Wedding guest numbers to be limited during coronavirus pandemic

Weddings at Suffolk register offices and nationwide at Church of England venues will be restricted t

Weddings at Suffolk register offices and nationwide at Church of England venues will be restricted to five guests because of coronavirus Picture: SERHII SOBOLEVSKYI/GETTY IMAGES/iSTOCKPHOTO - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Strict new measures have been enforced for Church of England and register office weddings in Suffolk because of the coronavirus.

As part of the new policies, enforced from Monday, March 23, ceremonies run by Suffolk County Council will be restricted to only six people – the bride and groom, two witnesses and a further two guests if space is available.

The Church of England has also said its weddings should only be conducted with five people – the priest, bride, groom and two witnesses.

Ceremonies held at register offices in Bury St Edmunds, Ipswich, Lowestoft, Stowmarket, Sudbury and Woodbridge will not allow further guests until June 30.

Couples are instead encouraged to live stream their ceremonies to friends and family.

In a statement, the council said it “will continue to offer options for rescheduling at no charge and for full refunds where this is requested”.

Ian Evans, owner of Copdock Hall near Ipswich, said the measures will have a “huge” impact on private venues.

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Mr Evans said: “It has been a nightmare day for our couples and us.

“It is such an emotional issue as these people have spent up to two or three years saving and planning for their big day.

“It will also hit other parts of the industry hard, such as DJs and florists, many of whom are one man bands going through the worst.”

Mr Evans said thankfully the measures have come in before the busiest part of the year for the business – summer.

He added: “We have spent most of the day trying to re-organise and in most cases we have found suitable alternatives.

“Most couples understand this is a very unusual situation and have been understanding.”

Abbie Jupp, 25, from Colchester, said her wedding guests will most likely be restricted to her parents and sister, while she hopes to postpone the reception.

She said: “Essentially the ‘wedding’ wedding is not going to go ahead and we’re just now playing it by ear to see what the insurance situation is.

“But it’s all quite unclear - the venue said their insurance doesn’t cover them because they’re covered for infectious disease outbreak but COVID-19 is not on the official list of infectious diseases yet because it’s brand new.”

The Muslim Council of Britain has called for the suspension of all congregational activities.

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