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Coronavirus and weddings

Coronavirus and Weddings – Guidance & How I Want To Help You

The world’s been turned upside down and arranging a wedding during a pandemic isn’t easy. Here’s the latest guidance and how I want to help you.

Latest Covid-19 Guidance for Ireland

Recently the Irish Government released its Plan for living with Covid. This has a 5 level roadmap which includes specific information for weddings. As of it’s release Ireland is at level 2. This means you can have upto 50 people in attendance, which includes staff. Social distacing guidlines and health protection protocols are in place and these will affect how your day will be celebrated. Another area to look at is the guidelines for the hospitality industry released by Failte Ireland. These have specific recommendations for weddings also.

Here is a quick guide to show the amount of guests depending on the Covid Level –


Travel restrictions

Level 1

Up to 100 guests for wedding ceremony and reception.

No Travel Restrictions

Level 2

Up to 50 guests for wedding ceremony and reception.

No Travel Restrictions

Level 3

Up to 25 guests for wedding ceremony and reception.

Stay in your county

Level 4

Up to 6 guests for wedding ceremony and reception.

Stay in your county

Level 5

Up to 6 guests for wedding ceremony and reception.

Stay Home

Failte Ireland Hospitality Industry Guidelines

  • Under Government Public Health Advice there can be a maximum of 50 people in the function area including employees.
  • The function area must be self-contained and only one function per area / room.
  • Businesses must follow updated Public Health advice to ensure that all wedding guests leave the function/bar areas by 11.30pm.
    Public Health advice states that these areas should be cleared of all guests by 11.30pm. However, this does not include staff members who will carry out closing procedures.
  • Face coverings should be worn by employees in customer facing roles where no other protective measures are in place e.g.
    protective screens and where physical distancing of 2 metres* is not possible.
  • Face coverings should also be worn by guests when arriving to and leaving their table.

On Arrival

  • Where possible, guests must be directed to enter and exit through separate doors that are automated or manually operated by an employee. Doors may be propped open if fire regulations allow.
  • Hand sanitisers (including touchless dispensers where possible) must be readily available at each access point. These must have a minimum alcohol content of 60%. Signage must encourage all guests to use this when they enter and leave.
  • Prominent signage must explain current physical distancing practices. This must be accompanied by clear and visible markings that illustrate the safe distancing protocol.

Drinks Reception

  • Service stations must use physical distancing queuing systems.
  • Tea/coffee/drinks and canapé stations must be managed by service personnel. There must be no self-service stations. Canapés must be in individual portions.
  • Remove as much loose furniture (e.g. sofas, etc.) from the room to ensure maximum space for physical distancing.

Dinner Reception

  • Entrance doors should be opened whilst guests are entering the dining area.
  • Review the seating capacities to meet the current physical distancing guidance. There must be adequate spacing between customers at each table in accordance with Government physical distancing guidelines.
  • Hand sanitisers (including touchless dispensers where possible) must be readily available. Consider providing hand sanitiser on each table. These must have a minimum alcohol content of 60%. Signage must encourage all guests to use this when they enter and leave.
  • Management must ensure appropriate signage is in place to welcome guests and reassure them that employees have been trained in line with the Government’s Public Health advice.
  • There must be no shared items at the table. Instead:
  1. Water jugs must be poured by service personnel only.
  2. Salt and pepper shakers, butter dishes should be available only on request.
  3. Instead each guest should be given individual portions/sachets.
  • For the meal service:
  1. Face coverings should be worn by staff during the service of the meal
  2. There must be no family-style service of food
    (i.e. no shared vegetable/gravy dishes, etc.).
  3. Wedding afters must be served directly to each guest fully plated.
  • Ensuring distancing on the dance floors:
  1. Signage on tables and dance floors must ask guests
    to respect physical distancing guidelines.
  2. Employees must monitor and manage distancing.

Additional Considerations

  • All third-party suppliers must ensure they adhere to the Governments Public Health advice.
  • Multiple gatherings are allowed in venue facilities provided they are in separate defined spaces and there are systems to prevent intermingling in common spaces (e.g. entrances, exits and toilet facilities).
  • Limit the number of service personnel per group of guests to the smallest number that is practical.
  • Where at all practical, service personnel should provide services to only one gathering and should not move between multiple gatherings in different venue locations.
  • Where possible, facilities such as toilets should not be used simultaneously by multiple gatherings. However if they are cleaned in between usage, they may be used separately by different gatherings, within the same time period.

