This week saw the government announce a slight change of plans. From the start of August, couples were to have been allowed to get married, and invite up to thirty people to the reception. Now, those plans are being pushed back in response to a spike in cases. Boris Johnson claimed that the government could ‘not afford to ignore the evidence’. The upshot of this is that anyone who’d planned to hold a wedding in august now finds themselves unable to invite anywhere near the same number of people. Weddings receptions are capped at six people outdoors, or two households indoors.
Some 100,000 couples in the UK have had their weddings pushed back or cancelled altogether in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, according to Sky News. What’s even more galling than having global events intervene to thwart your plans is government advice that swings back and forth, and which seems to apply inconstantly. Is a pub with masses of people in a beer garden any more of a contagion risk than a wedding reception with six people in attendance? Probably not – especially if those people are spread over a wide, outdoor area.
And so, understandably, the couples affected by this decision are miffed. They’ve booked hotels, made arrangements with suppliers, and done all of the other things that need to be done before a wedding can go ahead. This would be vexing even if it were done with plenty of time to spare – but this announcement comes just hours before the planned change of rules was to come into effect. What’s more, most couples have already had their wedding plans scuppered once – and so this amounts to a setback upon a setback.
What’s pretty inescapable is that gatherings larger than six people are happening up and down the country. Why is it that the most difficult-to-arrange and emotionally significant gatherings are the ones being cancelled? The government has quite other few levers to pull if it wanted to limit the spread of the virus. It might have limited gatherings in general, or imposed stricter measures on pubs. While the pub trade is in dire need of resuscitation, the same is true of the wedding industry.
A one-off event takes a great deal of planning, and for the government to take the plans of thousands of couples and scatter them to the four winds seems rather boneheaded. Many couples who’d planned to get married in August are deciding to go ahead ‘come hell or high water’ – but they’ll be toasting their new lives together in more select company.