Weddings and The Roadmap out of Lockdown – 3 tips to be legally prepared for your 2021 wedding

Whether you are a couple or supplier, the Prime Minister’s announcement on 22 February 2021 could be described as a breakthrough for the wedding industry. For the first time since 23 March 2020, we know that it is the Government’s intention to allow weddings to take place from 21 June 2021, without social restrictions. Technically speaking, this would suggest that there would be no cap on the number of guests who can attend. Whilst this seems almost too good to be true and an ambitious attempt to get the industry running again, it is important couples and suppliers are legally prepared for 2021 weddings.

We have been told that weddings for:

– 15 guests could be permitted from 12 April 2021.
– 30 guests could be permitted from 17 May 2021.
– No restrictions could be permitted from 21 June 2021.

Here are three tips for couples to be legally prepared for the 2021 wedding.

1. Establish what the Government’s roadmap means for your wedding

Weddings before 21 June 2021

If you are due to get married prior to 21 June 2021, your wedding is likely to be impacted by Government imposed restrictions. Therefore, you should consider whether you are prepared to have a smaller wedding to fit within the Government restrictions and if so, whether you can negotiate a refund or discounted rate with your suppliers to reflect the reduced numbers of guests. In the alternative, you may wish to postpone your event and in this situation you ought to have a clear agreement with your suppliers reflecting the terms of any postponement. If you simply feel that you would rather not proceed, you could potentially rely on the doctrine of frustration if you can demonstrate that the wedding will be radically different to what you anticipated at the time of entering the contract. If you can demonstrate that the contract has been frustrated, you could potentially seek a refund on the costs you have paid to your suppliers (minus any costs incurred).

Weddings after 21 June 2021

In the absence of any substantial social restrictions after 21 June 2021, weddings would take place as you would have expected them to. If wedding suppliers can deliver their services, couples are bound by the terms of their contract. Suppliers may also insist that the payment plans as set out in their contracts continue. In the spirit of cooperation and being cautious, you may consider speaking with your suppliers to vary the payment terms so you can pay a little later in the year until there is absolute certainty that weddings will be taking place without any restrictions. It is important to stress that suppliers may not necessarily agree to this and in the absence of agreement, it is important you stick to the contractual terms. If you fail to make a payment in accordance with the contract, you could find yourself in breach of contract.

2. Establish your wedding “roadmap” with each of your suppliers

We have heard what the Government’s roadmap is and now it is time for you to work with your suppliers to understand your roadmap for your 2021 wedding. Just as the Government are proceeding with a cautious approach, it is important that couples and suppliers also adopt a degree of caution.

Immediate steps

You could consider completing the following steps:

a. Contacting your supplier to check that they are still open and trading.
b. Consider whether you and the supplier can still meet the terms of the contract.
c. Be clear on your payment plans going forward.
d. If you have previously entered a dispute with your suppliers, this is a golden opportunity to perhaps consider reconciling your differences and working towards resolution.
e. In terms of wedding planning and preparation, you could assess with your suppliers what urgent action points need to happen now and what can be left until later in the year. You would want to try and keep any preparatory costs by your suppliers to a minimum until you know that weddings will be proceeding as you anticipated with certainty. Therefore, as far as practicable, you may ask your suppliers to hold off going to any expense in planning for your wedding until as close to your wedding date as possible.

3. Getting COVID-19 Secure

It is quite likely that limited hygiene and vaccination related restrictions could apply to post 21 June 2021 wedding. Therefore, you may wish to ensure that your venues will be COVID-19 secure with the correct facilities (such as hand sanitisers/temperature checks) in place. It would also be a good idea to ensure that you will not have to pay anything extra for the provision of COVID-19 secure facilities being installed in venues. Finally, in case a proposal for a vaccine passport were to come into force, you may wish to encourage friends and family to take the vaccine to ensure there will not be any restrictions on their attendance.

For any further information or assistance, contact Pranav Bhanot, Head of Wedding Law at Meaby & Co Solicitors – pbhanot@meaby.co.uk