Allow wedding receptions to go ahead following hospitality guidelines

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The coronavirus has been devastating for people across England and the world. Many people have had to postpone weddings and hospitality has been affected with this too. On 23rd June, it was announced that weddings could go ahead with 30 people; however from further guidance, it has become apparent that receptions will not be allowed. Hospitality is allowed to restart following guidelines, which includes cinemas, restaurants, pubs and multiple groups can meet in parks. 

Brides and grooms are left feeling disheartened, why can receptions not go ahead if we follow the 1 meter plus guidance; yet we could go to a restaurant or the cinema with groups of strangers following the same guidance? They are being told to have a wedding service and then cut the celebrations short by everyone going home. The rules contradict themselves here, as then the wedding party could go to a restaurant or a pub and sit separately following guidelines. This in turn would be more risk as there would be strangers there too. 

Arguably, it would be a lot safer to attend a wedding reception with friends and family plus mitigation to keep everyone safe, than watch a film or go to a restaurant with multiple strangers. If the suppliers and guests are happy to go ahead with safety measures in place, it should be their choice whether to attend or not.

In addition to this, the hospitality sector is now being divided. Hotels can open for people to stay, plus have their on-site restaurants open. How is this any different to hosting a wedding, providing safety guidelines are followed? Restaurants are allowed to open, yet wedding caterers are not allowed to host a meal. Further still, studies have shown, if windows are open or better still, meals are hosted outside, this significantly reduces the risk of infection; just as if the same people were to go to a pub or a restaurant. All hospitality businesses and wedding suppliers have struggled during this time and allowing the summer weddings still booked to go ahead, may just save a business from going under. 

Recently, there have been scenes of thousands of people gathering at beaches and around football stadiums. If these groups of people can make their own decisions on what to do, brides and grooms should have the decision to meet safely with their friends and family, as no doubt, these gathering will be a fraction of the crowds seen on the beaches and celebrating football. I don't think anyone can argue that a day to the beach or football celebrations are more important than a wedding!

Those that have been planning weddings for years are being told that we cannot have our special day, with a lot less people than in general circulation! I know I have certainly come into contact with more people, queuing to go into a supermarket and attending work, than I will do with guests at our wedding. Whilst we understand the virus is still with us and there is still a risk, if mitigation is applied, this will make it safe for everyone. It was also announced that theaters are wanting to open, again this would be a substantial about of time spent with a group of strangers, albeit safely. I have come into contact with a wide range of people on visits to supermarkets, those of which would be impossible to track and trace if needed. Couples know all of their guests, meaning they have their details, so if the need arises, they would be able to track and trace every single guest easily. Furthermore, family and friends know the importance of keeping each other safe and would ensure distance is maintained. I have had strangers approach me a lot closer than the guidance.

In addition to this, other areas of the UK are being told they can have celebrations with a substantial number of people; in Ireland, they have been told they can hold celebrations of up to 500 people by mid-August! Furthermore, summer weddings will be held just a few weeks before it is planned for all children to go back to school. There have also been many couples working through this pandemic and all couples still wanting their wedding to go ahead have strictly adhered to the guidelines to make that happen! How can going to the cinema or a restaurant with a group of strangers be more important than celebrating your marriage with a loved one? 

To add more to the stress and disappointment of couples, residents are now allowed to fly to certain European countries; including Spain and Italy, who have seen high infection and death rates, with no quarantine on return. This would mean people are travelling on planes with re-circulated air, staying in hotels with people from multiple countries and arguably would make it impossible to track and trace the majority of people if needed. Couples are not asking to go on holiday; they are simply asking to marry and celebrate with their friends and family, in a much safer environment.

We are calling upon the Prime Minister to review the current guidance which says only ceremonies of 30 people can be held. If mitigation and hospitality guidelines are followed and safety measures put in place, including sanitation stations, this will lower the risk to all and allow everyone to enjoy what should be a celebratory day. Couples have worked hard for their special day and should be allowed to celebrate with their guests, as well as enjoy the build up to one of the biggest days of their lives.