Weddings of six allowed under new lockdown regulations, says legal expert

Six people can be present for a wedding under proposed regulations for England’s second national lockdown.

The Government had said weddings would only be allowed in “exceptional circumstances”.

But no such circumstances are clearly outlined in the regulations published on Tuesday, a law professor said.

Marriages and civil partnerships come under the “exceptions in relation to gatherings” section of the regulations, permitting gatherings of no more than six people taking place at a private dwelling, premises which are operated by or part of premises used for a business, a charitable, benevolent or philanthropic institution or a public body, or in a public outdoor place.

The regulations also state that it is “reasonably necessary” for a person to leave or be outside their home to attend a marriage ceremony, a civil partnership ceremony or an alternative wedding ceremony.

Professor Russell Sandberg said the proposals are “good news in terms of there is no general prohibition on marriage”.

But the Cardiff University law professor said there could be confusion as the guidance appears to differ from the regulations.

He told the PA news agency: “The way in which the regulations are written makes it sound as if you can have weddings. There’s no mention as far as I can see in the regulations of ‘this only applies in relation to exceptional circumstances’.

“The guidance says in black and white there should be no weddings apart from in exceptional circumstances, and that rule isn’t found in the regulations.

“The whole thing is very strangely drafted which is particularly problematic in a piece of legislation which ought to be clear in terms of people knowing what they can and can’t do.”

He also said the proposals could prove difficult for whoever is deemed the organiser of a gathering for a marriage or civil ceremony.

Prof Sandberg said: “One of the things that the organiser has to take into account under Regulation 14 is ‘any guidance issued by the Government which is relevant to the gathering’.

“This could mean that it is the organiser who would have to determine whether there were exceptional circumstances for the wedding to go ahead.”