A new law that will allow outdoor civil weddings and partnerships in England and Wales has been greenlit, meaning that approved venues will be permitted to host the ceremonies from 1 July until April 2022 to allow more guests to attend weddings.

BBC News reports that outdoor ceremonies will become legal for the first time from July, to allow for more people to attend weddings during the continuing pandemic and the need to adhere to social distancing measures

The new law will also apply to civil partnerships and the government is to launch a consultation to see if the law should be extended beyond April 2022 and become permanent.

At present, legal wedding or civil partnership ceremonies must take place in an approved room or permanent structure, but the government says the new law will benefit 75 per cent of all non-religious weddings in England and Wales that take place on approved premises.

Justice Secretary Robert Buckland said the move will allow couples to celebrate their partnership ‘the way that they want’ despite the pandemic.

The reforms that I have announced today relate to the flexibility within existing approved premises to have the wedding ceremony outdoors,” he said.

“That does create greater flexibility for premises in order to have more guests in a safe way. Having a wedding outdoors, it would be a civil wedding – it can’t be a religious or a Church of England wedding – but a civil wedding or a civil partnership ceremony being able to take place outdoors as opposed to inside the premises will indeed allow for that greater flexibility.”

He added that each approved premises will have its own guidelines and rules, but the additional freedom means that couples can be more imaginative about the way in which they can accommodate friends and loved ones on the most special day of their lives.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that the 21 June date for the lifting of all coronavirus restrictions needed to be postponed for a further four weeks, until 19 July due to an increase in cases of the Delta variant, but he did relax some of the restrictions to allow an increase in the number of people allowed to attend weddings.

The limit of 30 guests at ceremonies in England has now been lifted, and venues have been asked to limit guest numbers based on social distancing requirements.

However, guests will be told to sit at tables of up to six people and receptions will be table service only, with face coverings required while moving about a venue.

Dancing has been ‘advised against due to an increased risk of transmission’, and the dance floor will only be opened up for the newlywed couple’s first dance.

Congregational and communal singing is also ‘strongly advised against’.

For weddings taking place inside private homes, the limit of six individuals will remain, with an exception for 30 guests in place for deathbed ceremonies – where one partner is seriously ill and not expected to recover.

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