Guy Milnes Photography Logo

Coronavirus Wedding Photography Restrictions

Venue Rules in the Age of COVID-19

Wedding Photography in the Age of Coronavirus/COVID-19


Three family memebers with COVID-19 masks on phones outside Bristol Old Council House

My approach is for natural wedding photographs. So whatever the Coronavirus restrictions, these are incorporated into the photos for some fun and context making shots such as this that I took in Bristol.

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 pandemic has caused worldwide chaos and an unprecedented way of working, not least with wedding photography.  With governmental guidance changing weekly and being different in England and Wales, I’m not going to list the governmental rules – for those visit the official sites:

Guidance for COVID-19 Secure Wedding Ceremonies in England

Guidance for COVID-19 Secure Wedding Ceremonies in Wales

I aim to guide you through some common situations at the ceremony venue from a photographer’s perspective.  Read on for my guide to having your wedding photographed in the age of Coronavirus as well as my advice and tips.

The couple's young son watches them sign the register from behind at wedding in the Lantern Room, Bristol

At this point of the ceremony, the couple were wearing face masks.  However, it’s not very obvious from this angle taken during the register signing. Notice the registrars’ visors which are less visible than face masks.

So How Has Photographing Weddings Changed?

Not only do we have to abide by governmental restrictions, but we also need to be aware of the differences between venues, particularly for civil marriages.  Every register office county and borough has its own take on what makes a wedding safe from the risk of contracting Coronavirus, and you and your photographer will have to abide by this:

Groom puts on mask whilst entering wedding venue with bride watching him

A true documentary shot as the groom dons his face mask prior to entering Bristol Register Office as his bride looks on.

The bride enters the Mayoral Room at Bristol Register Office with parents in face masks

Gorgeous bride Georgia waits with her masked parents to enter her COVID-19 restricted wedding ceremony. The couple are generally exempt from the wearing of face masks.

Register Offices and Civil Marriage Venues in England and Wales

I’ve photographed many weddings since the lockdown restrictions were eased and have to relearn new rules every time I photograph a wedding. Rules in one venue may contradict those at another and some districts are more flexible than at others.  Generally, the registrars understand the balance that needs to be struck between safety and your memories of the day.

The newly-weds sign the wedding register behind a screen in Chelsea Old Town Hall's Rossetti Room

Signing the wedding register behind a screen in London: Just one of the numerous safety precautions you might find during the COVID-19 restrictions.

Some Covid-19 Wedding Photography Rules and Restrictions that You Might Encounter

  • You may have to arrive at the venue together.
  • The couple and guests might need to arrive at the venue at the time of the ceremony, not before as previously.
  • Parking may not be provided outside as usual.
  • Some spaces (including gardens or toilets) might be closed to you.
  • Social distancing will be observed, with seats spaced out accordingly.
  • Marriage certificates could be posted out to you after the ceremony.
  • The photographer could have to stand (or even be seated) in one place and not move at any time.
  • Registrars/officiants may wear personal protective equipment (PPE) at all times.
  • There may be markings on the floor to indicate where to stand or move to.
  • The number of guests will be reduced from normal.
  • Your photographer may be included in the guest numbers.
  • Wedding rings can be exchanged but may not be handled by registration staff.
  • Signing pens may be cleansed or changed between each signature.
  • Ceremonies will invariably be shorter with no option for readings or music.

Registrar elbow bumping the groom at Chelsea Old Town Hall shortly after the Coronavirus lockdown restrictions had eased.

The registrar at Chelsea Old Town Hall was good fun and elbow bumped groom Daniel at his COVID-19 restricted wedding

Non-secular Venues Such as Churches

Many of the above points also apply to churches and other non-religious venues.  I’ve found that some vicars and priests can be more flexible than registrars.  But others not so much.  It’s good advice for you to speak with your church contact beforehand to let them know how important wedding photography is on your special day.

Wedding guests wearing COVID-19 face masks with little boy in waistcoast at Penallta House

Thank goodness children don’t have to wear face coverings indoors. But the masks of his elder relatives give good context to this photo.

Important Tip:

The rules and regulations sent to you prior to your wedding day may not necessarily be what you are faced with on the day. Some venues are more flexible than others, so if you are really unhappy about something, do ask. If you feel the venue is being unnecessarily strict about any aspect of their Coronavirus rules, try to negotiate. It doesn’t always work, but is worthwhile when it does.

The bride and groom seated and smiling at their wedding ceremony in Chelsea Old Town Hall

I wouldn’t normally take a wedding portrait from quite this angle, but wasn’t allowed to move any more forward to take this.  Regardless, it’s still a lovely natural shot of the couple.

Read More>> Ultimate Guide to Wedding Photography

The couple and groom's parents standing on green spots to social distance at a Southwark Register Office Wedding

At Southwark Register Office, they place spots on the floor to show the couple and their guests where to stand. They did allow me free movement as long as I stayed away from the registrars.

