What’s the latest wedding etiquette?

The 30 people maximum rule at a marriage or civil partnership ceremony, now reduced to 15! (which must include the officials and any extra workers) has meant a serious rethink for many couples. Unfortunately, part of the rethink means that hard guest-list decisions have to be made.

One way to maximise the number of guests is to ask them to take photographs instead of having an official photographer. While they might not be ‘professional’, they will capture the magic just the same, and family or ‘social bubble’ groups can always be photographed together. Likewise, you could use speakers in the venue for music rather than a choir and organist. Churches are renowned for their acoustics after all.

Inevitably, there will be disappointment as people who expect an invitation don’t get one. A way to minimise the discomfort is to blame it all on COVID-19 and to avoid making it personal.  Of course, on the quiet, this means that you don’t have to invite anyone you don’t want to and if necessary, just remind them that you’re sorry but it’s out of your hands. Nevertheless, it’s probably a good idea to ban social media which avoids exposure to countless pictures of the celebrations that took place without them.

However you may feel about them, you can’t compromise on face masks, so why not provide each guest with one of your choice or at least tell them what you would prefer beforehand? Likewise, individual hand sanitisers could be given as packaged gifts. If it’s got to be done, make the best of it.

As weddings are not renowned for their inherent social distancing, the onus is on the couple to be vigilant on others’ behalf. A sensible addition to the invitation might be some written information regarding the use of hand sanitiser, the wearing face masks and social distancing which can be reiterated the day before by text and again, on the day. Remember that a level of anxiety is to be expected among the guests themselves so gentle prompts might offer some peace of mind all round.

When it comes to seating arrangements, you could go for a picnic style layout, or place tables in 2 metre squares to make it as sociable as possible – just make sure that households and social bubbles stay together.

Dancing is tricky because guests are likely to have relaxed with a glass or two of bubbly by then, but social distancing rules must still be adhered to. Small, regular announcements made as amusingly as possible would help and you could even mark out squares with appropriate gaps on the dancefloor.

In the end, remember that everyone knows that the current rules are in place, they will appreciate clarity, and they are there to celebrate your wedding with you – however unorthodox it may seem.

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