Making the decision of where to wed at home or abroad as we are still coping with the repercussions of Covid-19 is a very real dilemma. When I wrote this article many month I ago I had no idea of the impact to me as a small business owner nor how devastating this would be to the global wedding sector.
What is possible for a legally valid wedding ceremony at home (England).
Legally-valid ceremonies are strongly advised to go ahead only where they can be done in a COVID-19 secure environment.
It is suggested that the duration of the ceremony be kept as short as reasonably possible and limited as far as reasonably possible to the parts of the ceremonies that are required in order for the marriage or civil partnership to be legally binding. No frills!
No more than 30 people should attend a marriage or civil partnership, where this can be safely accommodated with social distancing in a COVID-19 secure venue.
If you are focusing on the legalities at the moment then 30 guests attending the ceremony does not sound so bad, however if you wish to have a reception then this becomes more limiting.
Thirty is the maximum number for all attendees at the event, including the couple and guests. It also includes any third-party suppliers, such as photographers or security, but does not include staff employed by the venue or any third party catering staff.
Guidance around the Ceremony
Masks are to be worn.
No raised voices or singing during the ceremony.
Religious communities should adapt traditional religious aspects, especially where celebrations would otherwise have taken place over a number of hours, or even days, to ensure the safety of those present and minimal spread of infection.
No food or drink should be consumed as a part of the marriage or civil partnership ceremony, only for the purposes of solemnisation.
Where the exchanging of rings is required or desired for the solemnisation of the marriage or the formation of the civil partnership, hands should be washed before and after. The rings should be handled by as few people as possible.
Where an infant is involved in proceedings a parent/guardian or member of the infant’s household should hold the infant.
All parties should meet the guidelines, 2 metres distance or 1 metre with risk mitigation (where 2 metres is not possible).
Entertainment/performances are possible indoors adhering to the following, low audience number, and limit number of performers and duration of the performance.
Food to be served by staff, no self-service.
Speeches – ideally outside where possible.
These guidelines may be workable for some couples but what if you are from a culture where the celebrations involve a large gathering or a small wedding is just not part of the plan Covid-19 or not. What can a wedding abroad offer you?
Getting wed in Italy.
Civil ceremonies and religious weddings are possible. Social distancing and mask wearing is mandatory. Depending on where you are getting married it may be that the bride and groom will have to wear masks during the ceremony as well as guests.
At the reception they must be worn inside and only removed for eating or when outside.
Larger numbers (above 30) are possible as long as the venue can meet the social distancing guidelines. When short listing your venue ask the venue about maximum capacity.
Dancing is at the discretion of the venue.
Flights and Quarantine.
Airlines have been hit hard by Covid-19 and the repercussions are being felt today. Reduced schedules and the high possibility of flights being cancelled due to new Government guidelines and quarantine would have a huge impact to mood and emotions as well as agreements with venues and suppliers. Not to mention the financial loss that could be incurred by your guests.
Entry requirements to Italy.
Due to the recent increase in Covid-19 cases entry requirements can change at short notice. Conditions of entry for international guests is an important consideration especially if you have a cosmopolitan guest list.
Arriving in to Italy and testing positive will mean a 14-day self-isolation the cost is something that will have to be borne by the individual(s).
If our Government changes quarantine regulations then you could be subject to self-isolation on your return from Italy.
Insurance, payments and refunds.
Covid-19 response to weddings has seen both good, bad and ugly stories for couples who wished to postpone weddings or have looked to cancel and recoup their deposits.
With the realisation that what happens next year is out of our hands and using the experience of this year, being flexible and reasonable on both sides (suppliers and couples) when it comes to payment terms should be the foundation of the relationship when agreeing terms.
Do bear in mind that the law in Italy will be different to the the law in England about deposits and refunds.
Weddings in 2021
For those couples who made the decision to hold off committing to a new date in 2021 but are now thinking they wish to move forward with their plans, this must be done based on what we know now with a caveat that things could so easily change in a good way and a not so good way.
The current view is that next year will be busy as postponed 2020 weddings are adding to the volume of those that have been planned specifically for 2021.
What has amazed me is that despite the uncertainty and frustration wedding couples have shown a resilient spirit.
There is no choice other than to be accepting of what our governments tell us and use the information to move away from a wedding limbo situation. Moving forward gives you some control.
To get the original vision of your wedding in the next 12-18 months is a waiting game and even the best crystal ball gazing would not give us a decent answer. Not having 100% freedom to have the wedding you want is way short of ideal and there is no clear winner in the two options described above.
Take what you can from what is on offer and make the most of your choice. If you wish to err on the side of caution and wed at home or if you are adventurers at heart and continue with your Italy wedding then I am here to help you have the best day.