For couples trying to tie the knot, 2020 has presented a unique set of problems ranging from a total ban on ceremonies and receptions at times to small-scale guest lists of 15 people.
After another nationwide lockdown across England – which meant small-scale weddings and civil ceremonies were only permitted in cases where “someone is ill and not expected to recover” – the country will move back into a tiered system of restrictions from next month.
This will once again change the rules on weddings, civil ceremonies and associated events like receptions.
Appearing via video link to the House of Commons, Boris Johnson told ministers that the countrywide lockdown would not be extended – as had been feared – but that from 2 December the country would revert to the former system of regional rules.
But, differently from October, the postcode system will be tougher in a bid to drive the coronavirus transmission rate down ahead of Christmas and the annual flu surge. Mr Johnson said: “While the previous tiers did cut the R-number they were not quite enough to cut it below one.”
Although an exit from lockdown is good news, big plans like weddings still might be negatively impacted. So what should people expect?
Will weddings begin again?
On Monday – exactly eight months since the first UK lockdown – Mr Johnson said that by the spring 2021 “the whole concept of a Covid lockdown” will be made “redundant” by a mixture of vaccine and measures having driven the R-number below one.
This will come as reassuring news for those who have planned summer weddings next year or moved a 2020 wedding back 12 months.
However, he warned, we are not there yet and those looking to walk down the aisle this side of Christmas still face challenges.
From next Wednesday 2 December, the tier one, two and three, system is being brought back, placing differing restrictions upon people depending on where they live.
The general rule is that weddings (and collective worship) will be back in business. But what this means in individual settings will still vary.
Weddings and civil partnerships can happen in all tiers (1-3) with an upper limit of 15 guests, as before, but reception events are banned in tier 3. This is the tier where pubs, restaurants and hotels are also closed (apart from takeaway).
Mr Johnson also reassured people there would not be supplementary rules on top of the tiers. So the rules as you see them will apply.
What tier is my area in?
Despite the system being announced in the House of Commons by Mr Johnson on Monday, people will not know which tier applies in their region till Thursday.
So you will not know if restaurants and pubs in your area can fully reopen till that time.