If you’re planning a wedding, I know that keeping track of the Coronavirus wedding guidelines in Ireland and beyond can be a struggle. Advice and restrictions change from week to week as the situation evolves. Just a little while ago, we were able to have weddings of up to 50 people again, but that has unfortunately changed as Europe faces a second wave. Since the start of this pandemic, it’s been my mission to work closely with both the government and hospitality industry to provide clarity to wedding vendors and couples. So, as we move into the highest level of restrictions (Level 5), I thought it would be a good time for an update!
Please note that, as I mentioned, guidelines are ever-changing, and it’s important to always work closely with your Irish wedding planner or check the government’s website to ensure your plans are in compliance. But for now (October 2020), here is a rundown of the most recent Coronavirus wedding guidelines in Ireland.
The Plan for Living with COVID-19, published by the Irish government in September, outlines five different levels of restrictions, with Level 1 being the lowest. The plan includes provisions for localised restrictions, where different counties may be at different levels, depending on the number of cases.
From 22 October, the entire country is at Level 5. However, an exemption to the original roadmap has been made for weddings, which allows up to 25 guests to attend a wedding ceremony and reception, whether indoors or outdoors. This number will remain in place until the end of the year. The government has also confirmed that people travelling to weddings will be permitted to travel outside the 5km travel restriction that is in place under Level 5, which is wonderful news for couples whose family or friends live in another county.
Level 5 specifics
Under Level 5 some additional restrictions have been issued by the government which apply to weddings.
- Guest numbers are 25 people, not including the couple or essential staff
- Travel – guests are allowed to travel to attend a wedding
- Hotel accommodation for guests – hotels are permitted to open for overnight accommodation for the 25 guests and the couple ONLY
- Hair and Make up services are not allowed under any circumstances
- Wedding dress shops are closed to the public
- Wedding cakes are permitted
- Photographers are permitted
- Live music and dancing is not permitted and the reception must be fully seated
- Novelty suppliers and acts are not permitted
While it’s impossible to know where things will stand for weddings in early 2021, we do know that the highest number of guests allowed at any level under the government plan is 100. This means that 100 guests is your best-case scenario. And remember, that number does not have to include any staff and suppliers who will be in attendance.. The numbers also apply to a church ceremony or to a marquee, even if it’s in your garden. Currently under Level 5 restrictions, weddings can only take place in a hotel or venue.
As well as the coronavirus wedding guidelines in Ireland published by the government, it’s important to be aware of the guidelines published by Fáilte Ireland (our tourist board). These provide specific recommendations for venues that impact table settings, dancing, etc.
Here’s what to expect when we go back to Level 3.
- Weddings must end by 11.30pm. At this time, all wedding guests should have left the function and bar areas.
- Guests must wear masks during the reception when arriving at their table and when leaving it. Face masks should also be worn by staff where other measures like screens or physical distancing are not possible.
- Hand sanitisers must be placed at all entry points and there should be clear signage to request physical distancing.
- For a drinks reception or cocktail hour, no self-service stations are allowed, and canapés must be served in individual portions. Distanced queuing systems must be in place, and extra furnishings should be removed from the room to allow maximum space for social distancing.
- For a dinner reception, food should not be served family-style but should instead be fully plated with individual portions or sachets of salt, pepper, and butter.
- Social distancing must be maintained at the tables. A couple or family are able to sit together, but groups or individuals who don’t live in the same house must be seated 2m apart.
- Social distancing also has to be maintained on the dance floor. I would recommend encouraging guests to dance with other people at their table. You could even have a dance-off between different tables!
I know this is a lot to take in! But remember, the restrictions are all in place for the safety of your family and friends, as well as your wedding vendors. And, while weddings are different now, they can still be just as beautiful and moving and memorable as ever! And remember, with the guidelines ever-changing, a wedding planner is key to getting you through these uncharted waters!
Slán go Fóill,
Image by Lisa O’Dwyer Photography