‘It’s cruel’: Covid rule on weddings in England frustrates couples | World news

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Only a few months ago, Sarah Hume and her fiance cancelled their big wedding, before re-planning a smaller event once they knew they could invite 30 people.

Now, with less than a fortnight until the wedding, Hume and her partner find themselves having to halve the number of attendees.

Among the new changes to coronavirus restrictions for England announced on Tuesday the government confirmed wedding celebrations will be limited to 15 guests, half of the number previously permitted, though funerals will be allowed to go ahead with up to 30 mourners.

“We’re in this cruel situation where we’re having to un-invite 15 people at very short notice,” said the bride-to-be, from London. The new limit on guests is likely to include the couple, suppliers, and registrar or celebrant – leaving Hume and her partner with only five guests each. “So after us and the photographer, it’s immediate family and hopefully my maid of honour,” she said.

UK cases

They cannot risk postponing again in case restrictions get worse, so are trying to stay positive that weddings aren’t banned completely. But it seems to Hume disproportionate that once-in-a-lifetime events are targeted for restrictions before different households have been stopped from mixing.

“It just seems a strange prioritisation. The same restaurant that would have held our lunch for 30 people, split over six tables of four or five, can have 30 people in for lunch if the tables happen to not know each other,” she said. “The inconsistency in that is probably the hardest pill to swallow.”

Her frustrations are shared by Ella Delancey, 28, also from London, who said the new restrictions made weddings seem like an afterthought. “You can’t have more than 15 people, who are your close family and friends and are likely to be in your social bubble anyway, but we can all pack onto the tube when the pubs and restaurants shut at 10 o’clock and you can still have 30 men at a shooting party. The inconsistency hurts.

“And it’s not just us affected; it’s all the independent suppliers and the whole industry who are losing out on so much work.”

Abi Heywood and fiancee Heather Cairns.



Abi Heywood and fiancee Heather Cairns. Photograph: Abi Heywood

She said it felt bittersweet that she and her fiance, William, 30, can still have a downsized ceremony next weekend, after they culled their original guest list from their postponed 120-strong wedding. It would have been too hard for them to choose 15 people, so it will just be the couple and their parents.

“It’s been a really hard six months. I was in an awful mental state. I wasn’t sleeping or eating, I was constantly crying – there was a lot of money hanging in the balance and stress with trying to rearrange everything and the general uncertainty.

“Obviously in the grand scheme there are lots of worse things going on in the world. But it’s meant to be the biggest day of your life, it’s supposed to be exciting, so it’s been quite sad that we haven’t had the same experience. Even now I’m on tenterhooks thinking it could be taken away from us at any moment.”

Another couple determined to persevere with their plans despite the new limit are Abi Heywood, 23, and Heather Cairns, 32, from Leeds. While it was disappointing that their modest wedding had been knocked back repeatedly, despite their best efforts to follow every guidance by the letter, Heywood said the support and understanding from loved ones who had to be disinvited had been humbling.


“Getting married means so much to everybody, but personally, from a same-sex couple who a few years ago couldn’t get married at all, thank goodness we can still go ahead,” said Heywood. “People know that it’s just the current circumstances and nothing against them and are just rallying for us to get married.

“The world is facing an uphill battle and the impact on everything is huge, so we’re trying not to lose sight that the wedding is the day, the marriage is for life.”

* Some names have been changed at the request of those interviewed

Source: The Guardian
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