With being around family and friends more important than ever, getting back to some sort of familiarity is one of the biggest priorities for people in England. Weddings, marital ceremonies, and civil partnerships are the biggest events in a person’s lifetime, which is why the wedding industry is adapting their practices to make sure that people can get their life goals back on track, safely and securely, by following Covid-19 guidelines.
There are ways to make weddings Covid-19 safe from the planning stage to the big day itself. Before the wedding, all guests must get tested twice a week and then tested afterwards, even if you do not have any symptoms. Anyone displaying symptoms should not attend the event, immediately isolate, and get tested. In England, the hosts of the wedding must complete a Covid-19 risk assessment of the venue before the event to establish how many guests can attend.
The rules for social distancing have been relaxed in line with the UK’s R rate, with the distance you need to keep between others being reduced to “1m plus” if you cannot keep 2m apart. You should remain cautious and take extra steps to stay safe, for example, wearing a mask.
Pre-wedding celebrations such as stag and hen-dos, or South Asian pre-wedding traditions such as mangni, the couple’s engagement party, the manjha, a-pre wedding ritual involving wearing yellow in their respective homes and smearing of turmeric and sandlewood in rosewater, the mehendi, where the women of the bride’s family get together to apply mehendi/henna to the bride, or the sanchaq, where the male members of the groom’s family visits the bride’s family delivering sweets, a bridal outfit, accessories, and jewellery can all go ahead but it has to be in line with government guidelines.
The rules are that the amount of people attending pre-wedding rituals and celebrations must fall under six or two households indoors or at a maximum of thirty people outdoors. Although, it is recommended that the couple and guests reduce social contact in the upcoming weeks to minimise the likelihood of contracting Covid-19.
It is also suggested that if couples do want to hold such events within the social distancing guidelines, holding them well in advance is ideal, so that if there are any infections they can be picked up. You can reduce your risk further still by asking everyone to take a test before meeting up, and of course taking up the offer of a vaccine.
On the day of the ceremony, continuing to practice Hands, Face, Space, Fresh air, before, during, and after, is important to keeping people safe. This means using hand sanitiser and washing hands often, when entering buildings, touching things, and touching your face, wearing a mask when not seated, keeping at least one metre apart, and being outside if it is possible to do so.
One of Yorkshire’s biggest wedding venues for South Asian wedding ceremonies, HQ Banqueting Hall in Bradford offers both a wedding venue and event planners in three easy packages to make sure that the day runs smoothly and safely.
The site which pre-pandemic could hold a massive 1,000 people now runs at half capacity to accommodate for social distancing. The silver, gold, and platinum packages offer varying levels of catering and staff, adaptable to fit your needs.
Ameer-Hamza Mahmood, director of HQ Banqueting Hall, said: “Now that we are confident that weddings can go ahead, people are planning their ceremonies and are trying to bring them forward as soon as possible. We are almost fully booked for the next few months and we’re likely to be full until at least the end of the year.
“There have been a few changes in the wedding planning process to make the ceremonies Covid-19 safe. One of the big things in South Asian weddings is that male and female guests are separated. Due to the necessity of keeping social interaction limited, we have requested that attendees sit in their family bubbles instead, so that we keep mixing low.
“We have also created a small 200-person capacity suite for couples who want smaller weddings, for whatever reason. This means that we can provide the same excellent service but on a smaller, more manageable scale.”
The easing of lockdown restrictions across England means that there will no longer be any limit on guests of the wedding. Instead, it is up to the event’s organisers to determine capacity limits that comply with social distancing rules. This number will be based on the Covid-19 risk assessment of the venue that must be conducted prior to hosting the ceremony.
Mr Mahmood went on to say that: “We submitted a Covid-19 risk assessment to Bradford council last year to prove that we operate in a Covid-19 secure way. We updated this risk assessment recently to comply to the new recommendations that have come out since.”
Just like restaurants, cafes, bars, and clubs, wedding venues must take reasonable steps to ensure that people remain seated when consuming food or drink, even when outside. Buffets must also not take place to reduce risks of Coronavirus transmission. Therefore, sit-down-meals and table service are necessary during the wedding reception.
For HQ Banqueting, this is not a problem. With fully inclusive and tailored packages, the company offers wait staff and servers for each individual table which allows for minimal interaction between staff and guests, increasing safety for everyone. The options for a three-course meal with additional appetizers and sides depending on the package offered by the company, make this rule easy to comply with.
Bands, DJs or professional performers can perform at a ceremony or reception as long as they follow Covid-secure guidance. Transmission is set out in the Government’s performing arts guidance, available at GOV.UK.
When talking about singing and dancing, Mr Mahmood said: “We have told guests that except for the couple’s first dance, dancing is not advised due to the increased risk of transmission.” This is in line with UK government guidelines which state that dancefloors must remain closed but can be repurposed ensuring this is aligned to social distancing guidelines.”
The ease of rules surrounding weddings and marital ceremonies are the same across all areas of England. Easements also affect other significant life events, with rules surrounding wakes being in line with the existing rules on funerals so people can say goodbye to those they have lost.
Baptisms, bar mitzvahs and other standalone life events can already take place with a limit of up to 30 people, but restrictions still apply in these events to help manage the transmission of Covid-19.