Furious couples slam Boris Johnson's 'vague' weddings announcement

Furious couples slam Boris Johnson’s ‘vague’ announcement that weddings can go ahead with over 30 guests provided they’re ‘socially distanced’ – as one unlucky pair miss out on the new Freedom Day by just 48 HOURS

  • From next Monday marriages will be allowed to go ahead with no fixed size limit
  • Angry couples criticised PM for offering little clarity on the new guidelines
  • Sarah Balfour, of London, has already postponed wedding and will do so again 
  • Sophie Foster, 27, from Leeds, said the last week of not knowing has been awful

Furious couples have slammed Boris Johnson’s ‘vague’ announcement that weddings can now go ahead with more than 30 guests provided that ‘social distancing’ is in place.

From next Monday marriages will be allowed to go ahead with no fixed size limit, despite the pause to lifting lockdown completely announced by the prime minister tonight. 

Instead they will be allowed to be as large as is permissible at the venue under social distancing guidelines that remain in place. Guests will have to remain seated at tables of no more than six, and the current ban on dancing indoors will remain in place apart from the newlyweds’ first dance. The new Freedom Day is July 19.

Sarah Balfour, 45, from London, is meant to be getting married to partner Lloyd Michaels, 47, on July 11 – having already postponed their nuptials once in August last year – but has decided to move it yet again.

Sarah Balfour, 45, from London, is meant to be getting married to partner Lloyd Michaels, 47, on July 11 – having already postponed their nuptials once in August last year – but has decided to move it yet again

‘I don’t fancy a wedding without dancing and with socially distanced seating for my guests, I want to be able to dance with my friends and family, hug them, and not be socially distanced, so it won’t be happening for us on July 11,’ she told FEMAIL.

‘I have to say the prime minister’s announcement was extremely vague. There was very little clarity there, there were no guidelines, we were having to really second-guess what he said there. It’s really not helpful at all.

Allowed:

  • Weddings (and wakes) with more than 30 people, subject to the venue’s social distancing capacity.
  • The couple’s first dance
  • Speeches –  preferably outside or using a PA system so no shouting is needed 
  • Cutting the cake
  • Guest books and photo booths

Banned:

  • Dancing indoors
  • Stand-up receptions at either indoor or outdoor venues

Not recommended:

  • Dancing outside
  • Singing, including hymns
  • Cash donations
  • Shared orders of service 

‘Having a wedding with people socially distanced – what does that mean exactly? He didn’t mention about the music and singing, but we went online and news sites had made an interpretation of that, which is no singing and dancing. We interpretted a maximum of six on a table, but he didn’t say that.’

Lloyd added: ‘The announcement made no sense whatsoever, there was no clarification. It’s almost worse now because everyone’s going to be left to second-guess.

‘We actually feel more comfortable knowing now we’re going to postpone it, it’s the uncertainty that’s the worst bit for everyone. But now we’re going to have to get on with booking a date for next year.’

Sarah, who works as an event planner and whose business has been devastated by the pandemic, said it’s also ‘nonsensical’ that the PM didn’t mention birthday parties or other events tonight.

She admitted she’s ‘beginning to feel like Miss Havisham waiting in my wedding dress with cobwebs all over me’.

‘I’m supposed to have a dress fitting on Thursday, it was all looking so good!’ she said. ‘We were meant to have 120 people, and we thought moving it to July this year from August last year would for sure be enough time. 

‘With restrictions like only the couples can do the first dance and guests aren’t allowed to dance, and have to wear face masks, we’re just not going to do that, it’s not the way that we want our wedding to be.

‘Even our save the dates say “we hope to save the date” – it was worded in such a way that there’s no promises here. Everybody understands, it’s no shock as such, but it’s obviously very frustrating from a planning perspective.

Sarah and Lloyd, pictured, both felt the prime minister’s announcement was ‘extremely vague’ and offered little clarity

‘You want your wedding to feel comfortable, you don’t want people to feel uncomfortable. 

‘Whilst people might not want to hug each other, that I understand, socially distanced table seating and guests wearing masks and not allowed to dance, it takes away from the wedding.

‘Music for me is huge, I’ve got a fantastic musicians performing at the wedding and I want people to feel free to party and dance. If they can’t do that it’s not really what I’ve got in mind. It just becomes background music.’ 

Sarah, who works as an event planner and whose business has been devastated by the pandemic, said it’s also ‘nonsensical’ that the PM didn’t mention birthday parties or other events tonight

Sophie Foster, 27, from Leeds, has been planning her wedding to Josh Timms, 27, for two years, and admitted the last week of ‘not knowing’ has been so anxiety-inducing she had to take time off work.

For her, lifting the 30-people cap on the number allowed to attend her wedding is ‘pointless’ if guests aren’t able to dance and enjoy the day without restrictions.

Speaking to FEMAIL before the announcement, she said: ‘It’s ridiculous, it’s not a wedding then is it? It’s just a meal – we could go to a restaurant and have 300 people apparently. It doesn’t make any sense.

