Church of England weddings to be limited to five people during Coronavirus outbreak

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Church of England weddings during the coronavirus outbreak should be limited to a maximum of five people, including the bride and groom, new guidance says.

And apart from the couple themselves, the Church has advised that everyone else should observe a social distance as far as possible.

The Church said important life events can go ahead but must be "verysignificantly scaled back" so people can follow the Government's socialdistancing advice.

Hannah Gilbert had been due to get married at St Mary's in Wellingborough in May, but has now had to postpone it for a year.

She said if the outbreak continued "then potentially we'd have to re-arrange again. It's stressful enough to try and plan a wedding once, to try and do it twice is a nightmare, to try and do it three times, I think I'd end up having a nervous breakdown."

Hannah Gilbert has had to postpone her wedding in Wellingborough for a year Credit: ITV Anglia

Couples are being advised to "stream" their ceremony to absent friends andfamily, and the Church will work with those who wish to rearrange in light ofCovid-19.

The Church said weddings should be limited to the legal minimum of five people - the priest, bride, groom and two witnesses.

Northamptonshire vicar the Rev Richard Coles recognised the irony of the situation:

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.

"Now it can go ahead - but with only the minimum required in attendance. You may need to cancel or postpone.

"Whatever decision is made, God's love and blessing will still surround allthose who would have been there that day."

The guidance is also expected to impact businesses which rely on weddings - such as caterers and florists.

One florist in Colchester said she has already had people reduce their orders.

Jo Dilworth, of Dillys Florist, said: "The wedding is next Thursday and I have now ordered what flowers they're going to have, because they are just having wedding bouquets and a couple of buttonholes, but that's been cut down again, because now they're only allowed two witnesses, whereas they were allowed I think five or seven or something like that, but that's been cut down again."

Businesses which rely on the wedding industry could also be affected by the new guidance Credit: ITV Anglia

The Church of England advice recommends similar measures for baptisms, with numbers restricted to the child, their parents, guardians or carers, godparents and the minister.

The priest should not hold the child and water should be administered with an "appropriate implement" such as a shell.

Only clergy and parents should join the candidate at the font, with godparents maintaining a social distance, it adds.