Most common questions and answers for those due to get married after 21 June 2021

Another Government announcement means an increase in legal enquiries from suppliers and couples. On 15 June 2021, we received an influx of questions from anxious couples and suppliers about the changes to weddings from 21 June 2021. The good news is that weddings can proceed with unlimited numbers from 21 June 2021 onwards. This is very welcomed news, though there are still a number of hot questions that we get asked.

  1. Can I have pre-wedding events after 21 June 2021?

Many cultures have multiple celebratory events which come before the wedding ceremony and reception. The Government’s guidance does not explicitly refer to pre-wedding events but it does make reference to “receptions and celebrations” which are permitted to take place.

The guidance also makes reference to “Alternative Wedding Ceremonies” which includes “blessings or other forms of non-statutory ceremony”. Therefore, on balance it would seem from the language used by the Government that pre-wedding events can take place.

 

  1. Can I actually have an unlimited number of guests at my wedding after 21 June 2021?

Whilst, the Government has not imposed a cap on the number of guests that are permitted at weddings and receptions, they have made it clear that there is in fact a “maximum” number of guests that can attend. The “maximum number” at a hospitality venue (e.g. a banqueting hall or hotel) will be determined by how many people a venue can safely accommodate with social distancing measures in place. Hospitality businesses must carry out risk assessments and couples ought to ask for a copy of the risk assessment to understand how many people can safely be accommodated.

 

  1. The venue cannot safely accommodate the contracted number of guests, can I cancel and obtain a refund?

The starting point is always to assess the difference between the number of guests that you have anticipated attending your event and the number that can actually attend your event. In exceptional cases, there may be a substantial difference in the number of guests, and it may be possible to argue that the performance of the contract would be radically different to what you anticipated and therefore, running an argument based on the doctrine of frustration of the contract to seek a refund.

However, we believe that in the vast majority of cases, venues and other suppliers will be able to substantially provide the contracted services and therefore, it is unlikely couples will succeed in attempting to cancel and seek a refund, simply because they do not wish to proceed with the event on the contracted date.

If fewer guests attend than expected, many dry hire venues may argue against providing a refund as the provision of services (the venue hire) is not contingent on the number of guests. On the other hand, where a caterer insists on charging you the full price for services for fewer guests, you could argue that a partial refund ought to be provided to reflect the actual guest numbers rather than the originally contracted numbers.

  1. Can I have dancing at my wedding reception?

The Government has “advised against” dancing due to the increased risk of transmission, except the couple’s first dance. Interestingly, the Government has used the words “advised against” rather than “must” which suggest it is not a legal requirement to prevent dancing from taking place. However, the Government has gone on to state “dancefloors and other spaces for dancing must remain closed but can be repurposed for additional customer seating or other relevant purposes”. This means it is a requirement under law that dance floors must remain closed. Whilst we appreciate the guidance is confusing, in keeping with the spirit of the guidance, dancing ought not to take place.

Limited dancing can take place outdoors.

  1. If dancing cannot take place, can I obtain a refund from my DJ?

Many couples are contemplating cancelling and seeking refunds from their DJs on the basis that dancing cannot take place. The Government guidance has allowed performances to take place, music to be listened to and has encouraged the use of a PA system for speeches. Therefore, it is quite likely a DJ can continue to perform their services at the wedding. You may seek to negotiate a discount with your DJs on the basis dancing cannot take place (which forms a key reason as to why you probably booked the DJ). Further, it may be possible that your DJ needs less equipment due to the dancing element of a reception not taking place. The vast majority of DJs will probably argue that they can substantially provide the services under the contract i.e. to provide musical entertainment at your event. Therefore, they will be able to resist a claim for a refund.