From this weekend, weddings are back.

But it looks as though saying “I do” post Covid-19 will be more of a clinical procedure than a passionate party.

Strict new rules will see not only a whole load of hand washing antics at the altar but only 30 people people will be allowed to attend the ceremony, singing will be banned, guests will have to social distance and receptions as we know them are a thing of the past.

The pandemic has blighted the global wedding industry, with a loss of almost £90 billion. Wedding planners, venues and caterers are having to learn to adapt in order to salvage anything out of the mess.

Sian Belton is the owner and director of BusyBrides (, an award winning wedding planning business in Southend.

She says the new guidelines are too strict and lack clarity: “They are calling it a wedding and it’s not.

"It’s only a ceremony, which is just one small part of a wedding, so this it is misleading to couples,” said Sian.

“Whilst there will be couples that just want to be married and may be happy to go ahead, there will be those that need to get married for visa or legal issues or maybe someone is at end of life and need to become their next of kin, or someone could have a dying parent that they want to see them marry.

“All these reasons this will force their hand in to having a marriage ceremony that is completely unrecognisable to what they had hoped for as a wedding day.”

Another of the new post Covid-19 rules means dads won’t be able to walk the bride down the aisle.

Sian stressed: “There is nothing meaningful about having your father walking six foot away from the bride or groom, your best man having to wash their hands before and after giving over the rings, everyone wearing masks, and no one allowed sing a word, less alone any cuddles and kisses for what is ostensibly an emotional driven event!

“I feel that couples, and the entire wedding industry need some clarity from the government. We need to know NOW what their decision will be, subject to no spike, what we will be allowed in terms of recognisable “weddings” and when and even right down to what services can be provided.”

Sian raised a good point about the parts of a ceremony that often get overlooked but cannot technically now happen. “Let’s not also forget that brides still want their makeup done professionally for their ceremony,” she said.

“Yet makeup artists are not allowed to do it under the government guidelines, so I am hearing that some brides are expecting their hired makeup artists to work illegally or demanding their money back. It’s causing a lot of heartache.

Sian has so far had 10 weddings and Mehndi ceremonies that have had to be postponed because of coronavirus. While some couples have pushed their wedding back until next year to be safe, others are still holding out hope their dream day could take place later this year.

“ It’s a major issue. I still have four weddings that are wavering as to move or not, and my December couples believe that may be okay, but I’m not so sure.”

Another issue for Sian is that she hosts a number of large Asian weddings where guests can reach 500 people.

“To try and reduce them to 50 or 80 would be very difficult as having large weddings is just part of their culture.”

Sian has come up with ways to redesign weddings in phases so that they are split between guests that love a good ceremony, and those that love a good party but it’s not easy.

“We need the government to say ‘sorry the weddings will just not happen soon or at all this year’ so we can plan for the future. We are such a long way off from what a wedding should be like, even more so with social distancing in place. Who doesn’t want to hug at a wedding?”

Hayley Jayne Bunting, 41, owns a company ( that plans weddings across Essex, including at Rochford’s Red Brick Barn. She welcomes the news that weddings can finally take place again, but like Sian she too has reservations.

“It’s definitely a step in the right direction as it now gives couples a choice,” said Hayley.

“Unfortunately each of my couples have decided to postpone their weddings until 2021, with the exception of one couple who have decided to pause their plans until things are a little clearer.

“Of course, the restrictions may be too restrictive for some couples, but for others who simply wish to marry, I am sure the news that they could go ahead with their ceremony was welcomed.

“I know that many venues and wedding suppliers are working tirelessly behind the scenes adapting their normal practise so that couples weddings can go ahead.”

Hayley says couples can still have a memorable day even with the restrictions: “It is such a personal decision for a couple to make, so they must decide if they are happy to adjust their plans accordingly,” she said.

“For any couple that do decide to go ahead then of course it will still be an enjoyable day. It may be a different wedding to what they had originally planned, but it will still be their special day, and it will still have the same ending.

“They will be married which is the ultimate goal for any wedding day. “