As weddings typically bring lots of families and friends into close contact, they are particularly vulnerable to the spread of Coronavirus. Countries around the world have placed restrictions on the number of guests permitted at social gatherings which are gradually being lifted as countries are opening up.
Brides and grooms planning destination weddings are confused about the new regulations related to the number of guests permitted at social gatherings, which is making it harder and more stressful to plan their weddings.
With the help of industry colleagues worldwide, we have produced this dynamic document that will be updated regularly to help you out. Most wedding venues and wedding planners in different regions and countries are aware of the changing regulations and can also help you find out the latest protocols and guidelines as far as weddings are concerned.
Main image: Shipping Company of Lake Lucerne
The Events Protocol published on 3 August 2020 by the COVID-19 Command and Control Center outlined the guidelines for reopening the Wedding industry along with meetings, exhibitions and other events.
Kindly note that these guidelines are indicative, they are yet to be endorsed and officially issued by DTCM.
Capacity & Social Distancing Requirements
- Minimum 2 meter Social Distancing corresponding into 1 person per 4 square meters gross
- Capacity will be applicable on the below set-up styles:
- Maximum of 4 people per table with a minimum of 2m distance between each table
- Maximum of 10 people per table with a minimum of 2m distance between each and are encouraged to be separated by physical dividers [if possible]. Members of a single group can be seated together.
- Minimum of 2 vacant seats equivalent between each person/seat if not from the same group.
- Clearly marked and separate entry and exit points
- Sanitisers to be provisioned for inside Wedding Venues
- Sterilisation to be conducted post tear-down of Event
- Buffet allowed subject to application of minimum social distancing guidelines of 2 meters for queuing and only if served by Waiting Staff or Served on Guest Table [No Self-Service Allowed]
- All gifts/give-aways at the Venue to be thoroughly checked/sanitized by the venue operator
- No Dance Floor Permitted
- Individuals should refrain from all greeting customs that involve physical proximity, and must not approach groom/bride or performers who are on stage.
- Performers and artists can remove mask during performances only if they can maintain at least 4m physical distancing measure with the audience. They must follow the guidelines mentioned in the staff protocols for [Entertainers/Performers/Artists/Stage Speakers and Crew].
- Photography shall be executed while maintaining social distancing rules.
- All third party catering services must ensure to use disposables while serving to individuals.
- Only sprayable perfumes are permitted but must be served by the third party contractors/families and must not be offered through self-service.
Image: Maddy Christina
In a report carried out by Consumer Tech and published recently in Forbers, Switzerland was selected as the safest country in the world for COVID-19 based on 130 quantitative and qualitative parameters.
As of 8 July following is the situation:
- Gatherings of more than 30 people are permitted in public spaces.
- The recommended minimum distance to be observed between individuals has been reduced from 2 metres to 1.5 metres.
- Events (including weddings) may be held if attended by no more than 1,000 people. If attended by more than 300 people, the venue must be partitioned into sectors each holding a maximum of 300 people in each section.
- Large scale events attended by more than 1000 people are likely to remain prohibited until at least 31 August 2020.
Image: Wedding ceremony in Brissago. Photo credit: David and Kathrin
Having successfully dealt with the Covid-19 epidemic, Cyprus has started welcoming travelers from various countries.
The maximum number of persons allowed to attend social gatherings at home and/or in public places (physical presence in the same premises/installation regardless of indoor and outdoor areas), is increased from 150 to 250 persons for outdoor spaces and from 75 to 100 persons in indoor spaces. This includes events such as weddings, christenings, concerts, festivals, private get-togethers and any other kind of assembly, introduced as one of the coronavirus protocols. However, mass gatherings are not allowed to occur simultaneously indoors and outdoors at the same venue.
From 22 August until 15 September, the maximum number of persons (physical presence at dinner) who may attend weddings or christenings has been set at 350 persons.
Italy has been one of the most affected countries during the pandemic. According to Valentina Lombardi, wedding planner from Italian Wedding Company, Italy is now in Phase 3 up to 15 July. "Phase 3 means that everything is open, and we can circulate regularly in the country. European borders are open as well as the airports. Cinemas and theaters can open but with some restrictions. From 15 July onwards, we will be in Phase 4, which means that weddings, conferences, and conventions can re-open. The rules will be issued at the beginning of July but surely they will imply social distancing, outdoor receptions and more space for guests", Valentina explains.
In Phase 4, the wedding industry can re-start with both civil and religious ceremonies.
- Receptions will be allowed. There won’t be a maximum number of guests.
- Venues will need to respect social distancing while placing tables for the seated meals.
- Buffets will be arranged in a different way with more space and waiters to avoid close groups by the tables.
- Masks are still an option for now, except for the couple during the ceremony.
- Celebrants can perform the rituals at 2 meters of distance from the groom and bride.
At this moment, Valentina’s tips for couples who wish to get married in Italy is to hire a wedding planner. "These professionals are informed about all rules and measurements to take while having a wedding in Italy so they can guide you to have the best day with no hassle. Each country has different measurements, so I suggest listening to professional advice. Also each region in Italy has different rules so I suggest hiring a local planner of the area you are deciding for", she states.
