What are the current rules around British weddings?

What will your wedding look like this summer? Guest numbers, social distancing, dancing rules and more. 

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The wedding bells are beginning to chime again, and the UK has finally had some of their restrictions lifted after 15 months of smaller services. 

Each individual country in the UK has its own differing rules, and this article will look to go through them individually to give you a picture of what is now allowed. 


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From June 21 2021:

  • You are allowed any number of guests provided they are adhering to social distancing rules of 1m+ (30 person limited lifted). 
  • The exact number will be determined by a risk assessment completed by the venue. The general rule seems to be that venues can host around half their maximum capacity when in adherence with social distancing guidelines.
  • Ceremonies cannot take place indoors in a private home (unless they are urgent weddings where one person is seriously ill and not expected to recover, when six people or two households can attend) but can take place in private gardens, as can receptions. You may have up to 30 guests at an outdoor wedding in your garden, on private land or in a public outdoor space without doing a Covid risk assessment. If you want to have more than 30 people, you will need to complete a risk assessment or face a £10,000 fine.
  • If an event is taking place outdoors, it can be partially sheltered, but structures like marquees should be at least 50% open.
  • Children of all ages are included in the individual venue's limit for ceremonies and receptions. Likewise, the couple are included, but anyone working there is not.
  • Professional and amateur performances are allowed but there is no communal singing allowed.
  • Dance floors closed.
  • If the event is taking place at a Covid-secure venue where alcohol is served, all food and drink (including non-alcoholic drink) must be ordered, served and consumed by the customer while seated at a table.
  • Speeches should be given outside or in well ventilated areas.
  • Guests are allowed to leave England and travel to other parts of the UK (or abroad) to attend your marriage or civil partnership. If you're outside of England, you must follow the rules on weddings in that destination.

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  • Most of mainland Scotland and some islands are at Covid-19 Level 1, while the remaining islands (like Orkney and the Shetlands) are at the lowest tier of Level 0. However, some highly populated areas like Glasgow, Dundee and Edinburgh remain at Level 2 due to a higher number of cases. This means the rules for weddings are different across Scotland currently.
  • The Scottish government website states: Up to 50 people can attend a marriage ceremony, civil partnership registration, or reception in a protection level 3 or level 2 area. Up to 100 people can attend in a level 1 area.  
  • These limits are provided the venue size and layout will permit the necessary physical distancing between households to be in place. This means the number of people able to attend may be less, and sometimes significantly less than 50 or 100.
  • The number permitted to attend weddings and civil partnerships is to be informed by a risk assessment for the venue.
  • Face coverings must be worn by all unless exempt, other than those in the marriage party.

Northern Ireland

  • Face coverings are mandatory in certain indoor premises including hotels, places of worship, registration offices and any indoor public place where a marriage ceremony is taking place.
  • Social distancing should be adhered to.
  • Venue numbers done by a risk assessment.


  • Wedding, civil partnership receptions or wakes can take place in regulated premises like hotels. The number of people is limited by venue size and a risk assessment.
  • No physical contact unless you are in the same bubble.
  • No dancing allowed other than the couples ‘first dance’. 
  • Wedding photographs should be taken outdoors

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Can I still buy a wedding dress?

Non-essential retail, such as bridal shops, are open in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

When can we go on venue viewings?

Wedding venues are open for viewings indoors and outdoors in England. The limit on attendees at viewings is six people, or two households, not including staff at the venue.

In Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland, wedding venue viewings are available by appointment.