Weddings have been heavily impacted over the past year due to the ongoing pandemic. From reduced guest numbers to restrictions on musicians and dancefloors, we’ve looked into what wedding traditions people are looking forward to returning and which people are hoping will remain a thing of the past.

What are the current guidelines?

In England, weddings are currently permitted with a total number of guests up to 30 people. They can take place indoors in a COVID secure venue or outdoors where it can be sheltered provided at least 50% of the walled area remains open.

After the 21st of June, all limits on weddings, civil partnerships and receptions are set to be removed. However, there is still a large amount of surprising and rather confusing guidance recommended as weddings return somewhat to normal.

What do the government currently advise against at weddings?

1.Visitors touching or kissing

Although the couples first kiss can still go ahead, frequent contact between wedding guests should be avoided. Not only should direct contact be limited but you should also be wary of items that are passed around among guests such as service sheets, guest books and polaroid cameras, and hand sanitation is also encouraged before and after.

2.Loud Music

Music may not be something you would’ve considered a dangerous hazard in the past, however, according to government guidance raised voices can increase the risk of transmission. To prevent this, venues should “refrain from playing music at a volume that makes normal conversation difficult”.

3.Long Speeches

One piece of guidance many may be grateful for is the restrictions around speeches. The government advises that they should be given outside or in well-ventilated areas and PA systems should be utilised where possible to help amplify the speaker without them needing to raise their voice and increase possible transmission. They have also encouraged that when weddings are taking place inside, windows and doors should be open as much as possible. So you may want to bring your coat!

4.Buffets and standing around the bar

Another piece of guidance that is likely to have a large effect on the general atmosphere at a wedding is the restrictions around waiting service. The government has advised that all food and drink must be ordered, served and consumed by the customer whilst seated at their table. This likely means a temporary end for socialising at the bar and helping yourself to the buffet table.

For more information on current government guidelines around weddings and events, visit the website.

What wedding traditions are guests happy to see the back of?

In light of the current restrictions on weddings, we conducted a survey into the traditions that have been lost due to COVID restrictions to find out what people would actually be happy to leave in the past. Topping the list with 27% is weddings with over 100 guests.

The results revealed the top ten traditions Brits would prefer happy couples to ditch:

    1. Weddings with over 100 guests (27%)
    2. Packed dancefloors (23%)
    3. Group photos (21%)
    4. Mixed household seating arrangements (21%)
    5. Self-serve buffets (20%)
    6. Queuing at the bar (20%)
    7. Weddings abroad (18%)
    8. Live music (18%)
    9. Having to invite guests you don't really want to (17%)
    10. Singing during the ceremony (16%)

Those planning a wedding in 2021 can look to continue the trend of smaller ‘micro’ weddings with lower budgets and potentially cut back on DJ costs as nearly a quarter (23%) of guests won’t be polishing off their dancing shoes on a packed dancefloor just yet.

Social distancing and non-household mixing over the past 12 months appear to have had a lasting impact on weddings, as a fifth (21%) would prefer not to sit with anyone outside of their household moving forward. Table service could also be here to stay as a fifth (20%) of UK adults would be happy to see the back of self-serve buffets and queues at the bar.

Perhaps least surprisingly, 17% of those polled said they would be happy to see the back of having to invite guests they don’t really want to moving forward, fitting in with the trend of smaller more intimate ceremonies and celebrations.

Other traditions Brits would be happy to ditch include long speeches (14%), bridesmaids and groomsmen walking down the aisle together (14%) and self-serve pick and mix (13%).

Splitting the results out by gender, both men (22%) and women (31%) agreed that weddings with over 100 guests is the tradition they would most like to see the back of. But looking at the different age groups, 16 to 24 year olds would prefer to ditch group photos (21%) compared to 25 to 34 year olds who want to see couples drop self-serve buffets (18%).

On the reverse, the wedding traditions the least amount of Brits would be happy to see the back of are cash gifts (8%), food trucks (9%), photobooths (13%), the throwing of the bouquet (13%) and confetti throwing (13%). So couples planning a celebration for 2021 and beyond can add these to their plans if they’ve not included them already!


The wedding industry has been one of the most affected by the ongoing government restrictions. Couples have had to switch up their plans continuously and work with their venues and suppliers to do so. With these restrictions now in place for over 12 months, we wanted to see the lasting impact they will have on weddings and what guests and couples want out of their big days in the future.

Our insight shows that some of these changes could be longer lasting than we first anticipated so couples planning their big day for 2021 and beyond may want to rethink their plans and even be able to adjust their budgets to accommodate more intimate and personalised weddings.

Here at AYRE we have a wealth of experience with supporting weddings of all shapes and sizes. To find out more about how we can assist you with your big day from lighting to sound, check out our dedicated wedding production pages

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