Weddings, Parties, and the Roadmap Out of Lockdown – what can we do and when?
This week, we've found a few choice lines from The Beatles’ ‘Here Comes The Sun’ rolling around our heads…
‘Little darling, it’s been a long, cold, lonely winter.
Little darling, it feels like years since it’s been here,
Here comes the sun, and I say - it’s alright…’
Weddings & Events Post-Lockdown
The last few months have been long, dark, and undoubtedly tough for each and every one of us. The normality of everyday life – going to work, spending time with our friends and family – has felt so distant and remote. But now, with springtime breathing new life into the air, comes a palpable sense of change and optimism. Nowhere is this sense of positive change being more keenly felt than in our industry and our clients.
If you’re one of the thousands of couples who’ve found themselves caught up in the seemingly endless cycle of wedding postponements over the past 12 months or one of our many clients planning birthday and anniversary parties that have been repeatedly delayed, you probably looked at last month’s announcements on the UK roadmap out of lockdown the same way we did. An overwhelming sense of relief and optimism has overwhelmed the entire events industry, and those planning events and booking wedding entertainment in the upcoming months are sharing our excitement. We can’t wait to get back to work, and you can’t wait to plan your weddings and parties and book our bands to play at them!
But the layout of what you can do and when isn’t the easiest thing in the world to navigate your way through. Many of our clients have been left scratching their heads as to their spring wedding and event options. So, we thought we’d try and make things a bit easier for you.
Event Planning Tips & Advice
In this Tailored Entertainment blog, we’re going to lay out exactly what kind of events you can host at each stage. We’ll give you some hints and tips, and even some awesome live music options for each step along the way.
Before we start, we thought we’d let you know that we’ve taken all of the advice laid out below directly from the UK government’s ‘COVID-19 Response – Spring 2021’ online advice document, as well as their newly updated 'COVID-19 Guidance for Weddings and Civil Partnerships'. As of the time of writing, all of the information provided is in accordance with the government’s lockdown roadmap. We’ve also used this brilliant article from The Wedding Lawyer for a few useful pointers, and we’d really recommend checking that out once you’ve read this. Another great source of information available is the UK Weddings Taskforce website, a group of wedding industry leaders representing couples and suppliers affected by the pandemic - they've been doing incredible work lobbying the government for clearer guidance and fairer application of the rules, and everyone in the industry is indebted to them for their continued hard work.
Finally, it’s important to remember that all of these dates are subject to case rates and virus prevalence in the UK, and as such are potentially subject to change.
With all that in mind, let's get cracking!
What Wedding & Events After COVID-19 Might Look Like
Step One – March
WHAT CAN WE DO RIGHT NOW?
Not a whole lot, unfortunately. In England, a ‘stay at home’ order is still in effect, meaning social contact is curtailed. Weddings of up to 6 can take place, but weddings receptions and celebratory events of any kind are prohibited. Of course, you almost certainly already know that, but we thought it was worth pointing out before we go any further!We’d recommend using this time to your advantage. If you’re postponing to a new date, have a good think about your options and plan accordingly – there are lots in this article to help you make your final call! Once you’ve done that, it’s a great opportunity to start contacting your suppliers to make sure they’re still able to offer what you booked in the first place. You could even build a shortlist of your favourite bands across our exciting range of wedding and party bands!
Your first opportunity to start thinking about actually going ahead with a wedding or event presents itself in the next step on the roadmap.
Step Two – no earlier than 12th April
The UK government is committed to – and on track to achieve – distribution of vaccinations to all its priority groups by mid-April. This coincides with the point when some life events start to become legally permissible.
Weddings and wedding receptions will legally be allowed to take place in England for the first time since early January. However, there’s still some pretty strict restrictions in place. Attendance at both the ceremony and reception is limited to 15 - and this includes the bride and groom. It’s also highly likely that general social distancing restrictions will remain in place, such as table service for drinks and food, and face masks indoors.
It’s important to note that, at the time of writing, weddings in step two are ‘limited to locations and outdoor settings that are already permitted to open’. This means that council buildings, outdoor services, and purpose-built wedding venues will be allowed to operate, but it doesn't look like it will cover weddings receptions in places like private residences or certain visitor attractions like museums. We'd recommend checking in with your venue to confirm whether they have the go-ahead to proceed before totally committing to a new date in step two.
Many of you will probably consider these restrictions too much of a compromise to press ahead during step two. However, if you are considering going ahead with a small group of guests, it’s definitely doable, and you can still have a really beautiful wedding day under these rules. As the weather improves, use of outdoor spaces will be more and more of an option, and your venues and suppliers will be well versed in finding creative ways to make sure you can still have a fun-filled, fantastically memorable day. Before you commit, be sure to check in with all of your suppliers to ensure they’re still trading, and that they have procedures in place that will allow them to provide their services for your big day.
What about live music?
We’re yet to see any specific guidance on what is or isn’t allowed in terms of live music under these rules. However, similar restrictions last year allowed for some paired-back live music and so it’s probably safe to assume this will be the same for weddings during step two. Like most suppliers, we here at Tailored Entertainment have gotten very good at adapting to changing circumstances, and our bands went above and beyond for all our couples that did go ahead during restrictions last year. Take, for example, one of our flagship bands Festival Nights. They performed an acoustic duo-version of their usual party setlist for a 6-person wedding at Sopley Mill in Dorset just before Christmas, and the guests absolutely loved it!
