Coronavirus – Covid-19 advice for your wedding ceremony

Coronavirus will have an impact on weddings this spring and summer. I have post some thoughts and advice for couples who are concerned about how the Coronavirus Covid-19 epidemic may effect their wedding plans.

The situation is likely to change several times in the coming weeks so my updates are dated for ease of reference.

NB as a celebrant, I do not currently offer destination weddings, so this post is primarily aimed at couples with weddings in the UK

Coronavirus Covid-19 and your wedding update 1 – 14.03.20

Let me start with a message to all the couples who have weddings planned for this spring and summer and are worried about the impact of Coronavirus. My heart goes out to you – I completely understand you may feel anxious and upset at this time.

No one knows exactly how this epidemic in the UK will play out over the coming weeks and months. So, we have to live with more uncertainly that we are used to. The best way to deal with this is to try and take each day as it comes, take new information on-board as it comes to light, and deal with new situational factors as they come into play.

The things we do/can know:

  • The disease is likely to be mild for the majority of people – catching it yourself you’re young and healthy should not be a big concern.
  • But we all have a role to play in preventing spreading the disease – both to avoid infecting at-risk people, and to help the NHS cope by delaying, and reducing the peak of the epidemic.
  • Given the constraints of self-isolation you will also want to be careful in the immediate run-up to your wedding and limit your risk of exposure.
    • The incubation period (the time between catching the virus and beginning to have symptoms of the disease) is mostly commonly around 5 days (some estimates put it up to 14 days). [].
    • So plan a very quiet week before your wedding and try to limit how much you need to go out and about. And keeping washing your hands!
  • At risk groups are: older persons and persons with pre-existing medical conditions (such as high blood pressure, heart disease, lung disease, cancer or diabetes)
  • Have a think about which members of your wedding guest list might fall in the ‘at-risk’ group as they have greater risks in travelling and attending events with larger groups of people and see below for some ideas for them.
  • There is less risk of transmission in well-ventilated spaces – best of all out-of-doors!
    • So, if your are planning an outdoor ceremony, that is good news for you, and should also be reassuring for guests.
    • If you haven’t been thinking along the lines of an outdoor ceremony, perhaps this could still be an option for your humanist wedding. Some guests might be able to attend the ceremony, perhaps with special seating arrangements, that might not feel comfortable to stay for the party and the socialising.
  • Check the terms of your wedding insurance if you have it, and travel insurance (if you have a honeymoon booked)
  • Keep in touch with your venue, your key suppliers (photographer, caterer, florist, cake maker etc) and your travel agent. They are also in uncharted territory for their businesses, so will have new updates as things change. Having a good working relationship is always helpful in difficult and uncertain times!

Proactive ideas for your wedding ceremony:

  • Filming and streaming – think about how you might include a film record or perhaps even a live-stream of the ceremony for any guests who can’t attend in person
  • Depending on the wellness and technical ability of person involved, it might even be possible to include them in real-time during your ceremony – using the phone, or video-streaming (signal/wifi allowing).
  • I always provide couples with a copy of their ceremony script before the wedding, so a low-tech alternative would be to send a lovely printed version of your ceremony to any guests, who you know will be unable to attend, perhaps with a mini-bottle of fizz, and invite them to open the script on the date and time of your wedding and read along!
  • Pre-involve any guests who can’t be there. For example, you might ask Grandparents to provide a piece of material that could be used in a hand-fasting, or to write some advice on marriage that could be read out during your ceremony.
  • You might also ask other guests who can’t be there to pick a piece of music or a poem that could be included in the ceremony. They might even be willing to make a recording – either a personal message, or their voice reading the chosen poem or reading – and this could be  played as part of your ceremony.
  • There is an old tradition to post wedding cake to those who can’t attend. You can buy special card boxes for this. This is still a lovely way to recognise those you missed on the day.  Obviously fruit-cake will last and store best for this.
  • Consider planning a later wedding blessing. After the summer wedding day, you could have a subsequent small, intimate, wedding blessing, later in the year with important people who were unable to attend.  You could even choose to save a symbolic action for that ceremony – such as hand-fasting or the exchange of rings.
  • Take ownership of the concept of saying your vows more than once. Another idea I had to extend the meaningful aspect of your ceremony to before and after your main wedding day, might be to make a deliberate undertaking to speak aloud your vows three times to each other. One of these three times would be during your main wedding ceremony and then you have 2 extra moments – perhaps one for a special private moment between the 2 of you, one to share with family members that couldn’t attend the wedding.

My precautions:

  •  I will take all responsible precautions to stay well before your wedding – particularly handwashing!
  • To be fair to other couples and my own family, although it goes against my human instincts, I will try to reign-in the hugs and handshakes. I am practicing my heart-pump-jazz hands though!
  • I am part of network of Humanist Celebrants accredited by Humanists UK, we will make every effort to support each other to stand-in for each other as required.
  • I will store your script in a cloud location that can be access remotely by my Humanist UK colleagues.

If you choose to postpone your wedding:

I am happy to reschedule your wedding subject to availability, and at no additional fee (as long as the travel distance is similar). NB it will be easier to find a new date for you in the autumn or next spring, or on a Friday, than Saturdays next summer when my availability is more limited.

Useful links

‘The Don’t Panic’ Guide from Humanist Ceremonies, Humanists UK 13.03.20 Cornavirus sign-posting web page


We do have some challenges ahead in the coming weeks and months but I am 100% competed to do all I can to help you celebrate your wedding with joy. At times like these, it is all the more precious to create space to recognise and celebrate our love and commitment to each other, as couples, as families, as friendship groups and as wider communities. We are all in this together.  We are all in this today and in times of crisis we can really see love rise up to the challenges.