Weddings with up to 30 guests can take place from 4 July in England. They had been banned under almost all circumstances since lockdown began on 23 March 2020. Social distancing must be observed, and big gatherings are not allowed.
The marriage ceremony or civil partnership formation should adhere to the following:
- Ceremonies and services should be concluded in the shortest reasonable time
- Religious communities should therefore adapt traditional religious aspects
- Large wedding receptions or parties should not take place after the marriage ceremony. See update below*.
- No food or drink should be consumed as part of the event
- 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.
- Social distancing of at least 2 metres, or 1 mere with risk mitigation (where 2 metres is not viable), between households should be observed.
*As of 1 August wedding receptions will be allowed in England with up to 30 people. This has subsequently been cancelled at very short notice.
The full text of the COVID-19: Guidance for small marriages and civil partnerships is available here.
Image: Wedding at Allerton Castle, England
Brigitte Kater, wedding planner at Perfect Celebrations explains that every 2 weeks the Belgian government is debating about the current situation. "Unfortunately, the event industry is the last one to re-open. Until 31 August 2020, no mass events are allowed in Belgium. However, there is a strong lobby from the wedding industry aiming for wedding ceremonies for up to 100 people to be allowed (with 1.5 meters social distance)."
Image: Perfect Celebrations
Azores, an autonomous region of Portugal and an archipelago in the mid-Atlantic, is now Covid-19 free claims Maria C. Vieira of Ambiance Weddings Azores.
"Events are allowed, but up to 20 people with social distancing and masks. Dancing is allowed with social distancing. No summer concerts and festivals are allowed, but weddings yes", says Maria C. Vieira. "However if the wedding is attended only by members of the same family, the venue where it is being held can hold up to 75% of its capacity", explains Maria.
"My advice is if they wish to get married in the Azores is to go ahead with tranquility. You can have a smaller wedding and enjoy your wedding day. Flights are allowed from 1st July on”, says Maria. Maria C. Vieira also says that many local couples who have postponed their weddings for next year, have decided to reschedule again for this year. "Not many, but some weddings are being held between July and December 2020. They should be ok if they follow the rules", she adds.
It is expected that the 20 person limit on social gatherings in Portugal may change in September.
Riviera Maya, Mexico
Joyce Mnguni, wedding planner at Dream Weddings Riviera Maya says that "the government allows 50 people per gathering, of course, with practicing social distancing. Each and every venue and vendor has been preparing themselves with the new safety protocols. So, we can do our best", she affirms.
Badel Gómez Nechar, wedding planner at Soirée Eventos, says that at the church, only 30 people are allowed and they must wear masks and have sanitizers at the entrance, as well as, check the temperature.
Joyce Mnguni says that couples need to watch closely the ever-changing information about weddings."At the same time, they should keep their guests informed on what will happen when they travel to their destination. Personally, we are seeing fall weddings starting to push back again to 2021. Mainly because most of their guests are not yet ready to travel. At the same time, hotels are having restricted activities with the soft opening. So, couples are forced to cancel due to parents being older”.
Unlike Europe, Mexico won't be able to celebrate destination weddings so soon. "For July, I don’t think it is possible, but for late 2020 I think it will be great. But I really believe that will be just for local weddings not destinations. And I am pretty sure that those weddings will be so emotional and full of joy and happiness. However, I strongly recommend Mexico for 2021 - couples can book for the next year and get better services with amazing costs. In 2020, it will be difficult to throw parties, but 2021 is going to be the best year for destination weddings", says Badel.
Other Arab Countries
Most Arab countries still ban large weddings and social gatherings as is the case in Jordan that still has a restriction on social gatherings of a maximum of 20 people. In other countries, the number of wedding guests permitted at weddings varies between 10 and 200.
Lebanon has eased its restrictions on social gatherings in outdoor spaces and increased the limit to 200 persons. However, they have subsequently been banned until 10 August following a spike in cases contracted at weddings.
In Saudi Arabia it is still at 50 persons.
From 1 August, venues in Egypt can accept weddings in a dinner set-up with the maximum of 50 persons without any kind of entertainment, just in-house light music.
Social gatherings were first limited to 10 people, then on 8 June that was boosted to 50 people under Phase 3 and to 100 subsequently.
Number of people at social gatherings is expected to increase to 200 on 8 August.
Image: Elsinore Wedding
On 8 June Ireland's Phase 2 began, meaning all high street shops could reopen, while enforcing social distancing. Phase 3 started on 29 June, and phase 4 is due to begin on 20 July.
The limits on social gatherings are groups of up to 50 indoors and 200 outdoors while observing a 2 meter distance.
Image: Wedding at Bellingham Castle, Ireland
- Belief Wedding Creators is an international platform for wedding planners and designers, with members in more than 30 countries. “Learn, share and build long-lasting connections without the hustle to be a lonely entrepreneur. That’s the main goal of Belief and we are always open to new wedding creators that want to join the community and be part of our social programs and business opportunities”, states Giovana Duailibe, CEO of Belief Wedding Creators.
Guendalina Rampazzi, Project Manager, Switzerland Tourism
Christos Demetriou, Regional Office Director, GCC & Middle East Countries, Deputy Ministry of Tourism, Cyprus