How I Approach The ‘New Normal’ for Wedding Photography

I don’t particularly like being restricted going about my work (who does?) but I’m always keen to make the best of the situation.  And it’s very important to me that you have the best experience and have some beautiful wedding photos to look back on.

So I like to check if there is flexibility with any rules that the officiants set out.  There often is.

Remember though: Their say is final and often dictated by law.  You and your photographer have to abide by this.

The bride and groom kiss whilst guests with face masks watch them at Coronavirus restricted wedding

The couple can usually still get away without wearing masks, but your guests will have to throughout your ceremony. My approach is still the same as it can be though, even poking fun at the mask wearing slightly.

Where COVID-19 Restrictions Clash with Common Sense and What Wedding Couples Choose to do About This

The wedding is probably the most important day of your like, comparable only to the birth of a child.  Brides and Grooms now have to choose carefully which of their loved ones to invite.  Small venues especially are very limited with the amount of guests they allow.  This presents obvious problems:

Bride and Groom from the back at wedding in the Statutory Room, Bristol Register Office

Who do you invite and who gets left out?  Obviously close family will come first, but then there’s the wedding day and your approach regarding social distancing.  Chances are, you won’t have seen much of your nearest and dearest due to lockdown and more recent restrictions.  So you’ll have a massive need to show your love – hug, kiss, hold hands and just generally be close…

Three guests seated before wedding ceremony wearing Coronavirus face masks

The diminutive size of the Rossetti Room in Chelsea means that very few masked guests are allowed in the watch the ceremony.

What to do?  Before and after the ceremony, it’s largely up to you – the law around social distancing accepted.  Some couples choose to respect the guidelines on distancing out of concern for ‘at risk’ guests.  Others self-isolate in the couple of weeks before the day, to maximise safety, whilst still other couples ignore the guidelines altogether…

Bride and mum kiss whilst dad looks on at Bristol wedding under COVID-19 restrictions

Pia and her parents hadn’t seen each other for 6 months and this was the first kiss they shared. How important is this wedding portrait!

Whatever you choose to do, my job is to document your wedding day and everything that happens as naturally and comprehensively as possible.  I’m a photographer and I don’t judge, I just love to take meaningful and emotive photographs of wedding days.  For me, the more hugs and kisses that go on (as above), the better, but please do BE SAFE!

Wedding bouquet in glass vase with blue 'Please Use Hand Sanitiser' sign.

Signs have been popping up in all sorts of places at wedding venues in England and Wales in recent times.  This flower arrangement at a London register office provides a lovely element to the ceremony room. But now it comes with a topical reminder about hand hygiene amid the Coronavirus crisis.

How Coronavirus Might Affect Your Wedding Photos in Other Ways

It’s not just the national guidance and individual venue restrictions such as social distancing that might dictate how your wedding photographs look.  All over England and Wales, safety signage and hygiene stations have been popping up in the street and inside public buildings.

Signage often includes tape or marks on the floor to indicate where couples, their guests and the photographer need to stand and where they cannot go, making wedding ceremony rooms look a little like a police crime scene!

There is also now the common presence of perspex screens to separate the wedding party from the registrars.  With the registrars also wearing face coverings or visors, these elements all combine to give your wedding photos a very different look.

Yellow Coronavirus floor sticker at wedding venue saying 'Photographer Location'

Static wedding photography is not what most photographers are about. But many venues now require the photographer to be in one position throughout the ceremony.

As a reportage wedding photographer, I embrace these strange elements of our time, and they will be a reminder of the way things were when you tied the knot.  Most are difficult to get away from and compose out of the images, although the occasional sign is easy to edit out.  Masks and floor tape are not, so will appear in the final edit.

Yellow 'Please Keep a Safe Distance of 2 Metres' tape on wooden floor

Tape on the floor is amongst the most aesthetically displeasing of the Coronavirus measures now in place at wedding venues across the country.

Covid-19 Wedding Photographer Rules.

If you are Having a Wedding that is affected by Coronavirus,

do get in touch to discuss your wedding photography!

Email me, fill in the form below or phone 07947 613070 any time
to chat and book me as your wedding photographer!!

Pen on Sheet Music for Wedding - Poco a Poco Piu Animato

Thank-you. I'll be in touch soon...Oops, something went wrong! Please try again or email:

Wedding Photographer in Cardiff & London

Guy Milnes Photography is based between London and Caerphilly covering South Wales, Bristol, London and the home counties.
He has been a professional photographer since 2008 and loves to capture the true atmosphere of the wedding day as it unfolds naturally.


Preferred Contact Number:
07947 613070

Caerphilly Castle Logo - Guy Milnes Photography

Guy Milnes Photography
79 Van Road
CF83 1LA


76 Westow Hill

Crystal Palace


SE19 1SB

02920 869973

"Creating memories of a time and place to cherish through the years!"

Guy Milnes Photography - Privacy Policy

Information provided to Guy Milnes Photography will be used purely to supply services as discussed. Contact details will not be supplied to a third party for any reason unless specific permissions are obtained.


I am fully GDPR compliant.