On Monday, after months of tears, heartbreak and awkward conversations with distant relatives who didn’t quite make the cut, larger weddings finally returned with Boris Johnson lifting the 30 guest cap.
Inevitably, freedom came with a few strings, with couples forced to fill out a risk assessment and revellers made to wear face masks while staying a metre apart.
Drunken dad-dancing was also off the menu, with the government warning that social distancing must be maintained.
Failure to follow the rules promised a £10,000 fine – but it didn’t stop couples across the country from finally enjoying their special day, after more than a year of delay, downscale and even cancellation.
Guests were on their best behaviour as they saw Chris Marshall and Sue Barsby-Marshall get hitched in Lancashire in one of the first weddings under the relaxed rules.
The service came on the third attempt, the couple having failed to marry on March 28 last year and March 28 this year due to coronavirus restrictions.
Visitors kept their masks on, did not dance and remained a metre apart at Chris Marshall and Sue Barsby-Marshall’s special day in Lancashire
The service came on the third attempt, having failed to marry on March 28 last year and March 28, 2021, due to coronavirus restrictions. Pictured: Face coverings on entry
Mr Marshall and Mrs Barsby-Marshall got married on their third attempt in a civil ceremony at Holmes Mill, Clitheroe, on Monday. Pictured: A waiter pouring alcohol
The bride, 51, said they had originally invited 65 day guests and 155 for the evening reception
Mr Marshall and Mrs Barsby-Marshall got married in a civil ceremony at Holmes Mill, Clitheroe, on Monday.
The bride, 51, said they had originally invited 65 day guests and 155 for the evening reception.
But numbers had to be quickly scaled back when Mr Johnson delayed unlocking the country.
They were permitted to invite more than 30 guests but they all had to remain seated and no dancing was allowed.
Guests were entertained by a singer and a DJ played background music after the ceremony.
Therapist Mrs Barsby-Marshall said: ‘After being so distraught that the first wedding was cancelled so suddenly and without any notice, it is wonderful to finally get married.
‘A couple of weeks before our first wedding date, Covid wasn’t an issue. We had put so much effort into it and to have it cancelled so suddenly was awful.
‘All the suppliers have been fantastic and gone above and beyond. It’s just lovely to see all our friends and socialise. Everybody is just enjoying being here.’
At the last minute the mother of three’s son Oliver decided to go home a week earlier than planned.
She said: ‘We are really glad he did because a few days ago Olivier’s friend, who he shares a house with tested positive for Covid.
They were permitted to invite more than 30 guests but they all had to remain seated and no dancing was allowed
Guests were entertained by a singer and a DJ played background music after the ceremony
Therapist Mrs Barsby-Marshall said: ‘After being so distraught that the first wedding was cancelled so suddenly and without any notice, it is wonderful to finally get married’
Guest Stephanie Zak (pictured), 56, a nurse, said: ‘We are all following the rules and making the best of the situation. We are glad to be able to get dressed up and be here to’
What ARE the new rules for weddings?
- 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
- Dancing indoors
- Stand-up receptions at either indoor or outdoor venues
- Dancing outside
- Singing, including hymns
- Cash donations
- Shared orders of service
‘If Oliver had travelled up as planned, he would have had to isolate and missed the wedding.
‘There has been added stress of people’s bubbles bursting and we have stayed away from places to reduce the risk of becoming positive.’
The new rules, announced last week, say if the wedding is not held at a Covid-secure venue hosts must complete a risk assessment.
It states organisers should encourage people to wear face coverings inside, open windows for ventilation and ensure people are seated whilst eating and drinking.
It also specifies: ‘You should not allow dancing.’
Hosts could get a fine of £10,000 ‘for organising a gathering of more than 50 people outdoors or 30 people indoors, if you do not consider the risks, conduct a risk assessment and take action to minimise the risk,’ the government website states.
Mr Marshall and his bride met online six years ago before they tied the knot on Monday.
The 57-year-old CNC engineer, said: ‘After everything that has happened, we are just glad to be here. We are allowed our first dance but no one can join us.’
The 40 guests at the civil marriage ceremony all sat one-metre apart and had to wear masks throughout.
During the wedding breakfast, everyone remained seated – and had to wear a mask if using the toilets. A total of 77 people attended the evening celebrations.
Guest Stephanie Zak, 56, a nurse, said: ‘We are all following the rules and making the best of the situation. We are glad to be able to get dressed up and be here to.
‘It has been every emotional and it is nice to sit down and have a good conversation with everyone. It seems a little more intimate.
‘It is third time lucky for Sue and Chris and we are just glad to be part of it. I will miss being able to dance but it is nice to wear your best shoes without your feet hurting!’
She added: ‘I do like to dance and will be glad when I can do so again.’
Wendy Higson, 59, attended with her husband, Ron, 60.
The retired doctor said: ‘It has been wonderful to be able to celebrate Sue and Chris’s wedding. They are a perfect couple.
The new rules, announced last week, say if the wedding is not held at a Covid-secure venue hosts must complete a risk assessment. Pictured: The wedding on Monday
Mr Marshall and his bride (pictured) met online six years ago before they tied the knot on Monday
Wendy Higson, 59, attended with her husband, Ron, 60, (pictured). The retired doctor said: ‘It has been wonderful to be able to celebrate Sue and Chris’s wedding. They are a perfect couple’
‘It does feel slightly different to a normal wedding and I took a lateral flow test before we left.
‘Ron and I do like to dance and would be on the dance floor, but it is a small sacrifice to make to be here today.’
Rowan Barr, wedding and events operational co-ordinator, said this was the first wedding held at Holmes Mill since restrictions were eased.
He added an extensive risk and safety assessment had been undertaken to ensure the venue was Covid safe and secure.
Since Monday marriages have been allowed to go ahead with no fixed size limit, despite the pause to the lifting of lockdown restrictions.
They are allowed to be as large as is permissible at the venue under social distancing guidelines that remain in place.
Guests 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.
But these specific details were not included in Mr Johnson’s speech last week. The proposed new Freedom Day for when all restrictions are dropped is July 19.