To view Government Public Health measures currently in place, click HERE

Jamie Gillies / My Real Name Is James Wedding Photography Fini  & Harley Fernhill House  Cork  2020

How I Want To Help

The issue for alot of people I have spoken to is that of the unknown. Even though we have these mid-term guidelines, it doesn’t mean that anyone can plan for the real wedding they want. It might be you have to or want to postpone the wedding to another date, so you can have all those you love there for the big day. It would be a shame that you can’t have the day you want because you’re locked into using a particular venue date, or you lose money because a supplier isn’t willing to work with you. Not only can these things result in losing money and frustration but also a bad taste in your mouth about how a supplier has dealt with you.

Jamie Gillies / My Real Name Is James Wedding Photography Fini  & Harley Fernhill House  Cork  2020

Because of this and because I really want you to really enjoy your day I have been following these principles –

  • Work with you rather than against you.
  • Be flexible with moving dates.
  • Issue refunds if I dont have a new date available.
  • Open to changing and tailoring to your photography needs if things suddenly change.

Ultimately I want you to know that I’ll do my best to look after you, help make arranging your wedding smoother and help you avoid unnecessary headaches!

Should I Let Uncle Dave Take My Wedding Photos?

Wedding photography isn’t a priority when it comes to your budget, so when uncle Dave offers to take your wedding photos for you it seems like an ideal way to save some money…or is it?

Before we get into the details, let me make it clear that I’m not going to say you should let him take photos or not. Not everyone can afford a wedding photographer so uncle Dave is actually better than nothing. So if it comes down to you having any pictures or not, then go get uncle Dave signed up asap!

Uncle Dave

If you have got it in your budget to get a wedding photographer, but think it’s worth getting uncle Dave to do the photos so you can reallocate the photographer budget to something else, don’t think photos are that important,  then that’s the time to really have a hard think about things.

As I mentioned in my post about “why is wedding photography so expensive” the value of a good wedding photographer isn’t seen till after the wedding. By then it’s too late to go back and change things.

The wedding day does only last a day, but the memories you want to last forever. 

Uncle Dave could actually be a good photographer, have a good camera, good lenses etc, but experience and craft are really the main attributes you should look for when getting anyone to take your wedding photos.

Being family or a close friend then it’s also easy for them to take their eye off the ball. They’re there as a guest really and so will have that focus about the day.  They would rather be by the bar talking to old friends and family than making sure they get your day documented.

I’ve seen a variety of outcomes with letting a non-professional take the photos. In one or two cases I’ve actually been really impressed with how good the photos have come out. But let’s get it clear when I say “impressed” I really mean “Didn’t mess up”. But to be honest more often than not, the couple are disappointed by the photos they, eventually, get.

That’s the other part to this decision, don’t expect to get the pictures anytime soon. It can take, and I mean literally, years to get the photos. In the case of one of the couples who were happy with their wedding photos from a family relative, it took 3 years to get them.

Another thing to keep in mind is what happens if Uncle Dave’s memory card fails, breaks his camera or just completely loses the photos?  These things can happen to even a professional, but for a professional having backups is part of their process. (Read more about keeping your photos safe)

Other Options

The other option for those who don’t have the budget to pay a full blown, hundreds of weddings under the belt, professional photographer is to find someone who’s starting out.

I got my first wedding gig by offering my services to a friend. He was doing the wedding on a shoestring, I wanted to help him out and so shot his wedding. Before that wedding I really wasn’t interested in making this a living, landscape photography was my thing – It meant I went to awesome places and didn’t have to deal with people! It was by doing that wedding I actually realised wedding photography could be an option for me.

There’s always people starting out in a profession that need a few breaks and are willing to do things for cheap or even free, and for a couple that don’t have a budget it’s a winning combination.

Keep in mind though that for someone starting out, they too likely don’t have the equipment they really need, the experience and especially the craft. But what you would gain from them over uncle Dave would be raw passion, eagerness and a mindset about actually photographing your day rather than propping up the bar.

Should you bite the bullet?

If you have the budget then yes, definitely.  With a professional you are really paying for a guarantee. A guarantee you get what you’re after, when you want it, high quality, minimal fuss, no excuses and a great attitude.

Anything other than a professional then you have to compromise somewhere. But that’s your choice to make.

Remember the food will be finished before the day is gone, the reception will be empty by the end of the night, the flowers will be dead by the end of the week, but the photos will be there forever.