UPDATE 23RD SEPTEMBER 2020

To say things are changing from day to day seems like an understatement. With so much uncertainty and the rules changing on what seems like an hourly basis it’s almost impossible to make any proper wedding plans but always bear in mind, the most important bit is actually getting married; the party can always come later.

As of 28th September 2020 the new rules on weddings restrict the total headcount to 15 BUT this DOESN’T include anyone who is working, a small silver lining. Previously, when we could have 30 person weddings the Registrars and Photographer were counted as attendees so in reality you could only have 25 guests. Now you can have 13 guests without having to feel bad about leaving Aunty Beryl off the list to make room for the photographer.

CAN WEDDINGS AND CIVIL PARTNERSHIP CEREMONIES GO AHEAD?

Wedding and civil partnership ceremonies and receptions must only take place in COVID-19 Secure venues or in public outdoor spaces. From 28 September, weddings, civil partnership ceremonies and wedding receptions are restricted to 15 people. Receptions must be sit down meals. Anyone working is not counted as part of the limit.

Within these larger gatherings, people do not need to limit their interaction to groups of 6, but social distancing should still be followed between people not in the same household or support bubble. 

Further guidance on wedding ceremonies and civil partnerships. 

2020 WEDDINGS ARE A BIT DIFFERENT, OR ARE THEY?

I’ll be honest and say, 2020 hasn’t quite been the wedding season I was expecting. I’m sure you’re feeling the same way too? At the beginning of the year I was fully booked with weddings stretching from late March all the way through to Christmas. Before I even got to photograph my first wedding of the year every single one had either been postponed or cancelled when weddings were effectively banned on 23rd March. 

Since 15th August it’s been possible to hold a 30 person ceremony in a Covid secure venue (so no, a marquee in your back garden isn’t allowed).

DISCLAIMER: The text below is just a rough guide and you’ll need to check everything with your venue etc.

how many guests can you invite to a 30 person wedding?

There’s a certain amount of confusion around how many people can attend a 30 person wedding ceremony or reception in England. At one very strict venue a couple of guests had to leave the room when the Registrars arrived as this would have tipped the attendance to 32 people.

So who can be in the room? Let’s assume you’ve booked a nice country house hotel and you want to invite 30 guests. Well, that’s a problem for the ceremony but not for the reception. Confused? So are most of the venues, officiants and wedding planners.

Here is how it works (if I’ve got this wrong please email or leave a comment below):

30 people can attend your ceremony. A typical 30 attendees for a wedding ceremony with Registrars would look like this:

Registrars x 2

The Bride and Bridegroom x 2

The Photographer x 1

Guests 25

So that’s a maximum of 25 guests allowed at the ceremony because the Registrars, couple and photographer take up 5 of the 30 “slots”. In a Church you can have 26 guests because there aren’t 2 x Vicars. There usually IS an organist and Church Warden but I guess these are classed as staff and therefore not included in the total. 

but you can have 27 GUESTS at the reception (until the photographer leaves)

How so? Well, the Registrars leave at the end of the ceremony which frees up 2 slots. Bonkers eh?

Also it’s highly unlikely that you’ll want photos of you eating so the Photographer isn’t going to be there freeing up another slot. Venue staff, waiters etc don’t count as attendees which just leaves the (socially distanced) drinks reception… which if you want family photos means you’re back down to 27 guests plus the Bride and Groom plus the photographer.

DO GUESTS NEED TO WEAR FACE MASKS?

Yes and no. During the ceremony your guests will need to wear a face mask. The Bride and Groom and officiants don’t need to wear face coverings though. Nobody needs to wear a face mask during the drinks reception or wedding breakfast for obvious reasons. Basically, if you’ve got a drink in your hand then you don’t need to wear any face covering… unless you really want to.

WHAT ABOUT MUSIC AND DANCING?

Yes you can have music and even live performance with a band and a singer. You can’t dance though and everything needs to be done in a safe socially distanced way. 

WHAT DOES A 30 PERSON WEDDING LOOK (AND FEEL) LIKE?

Smaller weddings have always been a favourite of mine. Everyone gets a chance to meet everyone else and couples can treat the guests to the finest of everything. A lot of my favourite ever weddings have had 50 or less guests so there’s absolutely no reason to think that you’re compromising on anything. Here are three “micro weddings” I photographed recently to give you an idea of how much fun they can be:

AT THE CHURCH

HOLLY + KARL AT ST PETERS CHURCH PETERSFIELD

OUTDOOR CEREMONY

HANNAH + TIM AT TYLNEY HALL

CITY WEDDING

ANNIE + ADAM AT ISLINGTON TOWN HALL 

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TOGETHER WE WILL MAKE IT UNFORGETTABLE