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Coronavirus Wedding Photography Restrictions

Venue Rules in the Age of COVID-19

Wedding Photography in the Age of Coronavirus/COVID-19

(**Since this was written, the restrictions on COVID-19 across the UK have relaxed, however, some venues are maintaining some restrictions for the foreseeable future.  Do contact the appropriate venue for further information.**


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 is generally exempt from the wearing of face masks.

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 pandemic have 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 everyday situations at the ceremony venue from a photographer’s perspective.  Read on for my guide on wedding photography 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 in 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 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 real documentary shot as the groom dons his face mask before entering Bristol Register Office as his bride looks on.

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, I incorporate these into the photos for some fun, context making shots such as this taken in Bristol.

Register Offices and Civil Marriage Venues in England and Wales

I’ve photographed many weddings since the lockdown restrictions were eased and had to relearn new rules every time I photograph a wedding. Regulations in one venue may contradict those at another, and some districts are more flexible than others. But, generally, the registrars understand the balance that needs skriking 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

The bride 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.
  • The registrar may post your marriage certificate 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.
  • The number of guests will be restricted.
  • The venue may include your photographer in the guest numbers.
  • You can exchange wedding rings, but the registration staff will not handle them.
  • 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.

At Chelsea Old Town Hall, the registrar 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. For example, I’ve found that some vicars and priests can be more flexible than registrars.  But others not so much. So 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:

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

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

I wouldn’t usually take a wedding portrait from quite this angle, but I couldn’t 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 restriction whilst going about my work (who does?), but I’m always keen to make the best of the situation.  And it’s 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 face coverings, but your guests will have to throughout your ceremony. My approach is 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 life, comparable only to the birth of a child. However, brides and Grooms now have to choose carefully which of their loved ones to invite.  Small venues especially are very limited to the number of guests they allow, presenting obvious problems:

Socially distanced wedding in Chelsea Old Town Hall's Brydon Room

Another London venue demonstrating social distancing at a small wedding.

Who do you invite, and who gets left out?  The close family usually comes 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 generally be close.

Three guests seated before wedding ceremony wearing Coronavirus face masks

The Rossetti Room’s diminutive size means that very few masked guests are allowed in to watch the ceremony.

What to do?  Before and after the ceremony, it’s 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 a couple of weeks before the day to maximise safety, and some 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 six months, and this was the first kiss they shared. So 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 take meaningful and emotive photographs of wedding days. So 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.

A sign of the times:  Signage has 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 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, guests, and photographers 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 familiar presence of perspex screens to separate the wedding party from the registrars.  With the registrars wearing face coverings or visors, these elements 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 how things were when you tied the knot.  Most are difficult to get away from and keep out of the images, although the occasional sign is easy to edit out.  Masks and floor tape are not, so they will probably 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

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Wedding Photographer in London, Bristol & Cardiff

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


Preferred Contact Number:
07947 613070


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