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Confusion about when weddings can legally take place

Written by: Emma Lunn
The UK Weddings Taskforce has been told that weddings and receptions won’t be allowed in the majority of England’s licensed wedding venues until mid-May.

The taskforce – set up to represent the UK wedding industry during the pandemic – says that three weeks after the prime minister’s roadmap announcement, the wedding sector still awaits publication of the official guidance on the resumption of weddings.

However, the group says it has received unofficial confirmation from senior government sources that weddings will only be allowed between 12 April and 17 May if events take place in places of worship, public buildings, locations and outdoor settings that are already permitted to open. These weddings will be limited to 15 guests.

But the taskforce says 70% of weddings are booked for venues that won’t be allowed to open until 17 May at the earliest. It estimates this will affect about 7,000 weddings.

The group says the latest information contradicts what was stated in the prime minister’s roadmap announcement on 22 February and that affected couples will have to postpone or cancel their weddings if “the government refuses to honour the reasonable assumptions made by couples, businesses and wedding sector workers”.

The taskforce has been seeking clarity over inconsistencies between the roadmap announcements, accompanying government-produced graphics, the COVID-19 Response – Spring 2021 published 22 February, and the Reopening businesses and venues in England published 24 February by the Cabinet Office.

More wedding cancellations would leave an estimated 60,000 businesses employing about 400,000 people grappling with further uncertainty.

In an average year roughly 23,000 weddings take place between 12 April and 17 May.

Sarah Haywood, spokesperson for the UK Weddings Taskforce, said: “The roadmap indicated weddings and receptions could resume on 12 April. We have now discovered, not by being offered the information but by analysing the small print and repeatedly seeking clarity, that this is not the case.

“The £14.7bn wedding sector can reasonably expect government’s own messaging to be clear and unambiguous. It is neither, and after a year of uncertainty for businesses, their employees and over half a million people whose weddings have been on hold, this is yet another major blow. It will cost the industry – already on its knees – millions of pounds, lead to the loss of more jobs and leave an estimated 7,000 couples without a wedding. The reality facing the sector is that a couple could technically get married in a zoo, but not in a Covid-safe, purpose-built wedding venue.”

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