Relaxation of coronavirus limits on Sleaford area wedding venues welcomed

Philosophical venue owners have welcomed the minor relaxation of coronavirus restrictions for weddings by the government, despite the “necessary” delay to the planned complete lifting of lockdown this week.

Richard Johnson if the wedding ceremony room at Aswarby Old Rectory. EMN-210621-094937001

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that he would have to postpone the final lifting of restrictions by four weeks due to the rise of the Delta variant, but scrapped the limit of 30 guests at weddings, as long as venues adhered to covid-safe capacities for their buildings.

Dancing at functions is also not permitted yet.

Donna and Richard Johnson launched Aswarby Rectory as a smaller wedding venue in 2018, having bought it two years before.

Richard Johnson outside the venue at Aswarby Old Rectory. EMN-210621-094906001

Donna said: “In 2019 and 2020 we were pretty fully booked and so this year postponements have taken over our diary.

“Generally we have had a really positive reaction as most of our couples were expecting it.

“We are a smaller, more intimate venue and our numbers are not huge and everyone is working to smaller capacities anyway and our couple have adapted.”

She said out of 60 weddings booked in the last year, only nine had gone ahead. Half of their 80 weddings in 2021 have been postponed to later this year or 2022 or 2023, meaning they are squeezing 61 weddings into the final six months of this year.

Donna said: “It is definitely not ideal but it is the last minute nature of the announcement that causes the anxiety and there has been frustration from some couples as other events have been able to go ahead.

“Some couples are on their third date and not everybody has that luxury if they are looking to start a family or relatives might not be able to make it.”

She said people have managed their expectations and some “unthinkables” have become accepted by couples, such as mask-wearing.

The rectory has reduced its ceremony capacity from 80 to 60.

“There is that expectation that everyone will hug each other but they don’t want to put loved ones at risk.

“All couples and guests are doing lateral flow tests beforehand and more vulnerable guests have opted not to come,” she said.

“I’m really relieved the government has acknowledged we can work to a capacity - 30 was not viable.”

She said all couples affected by the four week delay have been in touch and are still going ahead.

Another new wedding venue is Hanbeck Farm at Wilsford.

Manager Rui Lourenco said, fortunately, they had not planned to host any weddings until next year, but the lockdowns had restricted their ability to open up the venue for couples to inspect the facilities.

He said: “We have been taking bookings but are not really operating yet.”