York wedding venue owner gears up for 30 people celebrations but dancing still off the cards

For couples who have waited over a year to mark their weddings with friends and family, Monday’s lifting of restrictions to allow 30 guests should be something of a relief.

Oliver and Laura Robinson are owners of the Normans, a barn-style wedding venue in York, and have been working with couples, some of whom have postponed their wedding dates three times.

But with a backlog of bookings plus ensuring venues are kept as safe as possible, those involved in the organisation still have much to think about.

Weddings are not due to be unrestricted until June 21, and a key aspect of a traditional celebration, dancing, will not yet form part of couples’ big days.

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Guidance published on Thursday evening by the government will now allow for couples to have their first dance, and for ceremony readings and music to take place, although social distancing among guests is still advised.

Oliver Robinson owner of the Normans, a barn-style wedding venue in York, has been working with couples, some of whom have postponed their wedding dates three times.

But there is still a nervousness among some couples about how their weddings will take place, he said.

Mr Robinson said: “The beginning of this year has been easier for us in that its the first time in the course of the pandemic that we were given a time-frame, and at least we could say to our couples ‘here are your options.’

“Before, we were just speculating what might happen and brainstorming different scenarios we could offer.

“I think people feel a bit more confidence now - both venues and couples.”

The backlog of couples who have had to reschedule their wedding, plus new business from those who become engaged in lockdown means Mr Robinson’s diary is now filling up for 2023 and even beyond.

He said: “I always found it heartening throughout that there was still the appetite for weddings and for booking them. People do still want to get married and have traditional weddings of 80-100 guests, and certainly now people just want to get together and have a party.”

But Mr Robinson has joined growing cries among the wedding industry for parity across the sector with hospitality, where numbers allowed in restaurants are much higher, albeit still curtailed by the rule of six.

He said: “On a personal level for couples and families, it’s robbed them of a vital rite of passage. I was frustrated last year to see bars and restaurants opening under covid guidance when we couldn’t.”