Parties & other Events
You’ll have to keep your glad rags in the cupboard for a little while longer, we’re afraid! During step two, private parties of any kind are still not allowed.
STEP 3 – no earlier than 17th May
As the spring progresses, lockdown easing continues in England, and with it, wedding and event options really begin to open up. Step Three sees ‘all but the most high-risk sectors’ once again open for business, but social distancing and legal limits on numbers will continue.
From 17th May, the number of guests allowed to attend weddings and wedding receptions will double from 15 to 30. For some couples, this will mean that pressing ahead during May and early June is a much more attractive option. Social distancing and masks indoors will almost certainly remain in place, however, the government intends to release updated guidance on social contact (including things like hugging) no later than 17th May, so there’s a chance contact rules may be a little less strictly enforced than under previous versions of the government guidance. This is also the time that all UK wedding venues will be able to open and operate, as the guidance that restricted some venues in step two will be removed.
If you currently have a wedding in the diary during step three, there’s every chance you’re weighing up your options as to whether to just go for it. This compulsion will probably be increased if you’ve already postponed and rescheduled your wedding day on one or more occasions. A considerable number of our clients are taking this approach, with many sticking to their date during step three and simply reducing their guest list to make it work. As we said in our advice for step two, smaller and more intimate weddings can be really special affairs, and 30 guests can still be considered a fairly sizeable guestlist compared to what we’ve been used to in recent months!
What about live music?
All our acts are ready to offer live music for weddings during step three. This could either be the band or act’s standard set up, or something specifically tailored to fit any noise or social contact restrictions that may still be in effect. Last summer, lots of our bands were only too happy to oblige this approach – take, for example, Liverpool wedding band The Daddy O’s. For one event, they put together a stripped-back, live lounge style version of their standard set-up, including a roaming acoustic set during the drinks reception. There is always a way to keep the good vibes flowing, and we’re always ready to help you find them!
Private parties are not specifically mentioned in the government’s guidelines, but restrictions on social contact could potentially make them difficult. Outdoors, groups of up to 30 will be able to meet, providing social distancing rules are observed. This would potentially open up the possibility for parties, but things like catering will still have provided as ‘table service’, making the practicalities probably quite tricky to navigate.
Seated indoor and outdoor events and business conferences are allowed from step three, but rules on things like social distancing and testing are likely to remain in effect. We’d recommend checking the latest government guidance before planning anything.
As a live music agency, we’re always happy to help you make events happen under any circumstances if it’s at all possible. However, as with any of your potential party suppliers, we’ll require evidence of a COVID-secure strategy before we proceed with bookings.
STEP 4 – no earlier than 21st June
From 21st June, the UK government plans on removing all legal limits over social contact. This should mean that all events can go ahead completely unencumbered by capacity or social distancing restrictions. Understandably, this is the moment that most wedding and events planners are holding out for!
Let the celebrations commence! Provided the roadmap out of lockdown runs on time and to plan, weddings in the UK should be able to go ahead at full capacity and no social distancing from step four. The government will instead publish guidance on how to make sure you and your guests are best protected from spreading the virus – although by this point, many if not all of your most at-risk guests will have been offered a vaccine. In the meantime, you could consider introducing things like hand sanitizer stations around your venue, temperature checks for guests, or you could even request all younger non-vaccinate guests get a COVID test before attending. It’s probably safe to assume that some people will still feel a little uneasy socialising with large groups of people and these sensible, easy to implement ideas can help to make sure your wedding remains a stress-free affair for everyone concerned!
What about live music
We’re already seeing huge numbers of bookings coming in from step four onwards, with most couples looking to book anew or postpone to a date somewhere in summer or autumn 2021. We will do absolutely everything we can to accommodate your date move if that’s what you choose to do. You can reach out to your booking agent and chat to them about your options any time.
Our acts are anticipating one of the busiest summers of their careers, and they absolutely cannot wait to get back out playing for you all. The level of joy and excitement from everyone at your wedding is going to be unmatched by anything any of us have previously experienced. It’s going to be one hell of a party and we’re so excited to be a part of it.
Parties & other events
When all social contact restrictions are lifted, parties and corporate events are free to go ahead as planned. Much like with weddings, its prudent to put a plan in place that allows for a safe, welcoming environment for all your guests. Thinking about ventilation, temp checks and even tests can make everyone on your invite list feel a little more comfortable with socialising in large groups for the first time in a while. Even if its not a legal requirement, it’s certainly worth thinking about!
We’ve been absolutely inundated with enquiries for bands to play ‘post lockdown parties’ from step four onwards (we’ll have a blog coming on that very subject next week!). We’ve got some great, feel-good, dancefloor packing acts that would make the perfect entertainment option for your first big knees-up. An act like our very own Bandit is exactly the kind of live music you’re after – high energy, singalong classics is exactly what we all need right now!
So there you have it. Your route out of lockdown laid out in plain English. We sincerely hope that’s helped! And if you need any more advice, feel free to give us a call and chat with one of our expert team.
In the meantime, we’ll be daydreaming about the summer and playing ‘Here Comes The Sun’ on heavy rotation…
‘Little darling, the smiles returning to their faces,
Little darling, it seems like years since it’s been here,
Here comes the sun, and I say – it’s alright…’