Wedding receptions scuppered by England's Covid-19 turnaround

When Jamie Dalzell and Cheney Payne initially planned their wedding reception, it was to feature a ceilidh for 100 people. That was before coronavirus forced them to tear up those plans and instead opt for a more low-key celebration.

But now – following Boris Johnson’s announcement, with less than 24 hours notice, that receptions with up to 30 people will not be able to recommence on Saturday as originally trailed – they have had to cancel it altogether, with just the ceremony going ahead on 8 August.

Payne, 31, a teacher, said: “I think it’s just really frustrating, it is short notice. It’s a shock, it feels a bit sad but we’re still lucky we can get married. And it also seems really inconsistent as the pubs will still be open. Being called ‘a wedding reception’ rather than ‘30 random people go to the pub’ doesn’t change how the virus spreads.”

‘It feels a bit sad but we’re still lucky we can get married’ ... Jamie Dalzell and Cheney Payne.
‘It feels a bit sad but we’re still lucky we can get married’ … Jamie Dalzell and Cheney Payne

Having had their plans for a ceilidh scuppered, the couple, who live in Cambridge, had booked five tables for 30 people at a local pub, which they were keen to support. Payne said it was ridiculous that the pub will still be open, possibly with similar numbers of people there.

Dalzell, 35, a chartered accountant, said: “It would be a lot easier if the rules were consistent and in any way coherent, which they don’t appear to be. We were going to go with a pretty modest but good [do] because I’ve not seen my family this year. As soon as we read the reports coming through I rang my mum to tell her the news. She was very upset, but we’re hopeful after the wedding we’ll get up to see them in Cumbria, where I grew up. There are a few people with with travel plans which now obviously go out the window.”

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Their confusion was shared by many people on social media who questioned the distinction between wedding receptions and allowing pubs and restaurants to open.

Asked whether they considered asking their guests to just come along to the pub anyway without an official reception, Payne said: “We have been really, really tempted but I’ve got very frustrated at people for breaking the rules and making it more difficult [for others], [and] it would be unfair to the guys who run the pub as well, to put them in that position.”

Bernadette Chapman, head of the UK Alliance of Wedding Planners, called Friday’s announcement “devastating”. She said couples getting married this weekend would still have to pay for flowers and food that would go to waste, while the wedding industry had been left in limbo.

“We don’t know when weddings can resume,” she said. “This affects the immense planning that goes into organising a wedding. We need a roadmap. We need to move forward not backwards. How can it be justifiable to have pubs and restaurants open, but not micro receptions of 30 with the social distance? It doesn’t make sense, and once again it feels like Boris Johnson has no real understanding of how this affects not just couples but the industry as well.”


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