Coronavirus: 'Allow small weddings' call from couples missing out

By Alex Jennings
BBC News

Media caption,
Couples are asking when they will be allowed to marry again

Coronavirus restrictions should be eased for "small weddings" in Wales, say a couple who have already postponed their big day.

Ian Choi and Elizabeth Facer are just one of hundreds of couples who have had to pause their plans.

The engaged couple said it was "frustrating" trying to plan when nobody knows when weddings will be allowed to take place.

The Welsh Government said "changes will only be made when it is safe to do so".

"I think sometimes in society it's seen as a bit of a party, and that's one of the things that's difficult to communicate is that we're not asking for a party, we're asking to be able to get married," said 22-year-old Ms Facer.

She has started a petition with her 23-year-old fiancé calling for small weddings to be allowed to take place, after they scrapped their original plans for a wedding with 300 guests - including family flying in from Hong Kong.

Image source, Elizabeth Facer
Image caption,
Waiting for their big day - Elizabeth Facer and Ian Choi have been forced to delay their marriage due to coronavirus rules in Wales

The Cardiff couple said their Christian faith means they want to get married as soon as they can, and hope to proceed with a small ceremony with just a registrar, pastor and witnesses.

They have delayed the wedding day for another week, in the hope the Welsh Government's next review on Friday will relax the rules.

Until then, the only weddings to take place are under exceptional circumstances, such as when a partner is terminally ill.

For Ms Facer, if the small ceremony goes ahead it will still mean her father will not be able to walk her down the aisle. And for Mr Choi, it means his parents will have to watch their son marry on the internet.

"When we think about the people that won't be able to be there, it is quite sad," she said.

"But I think at this point we've just got to take what we can and be grateful for that."

In Newport, plans for a much bigger wedding are also on hold.

Sarema Mustafa, 24, was hoping to have tied the knot in July.

She and her fiancé are Muslim, and their wedding celebrations were due to span a month, with the largest event hosting 1,200 guests.

She said her parents had invested "thousands of pounds" in the wedding, even extending their family home to accommodate guests from Pakistan.

"My parents were really excited to have all their friends and family from all over the world, all over the country, come to celebrate this wedding," said Ms Mustafa.

"Now, that is so far from what's going to happen."

Image caption,
Covid restrictions mean a year "without income", says wedding supplier Lynne Morgan

Wedding supplier and one of the founders of the Wedding Guild of Wales, Lynne Morgan, said the current climate has been difficult for the wedding industry in Wales, and across the UK.

She has had 140 weddings she was working on cancelled: "Most weddings have now been postponed to next year, which means that we're not having any real income this year that we'd forecasted for.

"And next year, it's going to have the impact that we can't take on as many new bookings as we would normally. So we are going to have a year without income."

Responding, a Welsh Government official said: "The coronavirus lockdown measures in Wales are in place to help limit the spread of the virus. Ministers review all the restrictions in place at each review period - and then decide what, if anything, can be changed."

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Wedding days could look very different when Covid-19 rules are eased

However, when weddings do return - small or large - they may look very different.

Most councils in Wales said there is personal protective equipment ready to be used by registrars, while ceremony rooms have been rearranged to allow for social distancing.

Meanwhile, Cardiff, Newport, Caerphilly, Pembrokeshire and Gwynedd councils have said they are looking into how ceremonies at register offices could eventually be streamed online.