The government has strongly advised against holding receptions after wedding ceremonies in new guidelines published this week.
From Saturday, weddings will be permitted with attendance restricted to 30 people, while the same maximum has been set for funerals and other life-cycle events.
Places of worship, which will be permitted to start holding communal services from Friday, will be able to determine their own numbers based on a risk assessment of the threat of coronavirus spread.
“No more than 30 people should attend a marriage or civil partnership, where this can be safely accommodated with social distancing in a covid-19 secure venue,” the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said.
“Any receptions that typically follow or accompany marriages or civil partnerships are strongly advised not to take place at this time.”
“Small celebrations” can be held as long as they stick to social distancing guidelines - involving two households indoors or up to six people from different households outside in England.
Ceremonies should be kept as short as possible, singing or chanting should be avoided and hands washed before and after the exchange of rings. No food or drink should be consumed unless needed for the solemnisation of the marriage.
“Where required for the marriage or civil partnership, only one individual should be permitted to sing or chant,” the new guidelines state, “and the use of plexi-glass screens should be considered to protect guests”.
Places of worship should determine the capacity for services based on factors such as size and ventilation and the ability of worshippers to maintain social distancing – either keeping two metres apart or, where that is not possible, one metre along with “risk mitigration”.
A safe maximum in some premises may have to be less than 30.
Services should be concluded in the “shortest reasonable time” and communal singing avoided, the official guidance advises. If necessary for the service, only one individual should sing or chant.
Where worshippers cannot bring their own books, a selection of clean books should be kept.
“Clean books should be quarantined for 48 hours since their previous use and should be quarantined for 48 hours again after use,” the guidelines state.