Couples can continue to get married during the coronavirus pandemic – but only if one of them is dying.
From Thursday, just six guests will be permitted to attend limited marriage ceremonies in England where either the husband or wife-to-be is seriously ill and not expected to recover.
New regulations will plunge the UK into a second national lockdown when they come into force at midnight tonight.
Marriages and civil partnerships come under the “exceptions in relation to gatherings” section of the regulations but the restrictions have potentially ruined plans for couples who wanted to get hitched during the rest of November.
Regulations specify that the wedding must take place at home or in premises operated by a business, a charitable, benevolent or philanthropic institution or a public body.
The measures are set to last until December 2 at the earliest.
Organisers must also make sure coronavirus precautions are in place during the ceremony, the legislation.
This is in contrast with funerals which are permitted to have thirty attendees under the new rules.
During the last lockdown, weddings were banned for nearly three months ruining wedding plans for thousands of couples.
MPs passed the measures in Parliament on Wednesday before the four-week lockdown comes into force at midnight.
People will be told to stay at home for a month, like during the first national lockdown earlier this year.
But the rules are slightly different this time around, with schools and workplaces allowed to remain open and more exemptions for leaving your home.
However, one legal expert claims that the regulations are unclear and do not explicitly ban weddings.
Professor Russell Sandberg said the proposals are “good news in terms of there is no general prohibition on marriage”.
The Cardiff University law professor said there could be confusion as the guidance appears to differ from the regulations.
He said: “The way in which the regulations are written makes it sound as if you can have weddings.
“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.
“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.”
Earlier this week, a couple rearranged their wedding in 24 hours to tie the knot before new lockdown.
Jo Loosemore, 33, and her fiance Matt Goffin, 37, had been due to get married near the bride’s parents’ home in Devon on November 14.
After learning of the impending restrictions on Saturday morning, they arranged to get hitched the following day in Witcham, Cambridgeshire where they live with their eight-month-old son Rupert.
The now Mr and Mrs Goffin married at the Church of St Martin in Witcham on Sunday morning.
By law, no more than 15 people can attend any marriage or civil partnership ceremony in England.
Biomedical scientist Mr Goffin said their wedding had always been planned for November 14 but was originally designed with 200 guests in mind.
“We’ve had to chop it down so many times now,” he said.