Weddings taking place when coronavirus restrictions are eased next month are being encouraged to follow new government guidance – which means avoiding food, drink and singing.
Under the guidelines – which apply to wedding and civil partnership ceremonies in England from 4 July – people are being discouraged from singing or shouting, couples will need to wash their hands before and after exchanging rings, and children will need to be held.
The guidance also states no more than 30 people should attend and social distancing rules should be obeyed.
The services should be as short as possible and limited to the parts which make the marriage or civil partnership legally binding.
Receptions or parties after weddings should not take place, but small celebrations will be allowed if they follow the guidelines – meaning up to two households could meet indoors, or up to six people from different households outdoors.
Social events including weddings, baptisms and other ceremonies have not been able to take place since the lockdown began in March.
The new guidance on weddings now states:
- People should wash their hands before and after exchanging rings
- No food or drink should be consumed as part of the event, unless needed for solemnisation
- People should avoid singing, shouting, raising voices or playing music at a volume that makes normal conversation difficult and encourages people to shout. This is because there could be an increased risk of transmission from aerosol and droplets.
- If needed, one person can sing or chant – but they should be behind a plexi-glass screen to protect guests
- Spoken responses during the service should not be done in a raised voice
- People should avoid playing instruments that are blown into, such as trumpets
- Measures should be considered such as avoiding face-to-face seating, reducing the number of people in enclosed spaces, improving ventilation, using protective screens and face coverings, and closing non-essential social spaces
- Children should be held by a parent or a member of their household
- People are being encouraged to bring in their own service sheets and prayer mats
- Venues should take steps to prevent attendees from touching or kissing devotional objects that are handled communally
- Any rituals which require full immersion in water should be avoided, although small amounts of water can be splashed onto the body
- Any washing or ablution rituals should not be done at the venue and should instead take place before arrival
The guidance has been published alongside advice for the restarting of communal worship on 4 July.
Places of worship will be able to hold services for more than 30 people, as long as they adhere to social distancing rules.
Hymn books should be quarantined for 48 hours before use, while donations should be made via contactless payments or online.
People should also avoid sharing food, singing, chanting, shouting and playing wind instruments.