This section sets out the rules and guidance covering wedding receptions, including:
- number who can attend
- seating plans and arrangements
- face coverings
- food and drink
- music, singing and dancing
- other traditions and activities
The maximum number of people who can attend a wedding reception in a public or exclusive-use venue with staff, or whether a reception can take place at all, depends on:
- the COVID-19 level for the venue, and
- whether the venue can safely hold that many people with physical distancing measures in place
These numbers are the same for the ceremony.
There are different rules for weddings held in some other venues such as your private home or garden, or holiday accommodation.
See the guidance for weddings in:
When planning seating arrangements for a reception in a public or exclusive use venue, you should follow the rules for indoor hospitality settings for the relevant COVID-19 protection level.
Find out the COVID-19 level and indoor hospitality rules for an area using the postcode checker.
For example, in a Level 0 area indoors, there should be a maximum of 10 people from 4 households at a table, with physical distancing between each household.
Hand sanitiser should be provided throughout the premises.
Indoors, guests should:
- be seated as quickly as possible
- not mix with people at other tables
- stay seated at all times apart from when arriving/leaving or using the toilets
Everyone (unless exempt), including the wedding couple, should wear a face covering indoors during a reception, unless sitting down to eat and drink.
Venues providing food and drink must follow the hospitality guidance.
Indoors, food and drink must be served at tables, if possible with set waiting staff serving the same table. Outdoors, people attending a wedding can be served drinks and canapés without being seated.
Buffets are not allowed, and equipment and utensils should not be shared between tables.
Alcohol can be served in line with the hospitality rules for the protection level. The only difference from the general rules is that in Level 3 alcohol can be served at wedding receptions until 10pm.
Background music can be played at wedding receptions, in line with hospitality guidance on background music.
Live entertainment, such as live bands and DJs or a dance performance, is allowed provided the guests remain seated at their tables. Reception guests should refrain from raising voices, shouting or singing.
Indoors, there should be no dancing among the reception guests apart from:
- the couple’s ‘first dance’
- a dance between the couple’s parents as long as they are in the same household
Outdoors, groups of 15 attending the reception can dance with each other but should remain at least 1 metre distanced from people in other groups.
Those making speeches should refrain from raising their voice or shouting. Use microphones to avoid people having to raise their voices. Clean microphones regularly and between use.
For more information on sound requirements, please see the hospitality guidance.
Outdoors, the couple can receive or greet their guests and move between groups but they should remain 1 metre from those in social groups of up to 15 other than their own group.
Indoors, there should be no welcome/receiving line to greet guests.
Cake cutting can take place provided that appropriate physical distancing is followed.
Keep to a minimum any activities that involve objects being touched by several people such as the signing of guest books and polaroid camera stations/photo booths.
Avoid activities that involve objects being thrown such as confetti or bouquets.