged both before and after contact.

Speeches should be undertaken outside or in well ventilated areas wherever possible. For example, windows and doors should be opened as much as possible, and the sides of marquees removed or rolled up throughout the event and when groups of staff are preparing and clearing away. At least 50% of the wall area of the marquee must be open for the venue to be classed as ‘outdoors’. Air conditioning systems using recirculated air are not advised.

PA systems should be utilised wherever possible to help amplify speeches without speakers needing to raise their voices. Social distancing between the speaker and observers should be maintained at all times and neither speakers nor participants should raise their voices, to avoid the increased risk from aerosol transmission.

Serving and consuming food and drink

Where food and drinks are consumed, staff and attendees should follow the guidance for restaurants, pubs, bars and takeaway services. This includes informing people of the requirements in relation to face coverings
Remains the same as under Step 3, if the event is taking place at a COVID-secure venue where alcohol is served, all food and drink (including non-alcoholic drink) must be ordered, served and consumed by the customer while seated at a table.

Businesses that sell alcohol must introduce systems to take orders and payment from seated customers, instead of at a bar or counter. Any premises wishing to avoid this requirement would need to stop serving alcohol.

We advise that this guidance should also be followed where events take place in gardens of private homes, public outdoor places, and private land.

Businesses that do not provide alcohol but serve food or drink (licensed or not) must take all reasonable steps to ensure customers remain seated while consuming food or drink on the premises. This means that in unlicensed premises, food and drink can be purchased or ordered at a counter, but customers must sit down to consume it, even in outdoor settings.

We advise that this guidance should also be followed where events take place in private gardens, public outdoor places, and private land. There is no requirement for guests to be placed on socially distanced tables, though they should consider the risks of not doing so, as set out in new guidance on meeting friends and family.