‘Yeah you can have a ceremony and a meal, but it’s not about that, it’s about the whole event and everyone having fun and dancing and enjoying a drinks reception, it’s the whole package. We don’t want to remember our wedding as some weird Covid party. 

Sophie Foster, 27, from Leeds, has been planning her wedding to Josh Timms, 27, for two years, and admitted the last week has been so anxiety-inducing she had to take time off work. Pictured tasting their wedding cake

‘You pay for a wedding, the whole package, and for me it’s all or nothing. You wait so long to get married, and it’s too much of a special day to look back and say, “That wasn’t what we planned”. 

‘There are little adjustments you can make, but if you can’t dance or have a drinks reception – come on, as if an outdoor drinks reception is going to be the reason Covid spreads, when there’s 20,000 people in a stadium. It feels ridiculous.’

Sophie and Josh have invited 110 guests and are set to marry on July 17 – just two days before the new ‘Freedom Day’.

‘It’s so arbitrary, those 48 hours, from the Saturday to the Monday,’ she said. ‘I can’t believe we’re going to miss out by that amount.

‘These new rules feel like an empty gesture because we still can’t have the wedding we planned. It’s meant to be such an exciting time, but it’s been a really, really stressful week, it’s been awful. I’m really emotional because I’m so anxious and overwhelmed by it.

Sophie and Josh have invited 110 guests and are set to marry on July 17 – just two days before the new ‘Freedom Day’

‘It’s not just about the wedding, it’s everything, everyone’s booked to come, I’ve got friends flying over from abroad, and there’s so much money we’re going to lose on our deposits that we won’t get back.’ 

Sophie added that it’s galling that restrictions will remain in place on her special day, yet thousands are allowed to gather in a stadium to watch football.

‘It’s so frustrating, we do all the right things, we’ve been in lockdown, we’re all getting vaccinated and it still feels like we’re being punished – what is the endgame here?’ she asked.

‘It’s a nightmare, it’s the uncertainly, lack of clarity and hypocrisy. I went to Liverpool last weekend and I know nightclubs aren’t open, but everyone’s crowding in the streets, in the bars, dancing, it’s so unfair – and then you see the crowds in the stadiums and Boris at the G7 summit having a drinks reception and BBQ with no social distancing. It’s so hypocritical.

‘I don’t understand why nothing’s been put in place where people can be tested or show they’ve had their vaccine to attend a wedding, it just doesn’t make any sense.’

Sophie added that it’s galling that restrictions will remain in place on her special day, yet thousands are allowed to gather in a stadium to watch football.

She added that now the prime minister has lifted the restrictions on numbers, she’s worried their insurance company aren’t going to pay out and that the venue may not let them move the date because technically it could go ahead. 

They’re set to lose thousands, which includes non-refundable deposits for their photographer (£500), cake (£100), band (£500) and £6,000 for their venue.  

‘It’s some weird halfway house which is actually worse for us,’ Sophie said. ‘Plus all the dates for next year are booked at our venue, so I don’t know what we’re going to do.’

While the couple are prepared to postpone their wedding so that they can have the day they planned, they worry about the impact on their guests who have booked to travel from afar. 

‘We were meant to have friends in America coming, we’ve got family in Denmark who can’t make it anymore because of the restrictions, we have a couple of friends in Sweden who can’t come anymore, but our best friends from Australia are coming, they’ve had to apply for an exemption to leave the country,’ she said. 

‘They’re moving to England for a year-and-a-half so they’re able to come over, but they wouldn’t be coming this summer if it wasn’t for the wedding. If the wedding isn’t happening I don’t know if they’d push it back or not. There’s just so much riding on it.’ 

Sophie and Josh are set to lose thousands, which includes non-refundable deposits for their photographer (£500), cake (£100), band (£500) and £6,000 for their venue

Venues will be responsible for carrying out risk assessments before weddings that set out how many guests are allowed. The announcement comes amid growing anger from the wedding industry that the limits remained in place while large crowds were allowed to gather for events like Euro 2020 football matches. 

Addressing the nation tonight, Mr Johnson said: ‘To give the NHS that extra time, we will hold off Step Four openings until July 19, except for weddings that can still go ahead with more than 30 guests provided social distancing remains in place, and the same will apply to wakes.’ 

The UK Weddings Taskforce, an industry group, had earlier estimated 50,000 nuptials planned in for the four weeks from June 21 could be cancelled if restrictions had remain in place. 

They calculated the industry would lose £325million for every week that weddings without restrictions fail to go ahead. Mark Dawson, of the Wedding Venue Support Group, said the 30-capacity figure was based on a hunch from scientists last year and had not been backed up with any hard data since.

He said: ‘Eighty people can sit inside a pub, but if you put a bride and groom in there, you can only have 30 in there, it doesn’t make sense and there’s no scientific evidence to back it up.’

The Prime Minister tonight dramatically delayed Freedom Day by another four weeks to prevent up to 500 deaths a day after scientists warned the Indian variant could be 80 per cent more infectious.  

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