Saying iDo: Churches plan to allow witnesses to observe weddings virtually on mobile phone video calls under government proposals
- Officials are considering changes to law so small weddings can take place
- Move would be a boon to people with relative abroad who cannot fly to UK
- Reforms would allow witnesses to attend wedding ceremonies virtually
Churches are planning on allowing wedding witnesses to observe ceremonies using video conferencing technology under government proposals.
Ministers are considering changes to the law to allow witnesses to dial-in remotely rather than attend wedding ceremonies physically post-lockdown.
This could allow small weddings to go ahead and vulnerable guests and others who cannot attend a ceremony to watch happy couples get married.
The move would also be a boon to anyone who has relatives abroad who cannot fly to Britain for the wedding, according to The Daily Telegraph.
It comes after Justice Secretary Robert Buckland said he was giving ‘anxious consideration’ to marriages, which have not taken place since March 23.
Churches are planning on allowing wedding witnesses to observe ceremonies using video conferencing technology under government proposals
Currently all weddings legally require two witnesses – the couple and wedding official to be present for the marriage to occur.
Usually witnesses who observe the ceremony must sign the marriage register but under the plans an electronic signature could be acceptable.
Senior figures in the Church of England are aware of the plans and there are discussions going on about how to bring the tech into churches across Britain.
Although the government gave hints that small weddings could be possible in the near future, bigger ceremonies could be a long way off.
The government has previously indicated that restarting small weddings is likely to be included in its second phase of exiting lockdown, from June 1.
Documents published earlier this month suggest officials are ‘examining how to enable people to gather in slightly larger groups to better facilitate small weddings.’
Church weddings are not expected to resume until July 4, while social distancing measures will have to be observed as places of worship reopen.
Marriages have been postponed since lockdown began, and before that there was a period where the church only allowed the legal minimum of five people to attend.
A Church of England spokesman said: ‘We are exploring a number of ideas to help make it possible for couples to marry while observing the physical distancing requirements necessary to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.
‘This is just one of a number of areas where the Church of England has been working with the government, alongside other faith leaders, to enable a safe phased reopening of churches and other places of worship in step with government advice.’