England

Coronavirus: Church of England weddings limited to five people

Jodie Crane and Philip Turner Image copyright Jodie Crane
Image caption Jodie Crane and Philip Turner were due to get married on 28 March

The Church of England has restricted wedding ceremonies to five people, under new guidance to stop the spread of coronavirus.

Only the bride and groom, a minister and two witnesses should attend the ceremonies, the advice says.

The church said it would work with couples who wanted to rearrange.

Bride-to-be Jodie Crane said she had "broken down" due to the stress of the situation but was relieved after postponing her wedding.

The 30-year-old was due to marry her partner of four years, Philip Turner, 38, at Colville Hall in White Roding, Essex, on 28 March.

"Three weeks ago we were worried about whether it would rain on our wedding day and then it turned to whether we would have a virus at our wedding that would potentially harm a lot of people," Miss Crane told Radio 1 Newsbeat.

"There were just so many different changing scenarios that I just ended up breaking down.

"I rang the insurers and asked if we would be covered if we had a government lockdown and they actually told us that we wouldn't be covered unless one of us became ill, so that made the decision for us."

Miss Crane had already cancelled her hen party in Tenerife over fears of being stranded when Spain went into lockdown.

The couple have moved their celebration to 10 July.

"Although it was a sad decision it was tinged with a sense of relief that we don't have to worry about it now," said Miss Crane.

"We haven't lost any money as everyone - the venue, the florist, the photographer, the band - has been so accommodating.

"At the moment there's a lot of panic and scare around it because it's very new but in four months time we are quite hopeful that it will go ahead."

The pair are planning a get-together at her parents' house where guests will stay two metres apart, and she will wear her veil.

For couples who go ahead with their ceremony, traditions such as the priest touching the rings or the couple’s hands will not happen.

Banns will not be read as public worship services have been suspended so couples will have to apply for a licence.

Image copyright Jodie Crane
Image caption Miss Crane and Mr Turner have rescheduled their wedding to 10 July

Baptisms are also limited to the candidate, their parents, guardians or carers, the godparents and the minister.

The priest will not hold a child and use a shell or other vessel to put water on their head.

The Bishop of Manchester, Dr David Walker, said: “Couples and parents, friends and families will have been planning for months, even years for their special moment, whether a wedding or a christening.

“We encourage those who would have been there to hold couples and families in their prayers, and pray that everyone will know God’s love is holding them at this time.”

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